SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1888
WAS THE ASSASSIN AN ANATOMIST?
Assurances have been given by responsible officers of the medical schools attached to all the great London hospitals, with two exceptions, that no such extraordinary application was ever made to them of the nature described by Mr. Wynne Baxter, the coroner, in his recent summing up. At the schools of the University College Hospital and of the Middlesex Hospital the authorities, for some inscrutable reason, decline to give any information as to whether the "American student" did prefer his singular request to them or not. From certain admissions of the gentlemen concerned there does not appear to be reason to doubt that to one or other of these two institutions belongs the distinction of having given certain information to the coroner, which he subsequently communicated to the Scotland-yard detectives, and upon which he based the theory which has caused such consternation. He assumed that some abandoned wretch had been incited by the knowledge that a demand existed, and that the criminal must have been some on accustomed to the post-mortem room, and possessed of sufficient knowledge of anatomy to enable him to perform an unusual operation under harassing conditions. After Mr. Baxter had insisted that Mr. Phillips, the police divisional surgeon, should no longer withhold the most important part of his evidence respecting his post-mortem examination of the body of Annie Chapman, and when the report was published, it is clear that on the next day the coroner received a communication from an official connected with a leading London hospital, and that in consequence he attended at the pathological museum belonging to the institution, where some one - not the "sub-curator," for the post that gentleman holds is otherwise described - made him acquainted with the outlines of a rumour which had circulated in the dissecting-rooms during the past summer, and to which not the slightest importance was attached until the murder in Hanbury-street occurred, and the startling medical evidence was published. The rumour, at most, appears to have been an idle one, and in respect of the sum mentioned to the coroner - viz., £20 - as the price offered, and the object of the American, as stated by him, the story is discredited. At the Middlesex Hospital the official who, on other points, refused to elucidate the matter, characterised the tale, as far as the above details are concerned, as a silly story. Furthermore, at University College, where pains were taken to return an unqualified answer of "no information," it was hinted that the story as it has been made public had, in some way, become mixed with error, and that it was very certain that it provided no explanation of the motive of the crime. Under these circumstances, when the true facts are deliberately withheld by the persons who are responsible for the allegations which have created general alarm, the public have a right to know what is the origin of the story, and upon what foundation this piece of sensationalism rests. The coroner surely could not have imagined the particulars of the incident, or was he misled, intentionally or purposely, by any responsible authority? Those gentlemen who assert that they have "no information," somewhat indignantly repudiate the suggestion that it was a hoax, or that the matter has no importance. In fact, they talk somewhat mysteriously about "the interests of justice" being imperilled by disclosure. Whether the real object is to prolong public excitement, or for some other reasons the persons who could set the whole affair at rest are making a sham mystery of it, it is seriously discreditable to the authorities who indulge in want of candour, and it is opposed to the interests of the public and of the police. It is difficult to understand why they should give the coroner information, who considered that it should be made public in order to detect the criminal, and then refrain, possibly for some reason of pique, from telling the public the truth. There is nothing in the matter which reflects upon the character of the management of medical schools; the only discredit falls upon people who create, or at any rate sustain, apparently false alarms. In general, skilled anatomists agree that the incident, as at present narrated, is ridiculous, and not worthy of serious consideration. It is admitted that, if the published details be correct, the murderer must have been a more or less practised anatomist; but it is pointed out that this idea depends entirely upon the fact whether great skill was displayed. The evidence at the inquest was to that effect, but professional men and eminent demonstrators in medical schools are now saying that they would be much more satisfied on that head had there been a second medical opinion at the inquest to confirm Mr. Phillips' evidence. Had that precaution been taken, it could never have been questioned whether the operation was so successful as has been alleged. Why did the police neglect this simple measure, when they had the resources of the Government at their disposal?
John Fitzgerald, who was arrested at Wandsworth, and who has been detained at the Leman-street Police-station, on his own confession, of having murdered Annie Chapman, in Hanbury-street, on the 8th inst., has been liberated, exhaustive inquiries having proved his statement entirely unfounded.
