12 December 1888
London, October 11.
Dear Mr. Editor,
The cold weather has set in unusually early, and we are evidently going to experience another long and bitter winter. What will happen if the Whitechapel murderer or murderers are not caught before "the sombrous season of fogs wraps London in its Cimmerian folds," I dread to think. Cold, hunger, and darkness are bad enough for the poor East End unfortunates to have to bear, without an ever haunting fear of murder and sudden death superadded. The say the byeways of Whitechapel have been quite deserted since the last crime or crimes. The miserable women who used to frequent them dare not leave the well lighted main streets. As for rescue homes and Magdalen institutions, they have filled to overflowing. The women will not stay in them long. Both patrons and clergy know that. This craven fear can overcome even the love of gin for a time, but directly it fades or the murderer is caught the miserable creatures will rebel. They are far beyond reclamation.
I am glad, nevertheless, to feel that some kindly soul means to erect temporary shelter halls in the neighbourhood of the murders, which will be open to women only, and where a fire and tables and benches, with, in extreme cases, bread and water, will be provided. The plan sounds at once sensible and philanthropic. As a rule, what are known as "Doss House Philanthropists" make their guests a great deal too comfortable, with the result that they are imposed on by scores of sturdy beggars who otherwise would be paying for their "doss" at the rate of 4d a day, or 2s a week, in the common eating house.
Tom attended that Berners street inquest on business one day last week. He says you happy colonists can form only the vaguest idea of the sort of human beings the lowest strata of the East End are. The sister of the poor woman Stride was a gin soddened virago, and identified her mutilated relative with ghoulish relish. From first to last this woman's transparent object was to turn the catastrophe to account somehow. So obvious did the past become that the coroner doubted whether she was the deceased's sister. Others, too, were sceptical on the point. But the story she told in the main proved accurate. Not one word of honest pity for the dead woman's shocking fate crossed her lips. Her own goodness and generosity to her poor sister was the never ending theme of her discourse, or would have been, if the coroner had not cut her short.
The Brutal Butchery of a Woman
Another shocking murder of the well known Whitechapel type was perpetrated on November 9th within 300 yards of the spot where the woman Chapman was killed last September. The details of this tragedy are even more revolting than those of the six which preceded it. The accurate circumstances of the affair are difficult to discover, the police, as usual, placing every obstacle in the way of investigation by the reporters; but all reports show that the murder far surpasses in fiendish atrocity all the terrible crimes with which the East End of London has been familiarised within the past six months. The woman, 26 years old, named Mary Jane Kelly, had lived for four months in a front room on the second floor of a house upon an alley known as Cartin's Court. This poor woman was in service a short time ago, but since she came to reside in this court she has been recognised by the neighbours as a person who, like so many unfortunate members of her sex in the eastern end of the town, manage to live a wretched existence by the practice of immorality under the most degrading conditions. The court faces a small square with a narrow entrance, and is surrounded by squalid lodging houses, with rooms let off to the unfortunate class.
Kelly is described as a tall woman, not bad looking, of dark complexion, and she generally wore an old black velvet jacket. She was wearing this jacket in the morning when, about 8.15 o'clock, she went down the court, jug in hand, and returned shortly afterwards with milk for breakfast. She was next seen about 10 o'clock, when she went to a neighbouring beerhouse and stayed drinking for half an hour. This was the last that was seen of her alive. The woman was behind in rent and had been told by the landlord that she would be put out of she did not pay up today. She went on the streets last night to earn money to pay the rent, and it seems to be clearly established that she returned to her room with a man who passed the might with her. No one has been found who saw the man go in, but some of the neighbours heard him talking to the woman Kelly in her rooms and heard her singing as though drunk.
At 11 o'clock on the morning of November 9th a man named Bowyer, agent of the landlord, went to Kelly's room to collect the rent. When he knocked at the door he received no answer. Removing a curtain drawn across the window of the room and looking though a broken pane, Bowyer saw the woman lying on the bed on her back, stark naked, while marks of blood were all over the place. He tried the handle of the door and found it locked, while the key had been removed from the lock. Without going into the room Bowyer celled the police, who promptly proceeded to conceal all the facts in the case.
