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Windows and Witnesses
by Dave Yost
One item of interest in the Annie Chapman case is the idea that there was no struggle. Those individuals who either testified at the inquest or spoke with the press stated that there was no noise heard with Cadoche describing a very minimal amount of activity. Eyewitnesses and witness testimonies are probably one of the more complex areas within an investigation of any crime. The level at which we accept or reject a witness is based on what we perceive to be the truth regarding the case. This also transcends into the level at which we define what the witness is offering us. However, even if we believe what a witness has stated, this does not necessarily make the witness, or his/her entire testimony, valuable, nor does it make that witness's phrasing completely accurate.
On 10 September, John Davis testified at the Chapman inquest:
'I have lodged at 29, Hanbury-street for a fortnight, and I occupied the top front room on the third floor...On Friday night I went to bed at eight o'clock...There is a weaving shed window, or light across the room. It was not open during the night. I was awake from three a.m. to five a.m. on Saturday, and then fell asleep until a quarter to six, when the clock at Spitalfields Church struck. I had a cup of tea and went downstairs to the back yard. The house faces Hanbury-street...[Coroner] Did you hear any noise that Saturday morning? - [Davis] No, sir.' (1)
Davis's testimony might be considered beneficial because he was either awake or merely dozing during Annie's murder, and yet, according to the Daily Telegraph's report, he heard nothing at a time of critical importance with respect to the murder. But, he and his family lived in the front room of the attic, (i.e., street side about twenty feet above the pavement) with the window shut. So, his testimony about hearing nothing, (or what is sometimes described by authors as, only the usual early morning street sounds), would be expected. If he had heard anything from the backyard, then it would have been loud enough to wake the entire household. This, of course, did not happen, so On this point, Davis's testimony IS useless. Albeit, there were other people, nearer the murder scene, who would have been more readily aware of any such noise. In fact, Mrs Richardson told the press that 'Several persons sleep at the back of the house, and some had their windows open, but no noise was heard from the yard.' (2)
The tenants who occupied the back part of the house were: Mr. Waker, living in the ground floor back room with his mentally retarded, adult son; the Copsey sisters, who lived in the first floor back room; Mrs Cox (described as a 'little old lady') resided in the attic's back room; and, possibly, Mrs Hardiman, who used the ground floor front room as a shop and as living quarters. Of the estimated seventeen residents only these few were close enough to the murder scene to have possibly heard something, but only some of them had their window open. It is unknown, at present, which windows were actually open, but it can be inferred. (3)
Because of her age and because of the coolness of the evening and morning, (see Table 1), it is doubtful that Mrs Cox had her window open, and Mrs Hardiman did not occupy the back part of the house. That leaves only Mr. Waker's room and the Copsey sisters'. So from here, it can be estimated that only two windows might have been open at the time of Annie's death.
|Victims||Date_&_Day||Hi Temperture (Fahrenheit)||Lo Temperature (Fahrenheit)||Amount
|Amount of Cloud Cover||Remarks|
|65.9 degrees||50.8 degrees||0.02 inches||70%||N/A|
|58.2 degrees||47.4 degrees||0.01 inches||30%||N/A|
Referring to the photo below, we can see the steps, upon which John Richardson sat, the fence (& palings) mentioned by Cadoche, the location of the cellar door, (which was observed by Richardson for whether or not it was properly padlocked), and of course the back room, ground floor window. The window shown corresponds to Mr. Waker's room and seems to be about four and half to five feet above the backyard while the Copsey sisters' would have been one floor above, (i.e., about ten feet above the scene).
backyard, 29 Hanbury Street
In spite of Mr. Waker's close proximity to the murder scene (an estimated five to six feet from where Annie was killed and mutilated) with an open window, even he was unaware of what had happened till the discovery of the body. Ostensibly, there was no struggle, and Mrs Richardson adds to this sentiment, "They [tenants] mostly work at the fish market or in the Spitalfields Market. Some of the carmen leave home as early as one a.m., while others go out at four and five, so that the place is open all night, and any one can get in...if there had been any struggle it must have been heard..." It can be safely concluded that Annie did not, at least, scream out, else Mr. Waker, the Copsey sisters, and possibly Cadoche would have heard it. But was Annie subdued as quickly as all of this indicates? Cadoche's testimony seems to describe something a little different. (5)
'I [Albert Cadoche] live at 27, Hanbury-street, and am a carpenter. 27 is next door to 29, Hanbury-street. On Saturday, Sept. 8, I got up about a quarter past five in the morning, and went into the yard. It was then about twenty minutes past five, I should think. As I returned towards the back door I heard a voice say "No" just as I was going through the door. It was not in our yard, but I should think it came from the yard of No. 29. I, however, cannot say on which side it came from. I went indoors, but returned to the yard about three or four minutes afterwards. While coming back I heard a sort of a fall against the fence which divides my yard from that of 29. It seemed as if something touched the fence suddenly.' (6)
Between c.5:20 and c.5:25, Cadoche heard two things emanating from the backyard of number 29: the word "no" and a "sort of fall" against the fence. Annie died around 5:30 that morning and it seems reasonable that she and her killer might have been in the backyard for a short time prior the attack. Therefore, we can safely estimate that Cadoche heard Annie say, "No", then a few minutes later, he heard her or her killer "fall" against the fence. This does indeed indicate that some sort of struggle had taken place.
Often enough, we are directed by the use of certain words or by how the information is phrased, which can sometimes lead us to erroneous conclusions. Regretfully, the very nature of the word "struggle" infers that Annie had fought back, ("to make strenuous or violent efforts against opposition"). In this particular case, its use would actually refer to the notion that Annie's killer was not able to instantly subdue her. (7)
Notes: The press were not always correct or consistent with how names of witnesses were spelled, sometimes spelling them based on how they sounded. The following are some variations which might be typically found: John Davis (Davies) Mr Waker (Walker) the Copsey sisters (Mr and Mrs Huxley) Albert Cadoche (Cadosch, Cadosh) Mrs Hardiman (Hardyman, Hardman with a first name of Annie, Harriet, or Mary)
1) Daily Telegraph, 11 September, 1888, page 3, (according to A-Z, 2nd ed, page 104, Davis was awake at c.5:30 A.M., which is the estimated time of Annie's death)
2) Daily Telegraph, 10 September, 1888, page 3
3) Daily Telegraph, 13 September, 1888, page 3; The Complete History of Jack the Ripper, pages 82-83
4) Unofficial weather reports for Whitechapel as recorded at St Luke's by the Royal Meterological Society for September 1888
5) Daily Telegraph, 10 September, 1888, page 3
6) Daily Telegraph, 20 September, 1888, page 2
7) "struggle" as defined by Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, page 1170