THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1888
EVIDENCE OF "LEATHER APRON"
Mr. Wynne Baxter yesterday resumed the inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Annie Chapman, whose body was found brutally mutilated in the back yard of 29, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, at six o'clock on the morning of Saturday last.
The Police were represented by Inspector Abberline, of the Criminal Investigation Department, and Inspector Helson, J Division.
Fontain Smith, printer's warehouseman, stated: I have seen the body in the mortuary, and recognise it as that of my eldest sister, Annie, the widow of John Chapman, who lived at Windsor, a coachman. She had been separated from her husband for about three years. Her age was forty-seven. I last saw her alive a fortnight ago, in Commercial-street, where I met her promiscuously. Her husband died at Christmas, 1886. I gave her 2s; she did not say where she was living nor what she was doing. She said she wanted the money for a lodging.
Did you know anything about her associates? - No.
James Kent, 20, Drew's Blocks, Shadwell, a packing-case maker, said: I work for Mr. Bayley, 23A, Hanbury-street, and go there at six a.m. On Saturday I arrived about ten minutes past that hour. Our employer's gate was open, and there I waited for some other men. Davis, who lives two or three doors away, ran from his house into the road and cried, "Men, come here." James Green and I went together to 29, Hanbury-street, and on going through the passage, standing on the top of the back door steps, I saw a woman lying in the yard between the steps and the partition between the yard and the next. Her head was near the house, but no part of the body was against the wall. The feet were lying towards the back of Bayley's premises. (Witness indicated the precise position upon a plan produced by the police-officers). Deceased's clothes were disarranged, and her apron was thrown over them. I did not go down the steps, but went outside and returned after Inspector Chandler had arrived. I could see that the woman was dead. She had some kind of handkerchief around her throat which seemed soaked in blood. The face and hands were besmeared with blood, as if she had struggled. She appeared to have been on her back and fought with her hands to free herself. The hands were turned toward her throat. The legs were wide apart, and there were marks of blood upon them. The entrails were protruding, and were lying across her left side. I got a piece of canvass from the shop to throw over the body, and by that time a mob had assembled, and Inspector Chandler was in possession of the yard. The foreman gets to the shop at ten minutes to six every morning, and he was there before us.
James Green, of Ackland-street, Burdett-road, a packing-case maker, in the same employ as last witness, said: I arrived in Hanbury-street at ten minutes past six on Saturday morning, and accompanied Kent to the back door of No. 29. I left the premises with him. I saw no one touch the body.
Amelia Richardson, 29, Hanbury-street, deposed: I am a widow, and occupy half of the house - i.e., the first floor, ground floor, and workshops in the cellar. I carry on the business of a packing-case maker there, and the shops are used by my son John, aged thirty-seven, and a man Francis Tyler, who have worked for me eighteen years. The latter ought to have come at six a.m., but he did not arrive until eight o'clock, when I sent for him. He is often late when we are slack. My son lives in John-street, Spitalfields, and he works also in the market on market mornings. At six a.m. my grandson, Thomas Richardson, aged fourteen, who lives with me, got up. I sent him down to see what was the matter, as there was so much noise in the passage. He came back and said, "Oh, grandmother, there is a woman murdered." I went down immediately, and saw the body of the deceased lying in the yard. There was no one there at the time, but there were people in the passage. Soon afterwards a constable came and took possession of the place. As far as I know the officer was the first to enter the yard.
Which room do you occupy? - The first floor front, and my grandson slept in the same room on Friday night. I went to bed about half-past nine, and was very wakeful half the night. I was awake at three a.m., and only dozed after that.
Did you hear any noise during the night? - No.
Who occupies the first floor back? - Mr. Walker, a maker of lawn-tennis boots. He is an old gentleman, and he sleeps there with his son, twenty-seven years of age. The son is weak-minded and inoffensive. On the ground floor there are two rooms. Mrs. Hardman occupies them with her son, aged sixteen. She uses the front room as a cats' meat shop. In the front room on the first floor on Friday night I had a prayer meeting, and before I went to bed I locked the door of this room, and took the key with me. It was still locked in the morning. John Davies and his family tenant the third floor front, and Mrs. Sarah Cox has the back room on the same floor. She is an old lady I keep out of charity. Mr. Thompson and his wife, with an adopted little girl, have the front room on the second floor. On Saturday morning I called to Thompson at ten minutes to four o'clock. I heard him leave the house. He did not go into the back yard. Two unmarried sisters reside in the second floor back. They work at a cigar factory. When I went down all the tenants were in the house except Mr. Thompson and Mr. Davies. I am not the owner of the house.