WESTMINSTER - THE POLICE AND THE PUBLIC. - James Henderson, cab proprietor and driver, of 7, Effle-mews, Walham-green, surrendered to his recognisances before Mr. Partridge, to answer a charge of being drunk during his employment at Sloane-square on Monday night. - Mr. Rymer defended. - The evidence of two constables was to the effect that the defendant, ignoring the traffic regulations made on the occasion of the opening of the Court Theatre, forced his cab to a public-house, remarking that he would get through, and that none of Charley Warren's bull-dogs would stop him. - A constable who seized his horse's head, and another officer who corroborated, stated that when he got off the box he was very drunk and staggering about, also that he was exceedingly violent on the way to the station. - In cross-examination the constables admitted that it was not noticeable that the defendant was drunk until he got off his box, and that he displayed great anxiety about his horse, which was said to be an entire animal; further, that the defendant denied being drunk at the station. - Inspector Fielding, B Division, Gerald-road Station, Pimlico, said that when the accused was brought in to be charged, about half-past eleven at night, he was decidedly drunk. - Cross-examined: Two gentlemen came to the station about twenty minutes afterwards, and one of them, who said that the prisoner had driven him, requested that a doctor might be sent for. As the cabman himself had not asked for the attendance of a medical man he declined to accede to the request, and also to allow of any communication, verbal or in writing, with the accused. He (witness) recognised the gentleman in court, Count Stenbock. The Count said that he sent the cabman for some brandy and to get change, but was himself very excited, threatening to write to the newspapers. - Mr. Rymer: You treated both the Count and his friend in a very offhand way. - Witness: I did not. And, in my opinion, they were not so sober as they are to-day in court. - Mr. Rymer: Now, that is a very nasty suggestion. - Witness said he directed them to leave the station, and they went. - By the Magistrate: Having no doubt about the cabman's drunkenness himself, he did not think it necessary to send for a doctor twenty minutes after the man had been charged, at the request of a third person. - Mr. Rymer: The cabman had not got 7s 6d to pay for the doctor's fee, and no one was allowed to speak to him or even send a note to him. - Mr. Partridge: I think as far as the doctor goes there was an error of judgement on the part of the inspector. If the defendant's friends desire a medical man to be called and offer to bear the expense there should be no objection. - Mr. Rymer said his defence was that Henderson was sober. Unfortunately, as it turned out for him, when he was summoned at this court a short time ago for leaving his cab unattended and was only mulcted in the costs of the summons, an intimation was thrown out that he would soon be there again, a prediction which had been verified. - Mr. Partridge: Are you going to prove that, because, if not, the statement is irregular? - Mr. Rymer said it could be proved if necessary. - Count Stanislas Eric Stenbock, residing at 11, Sloane-terrace, Chelsea, deposed that the defendant had been in the habit of driving him daily, and on the night in question he drove witness home from the Solferino Restaurant, Rupert-street, about eleven o'clock. He asked the accused to get change at a neighbouring public-house, and to purchase some brandy. Henderson was perfectly sober at this time, and directly witness heard he was locked up he proceeded to the station. The inspector there was grossly uncivil, refused to allow him to communicate with the accused, or even to take to him a card, on which the mere announcement was made that he (witness) would see that the cab was sent home, and that defendant's wife was informed of what had occurred. A doctor was also refused, for which witness offered to pay. - Mr. Rymer: It has been kindly suggested that you, Count, were under the influence of drink. - Witness: It is most absolutely false. I was angry, and might have been flushed in consequence. - In answer to questions from the magistrate witness said that Henderson was really a friend of his whom he had known at Oxford in different circumstances. - Mr. Francis James Carroll, who gave the address 20, Powis-square, Brighton, said that he accompanied Count Stenbock to the police-station, and could corroborate his statement. - Having heard other witnesses, Mr. Partridge considered that he could not convict the defendant of drunkenness in the face of the evidence, particularly as it had been admitted that the man's condition was such that while he sat on the box of his cab he would not have been apprehended. The inspector no doubt committed an error of judgement in not sending for a doctor; he might have acted a little more judiciously, especially after the declaration of the two witnesses for the accused. He (the magistrate) should be obliged to dismiss the charge as it stood, but he thought the defendant, in obstructing the police and defying their regulations, had been guilty of very gross misbehaviour, and for that he should suggest that a summons be taken out.
