1 October 1888
Political and other platform controversy, of which there was abundance and in spare on Saturday, vanish into insignificant interest in view of the records of horrible crimes which are commanding universal, and to a large extent panic stricken, attention today. At our doors we have had during the past few days experience of sensation which can make us appreciate all the more keenly the feeling of excitement and alarm which has taken possession of London. The Birtley Fell murder has produced a state of terror which it is easy to understand, and which will not be speedily dissipated unless the police are successful in tracking the perpetrator. A week has elapsed since the Birtley murder was committed, and yet there is no abatement of the consternation which has seized the community. There need be little surprise that in the local churches and chapels yesterday the tragedy formed a theme upon which preachers discoursed. We observe that one clergyman, the Rev. Dr. Rutherford, deprecated the minute manner in which every horrible detail and suspicious circumstance was printed in the newspapers. He advised his hearers not to wade through the ghastly details that had unhappily become so frequent of late. He stated that he did not raise that note of warning because there was no likelihood of Christians being led to misdeeds through such reading, but his advice was based on the fact that no good could in any sense be derived from the full perusal of such sickening accounts. This criticism is not very appropriate at a time when all honest men are anxious to render such service as lies in their power to make crime, if not impossible, at least difficult, and also to detect the villains who are going about the country perpetrating horrible outrages. At another time it might be worth while to examine Dr. Rutherford's criticism, but for the present we are content to fall back upon the justification offered the other day by the Whitechapel Coroner, who testified to the value of the service rendered by the Press. It is no pleasure, but quite the contrary, to journalists to have to report crimes, especially when it is absolutely necessary to furnish the fullest details; but he is a poor blind creature who does not see that discreet publication of the facts promotes the end of justice, and serves as a warning to the people in the other parts of the country than the locality of the scenes of the atrocities. The runaway murderer fleeing from his pursuers knows that the Press, by the publicity it gives to descriptions of his personal appearance, his habits, and his peculiarities, adds a thousand fold to the difficulties which he experiences in concealing himself, or in getting out of the reach of the long arm of the law. There are many cases which could be recalled where it has been proved that but for the help the Press has afforded all the skill of the police would have been baffled in their attempts to detect crime and capture criminals.
In London popular excitement is generally wilder, if, at the same time, it is more short lived than it is in the country. The people are more impressionable and more hysterical when face to face with danger of any kind, whether it be to life or to property, than are their countrymen who dwell in the provinces. But of their fears are quickly aroused, they are also quickly allayed. The fact is easy enough of explanation. Londoners are constantly in a whirligig of some sort or another, and the event of today obliterates that of yesterday. The panic that was created by the murder of Annie Chapman was towards the end of last week, if not entirely, at all events greatly allayed. People had ceased to make the story of the murders the chief theme of conversation. But once again the Londoners have been thrown into a new and greatly intensified terror, the police have had their dismay magnified and their helplessness illustrated anew, and the attention of the whole country has once more been attracted by the perpetration of two atrocious murders in the Whitechapel district, murders similar in their character to the other four which have been committed within a few weeks, and within a radius of a third of a mile - committed, too, in a locality densely populated and which has always been believed to be particularly well guarded by the police. It is not surprising that all London is once more excited, that alarm prevails in every part of the great city, and that confidence in the police system is breaking down completely. Two more horrifying and yet two more skilfully planned, murders could not be conceived than those perpetrated on Sunday morning. The outrages must have been committed while policemen were almost within hearing distance. In the first case it seems as if the villain had his victim in his grasp when disturbed while at his fatal work, for of the two women who were slain the first was not disembowelled, while the second had been mutilated with even greater violence and brutality than has proved to have been practised in the case of poor Annie Chapman.
