10 September 1888
The East End of London has been thrown into a state of intense excitement by the discovery of another brutal murder of a woman in the same neighbourhood in which recently other shocking tragedies of a like nature have been perpetrated. The circumstances of the present case leave little doubt as to the series of murders being the work of the same hand. The victim is a woman named ANNIE CHAPMAN, a woman who has for some years gained a precarious livelihood in various ways, some of them not the most reputable. Her body was found at about six o'clock on Saturday morning in the back yard belonging to a house in Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, shockingly mutilated, and with the throat cut. Up to a late hour last night no definite clue to the murderer had been obtained.
Monday, September 10th, 1888
"Another Brutal Murder of a Woman in East London
Excitement in Whitechapel"
On Saturday morning at a quarter past six the neighbourhood of Whitechapel was horrified to a degree bordering on panic by the discovery of another barbarous murder of a woman, the scene of the crime being 29, Hanbury-street (late Brown Lane), Spitalfields. Hanbury-street is a thoroughfare running between Commercial-street and Whitechapel Road, the occupants of which are poor and for the most part of Jewish extraction. The circumstances of the murder are of such a revolting character as to point to the conclusion that it had been perpetrated by the hand which committed that in Buck's Row and the two previous murders, all of which have occurred within a stone's throw of each other. The murdered woman, who appears to have been respectably connected, was known in the neighbourhood by women of the unfortunate class as Annie Sivvy, but her real name was Annie Chapman. She is described by those who knew her best as a decent, although poor, looking woman, about 5ft. 2in. or 5ft. 3in. high, with fair brown wavy hair, blue eyes, large flat nose; and, strange to say, she had two of her front teeth missing, as had Mary Ann Nicholls, who was murdered in Buck's Row. When her body was found it was respectably clad. She wore no head covering, but simply a skirt and bodice and two light petticoats. A search being made in her pockets nothing was found but an envelope stamped "The Sussex Regiment." The house in Hanbury-street in the yard of which the crime was committed is occupied by a woman named Richardson, who employs several men in the rough packing line. There is a small shop in front at the basement of the house, which is utilised for the purposes of a cat's meat shop. From the upper end of the house there is a passage at either end leading to a small yard, some 13ft. or 14ft. square, separated from the adjoining houses by a slight wooden fence. There is no outlet at the back, and any person who gains access must of necessity make his exit from the same end as his entry. In the yard there were recently some packing cases, which had been sent up from the basement of the dwelling, but just behind the lower door there was a clear space left, wherein the murder was undoubtedly committed. The theory primarily formed was that the unfortunate victims had been first murdered and afterwards dragged through the entry into the back yard, but from an inspection made later in the day it appears that the murder was actually committed in the corner of the yard, which the back door when open places in obscurity. There were some marks of blood observable in the passage, but it is now known that these were caused during the work of removal of some packing-cases, the edges of which accidentally came in contact with the blood upon the spot from which the unhappy victim was removed.
The discovery of the murder appears to have been made by John Davis, a porter in Spitalfields Market, and one of the occupants of 29, Hanbury-street, but at 5.25, about three-quarters of an hour before the body was found, Albert Cadosch, who lodges next door, had occasion to go into the adjoining yard at the back, and states that he heard a conversation on the other side of the palings as if between two people. He caught the word "No,' and fancied he subsequently heard a slight scuffle, with the noise of a falling against the palings, but thinking that his neighbours might probably be out in the yard he took no further notice and went to his work. It is stated, however, that in the house the back premises of which happened to become the scene of this hideous crime no fewer than six separate families reside, and some people who live on the ground floor and are credited with being "light sleepers" assert emphatically that during the night and morning they heard no sound of a suspicious nature, which is likely enough in view of the pact that the passage from the front to the back of the house has been invariably left open for the convenience of dwellers in the building, the traffic being constant. When the man Davis made his discovery he made no attempt to ascertain the condition of deceased, but immediately alarmed the other inmates of the house, and then proceeded to acquaint the police at the Commercial-street station with what had occurred. In the meantime Mrs. Richardson, the principal occupier of the premases (sic), together with a young woman named Eliza Cooksly, sleeping on the second floor, were aroused, and under the notion that the building was on fire ran to the back bedroom window, whence they were enabled to see the murdered woman lying on the paved yard. When the police arrived they found that the woman had been murdered in a terribly brutal fashion. Her clothes were disarranged, her throat cut, and her body mutilated in a manner too horrible for description. With as little delay as possible the officers removed the body to the nearest mortuary.