DALSTON - A FRESH WHITECHAPEL SCARE. - James Johnson, a pale-looking man of 35, with a decided American accent, describing himself as a waiter, of Birdhurst-road, St. John's-hill, Wandsworth, was charged before Mr. R. W. Bros with assaulting Elizabeth Hudson, a woman of loose character, by throwing her down on the pavement, and threatening to stab her with a knife. The story told by prosecutrix and her friend, Alice Anderson, was that at two o'clock in the morning she was at the corner of Richmond-road, Dalston, when the prisoner came up, threw her down, and at the same time pulled from his coat pocket a long knife, and tried to stab her. She screamed "Murder," and he ran away. - Mr. Bros: How did he open the knife? - Witness: It was open, and had a sharp point. - Mr. Bros: Where did he take it from? - Witness: His outside coat pocket. It was something like a carving knife. - By the Prisoner: I did not put my hand in your pocket. You seized me and threw me down, without saying a word. - Alice Anderson added that the prisoner had previously accosted her in the Kingsland-road. It was near the Lamb public-house. As they were going along he tried to throw her down. She screamed, and the man ran away. - Police-constable 460 T said: About a quarter to two this morning I was on duty in De Beauvoir-square, when I heard screams of "Police" and "Stop him." I turned round and saw prisoner running along the road. I stopped him and asked what was the matter? He said two women had stopped him in the Kingsland-road, and wanted him to go down the mews with them, and because he refused they screamed, and he ran away. I took him back to Kingsland-road, where I saw the women. Hudson said, "That is the man who tried to stab me." She said she would charge him. I took him to the station. - Mr. Bros: Did you search him? - Witness: Yes. - Mr. Bros: Did you find a knife? - Witness: No, sir. - Prisoner (in reply to the magistrate) said: I have no witness to bring. Everything the females have said is entirely the other way about. They used dirty, insulting language to me. If they had not spoken to me I should not have said anything to them. I spoke to them going along. One of them put her hand into my pocket, and I gave her a shove and she went down. She was so drunk she did not want much force. There is nothing against my character, but I asked the police not to make inquiries because my wife is so delicate. I have never been in a court of justice before in my life. I work for my living. I had no knife in my possession. I never carry one. - Mr. Bros: You will be put back for inquiries, and can communicate with whom you please. Subsequently the prisoner was again placed in the dock, and Mrs. Seaton, his landlady, deposed that she had known him as a respectable man for a long time. He was employed by refreshment contractors. When prisoner was called for what he had to say he said he could only repeat his former statement, with the addition that he came over to Kingsland to see a friend, and not finding him, he went playing billiards. - Mr. Bros: Why did you run away? - Prisoner: Because I was ashamed of being mixed up in such a matter. - Police-constable 16 JR said he knew the prosecutrix in this case as a disorderly woman, and had cautioned her not long before this matter occurred for accosting men. - Mr. Bros discharged the prisoner, remarking that he had got into an awkward scrape by his own folly.
In reference to this case the police state that they noticed, as an extraordinary circumstance, that when they went on duty last night they saw a very long chalk mark on the pavement in Kingsland-road, one directing point coming to the word "Look!" and, farther on, "I am Leather Apron. Five more and I will give myself up." Beneath this was a rude drawing of a man with a knife uplifted towards a woman.
James Henderson, cab proprietor and driver, was charged by the police at Westminster yesterday with being drunk during his employment in Sloane-square. Two constables and the inspector on duty supported the summons. Count Stanislas Stenbock, who said he was a friend of Henderson's, having known him at Oxford in more prosperous days, swore that the defendant was not drunk, adding that the inspector at the station was grossly uncivil, and refused to call a doctor when requested. Other gentlemen corroborated this testimony, and the magistrate, remarking that the inspector might have acted a little more judiciously, dismissed the charge. He suggested, however, that the defendant should be summoned for obstructing the police and defying their regulations.
THE POLICE AND PUBLICANS. - The following order has been issued by the Commissioners to the Metropolitan police: "In all cases in which drunken persons are arrested in or near public-houses, the officer making the apprehension is to note and report any facts which may tend to prove where and under what circumstances the accused obtained the liquor; and in any case in which there is sufficient evidence of the sale of intoxicating liquor to a drunken person, the particulars are to be reported with a view to proceedings being taken against the publican concerned."