Yesterday morning's fiendish like work all tends to give strength to the theory set up by the Coroner on the occasion of the inquest of Annie Chapman. It may be right, or it may be altogether wrong, but the idea that these outrages, these series of the murders of women, and the mutilations which follow, are committed to meet a demand for portions of human bodies, for which large sums of money are paid, is at least intelligible. Similar things have happened before. Another view is presented by a writer in a London contemporary, who says, "The skill with which the murders are perpetrated and the skill of the mutilations point to someone with some anatomical knowledge. This might be possessed by a butcher or someone who had had medical knowledge; but there are so many nowadays with mechanical knowledge of the body, in the form of post mortem room and anatomy room porters, that to suppose the murders to be the work of a medical man is, to my thinking, going too far. The cunning of the evasion, the ferocity of the crimes, the special selection of the victims, seem to me to depend either on a fiendishly criminal revenge, or else upon some fully organised delusion of persecution or world regeneration."
Of course, it is possible that both the Coroner for Whitechapel and the writer whose opinion we have quoted are altogether wrong, but if either of them is right it is difficult to conceive how the detectives should long be baffled in running the villain or villains to earth. In the meantime the citizens generally will cooperate with the police to the utmost of their capacity and of their opportunity in the endeavour to arrest the murderer, and no clue should be despised or neglected even if it seems unlikely. Many bye-paths lead to the high road.
ANOTHER LETTER FROM THE MURDERER
The districts of Whitechapel and Aldgate are this morning in a state of ferment and panic. All night long there have been people in the streets, standing round the coffee stalls and at other points in the main thoroughfares, talking of the latest horrors, and even the men seemed to be in a state of terror. Extra police have patrolled the streets, 900 additional constables having become available by reason of one of the crimes being in the precincts of the City. There is now a change in the demeanour of the police authorities, who now seem to have come to the conclusion that publicity is the greatest aid to the detection of the perpetrators of the murders, and all information is cheerfully imparted to the Press. A man was arrested last night at a coffee shop opposite the Thurlow Arms public house at West Norwood on suspicion of being connected with the murders. Suspicion appears to have been excited by his face being much scratched, and by marks apparently of blood upon his clothes. No guilt, either of complicity or of actual commission of the crime, has, however, been proved against him.
Another telegram says;- Two arrests were made this morning, one man being detained at Leman street and the other at the Commercial street Station, but nothing has been discovered to implicate them. The police found a portion of an apron in Goldstein street, corresponding with the apron worn by the victim found in Mitre square. A man says he saw an individual sitting on some steps in Church lane at half past one this morning, wiping his hands, concealing his face meanwhile.
TWO MORE WOMEN MURDERED
DESCRIPTION OF THE SUPPOSED CULPRIT
London was thrown into a state of renewed consternation yesterday by the announcement that the bodies of two more murdered women had been discovered on the East End. The report unhappily proved to be too true, and the terrible character of the crimes is intensified by the circumstances that the locality and the manner in which the murders were committed point very strongly to the conclusion that the same miscreant who was responsible for at least two of the previous murders is also guilty of these latest crimes. It will be remembered that the first of the series of murders was committed so far back as last Christmas, when a woman, whose identity was never discovered, was found murdered in, or contiguous to the district known as Whitechapel. There were circumstances of peculiar barbarity about the mode in which the body was treated. This fact did not attract so much attention at the time as it did when, on August 7th last, a woman named Martha Turner, aged 35 years, was found dead on the first floor landing of some model dwellings in Spitalfields, with thirty nine dagger wounds on her body. On the 31st of the same month the woman Nichols, an unfortunate, was found dead in Buck's row, Whitechapel. With this probably begins the series of crimes which have lately horrified and terrified the public, for the mutilation of the body was done with so much technical skill and audacity as to suggest a definite but extraordinary, and at the same time unexplained, purpose. What that object was the Coroner recently suggested in the summing up at the inquest on the woman Chapman, who was murdered in the same district, and under similar circumstances on September 8th. This crime created almost a panic which had scarcely died away when it became known yesterday that two more murders of apparently the same kind had been committed.
