3 October 1888
DISCOVERY OF A MUTILATED BODY
As we announced in our special edition last evening, another ghastly discovery was made in London yesterday afternoon. About twenty minutes past three o'clock a carpenter, employed by Messrs. J. Grover and Sons, the contractors for the new Metropolitan Police headquarters, now building on the Thames Embankment, was working on the foundation, when he came across a parcel in one of the cellars. It was opened, and the body of a woman, very much decomposed, was found wrapped in a piece of what is supposed to be a black petticoat. The body was without head, arms, or legs, and presented a horrible spectacle. The police were summoned, and Dr. Bond, divisional surgeon, and several other medical gentlemen, were communicated with. From what can be ascertained the conclusion has been arrived at that the remains are those of the woman whose arms have recently been discovered in different parts of the metropolis. Dr. Nevill, who examined the arm of a woman found a few weeks ago in the Thames off Ebury Bridge, said that he did not think that it had been skilfully taken from the body. This fact would appear to favour the theory that that arm, together with the one found in the grounds of the Blind Asylum in the Lambeth road last week, belong to the body discovered yesterday. The body is pronounced by medical men to have been that of a remarkable fine young woman. The lower portion from the ribs has been removed. How the body could have been deposited where it was found is a mystery. The builders have been working on this site for some time, but have only just completed the foundation. It was originally the site for the National Opera House and extends from the Thames Embankment through to Cannon row, Parliament street, at the back of St. Stephen's Club and the Westminster Bridge Station of the District Railway. The vault is about 24ft by 30 ft in size, and 12ft or 13ft deep, and it is nearly covered over with loose planks, the ground showing only a small space at each end. the trunk must have been carried either from the Embankment or from Cannon row. It certainly could not have been thrown over to where it lay from either roadway. Its general appearance, indeed, indicated rather that it had been carefully placed where it was found. The route from Cannon row to the vault is a difficult one. A hoarding some 7ft or 8ft high would have to be climbed, and the ground is of a very broken character. From the Embankment side the hoarding is about the same height, and to reach the vault one must actually pass through the building in course of erection and round and about where several policemen are constantly patrolling. It is more reasonable to assume that the vault was gained from Cannon row, and in that case it seems pretty certain that more than one person was concerned in the disposal of the parcel.
Dr. Bond, the divisional police surgeon, and Dr. Hibbert, the assistant divisional surgeon, arrived at the mortuary at shortly after seven o'clock this morning to make the post mortem examination. The body was taken to the mortuary at seven o'clock last night, and after having been seen by Dr. Bond, who had the remains placed in spirits to preserve them from further putrefaction, they were left in charge of the police. The doctors were engaged until a quarter to nine o'clock, when the examination was completed. Dr. Bond, who declined to give any particulars as to the result of the examination before they had made their official report to the authorities, stated that it was intended to obtain the arm which was discovered in the Thames on the 11th of September from the Ebury street mortuary, where it has been preserved in order to discover whether it is part of the same body. The arm which was discovered at Lambeth last week is not considered to have any connection with the present case; but, notwithstanding, it will, it is stated, be taken to the Westminster mortuary.
The detectives are making inquiries. Their investigations yesterday were confined to questioning the workmen employed on the building and to searching the works in quest of any other portions of the body, and for a clue to the person or persons who put the remains where they were found. From what can be ascertained, they have fixed the period about which the parcel was placed in the vault. They have ascertained that it was not in the vault on Saturday - at least, so several of the workmen assert. It appears that some of the men were in the habit of concealing their tools in this particular vault, and could not have failed to notice the parcel had it been there on Saturday afternoon when they left work. The parcel was first noticed in the vault on Monday morning. A carpenter named Wildborn went there for his tools, and supposed it to be something belonging to one of the workmen, and took no notice of it; but as it had not been removed on the following day he called attention to the parcel, and it was opened with the result already known. It is, therefore, evident that it was placed in the vault between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning. As to how it was placed there, nothing has yet been discovered.