Among other statements bearing upon the finding of the body
is one by
Mrs. Richardson, the landlady at 29, Hanbury-street, who says: "I have lived at this house fifteen years, and my lodgers are poor but hard-working people. Some have lodged with me as long as twelve years. They mostly work at the fish market or the Spitalfields Market. Some of the carmen in the fish market go out to work as early as 1 a.m., while others go out at four and five, so that the place is open all night and anyone can get in. It is certain that the deceased came voluntarily into the yard, as if there had been any struggle it must have been heard, several lodgers sleep at the back of the house, and some had their windows open, but no noise was heard from the yard. One of my lodgers, a carman, named Thompson, employed at Goodson's, in Brick Lane, went out at four o'clock in the morning. He did not go into the yard, but he did not notice anything particular in the passage as he went out. My son John came in at ten minutes to five, and he gave a look round before he went to market. He went through to the yard, but no one was there then, and everything was right. Just before six o'clock, when Mr. Davis, another of my lodgers, came down, he found the deceased lying in the corner of the yard, close to the house, and by the side of the step. There was not the slightest sign of a struggle, and the pool of blood which flowed from the throat after it was cut was close to the step where she lay. She does not appear to have moved an inch after the fiend struck her with the knife. She must have died instantly. The murderer must have gone away from the spot covered in blood. There was an earthenware pan containing water in the yard; but this was not discoloured, and could not, therefore, have been used by the murderer. The only possible clue that I can think of is that Mr. Thompsons's wife met a man about a month ago lying on the stairs. This was about four o'clock in the morning. He looked like a Jew, and spoke with a foreign accent. When asked what he was doing there, he replied he was wanting to do a 'doss' before the market opened. He slept on the stairs that night, and I believe he has slept on the stairs on other nights. Mrs. Thompson is certain she could recognise the man again both by his personal appearance and peculiar voice."
With regard to the history and recent movements of the victim a woman named Amelia Farmer has given important information. She states that the deceased, whom she had known for a considerable time, had been a fellow-lodger with her. The name of the deceased was Annie Chapman, and she was the wife of a veterinary surgeon, who died at Windsor about 18 months ago. Annie Chapman had for a long time been separated from her husband by mutual agreement, and had been allowed 10s. a week by him for her maintenance. The money had been sent by Post-office order, and had always come regularly. About 18 months ago the instalments suddenly ceased, and, upon inquiry being made, it was found that the husband had died. Annie Chapman had two children, but where they were she could not say. The deceased had a mother and sister, who were living in the neighbourhood of Brompton or Fulham. Farmer had been in the habit of writing letters for her friend, but could not remember the exact address of the mother or sister, but thought it was near the Brompton Hospital. Last Monday, Chapman had intimated her intention of communicating with her sister, saying-- "If I can get a pair of boots from my sister I shall go hop picking." Another relation, a brother-in-law of the deceased, lived somewhere in or near Oxford-street. Farmer asserted that her murdered friend was apparently a sober, steady-going sort of woman, and one who seldom took any drink. For some time past she had been living occasionally with a man who had been in the militia, but was now working at some neighbouring brewery. He was a good-tempered man, rather tall, about 5ft. 10in., fair, and of florid complexion. He was the last man in the world to have quarrelled with Chapman, nor would he have injured her in any way. At the beginning of the week, the deceased had been rather severely knocked about in the breast and face by another woman of the locality through jealousy, and had been obliged to go to the casual ward. As a regular means of livelihood she had not been in the habit of frequenting the streets, but had made antimacassars for sale. Sometimes she would buy flowers or matches with which to pick up a living. Farmer was perfectly certain that on Friday night the murdered woman had worn three rings, which were not genuine, but were imitations, otherwise she would not have troubled to go out and find money for her lodgings, as a lodging-house keeper said she did on Friday night.
