10. Spring-Heeled Jack
He appeared out of the shadows of 19th century London nights, attacked his victims with dreadful scratches, then bounded away with superhuman ability before he could be apprehended.
The case of Spring-Heeled Jack, as this creature came to be known, is one of the most baffling to come out of Victorian England, and one that has never been solved or fully explained. According to most accounts of the story, the attacks began in 1837 in southwest London. Polly Adams, a pub worker, was one of three women accosted by Spring-Heeled Jack in September of that year. He allegedly tore her blouse off and scratched at her stomach with iron-like fingernails or claws.
His victims painted a bizarre portrait of the ghoul:
- man-like, but with a hideous face
- sharp iron-like fingernails or claws
- tall, thin and powerful
- glowing eyes
- the ability to spit blue flames from his mouth
- wore a dark cloak over a tight-fitting white oilskin suit
- some claimed he wore a helmet of some kind
- the ability to jump incredible heights and distances
The attacks continued into early 1838, prompting official action by the Lord Mayor of London who declared him a public nuisance, and resulting in at least one vigilante group that systematically tried to capture the creature, all without success.
Rumors of sightings persisted into the 1850s, '60s and '70s. In these cases, he is said to have frightened people with his appearance, slapped army sentries, and in each case leapt away to the astonishment and frustration of those who tied to catch him. Interestingly, Spring-Heeled Jack never killed or seriously hurt anyone, except 18-year-old Lucy Scales who was reportedly blinded temporarily by the searing blue flames Jack vomited into her face.
Who or what was Spring-Heeled Jack? A clever if diabolical maniac? An alien? A demon? Chances are we will never know, and he will remain one of the most mysterious creatures of modern times.