It was Lewis Diemschitz (sic), the steward of the club above referred to, who found the body. Diemschitz, who is a traveller in cheap jewellery, had spent the day at Weston Hill Market, near the Crystal Palace, in pursuance of his avocation, and had driven home at his usual hour, reaching Berners street at one o'clock. On turning into the gateway he had some difficulty with his pony, the animal being apparently determined to avoid the right hand wall. For the moment Diemschitz did not think much of this occurrence, because he knew the pony was given to shying, and he thought perhaps some mud or refuse was in the way. The pony, however, obstinately refused to go straight, so the driver pulled him up to see what was in the way. Failing to discern anything in the darkness, Diemschitz poked about with the handle of the whip and immediately discovered that some large obstacle was in his path. To jump down and strike a match was the work of a second, and then it became at once apparent that something serious had taken place. Without waiting to see whether the woman whose body he saw was drunk or dead, Diemschitz entered the club by the side door higher up the court, and informed those in the concert room upstairs that something had happened in the yard. A member of the club named Kozebrodski, but familiarly known as Isaacs, returned with Diemschitz into the court, and the former struck a match while the latter lifted the body up. It was at once apparent that the woman was dead. The body was still warm, and the clothes enveloping it were wet from the recent rain, but the heart had ceased to beat, and the stream of blood in the gutter terminating in a hideous pool near the club door, showed but too plainly what had happened. Both men ran off without delay to find a policeman, and at the same time other members of the club, who had by this time found their way into the court, went off with the same object in different directions. The search was for some time fruitless. At last, however, after considerable delay, a constable was found in Commercial road. With the aid of the policeman's whistle more constables were quickly on the spot, and the gates at the entrance to the court having been closed, and a guard set on all the exits of the club and the cottages, the superintendent of the district and the divisional surgeon were sent for. In a few minutes Dr. Phillips was at the scene of the murder, and a brief examination sufficed to show that life had been extinct some minutes. careful notes having been taken of the position of the body, it was removed to the parish mortuary of St. George's in the East, cable street, to await identification.
Later on the victim was identified as Elizabeth Stride, who, it seems, had been leading a gay life, and had resided latterly in Lower Dean street. She was identified by a sister living in Holborn. Her husband, who resides at bath, has lived apart from her for nearly five years.
The fact that another murder had been committed soon became known in the neighbourhood, and long before daybreak the usually quiet thoroughfare was the scene of great excitement. Extra police had to be posted right along the street and even with this precaution locomotion from an early hour was a matter of extreme difficulty. A large crowd followed the body to the mortuary, and here, again, it was found necessary to take unusual precautions to keep back the crowd. As the news circulated farther afield immense numbers of people rushed to Whitechapel, and before noon the neighbourhood of Aldgate and Commercial road was invaded by persons curious to see the spot selected for this and other murders of the series.
FRIGHTFUL MUTILATION OF THE BODY
About three quarters of an hour after the crime described above it was discovered that a second women had been horribly murdered and mutilated, this being in Mitre square, Aldgate, within the City boundaries, but on the confines of the now notorious district. It appears that Police constable Watkins of the City police was going round his beat, when, turning his lantern upon the darkest corner of Mitre square, he saw the body of a woman, apparently lifeless, lying in a pool of blood. He at once blew his whistle, and several person being attracted to the spot, he despatched messengers for medical and police aid. The scene disclosed was a most horrible one. The woman, who was apparently about forty years of age, was lying on her back quite dead, although the body was still warm. The throat was cut half way round revealing a dreadful wound, from which blood had flowed in great quantity, staining the pavement for some distance round. Across the right cheek to the nose was another gash, and a part of the right ear had been cut off. Following the plan of the Whitechapel murders, the miscreant was not content with merely killing his victim, but had mutilated the body frightfully. After careful notice had been taken of the position of the body when found, it was conveyed to the City mortuary in Golden lane. Here a more extended examination was made. The murdered woman was apparently about forty years of age, about five feet in height and evidently belonged to that unfortunate class of which the women done to death in Whitechapel were members.
