17 November 1888
PHENOMENAL DARING OF THE ASSASSIN
London, October 5.
I should think it is very doubtful whether in the history of metropolitan crime the police have ever been more thoroughly at sea than they are over the Whitechapel murders. Six women have now been murdered and mutilated within a comparatively contracted area of the East End. The assassin, the detectives feel almost certain, lies perdu somewhere in the neighbourhood; yet search, spy and intrigue as they may, not a clue can be found.
The two fresh crimes committed on Saturday night last resemble their predecessors in almost every particular, save that the assassin seems to have shown even more marvellous fearlessness and despatch then before in doing this, his fearful work. In the case of poor "Long Liz", who was discovered with her throat cut from ear to ear in a yard outside the Socialist Club in Berners-street, it is believed that the murderer was absolutely disturbed in the act of mutilation, and that he only escaped behind the cart of the little Jew whose pony shied at the corpse. Certain it is the body was quite warm when found, and that it did not lie there some ten minutes, or at least a quarter of an hour previously. Add to these facts that though the windows of the club were all open, and though a woman was taking a breath of air on her doorstep barely a few yards off, not a cry was heard, and one wonders what sort of monster the authorities are coping with.
But if the Berners-street crime seems phenomenal in daring and recklessness, the one committed in Mitre Square, presumably by the same man and barely ten minutes later, is something more. In this case the miserable victim must have told the murderer he could only rely on a few minutes undisturbed before the policeman would be round on his beat, and yet with this knowledge he ruthlessly and deliberately pursued his dreadful task. The doctors calculate that the mutilation of the corpse must have taken five or six minutes to complete, so that the murderer can only have fled two minutes before the returning constable stumbled over the still reeking corpse.
How this monster, dripping with blood, as he must necessarily be, gets off on these occasions without attracting the attention of a soul or leaving the faintest track, if the greatest conundrum of all. Clearly he can't have far to get home, and he must have a voluminous ulster or overall which he takes off prior to commencing operations and puts on again afterwards.
The Burke and Hare theory for accounting for the murders, advanced by the Coroner at the inquest on Anne Chapman, falls partially to the ground in view of the statement (made by Sir James Risden Bennett and backed by other medical authorities) that a scientific specialist could obtain as many uteri as he wanted for dissection or examination at any of the medical schools for the asking. As for any man offering £10 apiece for such things, that (they say) is absurd on the face of it. Why, a whole pickled pauper could be obtained for from £3 5s to £3 10s (according to his condition), whilst pickled human legs, arms and bits of the breast (I mean thoraxes) cost only 15s apiece. Supposing, however, persist a few obstinate people, this American doctor who made such a quaint mistake as to offer £10 for what he could her gratis required the uterus to be as nearly living as possible. Would the authorities permit him in the cause of science to cut up the corpse of a dead pauper whilst it was still warm?
"Certainly not; to get a uterus in that state would be practically impossible, and even a bribe of £10 might fail to produce one."
The Burke theory is therefore not absolutely tenable.
A far more popular one, however, is that the murderer is a mad medical man or medical student, who imagines he has a mission to destroy prostitutes. The Star still rather favours the slaughterman idea, on the ground that the murders have all (bar the last two) occurred on nights when slaughtermen are at work, and could be about without attracting attention. Another suggestion is that the murderer is a ratter or a sewer man, and descends promptly into the bowels of the earth by the nearest manhole after the commission of his crimes. One journalist cruelly asks: "Why not a policeman?" Who could get off home easier or more quietly than Master Bobby?
Dr. Forbes, the great mad doctor, says the murderer is probably going about his usual avocations perfectly coolly and placidly. Nevertheless, there are pretty sure to indications of mania about him which a trained eye could detect. Let us therefore, he urges, turn loose 50 or 100 men accustomed to dealing with maniacs (if possible, homicidal maniacs) in Whitechapel and let them go about accompanied with detectives. Exceptional difficulties need exceptional treatment.
The possibility of the murders being the work of a gang has led to heavy rewards being offered in the hope of inspiring treachery.
The police are also attempting a house to house visitation in Whitechapel. On Sunday morning a strict cordon was drawn round the district, and no one can pass it without accounting for himself.
All these precautions notwithstanding, the impression gains ground that if the murderer is taken it will be in the act of committing one of his dreadful crimes.