Were the front and back doors always left open? - Yes, you can open the front and back doors of any of the houses about there. They are all let out in rooms. People are coming in or going out all the night.
Did you ever see anyone in the passage? - Yes, about a month ago I heard a man on the stairs. I called Thompson, and the man said he was waiting for market.
At what time was this? - Between half-past three and four o'clock. I could hear anyone going through the passage. I did not hear any one going through on Saturday morning.
You heard no cries? - None.
Supposing a person had gone through at half-past three, would that have attracted your attention? - Yes.
You always hear people going to the back-yard? - Yes; people frequently do go through.
People go there who have no business to do so? - Yes; I daresay they do.
On Saturday morning you feel confident no one did go through? - Yes; I should have heard the sound.
They must have walked purposely quietly? - Yes; or I should have heard them.
By the Jury: I should not allow any stranger to go through for an immoral purpose if I knew it.
Harriett Hardiman, living at 29, Hanbury-street, catsmeat saleswoman, the occupier of the ground-floor front room, stated: I went to bed on Friday night at half-past ten. My son sleeps in the same room. I did not wake during the night. I was awakened by the trampling through the passage at about six o'clock. My son was asleep, and I told him to go to the back as I thought there was a fire. He returned and said that a woman had been killed in the yard. I did not go out of my room. I have often heard people going through the passage into the yard, but never got up to look who they were.
John Richardson, of John-street, Spitalfields, market porter, said: I assist my mother in her business. I went to 29, Hanbury-street, between 4,45 a.m. and 4.50 a.m. on Saturday last. I went to see if the cellar was all secure, as some while ago there was a robbery there of some tools. I have been accustomed to go on market mornings since the time when the cellar was broken in.
Was the front door open? - No, it was closed. I lifted the latch and went through the passage to the yard door.
Did you go into the yard? - No, the yard door was shut. I opened it and sat on the doorstep, and cut a piece of leather off my boot with an old table-knife, about five inches long. I kept the knife upstairs at John-street. I had been feeding a rabbit with a carrot that I had cut up, and I put the knife in my pocket. I do not usually carry it there. After cutting the leather off my boot I tied my boot up, and went out of the house into the market. I did not close the back door. It closed itself. I shut the front door.
How long were you there? - About two minutes at most.
Was it light? - It was getting light, but I could see all over the place.
Did you notice whether there was any object outside? - I could not have failed to notice the deceased had she been lying there then. I saw the body two or three minutes before the doctor came. I was then in the adjoining yard. Thomas Pierman had told me about the murder in the market. When I was on the doorstep I saw that the padlock on the cellar door was in its proper place.
Did you sit on the top step? - No, on the middle step; my feet were on the flags of the yard.
You must have been quite close to where the deceased was found? - Yes, I must have seen her.
You have been there at all hours of the night? - Yes.
Have you ever seen any strangers there? - Yes, plenty, at all hours - both men and women. I have often turned them out. We have had them on our first floor as well, on the landing.
Do you mean to say that they go there for an immoral purpose? - Yes, they do.
At this stage witness was despatched by the coroner to fetch his knife.
Mrs. Richardson, recalled, said she had never missed anything, and had such confidence in her neighbours that she had left the doors of some rooms unlocked. A saw and a hammer had been taken from the cellar a long time ago. The padlock was broken open.
Had you an idea at any time that a part of the house or yard was used for an immoral purpose? - Witness (emphatically): No, sir.
Did you say anything about a leather apron? - Yes, my son wears one when he works in the cellar.
The Coroner: It is rather a dangerous thing to wear, is it not?
Witness: Yes. On Thursday, Sept. 6, I found my son's leather apron in the cellar mildewed. He had not used it for a month. I took it and put it under the tap in the yard, and left it there. It was found there on Saturday morning by the police, who took charge of it. The apron had remained there from Thursday to Saturday.
Was this tap used? - Yes, by all of us in the house. The apron was on the stones. The police took away an empty box, used for nails, and the steel out of a boy's gaiter. There was a pan of clean water near to the tap when I went in the yard at six o'clock on Saturday. It was there on Friday night at eight o'clock, and it looked as if it had not been disturbed.
Did you ever know of strange women being found on the first-floor landing? - No.
