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Te Aroha News
New Zealand
28 November 1888

The Whitechapel Murder

London, Nov. 21.
Great excitement was caused today by a report that another woman had been found murdered and mutilated in Whitechapel. The rumour, however, upon investigation proved to be exaggerated. An attempt was made to murder a woman, but she is still alive.

She has made a statement to the effect that she was drinking in the evening with a man whom she met, and who subsequently accompanied her to her lodgings. The fellow suddenly turned on her and attacked her, but she struggled violently and screamed; and the murderer, becoming alarmed, desisted. He succeeded in making his escape good, though pursued for 300 yards. The woman has furnished an accurate description of her assailant, and his arrest is expected hourly. He is not believed to have any connection with previous murders.

London, Nov. 22.
A man was arrested in Whitechapel early today after a furious resistance, who is suspected to be identical with the assassin who attempted the life of the woman on Tuesday.

The most important clue which has yet been discovered with regard to the perpetrators of the inhuman murders in Whitechapel came to light through information given by Thomas Ryan, who has charge of the Cabman's reading room at 43 Pickering Place, Westbourne Grove, W. Mr. Ryan is a teetotaler and is the secretary of the Cabmen's Branch of the Church of England Temperance Society. He has been stationed at Pickering Place for six years, and is widely known throughout the metropolis and in the country as an earnest temperance advocate.

Ryan, who tells the story without affectation, says:-

On Sunday afternoon while he was in his little shelter the street attendant brought a gentlemanly looking man to him and said "This 'ere gentleman wants a chop, guv'nor. Can you cook one for him? He says he's 'most perished with cold." The gentleman in question, Ryan says, was about 5ft 6in in height and wore an Oxford cap on his head, and a light check ulster, with a tippet buttoned to his throat, which he did not loosen all the time he was in the shelter. He had a thick moustache but no beard, was round headed, his eyes very restless, and clean white hands. Ryan said "Come in; I'll cook one for you with pleasure." This was about four o'clock in the afternoon. Several cabmen were in the shelter at the time, and they were talking of the new murders discovered that morning at Whitechapel. Ryan exclaimed "I'd gladly do seven days and nights if I could only find the fellow who did them." This was said directly at the stranger, who, looking into Ryan's face, quietly said "Do you know who committed the murders?" and then calmly went on to say "I did them. I've had a lot of trouble lately. I came back from India and got into trouble at once. I lost my watch and chain and 10." Ryan was greatly taken aback at the man's statement, and fancied he was just recovering from a drinking bout, so he replied, "If that's correct you must consider yourself engaged." But he then went on to speak to him about temperance work, and the evils wrought by drink. Warming to his subject, Ryan spoke of his own work amongst men trying to induce them to become teetotallers. Then the stranger said, "Have a drink" to Ryan, and produced a bottle from an inner pocket, which was nearly full of brown liquid - either whisky or brandy. Ryan told him that he had better put the bottle away, as they were all teetotallers there; thereupon the stranger asked for a glass to take a drink himself, which was refused him, because Ryan said "All our glasses are teetotal glasses." Meanwhile the chop was cooking, the vegetables were already waiting, and the stranger began eating. During the meal the conversation was kept up with Ryan and the others in the shelter, all of whom thought the man was recovering from a heavy drinking bout and that his remarks as to his being the murderer were all nonsense. Ryan reasoned with him as to the folly of drinking, and at last he expressed his willing ness to sign the pledge, a book containing pledges being shown to him. This the stranger examined, and at length filled up one page, writing on the counterfoil as well as on the body of the pledge. In the hand of a gentleman he wrote the following words: "J Duncan, doctor; residence, Cabmen's Shelter, 30th September 1888." After doing this he said "I could tell a tale if I wanted." Then he relapsed into silence. After a pause he went on to speak of his experiences in India, and said he knew the Rev. Mr. Gregson, who was engaged in temperance work amongst the English soldiers in India, and had been for some time in Simla. He also stated that he was at Newcastle on Tyne before he went to India. Ryan called his attention to the fact that he had not filled in his proper residence, and the man replied "I have no fixed abode at present. I'm living anywhere." While Duncan was eating his chop he again asked for something to drink, and water was brought to him, but then he said he would have ginger beer, and when that was brought him he filled up the glass with the liquid from the bottle he had in his pocket. "This he drank," said Ryan "differently to what people usually drink; he literally gulped it down." In answer to further conversation about teetotalism, Duncan accepted an invitation to go to Church with Ryan that evening, and afterwards accompany him to a temperance meeting which he was going to hold. For that purpose, he said, he would return to the shelter in an hour, but he never came back. Duncan carried a stick, and looked sinewy fellow, just such a one as was capable of putting forth considerable energy when necessary.