The deputy of a lodging-house at 30, Dorset-street, states that Annie Chapman used to lodge there about two years ago with a man called Jack Sivvy, a sieve maker; hence her nickname was Annie Sivvy. She appeared to be a quiet woman, and not given to drinking; in fact, he was quite surprised to hear that she had been seen drinking the night before her murder. The woman had two children to his knowledge--a boy who was a cripple, and who he believed was at some charitable school, and a daughter who was somewhere in France.
Timothy Donovan, the deputy at the lodging-house, 35 Dorset- street, stated that the deceased had been in the habit of coming there for the past four months. She was a quiet woman, and gave no trouble. He had heard her say she wished she was as well off as her relations, but she never told him who her relations were or where they lived. A pensioner or a soldier usually came to the lodging-house with her on Saturday nights and generally he stayed until the Monday morning. He would be able to identify the man instantly if he saw him. After the man left on Monday deceased would usually keep in the room for some days longer, the charge being eightpence per night. This man stayed at the house from Saturday to Monday last, and when he went the deceased went with him. She was not seen at the house again until Friday night about half-past eleven o'clock, when she passed the doorway, and Donovan, calling out, asked her where she had been since Monday, and why she had not slept there, and she replied, "I have been in the Infirmary." Then she went on her way in the direction of Bishopsgate-street. About 1.40 a.m. on Saturday morning she came again to the lodging-house, and asked for a bed. The message was brought upstairs to him, and he sent downstairs to ask for the money. The woman replied, "I haven't enough now, but keep my bed for me. I shan't be long." She was the worse for drink at the time, and was eating some baked potatoes. He saw nothing of her again until he was called to the mortuary yesterday morning, when he identified the deceased by her features and her wavy hair, which was turning gray. After deceased left on Monday last he found two large bottles in the room, one containing medicine, and labelled in a manner which confirmed her statement that she had been under medical treatment. On being asked whether he knew a man called "Leather Apron," Donovan said he knew him well. He came to the lodging-house about twelve months ago, a woman being his companion. In the early hours of the morning the woman commenced screaming murder, and it seems that "Leather Apron" had knocked her down and tore her hair and clothes. "Leather Apron" said the woman was trying to rob him, but he (Donovan) did not believe him, and turned him out of the house. The man had come there several times since for a lodging, but they would not admit him.
No definite clue has as yet been obtained of the perpetrator of the fiendish crime, but the populace is in a state of excitement, which is prolific in rumours which may or may not lead to results. For instance, it was ascertained on Saturday night that a pawnbroker in Mile End Road had detained rings which had been presented to him for pledge, but which on being tested had not been found genuine. Should these rings prove to be those taken from Annie Chapman, and should Amelia Farmer be able to identify them, a solid trace of the bloodthirsty and cruel murderer will be obtained which may lead to his capture. Another clue was furnished by Mrs. Fiddymont, wife of the proprietor of the Prince Albert public-house, better known as the "Clean House," at the corner of Brushfield and Stewart Streets, half a mile from the scene of the murder. Mrs. Fiddymont states that at seven o'clock on Saturday morning she was standing in the bar talking with another woman, a friend, in the first compartment. Suddenly there came into the middle compartment whose rough appearance frightened her. He had on a brown stilt hat, a dark coat, and no waistcoat. He came in with his hat down over his eyes, and with his face partly concealed, and asked for half pint of four ale. She drew the ale, and meanwhile looked at him through the mirror at the back of the bar. As soon as he saw the woman in the other compartment watching him he turned his back, and got the partition between himself and her. The thing that struck Mrs. Fiddymont particularly was the fact that there were blood spots on the back of his right hand. This, taken in connection with his apearance (sic), caused her uneasiness. She also noticed that his shirt was torn. As soon as he had drunk the ale, which he swallowed at a gulp, he went out. Her friend went out also to watch him.
