Wednesday, 11 September 1889
Another case of murder and mutilation has been added to the long series which has conferred a ghastly notoriety upon a narrow area in Whitechapel. Early yesterday morning a policeman, passing through a desolate and dimly-lighted thoroughfare, found the trunk and arms of a woman in one of the railway arches which form one side of the street. Examination showed that the head and legs had been removed in a manner indicating some dexterity and familiarity with such work on the part of the operator. It also showed that the corpse was three or four days old, and that the murder and mutilation could not have been carried out at the spot where the remains were found. From the evidence of the police it further appears that the body cannot have been deposited in the railway arch more than a few minutes before its discovery. A very efficient system of patrolling is in force in the district, and a policeman who passed the spot very shortly before his comrade found the body is confident that it could not have escaped his observation. But here our exact knowledge comes to an end. Beyond the meagre information we have just summarized, everything is mere conjecture, or extremely dubious inference. Identification has been very difficult in previous cases of the same kind, but in this case it is obviously impossible. Even the age of the unfortunate woman must be a matter of great uncertainty. There was no clothing except a portion of a chemise, and no trinket or article of any kind that might serve as the starting point of inquiry. Whence the corpse was brought or in what manner it was conveyed to the spot where it was found are points upon which the police appear to be absolutely without information of any kind. No one in the neighbourhood heard or saw anything unusual, and no suspicious character had been observed near the spot either by the inhabitants or the police. In whatever manner the horrible burden was carried it must have been in more ways than one a noteworthy object; and that it was successfully deposited without attracting attention must be taken either as another proof of the extraordinary luck which has attended the perpetrators of a series of undiscovered crimes, or as unpleasant evidence of the facility with which a cool and daring criminal well acquainted with his ground can baffle all the agencies of detection.
It is a matter of opinion whether this murder belongs to what is known as the Whitechapel series, or whether it ought to be classed among the more ordinary crimes which occur from time to time. For the first hypothesis it may be said that the victim is a woman, that the locality is within the area always chosen by the Whitechapel murderer as the scene of his brutal crimes, that dismemberment and mutilation are invariable incidents of his operations, and that there is some reason to believe the murderer in this case, as in some previous ones, to be left-handed. On the other hand, although the victim is a woman, there is no evidence that she belonged to the miserable class upon which the Whitechapel murderer preyed. We do not even know in what manner she was killed. For anything that can be inferred from the trunk and arms she may have been poisoned or shot through the head. Dismemberment may have been resorted to simply in order to avoid detection, and the locality may have been chosen on purpose to divert suspicion from the real perpetrator by creating the impression that the Whitechapel murderer has again been at his foul work. The locality in which a body is deposited some days after death obviously does not possess the same significance as the locality in which the murder is actually committed. Nor can inferences as the right or left handedness be drawn with the same certainty when the case is one of dismembering a corpse as when it is one of instantaneously striking down a living woman. Assuming it to be possible to say with certainty that a cut was made in a given direction, we still require to know the position assumed by the operator before we can say positively that he was right-handed or left-handed. In an attack upon a living woman there are some grounds for inferring the position of the assailant, but in the dismemberment of a dead body there are none that can be relied upon. Again, the mutilation of the corpse, so far as can be judged from the somewhat contradictory accounts before us, is wanting in the sanguinary ferocity of the Whitechapel murderer. It may be his work, but it may equally be a perfunctory imitation of his manner, intended, like other details, to throw justice upon the wrong scent. In any case, if we are to add this murder to the Whitechapel series, it must be admitted that the murderer has made a new departure. Hitherto he has never troubled himself with the disposal of the remains of his victims. He has apparently taken a fiendish delight in pouncing upon them in their ordinary haunts and satisfying his passion for blood and horrors with the impatient ferocity of a wild beast. It would not have been inconsistent on his part to murder one of these unfortunates in her room instead of in the street, but it is totally at variance with his habits to carry the corpse days afterwards to a railway arch.
