Thursday, 27th September 1888
(CENTRAL NEWS TELEGRAM)
A man giving the name of John Fitzgerald gave himself up at Wandsworth Police Station last night, and made a statement to the inspector on duty to the effect that he committed the murder in Hanbury street. He was afterwards conveyed to Leman street Police Station, where he is now detained.
INQUEST AND VERDICT
REMARKABLE STATEMENT BY THE CORONER
This afternoon Mr Wynne E Baxter, the coroner for South-East Middlesex, resumed the inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, into the circumstances attending the death of Mrs Annie Chapman, aged 48, late of Windsor, who was murdered on the morning of the 8th September. There being no further evidence forthcoming the Coroner proceeded to sum up. Having recalled the facts of the case, ad the condition in which the body of the murdered woman was found, the Coroner went on to say that two things were missing, viz, the woman's finger rings and a part of her body. He continued - The body had not been dissected, but the injuries had been made by some one who had considerable anatomical skill and knowledge. There are no meaningless cuts. The organ has been taken 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. 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 someone accustomed to the post-mortem room. The conclusion that the desire was to possess the missing abdominal organ seems overwhelming. If the object were robbery the injuries to the viscera were meaningless, for death had previously resulted from the loss of blood at the neck. The amount missing would go in a breakfast cup, and had not the medical examiner been of a thorough and searching character, it might easily have been left unnoticed that there had been any portion of the body taken. It has been suggested that the criminal is a lunatic with morbid feelings. This may or may not be the case, 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 afford in the detection of crime. Within a few hours o the issue of the morning papers containing a 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 which might or might not have a distinct bearing on 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 £20 a piece for each specimen. He stated that his object was to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a publication on which he was engaged. He was told that his request was impossible to be complied with, but he still 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 the request was repeated to another institution of a similar character. Now is it not possible that knowledge of this demand may have incited some abandoned wretch to possess himself of a specimen? It seems beyond belief that such inhuman wickedness could enter into the mind of any man, but unfortunately our criminal annuls prove that every crime is possible. I need hardly say that I at once communicated my information to the Detective Department of Scotland Yard. Of course, I do not know what use has been made of it, but I believe that publicity may possibly further elucidate this fact, and therefore I have not withheld from you the information." In concluding his remarks upon this part of the subject the coroner said, "Surely it is not too late yet to hope that the ingenuity of our detective force will succeed in unearthing this monster. It is not as if there were no clue to the character of the criminal or 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 the search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover, it must have been a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of the 8th of September.
The jury found that Annie Chapman "was murdered by some person or persons unknown."
Dr Phillips, the divisional police surgeon for Whitechapel, who has been making inquiries into the murder near Gateshead, attended the inquest at Whitechapel for the purpose of answering any further questions which might be put to him with a view to elucidating the mystery, but he arrived when the coroner was summing up, and thus had no opportunity. When told by a reporer of the startling statement in the coroner's summing up he said he considered it a very important communicatin, and the public would now see his reason for not wishing in the first place to give a description of the injuries. He attached great importance to the applications which had been made to the pathological museums, and to the advisability of following this information up as a probable clue. With reference to the murder and mutilation near Gateshead, he stated that it was evidently not done by the same hand as the Whitechapel murder, that at Gateshead being simply a clumsy piece of butchery. A telegram from the district states that the same opinion is entertained there, the idea being that the mutilation of the body was suggested to the murderer by reading the accounts of the murders in the east end of London.