The story is corroborated by the friend alluded to, whose name is Mrs. Mary Chappell, living in Stewart-street. Mrs. Chappell says that when the man came in, the expression of his eyes caught her attention--his look was so startling and terrifying. It frightened Mrs. Fiddymont so that she requested her to stay. He wore a light blue check shirt, which was torn badly, into rags in fact, on the right shoulder. There was a narrow streak of blood under the right ear, parallel with the edge of his shirt. There was also dried blood between the fingers of his hand. When he went out she slipped out at the other door, and watched him as he went towards Bishopsgate-street. She called Joseph Taylor's attention to him, and Joseph Taylor followed him. Joseph Taylor is a builder at 22, Stewart-street. He states that as soon as his attention was attracted to the man he followed him. He walked rapidly, and came alongside him, but did not speak to him. The man was rather thin, about 5ft. 8in. high, and apparently between forty and fifty years of age. He had a shabby genteel look, pepper and salt trousers which fitted badly, and dark coat. When Taylor came alongside him the man glanced at him, and Taylor's description of the look was, "His eyes were as wild as a hawk's." Taylor is a perfectly reliable man, well known throughout the neighbourhood. The man walked, he says, holding his coat together at the top. He had a nervous and frightened way about him. He had a ginger-coloured moustache and had short sandy hair. Taylor ceased to follow him, but watched him as far as "Dirty Dick's," in Halfmoon-street, where he became lost to view.
On the wall of the yard near where the body was found there was written, "Five. 15 more and then I give myself up."
Reference is made in the above report to a mysterious being bearing the name of "Leather Apron," concerning whom a number of stories have for a week or more been current in Whitechapel. Of this individual the following description is given:--
He is 5ft. 4in. or 5ft. 5in. in height, and wears a dark close-fitting cap. He is thickset, and has an unusually thick neck. His hair is black, and closely clipped, his age being about 38 or 40. He has a small black moustache. The distinguishing feature of his costume is a leather apron, which he always wears, and from which he gets his nickname. His expression is sinister, and seems to be full of terror for the women who describe it. His eyes are small and glittering. His lips are usually parted in a grin, which is not only not reassuring, but excessively repellent. He is a slippermaker by trade, but does not work. His business is blackmailing women late at night. A number of men in Whitechapel follow this interesting profession. He has never cut anybody, so far as is known, but always carries a leather knife, presumably as sharp as leather knives are wont to be. This knife a number of the women have seen. His name nobody knows, but all are united in the belief that he is a Jew or of Jewish parentage, his face being of a marked Hebrew type. But the most singular characteristic of the man is the universal statement that in moving about he never makes any noise. What he wears on his feet the women do not know, but they agree that he moves noiselessly. His uncanny peculiarity to them is that they never see him or know of his presence until he is close by them. "Leather Apron" never by any chance attacks a man. He runs away on the slightest appearance of rescue. One woman whom he assailed some time ago boldly prosecuted him for it, and he was sent up for seven days. He has no settled place of residence, but has slept oftenest in a four penny lodging-house of the lowest kind in a disreputable lane leading from Brick Lane. The people at this lodging house denied that he had been there, and appeared disposed to shield him. "Leather Apron's" pal, "Mickeldy Joe," was in the house at the time, and his presence doubtless had something to do with the unwillingness to give information. "Leather Apron" was last at this house some weeks ago, though this account may be untrue. He ranges all over London, and rarely assails the same woman twice. He has lately been seen in Leather Lane, which is in the Helborn district.