The scene of the murder is an enclosed place in the read of St. Katherine's Church, Leadenhall street. It has three entrances. The principal one, and the only one have a carriage way, is at the southern end, leading to Mitre street, a turning out of Aldgate High street. There is a narrow court in the northeast corner leading into Duke street and another in the northwest by which foot passengers can reach St. James's square, otherwise known as the Orange Market. Mitre street contains two dwelling houses, in one of which, singularly enough, a City policeman lives, whilst the other is uninhabited. The other buildings, of which there are only three, are large warehouses. In the southeast corner, and near to the entrance from Mitre street, is the back yard of some premises in Aldgate, but the railings are closely boarded. It was just under these that the woman was found, quite hidden from sight by the shadow cast by the corner of the adjoining house. The officer who found the body is positive that it could not have been there more than a quarter of an hour before he discovered it. He is timed to "work his beat" as it is called, in from ten to fifteen minutes, and is spoken of by his superior officers as a most trustworthy man. The police theory is that the man and woman who had met in Aldgate watched the policeman pass round this square, and that they then entered it for an immoral purpose. There her throat was cut as described above, causing instant death. the murderer then hurriedly proceeded to mutilate the body, for the wounds, though so ghastly, do not appear to have been made so skilfully and deliberately as in the case of the murder of Annie Chapman, in Hanbury street. Five minutes, some of the doctors think, would have sufficed for the completion of the murderer's work, and he was thus enabled to leave the ground before the return of the policeman on duty. Taking everything into account therefore, the murder must be pronounced one of extraordinary daring and brutality. The effect it has had upon the residents of the east of London is extraordinary. All day crowds thronged the streets leading to Mitre square discussing the crime, and the police in the neighbourhood of the square, under Inspector Izzard and Sergeants Dudman and Phelps and other officers, were fully occupied in keeping back the excited and curious people. The woman, up to the time of writing, has not been identified, and the police admit that they have no information which can possible be termed a clue.
A man named Albert Backert has made the following statement:-
I was in the Three Nuns Hotel, Aldgate, on Saturday night, when a man got into conversation with me. He asked me questions which now appear to me to have some bearing upon the recent murders. He wanted to know whether I knew what sort of loose women used the public bar at the house, when they usually left the street outside, and where they were in the habit of going. He asked further questions, and from his manner seemed up to no good purpose. He appeared to be a "shabby genteel" sort of man, and was dressed in black clothes. He wore a black felt hat, and carried a black bag. We came out together at closing time (twelve o'clock) and I left him outside Aldgate Railway Station.
Mrs. Mortimer, living at 36 Berner street, four doors from the scene of the first tragedy, says:-
I was standing at the door of my house nearly the whole time between half past twelve and one o'clock on Sunday morning, and did not notice anything unusual. I had just gone indoors, and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a commotion outside, and immediately ran out, thinking that there was another row at the Socialists' Club close by. I went to see what was the matter, and was informed that another dreadful murder had been committed in the yard adjoining the Club house, and on going inside I saw the body of a woman lying huddled up just inside the gates, with her throat cut from ear to ear. A man touched her face, and said it was quite warm, so that the deed must have been done while I was standing at the door of my house. There was certainly no noise made, and I did not observe anyone enter the gates. It was just after one o'clock when I went out, and the only man whom I had seen pass through the street previously was a young man carrying a black shiny bag, who walked very fast down the street from Commercial road. He looked up at the Club, and then went round the corner by the Board School. I was told that the manager or steward of the Club had discovered the woman on his return home in his pony cart. He drove through the gates, and my opinion is that he interrupted the murderer, who must have made his escape immediately under cover of the cart. If a man had come out of the yard before one o'clock I must have seen him. It was almost incredible to me that the thing could have been done without the steward's wife hearing a noise, for she was sitting in the kitchen, from which a window opens four yards from the spot where the woman was found. The body was lying slightly on one side, with the legs a little drawn up as if in pain, the clothes being slightly disarranged, so that the legs were partly visible. The woman appeared to me to be respectable, judging by her clothes, and in her hands were found a bunch of grapes and some sweets. A young man and his sweetheart were standing at the corner of the street about twenty yards away before and after the time the woman must have been murdered, but they told me that they did not hear a sound.
