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William Thick was born on November 20th, 1845 in Salisbury, Wiltshire. On March 6th, 1868 he joined the Metropolitan Police at the age of 22. He began in Whitechapel
, before being transferred to Chelsea, the Camberwell, and finally Whitechapel again. He remained in Whitechapel for the rest of his career. He was involved in the Jack the Ripper
investigations in 1888. At some point he encountered John Pizer
, a Polish
Jew living in Whitechapel, who he later suspected to be Jack the Ripper. While it was alleged that Pizer had carried out a series of minor assaults on prostitutes, and had been convicted on a stabbing offence, there was no evidence against Pizer and he was ultimately released after it was ascertained he had alibis for two of the murders. Pizer later suggested that Thick had borne a grudge against him, and this grudge was the reason he was suspected. Thick's nickname was "Johnny Upright", the reason for which was usually given as his upright bearing, but was suggested by at least one criminal to be because of Thick's habit of framing people. He was described by a police contemporary as an excellent policeman. In 1893 he retired from the police force. In 1902 he gave a tour around London
to Jack London, who was writing a book about the East End called People of the Abyss
. Thick died in 1930 at the age of 85.
Thick appeared in Eddie Campbell
and Alan Moore's From Hell
, where he was portrayed as being fixated on Leather Apron and was implied to have earned his nickname for the less savoury of the two reasons presented.