The following are the dates of the crimes and names of the victims so far as known:-

1. Last Christmas week - an unknown woman found murdered near Osborne and Wentworth street, Whitechapel.

2. August 7th - Martha Turner, found stabbed in thirty nine places on a landing in model dwellings known as George yard Buildings, Commercial street, Spitalfields.

3. August 31st - Mrs. Nicholls, murdered and mutilated in Buck's row, Whitechapel.

4. September 7th - Mrs. Chapman, murdered and mutilated in Hanbury street, Whitechapel.

5. September 30th - Elizabeth Watts or Stride, found with her throat cut in Berner street, Whitechapel.

6. September 30 - Woman unknown, murdered and mutilated in Mitre Square, Aldgate. Since the receipt of the above information there have been several additional murders. Five women were killed within a period eight weeks.


London, November 23.
The man arrested yesterday on suspicion of the Whitechapel murders has been liberated. No evidence was forthcoming to establish his connection with the recent outrages.


While Mr Matthews and Sir Charles Warren are sapiently discussing with the poor plain clothes policemen humorously named detectives, the best way how not to find the Whitechapel assassin, I should like to show how that man would have been tracked down in any intelligently governed country.

I may premise my remarks by saying that, during my late stay in Southern California, my means of observing the powers of the bloodhound were increased, from the fact that the late Mr Hugh Edward Playfair, nephew of Sir Lyon Playfair, M.P., gave me, a short time before his lamented and untimely death, a bloodhound of the purest possible breed, raised from one of undoubted slave hunting extraction, and that I was able to experiment to test the reported powers of this class of hound in tracking by scent, and scent alone.

It is not, however, of the powers of this particular dog that I want to speak - I only mention him to show that I am not talking of something with which I have had no experience. My aim is to show that, had a bloodhound of good training been laid on to the scent directly the murdered woman in Aldgate was discovered, or, at any rate, before her poor body was moved, and another bloodhound laid on the scent of the murdered woman in Whitechapel before her body was moved also, the two hounds would almost have undoubtedly tracked the murderer along the deserted streets of the East End to his hiding place, which I take leave still to believe is not far from the scene of his horrible murders.

I do not know that it would be too late to try the experiment now, but I fear it would. And lest my readers should say, "Then what is the use of talking about it?" I may mention that the idea of tracking by bloodhounds was suggested at the inquest of Mary Ann Nicholls and again at that of Annie Chapman; and that had the police, instead of pooh-poohing the suggestion, had a couple of trained bloodhounds, of which there are ten, at least, in London today, kept at a handy police station in Whitechapel they would in all probability have at this moment in the cell the wretched murderer who is now laughing at their foolish efforts to find him. Let us mention an incident or two. Some years ago a murder occurred in Kansas City. A man was stabbed and robbed in a peculiarly atrocious way, and though at the time the citizens of Kansas were a little "tough," yet it was felt that the crime was the work of a stranger. They had no bloodhounds in the city, but a sapient old Yankee advised the sending for one from Albuquerque, not far off, and the hound was fetched before the body was moved. An anxious crowd stood round to watch what the dog would do. With a deep bay, such as only a bloodhound can give, he threw up his head, bayed again, and, making a rapid run, went straight to the far end of the city, into a low restaurant and sleeping house, up the stairs to the door of a room. A loud shot resounded inside, the door burst in, and there lay the undoubted murderer - a suicide now that the hound had tracked him.

In Iowa State, in a town not very far from Council Bluffs, about six years ago, a citizen going along the road at night was met by two men, killed , and robbed. The district was roused, for the murdered man was greatly respected, and the people turned out to find the murderer. One man brought a bloodhound, which tracked, in the presence of all the inhabitants, not only the first murderer who had really struck the fatal blow, but his assistant, who had on him only a bandanna handkerchief belonging to the old gentleman who was robbed, and they were both promptly hanged by the citizens.

But the bloodhound is not always wanted to actually catch the man. At Tucson, in Arizona, a murder and robbery took place of a peculiarly bad kind. The citizens met, and publicly resolved that no one should be allowed to leave Tucson till a bloodhound had been sent for and allowed to track the criminal. A cordon of men that would stand no nonsense, and men well known, was consequently drawn round the town, and no person was allowed to "skip" till the hound arrived. Next morning the dog came, and the news of its arrival spread through the town. A little crowd was drinking in the bar of a saloon, when some one shouted "Here's the bloodhound!" "For God's sake save me from being lynched till I've told what I know!" screamed a pale faced man who was standing at the end of the bar, and who up to that moment had been drinking silently and evidently with a view to keep up his courage. "Guess we shan't want no bloodhound here, gentlemen," dryly remarked a "Down Easter" as he covered the self confessed murderer with his ten inch barrelled revolver. An hour later the murdered man's property recovered, and his assassin's body swinging in the wind.

As yet Mr Matthews will offer no reward, and Sir Charles Warren will not employ bloodhounds. Will they step down and out, as the Americans say, and let somebody else do it?

About Town.