A considerable crowd had gathered around the site of the discovery this morning. Great excitement was caused by the falling of a crane raised upon the scaffolding of the building. Fortunately no one was injured.
A meeting was held yesterday afternoon, at Leadenhall House, Leadenhall street, in regard to the urgent need of special measures for tracking the Whitechapel murderer, and protecting the lives of the poor. Certain precautionary measures were deemed desirable in the public interest. After some discussion it was resolved to form a City Vigilance Committee, for the purpose of institution a private detective force and taking other steps, as might be thought desirable. It was also resolved to open an account with Messrs. Lloyd Bosanquet and Co., of Lombard street, and to ask Mr. S. Montagu, M.P., to act as chairman.
A special meeting of the Vigilance Committee, of which Mr. Lusk is chairman, took place last night at the Committee Rooms, 74, Mile End road, where a number of persons were present to express their views upon the alleged want of police organization in the metropolis and the attitude of the Home Secretary and Sir Charles Warren in refusing to issue offers of a reward. A letter, sent by the committee to the Home Secretary on Sunday last, asking him to reconsider his decision as to the offer of a reward, was read by the secretary, who announced that no reply had been vouchsafed to that communication.
Mr. Archibald Forbes, in a letter to the Daily News, says he considers it probable that the perpetrator of the murders is some wretch who has lost his career through dissipation. "The man's physical health ruined and his career broken, he has possible suffered specific brain damage as well. At this moment - I cannot use exact professional terms - there may be mischief to one of the lobes of his brain. Ot he may have become insane simply from anguish of body and distress of mind. Anyhow he is mad, and his mania, rising from the particular to the general, takes the fell form of revenge against the class - a member of which has wrought him his hurt. A so he fall a-killing of them, and of none other in the lieges of Whitechapel or elsewhere. And when he kills he mutilates, always in the same specific and significant manner, his maniacal impulse of revenge inspiring his semi scientific butcher work. A wounded wild beast crunches the spear that has stricken him. Let it be noted, finally, that his work with the knife proves him to possess some knowledge of anatomy. The medical schools of the hospitals have a large attendance, and perhaps it would be futile to inquire whether any one connected with these beneficent institutions may have a vague memory of an excitable impressionable student whose career had been arrested and whose hopes had been blighted by such a misadventure as I have referred to, whose reason had given way, and in whose mania was the crave that he might have revenge for the mischief that had destroyed him. Between that crave and a monomania stimulating to the acts of the Whitechapel murderer there is no great gulf."
The inquest on the body of the woman known as Elizabeth Stride, who was murdered in Berner street, Commercial road, was resumed by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for South east Middlesex, yesterday at the Vestry Hall, Cable street.
Police constable Henry Lamb said: On Sunday morning last about one o'clock I was in the Commercial road. between Christian street and Batty street. Two men came running up to me and said: "Come on, there has been another murder." I asked where, and they pointed to Berner street. Seeing people moving about some distance down the street I ran, followed by another constable. I went into the gateway of No 40, and I saw something dark lying on the right hand side close to the gate. I turned my light on and found it was a woman. I saw her throat was cut, and she appeared dead. I at once sent the other constable for the nearest doctor. I sent a young man to the station to inform the inspector. There were about thirty people in the yard when I got there. No one was touching the body. A crowd pushed round me as I was looking at the body and I begged them to keep back, as they might get blood on them and get themselves into trouble. I put my hand on the face and the arm. They were slightly warm. I did no more, but blew my whistle. The woman was lying on her left side. The left arm was lying underneath and the right arm was across the breast. The face was about six inches from the wall. The clothes were not disturbed.
In reply to further questions, the witness stated that the doctor and police inspector arrived shortly afterwards. The gates were then closed and all the people in the club were examined before they were allowed to go. He also examined the dustbin and went into the cottages within the yard, but discovered nothing.
Could any one have escaped while you were examining the body? - I was there alone, and it was quite possible for any one to have got away.
By Detective Inspector Reid: I passed the top of the street about six or seven minutes before I was called. Police Constable Smith was on the Berner street beat.