Your son had never spoken to you about it? - No.
John Piser was then called. He said: I live at 22, Mulberry-street, Commercial-road East. I am a shoemaker.
Are you known by the nickname of "Leather Apron?" - Yes, sir.
Where were you on Friday night last? - I was at 22, Mulberry-street. On Thursday, the 6th inst. I arrived there.
From where? - From the west end of town.
The Coroner: I am afraid we shall have to have a better address than that presently. What time did you reach 22, Mulberry-street? - Shortly before eleven p.m.
Who lives at 22, Mulberry-street? - My brother and sister-in-law and my stepmother. I remained indoors there.
Until when? - Until I was arrested by Sergeant Thicke, on Monday last at nine a.m.
You say you never left the house during that time? - I never left the house.
Why were you remaining indoors? - Because my brother advised me.
You were the subject of suspicion? - I was the object of a false suspicion.
You remained on the advice of your friends? - Yes; I am telling you what I did.
The Coroner: It was not the best advice that you could have had. You have been released, and are not now in custody? - I am not.
Piser: I wish to vindicate my character to the world at large.
The Coroner: I have called you in your own interests, partly with the object of giving you an opportunity of doing so. Can you tell us where you were on Thursday, Aug. 30?
Witness (after considering): In the Holloway-road.
You had better say exactly where you were. It is important to account for your time from that Thursday to the Friday morning.
What time, may I ask?
The Coroner: It was the week before you came to Mulberry-street.
Witness: I was staying at a common lodging-house called the Round House, in the Holloway-road.
Did you sleep the night there? - Yes.
At what time did you go in? - On the night of the London Dock fire I went in about two or a quarter-past. It was on the Friday morning.
When did you leave the lodging-house? - At eleven a.m. on the same day. I saw on the placards, "Another Horrible Murder."
Where were you before two o'clock on Friday morning? - At eleven p.m. on Thursday I had my supper at the Round House.
Did you go out? - Yes, as far as the Seven Sisters-road, and then returned towards Highgate way, down the Holloway-road. Turning, I saw the reflection of a fire. Coming as far as the church in the Holloway-road I saw two constables and the lodging-housekeeper talking together. There might have been one or two constables, I cannot say which. I asked a constable where the fire was, and he said it was a long way off. I asked him where he thought it was, and he replied: "Down by the Albert Docks." It was then about half-past one, to the best of my recollection. I went as far as Highbury Railway Station on the same side of the way, returned, and then went into the lodging house.
Did any one speak to you about being so late? - No: I paid the night watchman. I asked him if my bed was let, and he said: "They are let by eleven o'clock. You don't think they are to let to this hour." I paid him 4d for another bed. I stayed up smoking on the form of the kitchen, on the right hand side near the fireplace, and then went to bed.
You got up at eleven o'clock? - Yes. The day man came, and told us to get up, as he wanted to make the bed. I got up and dressed, and went down into the kitchen.
Is there anything else you want to say? - Nothing.
When you said the West-end of town did you mean Holloway? - No; another lodging house in Peter-street, Westminster.
The Coroner: It is only fair to say that the witness's statements can be corroborated.
William Thicke, detective sergeant, deposed: Knowing that "Leather Apron" was suspected of being concerned in the murder, on Monday morning I arrested Piser at 22, Mulberry-street. I have known him by the name of "Leather Apron" for many years.
When people in the neighbourhood speak of the "Leather Apron" do they mean Piser? - They do.
He has been released from custody? - He was released last night at 9.30.
John Richardson (recalled) produced the knife - a much-worn dessert knife - with which he had cut his boot. He added that as it was not sharp enough he had borrowed another one at the market.
By the Jury: My mother has heard me speak of people having been in the house. She has heard them herself.
The Coroner: I think we will detain this knife for the present.
Henry John Holland, a boxmaker, stated: As I was passing 29, Hanbury-street, on my way to work in Chiswell-street, at about eight minutes past six on Saturday. I spoke to two of Bayley's men. An elderly man came out of the house and asked us to have a look in his back yard. I went through the passage and saw the deceased lying in the yard by the back door. I did not touch the body. I then went for a policeman in Spitalfields Market. The officer told me he could not come. I went outside and could find no constable. Going back to the house I saw an inspector run up with a young man, at about twenty minutes past six o'clock. I had told the first policeman that it was a similar case to Buck's-row, and he referred me to two policemen outside the market, but I could not find them. I afterwards complained of the policeman's conduct at the Commercial-street police station the same afternoon.