In less than two hours the doctors had the body in the morgue and were probing it, precisely as they did the Mitre square victim. They refused to give any details of the examination. One physician present admitted that he had passed much of his life in dissecting rooms, but never saw such a horrific spectacle as the murdered woman. The man who was called in to identify the body gives the following description, which seems to be reliable:
The head was nearly severed from the shoulders, and the face was lacerated almost beyond recognition. The breasts were both cut off and placed on a table. The heart and liver were between the woman's legs. The uterus was missing. There seemed to be at least forty cuts on the body, and big pieces of flesh were literally stripped off and strewed on the floor. It is simply too hideous to describe. There were no indications in this case of a hand skilled in the use of a knife. The body was literally hacked to pieces, but there is no doubt that it is all the work of the person who has been known throughout the world as the Whitechapel murderer.
The mystery in this case is as deep as in the cases of the preceding crimes. The fiend got away without leaving the slightest clue. He chose his time well, and the moment the murdered woman's body was discovered was that at which the gorgeous spectacle known by the name of the Lord Mayor's show was blocking the traffic near the Mansion House, scarcely a mile away. Three million people were packed in the streets between the Mansion House and the "World" office in Trafalgar square, with nearly every policeman in the city braced as a barricade along the curb to keep them in order. The rigid police patrol maintained in Whitechapel since the last horrible murder in October was relaxed for one day, and in that day the assassin struck down another victim.
It is scarcely necessary to say much about Kelly. She was a married woman, who fell into dissolute ways and was deserted by her husband. She had a boy 11 years old, who was begging in the streets while the mother was murdered. The woman had a paramour, a man who sells oranges on the streets, and on whom, as he could not be found, suspicion at once reverted, but he turned up all right tonight, and fainted when he was shown the woman's body.
Like the sands that slowly filter through an hourglass when reversed, the great throng in the streets which had been cheering the new Lord Mayor found their way into Whitechapel. When the news of the murder spread about every heart was filled with horror, and everybody asked: "When is this going to end?" "How long is this fiend in human form going to carve people up under the noses of the police and mock their feeble efforts to catch him?" The London police are not allowed to beat a crowd into submission, as the New York police are, unless there is an absolute riot, but the indignation and excitement were so great at Whitechapel today that it was necessary to use harsh measures.
Profiting from previous blunders, the police called a photographer to take a picture of the room before the body was removed from it. This gave rise to the report that there was handwriting on the wall, though the three or four people who were allowed into the room say they did not observe it, but possible they were too excited to note details.
A young woman who knew the murdered woman well says that about 10 o'clock at night she met her, and that she said she had no money, could not get any, and that she would do away with herself. Soon after that they parted, and a man, who is described as respectably dressed, came up and spoke to the murdered woman, and offered her money. The man then accompanied the woman home to her lodgings. The little boy was removed from the room and taken to a neighbour's house. The little boy has been found and corroborates this, but says he cannot remember the man's face. Another curious circumstance worth mentioning is that the murder was not made public until 12 o'clock.
Mrs. Paumier, who seems to be a credible person, sells walnuts in Sanders Road, near the scene of the murder. She states that at eleven o'clock a respectable man, carrying a black bag, came up to her and began talking about the murder. He appeared to know everything about it. He did not buy any walnuts, and after standing a few minutes went away. Mrs. Paumier described him as a man about 30 years old and five feet six inches in height. He wore speckled trousers and a black coat. Several girls in the neighbourhood say that the same man has accosted them and they chaffed him. When they asked him what he had in the black bag, he said "Something that ladies don't like." This is all that is known. If the police have further information they carefully conceal it, but there is no reason to believe that they have.
Here is the order of the previous murders committed by the same man: August 7th, Martha Turner, Commercial street; August 31st, Annie Nichols, Buck's Road (sic); September 8th, Annie Chapman, Hamburg (sic) street; September 30th, Elizabeth Stride, Berner street; and Kate Eddows, Mitre square.
