return to normal view
The Whitehall Mystery

On October 2, 1888 the headless and limbless torso of a woman was found dumped in a vault soon to become a section of the cellar of New Scotland Yard. The unidentified woman's arms were later found dumped separately in the Thames.

The Daily News of 9th October gave details of Dr Thomas Bond's post mortem examination of the remains:

"On October 2nd, shortly before four, I was called to the new police buildings, and there shown the decomposed trunk of a woman. It was then lying in the basement and partially unwrapped. I visited the vault where it was found, and saw that the wall against which it had lain was stained black. I should imagine the parcel must have been in the vault more than three days. At the mortuary I superintended the placing of the remains in spirits. On the following morning I made an examination, assisted by Dr. Hibberd. The sixth cervical vertebra had been sawn through in removing the head from the trunk. The lower limbs and pelvis had been removed, and the four lumbar vertebrae had been sawn through by a series of long, sweeping cuts. The length of the trunk was 17 inches, and the circumference of the chest 35 ½ inches. The circumference of the waist was 28 ½ inches. The trunk was very much decomposed. I examined the skin thoroughly, but did not detect any marks of wounds. In the neighbourhood of the cut surfaces decomposition was especially advanced. The skin was light. Both arms had been removed at the shoulder joints by several incisions. The cuts had apparently been made obliquely from above downwards, and then round the arms. Disarticulation had been effected straight through the joints. Over the body were clearly-defined marks, where the strings had been tied. The body appeared to have been wrapped up in a very skilful manner. The neck had been divided by several jagged incisions at the bottom of the larynx, which had been sawn through. On opening the chest we found that the left lung was healthy, but that the right lung was firmly adherent to the chest wall of the diaphragm, showing that at some time the woman had suffered from severe pleurisy. The rib cartilages were not ossified. In connection with the heart there were indications that convinced me that the woman did not die of suffocation or drowning. The liver was normal, and the stomach contained about an ounce of partly digested food. Portions of the body were missing. Appearances of the collar-bones indicated that the woman was of mature development – undoubtedly over 24 or 25 years of age. It appeared that she was full fleshed, well nourished, with a fair skin and dark hair. The appearances went to prove that deceased had never borne, or at any rate had never suckled, a child. The date of death as far as could be judged, was from six weeks to two months before the examination. The body had not been in the water. I examined an arm that was brought to the mortuary, and I found that it accurately fitted the trunk.The hand was long and appeared to be very well shaped. Apparently it was the hand of a person not used to manual labour. All the cuts on the trunk seemed to have been made after death. There was nothing to indicate the cause of death, though as the inside of the heart was pale and free from clots, it probably arose from haemorrhage or fainting. From a series of measurements we took we came to the conclusion that the woman was about 5ft. 8in.in height".

The police had not attributed this incident to the Ripper at any time, despite rampant press speculation. They did suggest, however, that there could be a connection between this and the Pinchin Street Murder.

This page is part of the Wiki: Jack the Ripper project. If you would like to view or make edits to the wiki source, you may view the original wiki page at: http://wiki.casebook.org/index.php/Whitehall_Mystery