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Taranaki Herald
New Zealand

13 November 1888




London, November 10.
A woman occupying a house of ill-fame at Whitechapel took to her house on the previous night a male friend. Next morning her nude body was found in bed with the head completely severed from the body, the bowels and breasts were removed, and the limbs terribly hacked about.

Although the limbs were so terribly hacked the cuts were one in a professional manner, and leaves but little doubt that a surgeon has been at work. This murder is the most atrocious of the series which have taken place lately, and tremendous excitement prevails in Whitechapel. The police are using bloodhounds to track the murderer.



At noon on September 11 the attention of several persons passing along Grosvenor Road, London, was drawn to what appeared to be a portion of a human body floating in the Thames near Grosvenor railway Bridge. It is stated that the object was first seen entangled among some timber floating on the riverside, and that a number of boys, imagining it to be the carcass of a drowned dog, amused themselves by pelting it with stones. A closer inspection of the floating object, however, showed it to be a human arm. The police were at once sent for, and a constable who was on duty near the spot took charge of the limb, which he conveyed to the police station at Gerald Road, Eaton Square. Dr. Thomas Neville, surgeon, of 85 Pimlico Road, and of 125 Sloane Street, subsequently made an examination of the arm, and pronounced it to the right arm of a female, probably of some 25 to 30 years of age. It had been severed at the shoulder joint, and had the appearance of having been in the water two or three days. The cut was not skilfully made, and was such as would be the case had the operation been performed by a person ignorant of the elements of anatomy. Round the arm and above the elbow was a piece of string, tied rather tightly, but not sufficiently taut to produce much of an indentation. It is thought not unlikely that the string may have been employed to prevent the blood oozing through the veins, and so causing a risk of splashing to the person disposing of the severed limb. If this was the intention the artifice was scarcely successful, as when taken from the river there was still some bleeding. Another conjecture is that the string was merely attached for the purpose of easy carriage. At any rate, this was the idea which struck the police constable, who conveyed the limb to the police station by means of another piece of string attached to that already round the remains.

The contour of the limb, the delicacy of the hand, and the want of muscular development clearly indicate that the arm is that of a woman, and that comparatively young. It is difficult, of course, to tell the precise age, but the examination showed that the female, whoever she was, was a well-developed person, apparently on good health. The arm was fully as long as that of a man of 5ft 10in or 5ft 11in. This shows the woman must have been about 5ft 8in. There was no trace of disease of any kind and there was no bruises suggestive of violence but there were one or two slight abrasions, caused probably by contact with bridges or floating timber. It is not easy to say when the limb was cut off, but Dr. Neville, we understand, inclines to the view that the knife was used very soon after death. Had the act been performed some considerable time after death the appearance of the limb would have indicted it. The suggestion was put forward that the limb probably came from a dissecting room; but the character of the cut negatives any such theory. The arm was evidently cut through by a big, shrp instrument, compared with which the ordinary dissecting room knife is a mere toy. Moreover, the merest tyro in the dissecting room would not think of amputating any one of the extremities in this fashion. The theory which the police are forced to entertain is that the arm forms part of a woman who has met with a tragic end, and whose body is being disposed of in sections as opportunity offers.

The police made applications at the various London hospitals to know if any limbs were missing. From some of these institutions - St. Thomas', St George's and those at Westminster and Charing Cross - returns have been made and these show a negative result. No portions of any body have been missing from these institutions, and such are the stringent regulations applying to dissection that it is considered impossible for a single limb to be clandestinely conveyed out of the hospital without its absence bring immediately detected. No student can possess a whole body for dissection unless under very special circumstances, and each separate portion is supposed to be carefully registered in books kept for that purpose.

At two p.m. on Wednesday, October 3, Dr. Hibbert had the arm discovered in the Thames on 11 Sept. last brought to the Westminster mortuary. He then found it fitted into the scapula of the shoulder of the trunk discovered last night, and that the severed edges corresponded exactly.

It was also noticed that the cord tied round the arm found in the river and part of that which was used to tie up the parcel matched. After the clothing found had been fumigated it was closely searched, and to one part a piece of paper was seen to adhere, which on examination proved to be a piece of a newspaper which was saturated with blood, the date of which did not appear, but of course will be discoverable. The part of the dress on the body proves to be a rich underskirt of flowered silk, which testifies to the fact that the deceased did not belong to the poorer class. The doctors are of the opinion that the woman must have been murdered three weeks since, and the advanced state of decomposition in which the body was found was due to exposure. The underskirt, the cords and the piece of newspaper are the articles which can lead to a clue. Nothing has been discovered which points to the cause of death.