The London Monster
The story of the London Monster is a similar story to that of our recent post on that of the Halifax Slasher. It is the story of an alleged attacker who stalked women at night and attacked them with sharp objects. On top of that, the stories are similar in that the attackers were never caught, may not have existed or may have only been responsible for very few of the crimes to which they were attributed. However, in the case of the London Monster, it is also very possible that an attacker existed and very few of the alleged attacks were hoaxes. Given the early attacks and the extent of some of the victims' injuries, it is fair to say that something nefarious was afoot in London between 1788 and 1790.
The London Monster's M.O. was reportedly to sneak up on women at night and stab them in their derrieres whilst swearing at them. Of course, descriptions of individual attacks differ. However, the bottom line was assaulting good-looking women with knives. This in and of itself is not suspicious in the sense that it seems made up. This is well within the known realm of criminal activity. In fact, the very act described has its own name -- piquerism. Therefore, there is some likelihood that there was a piquerist in London around the time of the London Monster attacks. Nonetheless, things did get suspicious over time.
As expected, there was something of a panic in London. Innocent men took great pains not to appear shady, as there was some hysteria that had the potential to turn violent. Then, there were the women who faked attacks. It does not get much more bizarre than taking what was a frightening situation and turning it into a bid for attention. Because at least one woman later admitted to faking an attack, the entire situation is hardly taken seriously in modern times. Unlike Jack the Ripper, the London Monster has something of a reputation as a hoax. His crimes were not as severe, but it is possible that he stabbed innocent women in the street. That is serious enough to warrant investigation. However, the investigation itself was botched by the hysteria.
A man by the name of Rhynwick Williams was found guilty of three attacks and given six years in prison, despite the fact that most of the evidence was ridiculous, he had alibis for confirmed attacks and one of the witnesses admitted to lying. Oh, and there was also the monetary reward motivation on the part of his accused. Williams was able to get a retrial but it did not work out in his favor. The hysteria won out. More attacks occurred while he was in prison but it is unknown whether it was the real attacker or more hoaxes.
Posted by Michelle Barclay