Did Jack the Ripper live in Rocky?
SUE Smith's heart skipped a beat.
She had just discovered that Jack the Ripper may have lived in Rockhampton, and if he did, most likely in a house in East Street - what's now Peter Busby's home.
While Sue has unearthed a treasure trove of interesting information compiling The Morning Bulletin's 150 Years of history series, this was different.
Frederick Bailey Deeming, an Australian serial killer, had lived in Rockhampton and was thought by a prominent forensic researcher to possibly have been Jack the Ripper.
Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer who terrorised those in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888.
"Jack the Ripper is one of the great mysteries, so many books have been written about him ... as a journalist, it was a very exciting story," Sue said.
Deeming, born in 1842, was an English-born Australian serial murderer, who reportedly claimed at one stage to be Jack the Ripper.
Of all Australia's serial killers, Deeming is considered one of the most despised and he was so loathed that a crowd of 12,000 gathered on his execution day and cheered uproariously when he was declared dead.
Sue, who was working on her piece for 1892 said Deeming's stint in Rockhampton hadn't ended well for the killer.
In 1883 he lived briefly in East Street while he worked as a foreman in a gas-fitting firm.
He ended up getting sacked, partly because of his behaviour after being charged with discharging a firearm in a public street.
Sue said it was clear he'd been prepared to lie about the incident and this coupled with his sullen moods was enough for his boss to get rid of him after only a few months.
"He was an odd character who hadn't gotten on with the men and so the firm let him go," said Sue, who regards The Bulletin as one of the top papers in the country during the great age of newspapers.
"Psychologically he seems to fit the bill for Jack the Ripper."
She said in 1892, after Deeming's arrest and discovery of the bodies in England, there was speculation then that he was Jack the Ripper.
"This was in all the papers in 1892, including The Morning Bulletin," Sue said.
It was all news to Peter Busby, the owner of the home thought to be where Deeming lived, when The Bully turned up on Friday.
"Are you serious? I'd never heard anything like that," said Peter, who has owned the home with his wife Louise for about 18 months.
He said he knew Jack the Ripper was "a bad arse" and had heard a theory he was part of English royalty.
"But we'll claim him now," Peter said.