4. The killer first became known as Leather Apron
Shortly after the murder of the first of the canonical victims, the Manchester Guardian reported the story to its readers. The Manchester Guardian commented on the secrecy surrounding the investigation, questioning its necessity considering the danger to the public. It also mentioned their focus on a “â¦notorious character known as Leather Apron”. In fact, the police had found a leather apron, of the type worn by a tradesman or butcher, near the scene of the murder of Mary Ann Nichols. Other newspapers seized on the second-hand information in the Guardian, sensationalizing the story. They linked it to Jewish stereotypes in both text and art, though the apron itself proved to have no bearing on the case (it had been washed and left to dry where it was found the day before the murder).
Nonetheless, a Whitechapel shoemaker known to many as Leather Apron found himself arrested by the police. John Pizer, a Polish Jew and immigrant, was arrested on September 10, despite the arresting officer’s acknowledgement of no evidence. Pizer easily produced alibis for his whereabouts at the time of two of the murders. In one, he had been in conversation with a police officer. His release, and the dismissal of the leather apron as evidence in the crime did little to quell the press. The killer remained known as Leather Apron until the more sensational name of Jack the Ripper appeared days later. Several newspapers named Pizer as the murderer before it became evident some of the murders took place while he remained in custody. After his release, few offered or printed retractions, though there is evidence at least one offered financial compensation for the libel.