The Central News says:-
On Thursday last the following letter, bearing the E.C. post mark, and directed in red ink, was delivered at the agency:-
25th Sept. 1888
Dear Boss - keep on hearing the police have caught me, but they won't fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on w____s and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now? I love my work, and want to start again. You will soon hear of me, with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with, but it went thick, and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough, I hope, ha! ha! the next job I do I shall clip the lady's ears off, and send to the police officers, just for folly (sic), wouldn't you? Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp and I want to get a chance. Good luck - Yours truly.
Jack the Ripper.
Don't mind me giving the trade name. Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands; curse it, no luck yet. They say I am a doctor now, ha! ha!
The whole of the extraordinary epistle is written in red ink, in a free, bold, clerkly hand. It was, of course, treated as the work of a practical joker, but it is singular to note that the latest murders have been committed within a few days of the receipt of the letter, that apparently in the case of his last victim the murderer made an attempt to cut off the ears, and that he actually did mutilate the face in a manner which he has never before attempted. The letter is now in the hands of the Scotland Yard authorities.
The Times says: The recurrence of these several murders at brief intervals of time and with details more or less closely resembling one another, makes it more than likely that the two murders of Sunday morning will not be the last of their kind. There has been too much system and method and too obvious a brutal daring which cares little for the chance of detection. But if this is so, it becomes morally certain that the murderer must be found at last. He had a close escape from the unlighted yard in Berners street. At Mitre square the police must have been close upon his heels. The fact that he gives proof of the possession of anatomical knowledge does much to narrow the inquiry. Not one man in a thousand could have played the part of Annie Chapman's murderer. In one of these new crimes, if not in both, we have evidence of a similar hand.
The Daily News says: There has been no hearty cooperation with the Press, which on a hundred occasions has saved the detective department from the worst consequences of its own mistakes. There must be something incurably faulty in the organisation and management of the force and to all appearances the gallant soldiers who do all the hard work of it will never be able to tell us what it us. the public are fast coming to the belief that it is the military organisation and the absence of local interest and control which make our metropolitan police so inefficient in the very first of their duties - that of preventing violence and crime. The most agonising feature of the East End mysteries is the utter paralysis of energy and intelligence on the part of the police.
The Daily Telegraph remarks: If it be of any avail, we would once more urge Mr. Matthews to wake up and do his duty. If it be of no avail - if public impatience and the perpetual recurrence of assassinations find him still of opinion that there is nothing in the present case to justify departure from the rules - then the protest against his ineptitude will assuredly become a clamour, a demand, an insistence, and Lord Salisbury will have to dismiss the Minister who had not good sense enough to resign.
The Standard says: The murderer must have a haunt somewhere near the western portion of the Whitechapel area, from which he leaves before the commission of one of his crimes, and to which he returns swiftly after the deed is done. The murders, it must be recollected, have been peculiarly local in their character. A square of one mile at the outside would include the whole, and the sites of the last four cluster even more closely together in a circle, the centre of which may be placed somewhere near Whitechapel Church. Considering the rapidity with which the police cordon was drawn round the suspected region yesterday morning it can hardly be doubted that the murderer must have secreted himself in some place of refuge within a few minutes of the revelation of his night's handiwork.
The Morning Advertiser says: We should have thought there would have been a policeman in almost every secluded street and that the constable's lantern would have been every moment flashing upon the dark nooks and crannies. Yet this does not appear to be so. The police may be able to show that they have done everything that it was possible for mortal man to do, not only in bringing the author of these crimes to justice, but in preventing him from continuing his work. But here is the fact that at the time when the police may reasonably be supposed to be exercising their greatest vigilance, an undetected murderer goes into the district of his recent crimes, murders one woman, and then walks through the streets, and shortly afterwards murders and mutilates another. One murder is discovered by a policeman, but the other is not. We do not say as yet that the police are actually in fault, but the force is called upon to cope with a state of things for which it is apparently inadequate.