Every detail of the seven murders is of the same type, and goes to show that the murderer has no accomplices. His latest escapade goes to show that a shrewd man is not above changing his tactics. Knowing the streets are guarded, he lures his victims to their rooms. So long as he follows this plan there is no limit to his operations and he will probably not be caught unless by some blunder of his own.
An important fact is pointed out today which starts a new and quite probable theory of the murders. It appears that the cattle boats bringing live freight to London usually come into the Thames on Thursdays or Fridays and leave again for the Continent on Sundays or Mondays. It has already been noticed that revolting crimes have been committed at the end of the week, and an opinion has been formed among some detectives that the murderer is a drover or butcher, employed on these boats, of which there are many, and that he appears and disappears with one of the steamers.
This theory is held to be of much importance by those engaged in the investigation, who believe that the murderer does not reside with in Whitechapel or even in the country at all. He may be employed upon one of these boats, or one who is allowed to travel by them, and inquiries have for some time been directed to following up this theory.
St the inquest of the previous victims the coroners expressed the opinion that the knowledge of anatomy possessed by a butcher would be sufficient to enable him to find and cut out the parts abstracted in the several cases. There is a similar theory that the man is a Malay cook on one of the steamers running to the Mediterranean. There are not all there is. There are few facts except that the women have been murdered and the murderer is still free. A man's oilskin coat has been found in the murdered woman's room, but whether it belonged to one of her paramours or to the murderer has not been ascertained. By some it is looked upon as strong corroboration of the sailors theory.
The doctors who made the post mortem examination are authority for the statement that no portion of the last body was taken away by the murderer. One physician gives "The World" the following description of the condition of the body when found: "The woman lay on her back on the bed entirely naked. Her throat was cut from ear to ear, right down to the spinal column. The ears and nose had been clean cut off. The breasts also had been entirely cut off and placed on the table by the side of the bed. The stomach and abdomen had been ripped open, while the dace was slashed about so that the features were beyond all recognition. The kidneys and heart had been removed from the body and placed on the table by the side of the breasts. The liver had been taken out and laid on the right thigh. The clothes, soaked with blood, were on the floor beside the bed. There was no appearance of a struggle. A more sickening sight could not be imagined."
Almost everybody in the neighbourhood of the murder had some story to tell today, but that of Mrs. Maxwell, wife of the lodging housekeeper of Dorset street, opposite the house where Mary Kelly lived, seems reliable, and goes to show that the murder was committed after 9 a.m. Here it is: "I assist my husband in watching the lodging house. We divide the time, staying up all night. Friday morning, as I was going home carrying a lantern with me, I saw the woman Kelly standing at the entrance of the court. It was then about 8.30 o'clock, and it was unusual for her to be seen about at that hour. I said to her :"Hello, what are you doing up so early?" She said, "Oh, I'm very bad this morning. I have been drinking so much lately." I said, "Here, why don't you go and have half a pint of beer? It will set you right." She replied: "I just had one, but I'm so bad I couldn't keep it down." I didn't know then that she had separated from the man she had been living with. I then went out to do some errands. On my return, I saw Kelly standing outside the public house talking with a man. That was the last I saw of her. It must have been 9 o'clock."
The body was discovered about one hour afterward. Soon after the discovery of the murder the authorities of Scotland Yard telegraphed that bloodhounds would be sent and all pedestrians were forbidden to approach anywhere near the house in which the body was lying. These precautions were maintained until a second telegram from headquarters was received stating that the dogs would not be sent. The failure of the appearance of the bloodhounds was today accounted for by the fact that during recent trials the animals ran away and have not been recovered.
The excitement in the neighbourhood is not so great as immediately following the previous murders. The people are becoming accustomed to the horrors. Tonight, as usual, the streets are full of loose women plying their trade uninterrupted by the Kelly woman's fate. No one was permitted to see the body today. It will be buried on Monday morning after the inquest. At midnight the detectives in the case were holding a conference about their future line of action, but no one is under arrest.