The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 28 September 1889.
INQUEST AND VERDICT.
"WILFUL MURDER" AGAINST THE "UNKNOWN."
On Tuesday, at the Vestry Hall, Cable Street, St.George's-in-the-East, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter resumed his inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of the woman whose mutilated remains were recently discovered in Pinchin Street, Backchurch Lane. On the last occasion the inquiry was adjourned for the full results of the post-mortem examination to be made known, and the following evidence was now taken.
Mr. Percy John Clark, assistant to Dr. Phillips, surgeon to the H division of police said: Shortly before six o'clock on the morning of September 10th I was called by the police to Pinchin Street. Under the railway arch there, about 8 ft. from the road, and about a foot from the right wall of the arch, I saw the trunk of a woman, minus the head and legs. The arms were not severed from the body. There was no pool of blood, nor were there any signs of a struggle having taken place there; but on moving the body I found that there was a little blood underneath where the neck had been. This blood had apparently oozed out from the cut surface of the neck. On the remains were the remnants of what had been a chemise of common make. It had been torn down the front and cut from the front of the arm holes on each side. There was no distinguishing mark on the garment. The body was taken to the mortuary, and an examination there showed it to be that of a woman of stoutish build, of dark complexion, about 5 ft. 3 ins. in height, and between 30 and 40 years old. I should think the body must have been dead about 24 hours. Besides the wounds caused by the severance of the head and legs, there was a wound 15 ins. long through the external coats of the abdomen. The body was not blood-stained, except where the chemise had rested upon it. The body seemed to have been recently washed. On the back there were four bruises, all caused before death. One was under the spine, on a level with the lower part of the shoulder blade. An inch lower down was a similar bruise. About the middle of the back also, over the spine, was a bruise about the size of half a crown. On a level with the top of the hip bone, and 3 ins. to the left of the spine, was a bruise 2½ ins. in diameter, such as might be caused by a fall or a kick. None of the bruises were of old standing. On the right arm there were eight distinct bruises, and seven on the left, all caused before death and of recent date. The backs of both fore-arms and hands were much bruised. On the other side of the left fore-arm, about 3 ins. above the wrist, was a cut about 2 ins. in length, and ½ in. lower down was another cut, both caused after death. The bruises on the right arm were such as would have been caused by the arm having been tightly grasped. There was an old injury on the index finger of the right hand over the last joint. Two vaccination marks were on the left arm. The arms were well formed. Both elbows were hardened and discoloured, as if they had been leant upon. The hands and nails were pallid, and the former were not indicative of any particular kind of work. There was no sign of maternity about the body.
Dr. Phillips deposed as follows:- I first examined the body at six o'clock on the day the remains were found. I confirm, so far as I have observed, the evidence given by my colleague, Mr. Clarke, who was present with me when I first examined the body. Decomposition of the body had been fairly established. There was an oozing of blood from the cut surface of the neck. The cut surfaces where the thighs had been removed were nearly dry. The cut surface at the neck was not so dry, but it impressed me greatly with its general even surface. The skin was beginning to peel, and the decomposition of the trunk was greater about the upper than the lower part of it. Next morning, in the presence of Dr. Gordon Brown and Mr. Hibberd, I further examined the body. Decomposition had extended greatly. The cut surface of the neck was much drier at the ends of the muscles, but more moist underneath. The neck had been severed by a clean incision commencing a little to the right side of the middle line of the neck behind, leaving a flap of skin at the end of the incision. It had severed the whole of the structures of the neck, dividing the cartilage of the neck in front, and separating the bone of the spine behind. The two small cuts upon the forearm appear to me as likely to have been caused when the sweep of the knife divided the muscles covering the upper part of the thigh. Both thighs were excised by the extensive circular sweep of the knife, or some sharp instrument, penetrating the joint from below and separating the thighs at the hip joint, but the cartilages within the joint and those which deepen the joint and surround it had not been injured. The marks upon the fingers had fairly healed, and had evidently been in the process of healing for some time previous to death. I think the pallor of the hands and nails is an important element in enabling me to draw a conclusion as to the cause of death. I agree especially with the remarks made by Mr. Clarke as to the date. There was throughout the body an absence of blood in the vessels. The heart was empty; it was fatty, and the vessels coated with fat, but the bowels were healthy. The right lung was adherent, except at base, the left lung free, and taking them both together, fairly competent, and especially considering the decomposition of the remains. The stomach was the seat of considerable post-mortem change, and contained only a small quantity of fruit, like a plum. In my opinion the woman had never been pregnant. I believe her to have been under 40 years of age. There was an absence of any particular disease or poison. I believe that death arose from loss of blood. I believe the whole of the mutilations to have been subsequent to death; that the mutilations were effected by some one accustomed to cut up animals or to see them cut up; and that the incisions were effected by strong knife, 8 ins. or more long. The supposition - and only a supposition - which presents itself to my mind is that there had been a former incision of the neck, the signs of which had disappeared on the subsequent separation of the head. The loss of blood could not have come from the stomach, and I could not trace it coming from the lungs. I have a strong opinion that it did not.
By a Juryman: I cannot say whether the person who severed the head from the body was a butcher or not. I merely wish to say it was a person accustomed either to see or use a knife, or some sharp instrument, in cutting up animals. I have no reason for believing that he had human anatomical knowledge.
Michael Keating, of 1, Osborne Street, Brick Lane, a licensed shoeblack, said he passed up Pinchin Street on the night of the 9th between 11 and 12 o'clock. He saw no one about, and observed nothing under the arch, but he was not very sober at the time. He went to sleep under the arch, and was not awakened during the night. The police roused him in the morning, and as he was leaving he noticed the body, which the inspector was covering up. He lent the police the sack in which he carried his blacking box. If the body had been under the arch when he went in he was not certain he was sober enough to have seen it. As far as he remembered, however, he went in the other side of the arch. He did not hear of anyone else coming in during the night. Witness had never slept under the arch before, but he knew it was a quiet and convenient place.
Richard Hawk, a seaman, said he left the hospital on the 9th of September, and in company with another man walked about the streets until 20 minutes past four o'clock in the morning, when, happening to be in Pinchin Street, he went under the railway arch to lie down. A policeman whom they asked said it was 20 minutes to four o'clock. Neither of them saw anything in the archway, and soon went to sleep.
Nehemiah Harley, a carman, deposed that he lived near Pinchin Street, and to seeing a man standing at the corner at about 25 minutes to six o'clock. The man had the appearance of going to work. Soon afterwards he found the police in possession of the ground where the body had been found.
Inspector Moore, who had charge of the case, said there was no reason for adjourning the inquiry.
Dr. Phillips, re-called, said that there was not such a similarity between the manner in which the limbs were severed in this and in the Dorset Street murder to convince him that both crimes were the work of one man, but the division of the neck and the attempt to disarticulate the bones of the spine were very similar in each case. The savagery shown in the mutilations in the Dorset Street case was far worse than in that now under consideration. In the former the mutilations were most wanton, whereas in the Pinchin Street crime he believed they were made in order to dispose of the body. These were points that struck him without any comparative study of the Dorset Street case, except such as was afforded by partial notes which he had with him. He believed that in this case there had been greater knowledge shown in regard to the construction of the parts composing the spine, and on the whole there had been a greater knowledge shown of how to separate a joint.
The Coroner then briefly summed up, and the jury at once returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."