The whole of the East End up till a late hour on Saturday night was in a state of consternation, at the latest and what undoubtedly is the most horrible of a series of murders which have taken place within so small an area and during so short a period. All day nothing else was talked of, even by men who are hardened to seeing a great deal that is brutal. Strong, buxom, muscular women seemed to move in fear and trembling, declaring that they would not dare to venture in the streets unaccompanied by their husbands. What has added to the frantic state of the inhabitants of Whitechapel is the fact that the murder was committed in broad daylight and in a street sufficiently near to the Spitalfields Market as to be, at the time in question, a busy thoroughfare. Old residents remarked that Whitechapel and Spitalfields had never borne a particularly good name, but now it had become untenable and unsafe.
During the period of greatest excitement two men were arrested for trifling offences this morning, and on each occasion a maddened crowd ran after the police shouting "The murderer's caught!" Another man, injured in a quarrel, and who was carried to the police station on a stretcher, received similar attention, the crowd fairly mobbing the station and refusing to disperse. Two men who were passing through Brick Lane were denounced by the crowd as the murderers and were attacked. They called upon the police for protection and were taken to Bethnal Green Station and there released. There was also a report current during the day that another woman had been murderously attacked by a man with a knife, and that the assailant was the murderer of Chapman. It, however, transpired that the man who was arrested was blind, and that in an ungovernable fit of passion he had in Spitalfields market inflicted several wounds with a knife upon a woman who led him about. The mortuary in which the body of the murdered woman lies is situated at the corner of Eagle-street, a cul de sac ending in a pair of green doors, within which several officers of the police guard the remains of the dead. The body is that of a fairly nourished woman, but bears traces of rough usage. It is covered by a wrap, and those in custody of it are charged by the police authorities that it shall neither be shown to any person nor disturbed in any way. The district coroner visited the mortuary on Saturday afternoon, and made arrangements for holding an inquest this morning at 10.30 at the Boys' Refuge, near Whitechapel station.
Later particulars state that a theory exists that "Leather Apron" is more or less a mythical personage, and that he is not responsible for the terrible crimes with which his name has been associated. All the same, the details of his appearance have been widely circulated with a view to his early apprehension, and all the police in the vicinity are on the look-out for him. On Saturday night a large force of police constables and detectives closely watched the neighbourhood. Men were posted at all the entrances and exits of the numerous alleys and passages in the neighbourhood, who every few minutes made a thorough examination of the places under their surveillance, and from time to time these were visited by the inspectors on duty with a view of ascertaining whether any suspicious character has been observed. From ten o'clock at night until late in the morning a large crowd occupied Hanbury-street in the vicinity of the notorious house No. 29. When the public- houses emptied the occupants swarmed into the street and caused a good deal of trouble to the police by their behaviour. The people living in the adjoining houses obtained no rest until between four and five o'clock, when the crowd gradually melted away, only, however, to reassemble again in greater force so soon as daylight appeared. In the course of Saturday night and Sunday morning the police arrested two men on suspicion of being concerned in the crime. One man, whose appearance left little doubt in the mind of his captors that he was the Hanbury-street murderer was found by an officer in Bucks row shortly after one o'clock on Sunday morning. He presented a most forbidding appearance, and appeared to be hiding in the street, and when accosted by the officer rushed off at the top of his speed. An alarm was raised, and after a sharp race the man was arrested. He was a villainous-looking fellow, with long hair and shaggy beard, dressed only in a pair of ragged blue serge trousers and an old dirty shirt. He resisted his captors, but was eventually secured and conveyed to Bethnal Green police station. It was said at the time that he was carrying a long knife concealed in the sleeve of his shirt, but on examination no weapon was found upon him. He gave an account of himself which was in the first instance considered unsatisfactory, but inquiries were immediately set on foot, and in the result the man, who appears to be a common vagrant, was released from custody. The second arrest was effected in Gloster-street, where a man, aged about forty, having the look of a seafarer, was arrested. It was pretty