Whilst the sensation about the Whitehall (sic) murders was at its height, fresh fuel was added to the flames by the discovery at Westminster of the mutilated remains of another woman, evidently killed some 20 days previously. The limbs were tied up in a large parcel, which must have been placed in the cellar of the unfinished buildings, where it was found some time between Saturday night and Sunday morning. A workman discovered the bundle, and smelling something uncanny, untied the strings, when various portions of a woman's body in a much decomposed state rolled out. At any other time such a ghastly discovery would have greatly shocked people, but we are so saturated with murder now that an extra crime scarcely seems to matter. The people do not appear inclined to connect this affair with the East End murders. It may prove, indeed, to be nothing worse than a vile practical joke of a medical student from the adjacent hospital. Paupers' corpses are plentiful in the dissecting room there, and it might strike mischievous youngsters as a joke to cause a panic at the West End by placing some limbs in the cellar of the new building close by. We shall see.
TWO WOMEN MURDERED ON SUNDAY
THE SAME FEARFUL MUTILATION
(From the "Pall Mall Budget" October 4th)
In the early hours of Sunday morning two more horrible murders were committed in the East End of London, the victim in both cases belonging to the same unfortunate class. No doubt seems to be entertained by the police that these terrible crimes were the work of the same fiendish hands which committed the outrages which had already made Whitechapel so painfully notorious. The scenes of the two murders just brought to light are with a quarter of an hour's walk of each other, the earlier discovered crime having been committed in a yard in Berner street, a thoroughfare out of the Commercial Road, while the second outrage was perpetrated within the City boundary in Mitre square, Aldgate. In neither case can robbery have been the motive, nor can the deed be set down as the outcome of any ordinary street brawl. Both have unquestionably been murders deliberately planned, and carried out by the hand of some one who has been no novice to the work; and again it must be added that no reliable clue has yet been obtained.
Berner street is a narrow, badly lighted but tolerably respectable street, turning out of the Commercial road, a short distance down on the right hand side going from Aldgate. It is a street mainly consisting of small houses, but which has lately been brightened and embellished by one of the fine new buildings of the London Board School. Just opposite this is an "International and Educational Club", domiciled in a private house standing at the corner of a gateway leading into a yard in which are small manufacturing premises and four small houses occupied by Jewish families. The yard gates are usually closed at night, a wicket affording admission to the lodgers and others residing in the houses. The club was on Saturday evening winding up the Jewish holidays by a lecture on "Judaism and Socialism." A discussion followed, which carried on the proceedings to about half past twelve, and then followed a general jollification accompanied, as the neighbours say, by a noise that would effectually have prevented any cries being heard by those around. The mirth however was brought to a sudden and a dreadful stop. The steward of the club, who lives in one of the small houses in the yard, and had been out with some sort of market cart, returned home just before one (Sunday morning). He turned into the gateway, when he observed some object lying in his way under the wall of the club. Unable to see clearly who it was, he struck a match and found that it was a woman. He thought at first she was drunk, and went into the club. Some of the members went out with him and struck another light, and were horrified to find the woman's head nearly severed from her body and blood streaming down the gutter. The police were summoned and the poor creature was borne to the St. George's dead house.
The corpse was still warm, and in the opinion of the medical experts, who were promptly summoned to the place, the deed of blood must have been done not many minutes before. The probability seems to be that the murderer was interrupted by the arrival of the cart, and that he made his escape unobserved, under the shelter of the darkness, which was almost total at the spot. The efforts of the police to trace the murderer have been without result as yet. The body has been identified as that of a woman named Elizabeth Stride, who had been living in a common lodging house in Flower and Dean street, and had been in the habit of frequenting this neighbourhood, where it appears she was familiarly known as Long Lizzie. She has a sister living somewhere in Holborn, and her husband, from whom she has been separated some years, is said to be living in Bath. The body when found was quite warm. In one hand was clutched a box of sweets, and at her breast were pinned two dahlias; she was respectably dressed for her class, and appears to have been about thirty five years of age. Her height is 5ft 5in, and her complexion and hair are dark. She wore a jacket made of dark diagonal cloth, feather trimmings, a black skirt, velveteen bodice, crape bonnet, side spring boots, and white stockings. Medical men were busy examining the body and on Tuesday morning about eleven Mr Wynne E Baxter opened an inquest. The woman's movements have been traced up to a certain point. She left her lodgings in Flower and Dean street between six and seven o'clock on Saturday evening, saying that she was not going to meet any one in particular. From that hour there is nothing certainly known about her up to the time at which her body was found, lifeless indeed, but not otherwise mutilated then by the gash in the throat, which had severed the jugular vein and must have caused instantaneous death.