The case is not one for dogmatic conclusions, and we draw none. But the considerations we have mentioned ought at least to prevent any narrowing of the investigation by the theory that the murder has been committed by the same hand as the previous crimes in the same locality. Nor ought too much stress to be laid upon the presumed impossibility of carrying such a burden any great distance without detection. If it could be carried two or three hundred yards in a district which, as we are assured, is watched with exceptional vigilance by the exceptionally large staff of police, there is no reason in the nature of things why it should not have been brought from a considerable distance. But if the patrolling of the streets is really done with great care in that neighbourhood, and if we may thoroughly trust the assertion that the body must have been seen, if there, by the policeman who immediately preceded its actual discoverer, it might be worth while to inquire whether it could by any possibility have been placed where it was found without being carried through the street at all. There are marks of a rope on the body, and a railway arch is, perhaps, not wholly inaccessible with the aid of a rope from the parapet above. In that case nothing would be easier than to watch the policeman out of sight, and we presume it is not impossible to sling a weight in such a way as to permit of the rope being hauled up after it reaches the ground. At any rate, the police have a much bigger job on hand than the microscopic examination of the immediate vicinity, if they hope to avert the disgrace to our civilization involved in another addition to the large number of undiscovered crimes now on record. Unless this murder be the work of the Whitechapel murderer, and this, as we have shown, is at least very much open to doubt, it may have been committed almost anywhere. It is not perhaps easy to determine which theory is the more disquieting. The impunity of the Whitechapel murderer is not only a source of real suffering to thousands of women far beyond the district in which he works and the class upon which he preys, but it is also of evil influence upon debased natures everywhere, and may even become a useful screen for other criminals. On the other hand, it was, no doubt, a consolation for some people to think that his brutality worked only in a certain well-defined sphere, and that he is the only specimen of his class. But, in whatever way we take the matter, it cannot be denied that the list of conspicuous and unpunished crimes is already so long as to constitute a social reproach and disgrace, no matter how we may please to distribute the blame.
Early yesterday morning a discovery was made which leads to the belief that another horrible murder has been committed in Whitechapel, and that the victim, a woman, belongs to the same class as the eight who have been murdered in the same locality during the last two years. The manner in which the body has been mutilated suggests that the outrage has been committed by the same person.
About half past 5 o'clock yesterday morning Police constable Bennett, 239 H, was passing on his beat by a railway arch in Pinchin street, St. George's, when he noticed something in the arch. The place in question is used as a receptacle for stones belonging to the District Board of Works, and in front of it there is a hoarding. Part of this, however, has been broken down, and the officer, getting through it, was horrified to find the trunk of a woman in a condition which showed it had been hacked about in a most brutal manner. The head had been severed from the body, while both legs were also missing, and from the lower part of the stomach was a deep gash through which the bowels were protruding. In accordance with instructions that had been given to all the police in the district, the constable did not move, but blew his whistle for assistance. In a few seconds two other constables came up, and on being made acquainted with the discovery started for King David lane Police station, when further assistance was sent to Pinchin street, and the news telegraphed to the heads of police and to the whole of the stations within the metropolitan district. In order to save as much time as possible an order has for some time past been in force that whenever a murder is discovered in the East end the telegraphic code should simply be "Another Whitechapel." Consequently, as soon as these two words were telegraphed over the district every outlet in the immediate neighbourhood was blocked. Superintendent T. Arnold and Detective Inspector Reid, H Division, were soon on the spot giving directions for the place to be searched, while the Thames police, under Detective Inspector Regan, were busily engaged in searching the vessels in the river and docks, notably the cattle boats. While the constable was standing by the body he heard a noise inside the arch, and three working men came out, saying they were homeless and had been in there to have a sleep. They stated that when they entered the arch after midnight they saw nothing of the body and heard no alarming or suspicious sounds during the night. These men were detained and afterwards conveyed to the Leman street Police station, until proper inquiries could be made concerning them. Dr. Clarke, who is acting for Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon, who was away on his holidays, together with Dr. Sargeant, who practises in the neighbourhood, was soon at the spot and minutely examined the body. They were of opinion that death had occurred at least three days previously, as the blood was all dried and signs of decomposition were setting in. Other details having been obtained, a police ambulance was brought and the trunk of the body conveyed to the St. George's mortuary, where the doctors again examined it. The result of that examination was that the police afterwards issued the following notice:-
Found, at 5.40 this morning, the trunk of a woman under railway arches in Pinchin street, Whitechapel. Age about 40; height 5 feet 3 inches; hair, dark brown; no clothing, except chemise, which is much torn and bloodstained; both elbows discoloured as from habitually leaning on them. Post mortem marks apparently of a rope having been tied round the waist.