obvious, however, from the replies which he gave and his general appearance that he was not the man sought for, and after he had spent some time in Commercial-street station he was also set at liberty. It is suggested that the first- mentioned man is the person who has been spoken of by Mrs. Fiddymont. All day yesterday five policemen guarded the scene of the crime in Hanbury-street. No one was admitted unless he resided in the house. In the street half a dozen costermongers took up their stand and did a brisk business in fruit and refreshments. Thousands of respectably dressed persons visited the scene, and occasionally the road became so crowded that the constables had to clear it by making a series of raids upon the spectators. The windows of the adjoining houses were full of persons watching the crowd below. A number of people also visited the house in Dorset- street where the murderer woman lodged. Inquiries have been made at Vauxhall and at Windsor, where Chapman, or "Sivvy" as she was more generally called, is said to have relatives, but so far without any fresh information being obtained as to her antecedents. The small portion of writing on the envelope found upon the body bearing the stamp of the Sussex Regiment has not been identified or traced. The authorities of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where the woman spent some time, have been communicated with, but they have not been able to afford any information of a useful character. The usually lively condition of Whitechapel and Spitalfields on a Sunday was considerably augmented yesterday by reason of the excitement aroused by the murder. In the course of the day nearly a dozen persons were arrested and conveyed to the Commercial- street police station. In the afternoon a vast crown (sic) had collected about the streets, and as each apprehension was made they rushed pell mell towards the station, obviously under the idea that the murderer of the woman had been caught. Shortly before five o'clock a man was arrested in Dale-street, after a long chase, on a charge of assault. The officer who took him proceeded with his prisoner by way of Hanbury-street to the police station, and so was obliged to make his way through the crowd outside the house. His prisoner stood in some danger of being mobbed, but the crowd eventually gave way and the prisoner was safely lodged in the station. A few minutes later two men were arrested in Wentworth-street. As soon as the crowd saw them in the hands of the police there were loud cries of "Leather Apron," and thereupon hundreds of persons turned out from the side streets, and followed the officers in a tumultuous throng to the station. Not five minutes afterwards a woman was apprehended on some small charge, and the excitement became so intense that a posse of officers was sent out from the building to preserve order.
Last night the police were posted in strong force throughout the neighbourhood. Their precautions are such that they consider it impossible that any further outrage can be perpetrated.
Another telegram last night states:-- A man was arrested at Deptford this afternoon on suspicion of being connected with the East End tragedy, but there is reason to believe he will be able to establish his innocence and will soon be released. A very large number of constables in civilian clothes have been put on duty in the district where the murders have taken place. The inhabitants of the East End appear to have all their attention absorbed in the loathsome details of the murder, knots of people having stood about until a late hour this evening discussing every point of the tragedy.
Persons who knew the deceased have failed to identify the rings referred to above. One of the many statements made to the police yesterday was one by a young woman who says that at three o'clock yesterday afternoon she met a strange man in Flower and Dean-street, one of the worst streets in the East End of London. He asked her to go to the Queen's Head public-house at half-past six and drink with him. Having obtained from the young woman a promise that she would do so he disappeared, but was at the house at the appointed time. While they were conversing the woman, whose name is Lyons, noticed a large knife in the man's right hand trousers pocket, and called another woman's attention to it. A moment later Lyons was startled by the remark which the stranger addressed to her, "You are about the same style of woman as the one that's murdered." "What do you know about her." asked the woman, to which the man replied, "You are beginning to smell a rat. Foxes hunt geese, but they don't always find them." Having uttered these words, the man hurriedly left. Lyons followed until near Spitalfields church, and, turning round at this spot and noticing that the woman was behind him, the stranger ran at a swift pace into Church-street and was at once lost to view. One noteworthy fact in this story is that the description of the man's appearance is in all material points identical with the published description of the up to the present undiscovered "Leather Apron."