By the coroner: He was not the man who went to the yard with me. A policeman was on "fixed" duty at Grove street, near Berner street; but he was relieved at one o'clock and the "fixed" duty is not taken up again till nine o'clock the next morning.
Detective Inspector Reid said the fixed duty was from nine to five and from five to one. The man did not move from the point, so that people might not have to run about to find him.
Edward Spooner, of 26 Fairclough street, horse keeper for Messrs. Meredith, biscuit makers, said: At half past twelve on Saturday night I was standing outside the Beehive public house in Christian street, along with a young woman. I had been standing there about twenty five minutes when I saw two Jews coming along calling out "Police!" I ran as far as Grove street, and turned back.
Article resumes with the evidence of Mary Malcolm. (Ed.)
She is my sister. I last saw her alive on Thursday evening, when she came to me at 59, Red Lion street. She wanted a little assistance, which I had been in the habit of giving her. I gave her a shilling and a short jacket. That is not the jacket that is on her now. She was only a few minutes with me. She did not say where she was going. I don't know where she was living; she never told me.
Did you understand she was living in lodging houses? - Yes.
Did you know what she did for a living? - I had my doubts. (The witness cried at this point.) In reply to other questions, the witness said the deceased was thirty eight years of age. She was married, and her husband, Mr. Watts, son of Mr. Watts, wine and spirit merchant, Walford street, Bath, was still living. She believed his father sent him to America because her (the witness's) sister brought disgrace on him. (Renewed sobs.) This was about eight years ago. She had two children, a boy and a girl. The little girl was dead, and the boy was at a boarding school. Her sister was not subject to epileptic fits, but she was a very excitable woman and had drunken fits and had been before the Thames Police magistrates on a charge of drunkenness. Her sister had lived with a man who kept a coffee stall at Poplar. His name, the witness believed, was Dent. He went to sea, and was wrecked on the Isle of St. Paul's about three and a half years ago. To the witness's knowledge she had not lived with any man since. The witness had never heard of her sister having had any trouble with any man. The witness had heard the deceased called "Long Liz" but never by the name of Stride. Her sister used to meet her every Saturday afternoon at the corner of Chancery lane about four o'clock. Last Saturday the witness waited in vain for her sister to appear. She had not before missed a Saturday for two or three years. On Sunday morning when the witness read the paper some presentiment came to her mind that her sister was one of the murdered.
Did you have some presentiment that this was your sister? - I was lying on my bed about twenty minutes past one o'clock on Sunday morning, and I felt a pressure on my bed and I heard three kisses quite distinctly. I did not see a vision of my sister. In reply to questions put in order to ascertain whether she was sure that the deceased was her sister, the witness said that at first she had not recognised the body. She was, however, now quite confident it was her sister. There was small black mark on her leg caused by the bite of an adder, and she saw this on the leg of the deceased. She had previously stated that she could recognise the body by this particular mark before she saw it. Her sister might have been locked up for drunkenness on a Saturday night, but only after she had been to see the witness. Finally the witness promised to go to Chancery lane on Saturday next and see if her sister turned up as usual, and thus make certain.
Dr. Frederick William Blackwell gave evidence as to having been called by the police and seeing the body of the woman. When he got to the yard at 1.16 a.m. the body was still warm, and the woman could not have been dead more than twenty minutes or half an hour. There was checked silk scarf round the neck, the bow of which was thrown to the left side and pulled very tight. There was a long incision in the neck which exactly corresponded with the lower border of the scarf. The scarf was above the wound. The lower edge of the scarf was slightly frayed, as if by a sharp knife. In reply to a juryman, who asked whether he could give any information as to whether the throat was cut while the woman was lying down or standing up, the doctor said: I formed the opinion that probably the murderer took hold of the silk scarf, which was tightly knotted, and pulled the woman backwards, and cut her throat in that way. The position of the blood would indicate that her throat was cut when she was lying down or as she fell. It is, perhaps, most probable that she was on the ground first before her throat was cut.
By the coroner: I could not say that she could not have cried out on account of the tightness of the scarf.
At this stage the inquest was further adjourned till one o'clock this afternoon.