Dr. Sargeant was heard to say that the head had been cut off in a very skilful manner. The medical men were also of opinion that the cuts were inflicted by a left handed person, which fact points to the murderer being the same person who killed the eight other poor creatures, as in each instance the cuts are supposed to have been the work of a left handed person. From the appearance of the breasts it is believed the woman had not borne children.
Within half an hour of the discovery of the trunk Mr. Monro, Chief Commissioner of Police, and Colonel Monsell, Assistant Commissioner, visited the spot and personally directed the movements of the detective officers, who were then busily engaged in making inquiries under the direction of Detective Inspector Swanson, of Scotland yard. This officer is well fitted for the task given him, as he is an old "East ender" and, consequently , is well acquainted with the locality. Later in the day Dr. Clarke, assisted by Dr. Hibbet, Dr. Sergeant, Dr. Appleford, and others, made a post mortem examination, the result of which will not be made known until the inquest, which will held at the Vestry Hall, St. George's. this morning, by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter.
Within a few minutes of the discovery the whole front of the arch, and, in fact, the whole of Pinchin street, was crowded with hundreds of persons, and the excitement was intense. Indeed, it was growing during the whole of yesterday, and the discovery was almost the sole topic of conversation amongst those living in the East end. The spot where the body was found is at night time a very lonely one, and is only frequented by the poorest class, who seek refuge under some of the many railway arches which abound in the district. Carts and barrows stand against the walls. There is only one exit to the place, and that is by way of Backchurch lane. The police are confident that the trunk had only been conveyed to the spot shortly before it was found; and they are making strenuous endeavours to find the missing portions, which they are inclined to think have also been concealed in the immediate neighbourhood. They also believe that the spot where the murder was committed, or where the body was dismembered, would be in a bad condition through the flowing of the blood, and these facts might serve to supply some clue to the place.
From the later examination made by the doctors it is believed that the trunk belonged to a woman of slim build, and that she had been in a somewhat neglected condition. The organs also indicate that the deceased woman had been addicted to drink. The difficulty in identifying the remains is obvious, owing to the absence of the head. There are no marks on the fingers of any rings having been worn, and it is evident this latest victim belonged to the poorest class of women. The hands presented a dirty and neglected appearance; but, as afar as could be ascertained at the first cursory examination, there were no birth marks by which the body could be identified. Large numbers of women have applied to the constable in charge of the remains at the mortuary for permission to view them, but their requests have been refused, as it was not possible for them to say to whom the trunk belonged. The legs had undoubtedly been severed with some sharp instrument, and in such a manner as to indicate a knowledge of surgery or butchery. The hands were not clenched, a fact which seemed to show that the deceased woman had not been struggling before her death. The left arm was bent, and the fingers of the left hand reposed on the chest, while the right arm was more extended. These facts point to the probability that the amputation took place after death. The deep gash above referred to was the only kind of mutilation about the body, with the exception of the removal of a small portion of the lower part of the trunk. The fingers are long and tapering.
The police, after full investigation, give it as their opinion that the murder, if such it be, was not done by the person now known as Jack the Ripper. They incline to the belief that the deceased may have died from an illegal operation, and that the body was afterwards cut up so as to more easily be disposed, with the view to preventing discovery. They wish this fact to be made known, as by that means something might be learned to elucidate the mystery. The police also believe that the body could not have been brought far, as, owing to the bad odour arising from it, the carrier of the burden would have been notices and probably stopped. They are therefore making a house to house search in the neighbouring and surrounding streets where the body was found. Under the arch there is no blood, and this fact confirm the theory that the body was carried there after it had been mutilated. Amongst the poor living near the spot there is a report current that a woman named Hart, who is well known as a dissipated creature, has been missing for three or four days. The police are making strenuous endeavours to find the whereabouts of this woman. At the same time it is no uncommon thing for women of her class to absent themselves from their regular haunts for days together. They come and go as the whim takes them. All persons living in Pinchin street have been closely questioned, but these deny all knowledge of having seen anything unusual in the street on the previous night, or, in fact, at any time. The arches which run along the street belong to the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway Company. During the search in the neighbouring streets a piece of cloth stained with blood was found, but its connexion with the dead woman is not certain. The post mortem marks on the body show that a cord had been tightly tied round it, but for what purpose is not ascertained, and at present this remains a mystery. The trunk measures 2ft 3in and the arms 2ft 2 in, while the waist measures 33in. The three men who were detained have since been liberated, as their statement as to going into the arch to sleep has been verified.
