24 August 1888
VERDICT OF THE CORONER'S JURY ON THE REVOLTING MURDER
The Husband and Other Relatives Testify to the Character of the Deceased - Her Companion Connolly Relates Her Movements on the Fatal Night - Her Soldier Friends
The mystery surrounding the murder of Martha Turner in George Yard court, Whitechapel, has not been cleared up. The woman, it may be remembered, was found brutally murdered - no fewer than about 30 stabs having been inflicted on her body. It was thought that the wounds were inflicted with a bayonet, and that the murderer must have been a soldier. The soldiers in several barracks have been paraded before the police and witnesses but with no result. There is no direct evidence to show that the deceased woman ever knew a soldier and nothing yet elucidated to show that jealousy was the cause of the crime. The husband of the woman can only speak of her antecedents and her drunken habits. Inspector Reid is still hard at work following up probable clues.
The inquest was continued yesterday at the Working Lads' Institute by Deputy Coroner Collier.
Henry Samuel Tabran, 6 River Terrace, East Greenwich, husband of the deceased, foreman packer in a furniture store, was the first witness. He said: "I identify the body of the deceased as that of my wife. Her Christian name was Martha. She was between 39 and 40. I saw her last alive in Whitechapel road, 18 months ago. She was then in her usual state of health as far as I could judge."
"How long have you been separated from her?"
"About 18 years."
"Was it a legal separation?"
"No, I refused to live with her."
"What was the cause?"
"Drink, sir; she drank."
"How has she supported herself since?"
"I used to give her 12s a week. I did that for three years, and since then I used to allow her a few shillings. As she was living with a man I did not think it was my place to support her. She had been living with a man for the last 10 years. The man is outside now. I have not seen her for the last 18 months."
Henry Turner, a carpenter by trade, but at the present time engaged in business as a street hawker, said "I have lived with the deceased off and on for the last nine years. I did not live with her for the last three weeks, and I occasionally left her when she took drink. She told me all about her husband. She used to hawk on the streets. I saw her last alive on Saturday, 4 Aug., when I met her in Leadenhall street. I heard of her death first on the day of the inquest. I have her 1s 6d the last time I saw her, to purchase some stock. When she had money, she always spent it in drink. She was in the habit of staying out late at night."
"Did you know whether she had any companions?"
"No regular companion that I know of."
"Have you ever been to any public house with her?"
"Yes, of course we have been to drink like other people." He did not know that she was acquainted with a woman who goes by the name of Pearly Poll.
"We agreed," he said, "pretty well together when she was sober."
"You are a man of sober habits?"
"Yes, sir, as a rule. She had stayed out all night at times. She was subject to fits, brought on through drink."
Mrs. Bowsfield (sic), wife of a woodcutter, said that the deceased woman formerly lived in her house, but left about three weeks before she was found dead. She was not a woman to get intoxicated. I have never seen her the worse for drink during the four months she stayed with me. She never brought any female companion home with her. I knew that she lived with Turner before she came to my house. She told me that Turner was very good to her, and helped her support her two children. She left my house without giving any notice. The only furniture she had was two mattresses.
Ann Morris, a widow, 23 Lisbon street, E., stated that she was sister in law to the deceased, and she saw her at about eleven o'clock at night on Bank Holiday. The deceased was standing on the kerb in Whitechapel road when witness first saw her, and she afterwards saw her go into a public house, the White Swan. Deceased did not see her, and she did not wish her to. To the best of her belief the deceased was on the streets.
By Detective Inspector Reid: Deceased had been charged several times with annoying witness,
By the Coroner: Deceased had been before the magistrate, and was sentenced to seven days. Deceased thought witness harboured her brother, deceased's husband.
By A Juryman: Deceased had two children by witness's brother, and one was now 17 years of age.
Mary Ann Connolly was the next witness called, and Inspector Reid said he would like the witness cautioned. The Coroner accordingly cautioned her that she was not bound to answer any of his questions, but if she did her answers would be taken down, and might be used in evidence against her. She was then sworn. She said she was living at Crossingham's lodging house, in Dorset street, Spitalfields. She was an unfortunate, and had known the deceased about four or five months. She knew her by the name of Emma. She last saw her alive on Bank Holiday at the corner of George yard, and was with her about three quarters of an hour. They separated at about a quarter to twelve. Witness was with her and two soldiers, one private and one corporal. She did not know to what regiment they belonged, but they had a white band round their hats. She did not notice whether the corporal had his side arm or not. They were all four together during the hour and three quarters, and drank in a public house (illegible) again see the deceased alive. She had been to Wellington Barracks, and the men were paraded before her. To the best of her belief, the two men she picked out were the men she and the deceased were in company with. She left eh soldier about five minutes past 12. She went up Whitechapel and he went Aldgate way.
By Inspector Reid: She first heard of this occurrence the day after bank Holiday. She had threatened to drown herself since the occurrence, but only said it for a lark. She stopped away two days and two nights, and she only said that when asked where she was going.
By the Coroner: She went to her cousin's at No. 4 Feather's court, Drury lane.
By Inspector Reid: She knew they wanted her, but she did not let them know where she was going.
Inspector Reid: We wanted her to go to the Tower to see the men on parade, but she did not put in an appearance until we found her.
By a Juryman: The deceased was not drunk, but they had been drinking. They wer drinking at different places for an hour and three quarters.
The Coroner: You could not have been very sober.
This exhausted the witnesses, and Detective Inspector Reid made a statement of the efforts made by the police to trace out the perpetrators of the murder. He said a large number of persons had volunteered statements, and in each case the statement had been thrashed out. The deceased was said to have been seen by several persons with a corporal on the Sunday, and there was a general parade of the men at the Tower by these persons without result. Constable Barrett was also taken to the Tower, and the men on leave at the time he was aid to have seen the corporal were paraded before him, but he failed to identify anyone. Pearly Poll spoke of the white band round their hats, which, of course, would be the dress of the Coldstream Guards. She was taken to Wellington Barracks, and picked out two men. One of them was a man with three good conduct stripes. She said she was positive he was the man she went to Angel alley with. But careful inquiry resulted in proof that the man was at home with his wife all night, and the other was in barracks at five minutes past ten. So the inquiries up to the present had been a failure. The police would be glad if anyone knowing anything of the occurrence would come forward and give any information that would thrown light upon it.
The Coroner, in summing up, said he was bound to acknowledge that the military authorities had rendered every possible assistance. He was sorry for several reasons that the perpetrator of this crime, which was one of the most horrible crimes that had been committed for some time past, the details being so horrible that there was a refinement of brutality about some parts which was nothing less than fiendish, had not been traced.
After a few minutes consultation, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the murder was committed by some person or persons unknown, and added a rider, in which they stated their opinion that the staircases of these model dwellings, which existed all over London, should be lighted up at night.