17 November 1888
Mr. Wynne Baxter on Wednesday resumed the inquest at Whitechapel on the body of Annie Chapman, who was murdered on 8th. inst. in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street. The Coroner at one proceeded to sum up the evidence. He recalled the important facts of the case. It was in a Spitalfields lodging house that the deceased received the older bruises found on her temple and front of the chest, in a trumpery quarrel a week before her death. It was in one of these lodging houses that she was seen a few hours before her mangled remains were discovered. She was found dead about six o'clock. All was done with reckless daring. The murder seemed, like the Bucks Row case, to have been carried out without any cry. Sixteen people were in the house. The partitions of the rooms were of wood. The brute who committed the offence did not even take the trouble to cover up his ghastly work, but left the body expose to view. Probably as daylight broke he hurried away in fear. The Coroner then proceeded to observe - There are two things missing - her ring had been wrenched from her finger, and had not been found, and an organ had been taken away. The body had not been dissected, but the injuries had been made by some one with considerable anatomical knowledge and skill. There are no meaningless cuts. The organ has been taken away by one who knew where to find it, what difficulties he would have to contend against, and how he should use his knife so as to abstract the organ without injury to it any surgeon knows. No unskilled person could have known where to find it, or have recognised it when it was found. For instance, no mere slaughterer of animals could have carried out these operations. It must have been some one accustomed to the post mortem room. The conclusion that the desire was to possess the missing organ seems overwhelming. If the object were robbery injuries to the viscera were meaningless, for death had previously resulted from loss of blood at the neck. The difficulty in believing that the purpose of the murderer was possession of the organ is natural. It is abhorrent to our feelings to conclude that a life should be taken for so slight an object, but when rightly considered the reasons for most murders are altogether out of proportion to the guilt. It has been suggested that the criminal is a lunatic with morbid feelings. This may or may not be the case, but the object of the murderer appears palpably shown by the facts, and it is not necessary to assume lunacy, for it is clear that there is a market for the missing organ. To show you this I must mention a fact, which at the same time proves the assistance which publicity and the newspaper press affords in the detection of crime. Within a few hours of the issue of the morning papers containing the report of the medical evidence given at the last sitting of the Court I received a communication from an officer of one of our great medical schools that they had information that might or might not have a distinct bearing upon our inquiry. I attended at the first opportunity, and was informed by the sub-curator of the Pathological Museum that some months ago an American had called on him and asked him to procure a number of specimens of the organ that was missing in the deceased. He stated his willingness to give twenty pounds for each specimen, and said his object was to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a publication on which he was then engaged. He was told that his request was impossible to be complied with, but still he urged his request. He wished them preserved, not in spirits of wine, the usual medium, but in glycerine in order to preserve them in a flaccid condition, and he wished them sent to America direct. It is known that this request was repeated to another institution of a similar character. Now, is it not possible the knowledge of this demand incited some abandoned wretch to possess himself of a specimen. Our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible. I at once communicated my information to Scotland Yard. I do not know what use has been made of it, but I believe that publicity may further elucidate this fact; and therefore I have not withheld from you the information. By means of the press some further explanation may be forthcoming from America, if not from here. I have endeavoured to suggest to you the object with which the crime was committed, and the class of person who committed it. The greatest deterrent from crime is the conviction that detection and punishment will follow with rapidity and certainty, and it may be that the impunity with which Mary Anne Smith and Anne Tabram (sic) were murdered suggested the possibility of such horrid crimes as those with which you and another jury have recently been considering. It is therefore a great misfortune that nearly three weeks have elapsed without the chief actor in this awful tragedy having been discovered. It is not as if there were no clue to the character of the criminal, or the cause of his crime. His object is clearly divulged. His anatomical knowledge carries him out of the category of a common criminal, for that knowledge could only have been obtained by assisting at post mortems, or by frequenting the post mortem room. Thus the class in which search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover, it must be a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of 8th September. His hands were undoubtedly bloodstained, for he did not stop to use the tap in the yard, as the pan of clean water under it shows. If the theory of lunacy be correct - which I very much doubt - the class is still further limited, while if Mrs. Long's memory does not fail, and the assumption be correct that the man who was talking to deceased at half past five was the culprit, he is even more clearly defined. he was a foreigner of dark complexion, over 40 years of age, a little taller than deceased, of shabby genteel appearance, with brown deerstalker hat on his head and a dark coat on his back. We are confronted with a murder of no ordinary character, committed not for jealousy, revenge, or robbery, but for a motive less adequate than the many which still disgrace our civilisation, mar our progress, and blot the pages of our Christianity.
The jury immediately returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.