The following is a list of the East end murders:-
1. Dec. 1887 - Unknown woman found murdered near Osborne and Wentworth streets Whitechapel.
2. Aug. 7th, 1888 - Martha Turner found stabbed in 39 places on a landing of the model dwellings in George yard buildings, Whitechapel.
3. Aug. 31st, 1888 - Mary Ann Nicholls, murdered and mutilated in Baker's (sic) row, Whitechapel.
4. Sept. 8th, 1888 - Mary Ann Chapman, murdered and mutilated in Hanbury street, Whitechapel.
5. Sept. 30th, 1888 - Elizabeth Stride, found with her throat cut in Berner street, St. George's.
6. Sept. 30th, 1888 - Mrs. May Eddowes, murdered and mutilated in Mitre square, Aldgate.
7. Nov. 9th, 1888 - Mary Jane Kelly, murdered and mutilated in Dorset street, Spitalfields.
8. July 17th, 1889 - Alice M'Kenzie, murdered and mutilated in Castle alley, Whitechapel.
9. The woman whose mutilated body was found yesterday morning.
Yesterday afternoon the officers of the Criminal Investigation Department made a further examination of the surrounding arches, and waste grounds and yards and close proximity, but were unable to discover anything fresh. There are no signs of the body having been dragged along the ground, and it is conjectured that someone carried it to the outside of the place where it was discovered, got rid of his load by dropping it over the hoarding, and at once made good his escape. All the police officers on duty in the district at the time state they saw no one carrying a bundle, neither did they see any one drawing or driving a vehicle of any kind in which the body might have been concealed.
The excitement was still very great in the East end last night and the feeling of terror that existed until a few weeks since has revived with renewed force. Extra detective officers have again been drafted into the district; and during the evening some thousands of persons visited Pinchin street, and viewed the front of the arch where the body was found, before which are stationed two police officers.
It is believed the Coroner will only take sufficient evidence to justify him in adjourning the inquiry, so as to give the police an opportunity of finding the missing portions of the body.
A news agency says:- The cleanness of the cuts and the knowledge of surgery displayed in dissecting the body would suggest that this crime is not the work of Jack the Ripper. He did all his terrible work firmly, but without any approach to scientific knowledge. The present crime bears a closer resemblance to the mysterious outrages at Rainham, on the Thames embankment near Whitehall, and at Battersea than to the terrible deeds of the Ripper. In each of the foregoing cases the heads were missing and the manner of mutilation was very similar. It is most probable that the murderer took advantage of the scare produced by the Ripper tragedies to dispose of his victim in such a place a should throw all suspicion upon the unknown person.
A conference, to which it is believed considerable importance is attached, took place last evening at the Leman street Police station. Dr. Phillips arrived in London about 5 pm yesterday, and, after making some preliminary investigations, attended at Leman street Police station soon after 6 o'clock. Here he met Chief Constable Colonel Monsell, Mr. Arnold, and the officers from Scotland yard. At 7 pm, Mr. Monro, the Chief Commissioner, arrived at the station in his private carriage, and joined in the deliberations, which continued until nearly half past 8 o'clock.
The police at Arbour square Station have detained a seafaring man on suspicion, but no importance is attached to his arrest.
Last week a letter was found at the rear of the East London Hospital, announcing the intention of the writer to perpetrate another murder immediately. The letter was handed to the police, but no importance was attached to it in view of the number of such documents which have found their way into the hands of the authorities. Last night another letter was found in Whitechapel, containing the following words:- "I told you last week I would do another murder." The writing of the documents has been compared, but the result is not yet known.
It is a somewhat remarkable fact that one of the Whitechapel murders of last year took place on September 8. Consequently the present crime must have been perpetrated at a time only a few hours removed from the exact anniversary of the previous atrocity.
Scotch newspapers of August 31 give the following account of a discovery of human remains in Edinburgh:- "While one of the cleaners of the Union Canal, named Thomas Clark, was engaged in taking refuse from the canal near Fountain bridge, he was horrified on bringing to the surface the left leg of a human being. The leg was not very much decomposed, and appeared to have been sawn off below the knee. It is supposed that a murder has been committed. Search is being instituted for more remains. The spot at which the limb was found is beside the city slaughterhouse." It is suggested that inquiry should be made to ascertain whether the limb found in Edinburgh is a portion of the body found yesterday.