At the precise moment that the police were gathering about the place of slaughter in Berner street, another and more horrible shambles was being provided for their inspection scarcely half a mile away. Shortly before two o'clock Police Constable Watkins (No. 881) of the City Police, was going round his beat, when, turning his lantern upon the darkest corner of Mitre square, Aldgate, he saw the body of a woman, apparently lifeless, in a pool of blood. He at once blew his whistle and several persons being attracted to the spot, he despatched messengers for medical and police aid. Inspector Collard, who was in command at the time at Bishopsgate police station, but a short distance off, quickly arrived, followed a few moments after by Mr. G. W. Sequeira, surgeon, of 35 Jewry street, and Dr. Gordon Brown, the divisional police doctor of Finsbury circus. Chief Superintendent Major Smith, Superintendent Foster, Inspector McWilliams, and Inspector Collard immediately organized a scouting brigade, to detect and arrest any suspicious looking character, but no one was taken into custody.
In the meantime, Dr. Sequeira and Dr. Gordon Brown made an examination of the body. The sight was a most shocking one. The woman's throat had been cut from the left side, the knife severing the main artery and other parts of the neck. Blood had flowed freely, both from the neck and body, on the pavement. Apparently, the weapon had been thrust into the upper part of the abdomen and drawn completely down, ripping open the body, and, in addition, both thighs had been cut across. The intestines had been torn from the body and some of them lodged in the wound on the right side of the neck. The woman was lying on her back, with her head to the south west corner, and her feet towards the carriage way, her clothes being thrown up on her chest. Both hands were outstretched by her side. Near where she was lying two or three buttons were picked up, and a small cardboard box containing two pawn tickets. The supposition is that her pockets were hastily turned out, either for robbery, or to evade suspicion as to the motive for the crime. Dr. Brown having taken a pencil sketch of the exact position in which the body was found, at three o'clock it was removed to the City Mortuary, Golden land, to await a coroner's inquest.
On Tuesday night, between nine and ten o'clock, a labouring man, giving the name of John Kelly, 55, Flower and Dean street - a common lodging house - entered the Bishopsgate street police station, and stated that he believed that the woman who had been murdered in Mitre square was his "wife." He was taken to the mortuary in Golden lane, and there identified her as the woman, to whom he subsequently admitted he was not married, but with whom he had cohabited for seven years. Kelly, who was considerably affected, spoke quite unreservedly, and gave a full statement as to his own movements and those of the ill fated woman, as to whose identity he was quite positive. In this statement he was borne out by the deputy of the lodging house, Frederick Wilson, who knew the poor woman quite well, and who had just seen the body. Kelly, in answer to questions, stated that the last time he saw her - referring to her as Kate - was on Saturday afternoon. The last meal she had with him was breakfast, which had been obtained by the pledging of his boots for 2s 6d. He was then asked if he knew the murdered woman's name, and if he could explain the meaning of the initials "T.C." on her arm. He replied that Thomas Conway was the name of her husband, but he could not state whether Conway was dead or alive, or how long, in the latter case, she had been living away from him. He further stated that he and the murdered woman were "both Londoners", and that the latter was born at Bermondsey. They had just returned from hopping at a place about two miles from Coxheath, in Kent. He and "Kate" had, he said, gone through many hardships together, but while she was with him he "would not let her do anything bad." He was asked if he knew whether the woman had any relatives besides the daughter mentioned, to which he replied that "Kate's" sister was living in Thrawl street, Spitalfields, with a man who sold farthing books in Liverpool street.
The police have made one discovery, which that are of opinion (sic) affords a clue to the direction in which the murderer made his escape. On Monday afternoon a portion of an apron was found in Goldstein (sic) street, and when the body of the woman found in Mitre square was searched, it was discovered that she was wearing the upper portion of the apron to which the piece found belonged. It is therefore concluded that the murderer made his way into Whitechapel. Again: early this morning a police constable was passing on his beat in the Whitechapel road, when he came upon a black handled knife, keen as razor, and pointed like a carving knife. The blade was ten inches long, about the length of weapon assumed by Dr. Phillips to have been used by the Hanbury street murderer.
The inquest on the body of Elizabeth Stride - otherwise "Long Liz" - who was found foully murdered, with her throat cut, in Berner street, was fixed to commence at the Vestry hall, Cable street, St. George's in the East, at eleven o'clock on Monday. Mr Wynne E Baxter directed the inquiry. Nothing of importance has, however, been elicited.