The evil prankster was called Spring-Heeled Jack, a moniker that spawned from his ability to jump over tall fences and hedges during quick getaways. Eyewitnesses described him as having large, bulging eyes and metallic, claw-like hands. But the most startling characteristic: He paralyzed his victims by spewing blue and white flames.
Eighteen-year-old Jane Alsop experienced the horror firsthand one quiet evening in 1938. She was at home with her father and sisters, when the family heard a loud pounding at the front door. Jane opened the door to a cloaked figure, who identified himself as a police officer. He told her to go fetch a candle and bring it out to the road because they had finally caught Spring-Heeled Jack! Jane was so excited to see the scoundrel in person, she rushed to get a light and brought it outside.
As soon as she held the candle out to the policeman, she knew she had made a huge mistake. The man spun around, threw off his cape, and showered Jane with a mouthful of flames. When he started tearing at her dress with his talons, Jane screamed, bringing one of the sisters out to see the commotion.
Jack bounded away, but both girls had already gotten a good look. They said that besides his police uniform helmet, Jack wore a tight-fitted, white bodysuit and had red flames in his eyes.
That same night, a local man named Thomas Millbank publicly bragged that he was the legendary Spring-Heeled Jack. Since Jane had just been attacked, police took his proclamations seriously. When they arrested him at a bar, he was wearing white overalls, and they found his large, cape-like coat and a candle outside by the front door.
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During the trial, Thomas’s case hung on one simple fact: He could not breathe fire. Jane had been so adamant that her attacker had scorching breath, and Thomas couldn’t produce even a spark.
He was released, and Spring-Heeled Jack attacks and sightings continued into the early 1900s.
There were other suspects, but no one else was ever caught. Jack stayed just out of reach every time.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons