14 November 1888
FISHING FOR CLUES - INQUEST DISCLOSURES
London, Sept. 21.
Another week has passed, and the Whitechapel murders are mysterious still. All hopes of finding the assassin have indeed, been long abandoned, save by the indomitable Sir Charles Warren and the indefatigable Detective Superintendent Abberline. The last named officer, you may remember, was the one who defeated the Jubilee Day dynamitard plot, and brought the last of the famous gang to justice. He does not pretend to be a Lecocq, but, given a clue, he can follow it up as well as any man. The Whitechapel murders are perplexing and confounding because of the total absence of clues. The nearest approach to one transpired in the course of the medical evidence at the inquests, but the suggestions it implies are so horrible I scarcely like to name them. The doctors declare that in both poor women's corpses the womb was cut out and taken away, and that the operations showed the murderer to be possessed of considerable anatomical knowledge. The inference an American detective, who was interviewed by the Star the other day, draws from this is that the murder was committed either by a doctor or medical student who makes a specialty of diseases of the womb. When one remembers what frightful cruelties medical and surgical enthusiasts have committed in the so called cause of science, this thesis really does not seem beyond the bounds of possibility. In the case of the woman killed in Hamburg (sic) street, the doctors declare that the murderer was busily at work for at least twenty minutes. "With my surgical knowledge I couldn't have accomplished the mutilation in less time," deposed one witness. The police cannot, however, learn that any well dressed man was seen prowling about Whitechapel that night.
PANIC IN LONDON
London was startled again on September 30th, almost to panic, by the discovery of two more mysterious murders at Whitechapel the crimes having been perpetrated between 11 and 12 o'clock the previous night, and doubtless by the same hand. The body of the first woman discovered had the head nearly severed; there were no other mutilations. The body of the second, when found, was mutilated in the same terrible manner as that of Minnie Chapman. It was disembowelled, the throat cut, the nose severed, and the heart and lungs thrown aside. The incisions showed rough dexterity, the work of dissection having evidently been done with the utmost haste. The first woman had no doubt been seized by the throat and her cries choked; the murderer, by a sweeping cut, opened the throat from ear to ear. She was identified as Elizabeth Lotride (sic), lately living at a common lodging house in Spitalfields, and who picked up a scanty living by charring. She was found shortly after midnight, lying under a dark gateway in Berners-street. Just over this gateway a Socialist Club was holding a concert, singing and carousing while the murderer was at work; but so swiftly did he accomplish it that not a cry was heard from the victim. One clubman, on entering the court, stumbled over the body, which was lying two yards from the street, a stream of warm blood gushing from the gashed throat into the gutter. The murderer had evidently been disturbed before he had time to mutilate his victim. The second murders, and more atrocious one, was committed three hours later at Mitre Square, within five minutes' walk of the scene of the first crime. Policemen patrolled the square every ten minutes.
The murder of the woman at Gateshead on September 24th was the ordinary outcome of a drunken brawl, and possessed none of the features of the mysterious Whitechapel tragedies.
On the morning of October 2nd, the badly decomposed corpse of a woman, with the head and arms severed from the body, was found in a vault on the site of the projected opera house on the Thames Embankment, near the Houses of Parliament, and within sight of Scotland Yard. The body was wrapped up and tied with cords that cut the skin. The place is one of the busiest parts of London. A few days before the right arm of a woman was found by some boys in the Thames, near Waterloo Bridge. It evidently belonged to a young woman; was plump, shapely and graceful, and had been rudely hacked from the shoulder. Last week another am corresponding to it was found in a yard behind the asylum at Southwark, half a mile from Waterloo Bridge. It is now admitted by the police that the second arm found matched the first one. Should the arms belong to the body, they will serve as a clue. They seemed in a much better state of preservation than the body.
In connection with these dark and terrible crimes, it may be mentioned that the coroner, summing up at the inquest held September 26th, on the body of a previous Whitechapel victim, stated to the jury that shortly after the details of their last sitting had been published, the sub curator of an English pathological museum informed him that some months ago an American visited him and asked that he procure for him a number of anatomical specimens. The visitor said he would willingly pay £20 each for the specimens, his object being to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a book upon which he was then engaged. The sub curator informed the applicant that compliance with such a request was impossible. The American urged the feasibility of it. This request being made at a second institution of the same kind, the sub curator promptly informed the authorities of Scotland Yard of the fact.
There have been various arrests on suspicion, but there is no hope that any of those detained will be wanted. Both the Lord Mayor and the manager of the "Financial News" have offered £300 reward for the apprehension of the murderer, and a fund for the same purpose was raised by members of the Stock Exchange. There is no clue, and Scotland Yard is at its wits' end. Drs. Forbes and Winslow, Sir Risdon Bennett, and other medical experts are convinced that the perpetrator of the crimes is a homicidal lunatic. Geo. M Dodge, a sailor, came forward on October 4th, and described a Malay cook, called Alaska, whom he knew as having received $500 for two years' wages about August 13th, and which was stolen from him by a Whitechapel street walker. Dodge heard the Malay threaten that unless he recovered the money he would murder and mutilate every Whitechapel woman he met. He is described as 5ft 7in in height, weight 130, with straight black hair and black eyes, black moustache and fine features. Age 35. Chief Warren, of the Metropolitan police, has decided to employ bloodhounds to scent the murderers. The police have seized and occupied several houses in the Whitechapel section.
At the inquest, October 8th, on the trunk of a woman found in a cellar at Whitechapel, the surgeon who examined the remains testified that deceased had probably occupied a good social position.
Special from London, October 9th, said an arrest which the police thought important had been made the night previous. On Wednesday a stranger called at a shop in the Gray's Inn Road with an overcoat to be cleaned. The garment was stained with blood, especially the pockets, which were dyed red. The shopman notified Scotland Yard. Detectives were secreted on the premises, and when the man called for the coat they arrested him. He refused to give an account of himself or explain the stains, and was held prisoner. A searching investigation was entered on.
Sir Charles Warren, Chief Inspector of the Metropolitan Police, replying to the criticisms of the press, declares that London is the safest city in the world. He says his detectives are straining every nerve to discover the perpetrator of these murders, and calls attention to the fact that the victims voluntarily place themselves in such a position as to be unable to resist the murderer or obtain assistance. The Evening News of October 3rd printed in red ink a facsimile of a letter and a postal card received a few days before at the office of the Central News Company purporting to have been written by the murderer, in which he gloats over his crimes, and threatens to commit others in defiance of the police, of whose efficiency he expresses a very poor opinion. The police are inclined to the belief that the letter and card are genuine. Two persons, both Americans, were arrested as suspects on the evening of October 3rd, but afterwards discharged.
The police have adopted the theory that the postal card and letter before mentioned and signed Jack the Ripper, sent to the Central News Agency, September 27th, emanated from the actual murderer. Facsimiles of the letter and card are posted in every police station, and upon every dead wall, accompanied by a paragraph begging any person recognising the writing to communicate with the head of the police. A second communication was received at the Agency on the evening of October 5th from Jack the Ripper, announcing his intention to commit more murders on the night of 6th, and upon the strength of this every policeman was ordered on duty, assisted by hundreds of amateur detectives. A reign of terror prevailed in Whitechapel and daylight on 7th was hailed with joy.
George Lusto (sic), the builder, who is the head of a Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received by the parcel post on Tuesday, October 16th, a box containing a meaty substance and with it a note reading as follows: "I send you half of the kidney I took from one of the women. I preserved it for you; t'other piece I fried and are. It was very nice. I may send on the bloody knife that took it out if you only wait a while longer."
The box was taken to the London Hospital, and Dr. Openshaw said the contents certainly came from a full grown woman. The ghastly package is now at Scotland Yard. It is supposed that the matter was cut from the Mitre street victim. The handwriting of the note is not at all like that of Jack the Ripper's letters.