The Coroner: There does not seem to have been much delay. The inspector says there are certain spots where constables are stationed with instructions not to leave them. Their duty is to send some one else.
The Foreman of the Jury: That is the explanation.
The Coroner: The doctor will be here first thing tomorrow.
This afternoon the inquiry will be resumed.
The next portion of this issue's reporting of Whitechapel murder from "Yesterday the supposed bloodstains…" to "…to reach his lodgings." is reproduced in "News from Whitechapel" pages 58 - 59. The Telegraph continued with:
THE AFFAIR AT BLACKFRIARS. - Yesterday afternoon Mr. G. P. Wyatt, deputy coroner for North-East Surrey, held an inquiry at the King Henry VIII. Tavern, High-street, Lambeth, respecting the death of Georgina Byrne, aged 34 years, lately residing at 42A, Broad-street, Canterbury, widow of the late Troop-sergeant-major Byrne, of the 1st Dragoon Guards, stationed at Canterbury. Inspector Garland watched the case on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Police. Mr. Mathew Nelson, a retired officer from the artillery, identified the deceased as his daughter. Police-constable Duffin, 73 L, said he was on duty in the Blackfriars-road when he saw a crowd, and two persons raising a woman from the ground. One of them said, "I am her husband. I will go for a doctor." The witness did not see him again. He removed the deceased to St. Thomas's Hospital, where she was seen by a medical man and pronounced to be dead. There was a pair of boots in the parcel that had been given to him, together with the address of a tradesman in Canterbury. On the body were £2 10s in gold and a gold watch and chain. The deceased was well dressed. A sovereign fell out of her umbrella when the witness opened it at the mortuary. The house surgeon at St. Thomas's Hospital said he had examined the body of the deceased, but could find no traces of violence. Death, in his opinion, was due to syncope. The jury returned a verdict to this effect.
- William Bailey, 46, a French polisher, of Fashion-street, Spitalfields, was charged with maliciously wounding a woman named Elizabeth Tidmarsh. - It was stated that the woman's nose had been fearfully mutilated. She had lived, she said, with the prisoner for 16 years, and had had six children by him. The prisoner had frequently assaulted her, but she had never charged him before. On the previous evening there was a quarrel, and at half-past one, when she was about to go to bed, the prisoner struck her. She then made the remark to him that he was "like Leather Apron," on which the prisoner knocked her down. She fell against the bedstead, and the next she remembered was the policeman finding her in a pool of blood. Her nose was fearfully cut. She could not say whether the prisoner had anything in his hand or not, but she did not wish him punished, and only wanted him to keep the children. - Without hearing the medical evidence, Mr. Saunders ordered the prisoner to enter into his own bail to keep the peace for six months. - As he left the dock the prisoner said the woman was a dissipated drunkard, and she retorted by saying that she would not be "seen looking at such a wretch again." - A women living in Whitechapel asked the magistrate for protection against her husband, who had threatened to cut her heart out and burn it. - Mr. Saunders: But he would not do that. It would be no use to him if he did. - Applicant: But he says he will. - Mr. Saunders: Well, I will send an officer to caution him.
Yesterday Mr. Wynne Baxter, coroner, resumed his inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Annie Chapman, who was found brutally murdered last Saturday in a back yard in Hanbury-street. Among the witnesses examined were two men from an adjoining workshop, who described the appearance of the body when it was discovered. Mrs. Richardson, the occupier of the house, and her son also gave evidence, the latter testifying that a few minutes before five on the morning of the murder he called at his mother's house, and seeing that all was safe went to his work in the market. Had the woman's body then been where it was afterwards found he must have observed it. John Piser, otherwise, "Leather Apron," was next called, and satisfactorily accounted for his whereabouts not only on Saturday morning but some days previously, and the coroner remarked that his statements had been corroborated. The inquest was adjourned. A woman named Durrell has volunteered the statement that about half-past five on Saturday morning she saw a man and woman, the latter of whom she subsequently, on viewing the body, declared to be the deceased, conversing outside No. 29, Hanbury-street. Should her testimony be verified the fact will be established that the crime was committed between half-past five and six.
A coroner's inquest was held yesterday on the body of Mrs. Georgina Byrne, of Canterbury, who was found dead in Blackfriars-road on Saturday. The jury found that death was the result of heart disease.