|A Ripperologist Article|
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist magazine. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.|
The testimony of Albert Cadosch has been the subject of debate and, in some cases, misunderstanding over the years. The debate has been over whether the events he related were of any relevance to the murder and the misunderstanding over what it was he actually claimed to hear and the timing involved.
Albert Cadosch went into the back yard of his lodging-house at 27 Hanbury Street on the morning of 8th September 1888 and heard noises coming from the neighbouring yard of No. 29. About three-quarters of an hour later the body of Annie Chapman was discovered in the yard of 29 Hanbury Street. The timing relating to Cadosch’s visits to the back yard has been given variously as somewhere between 5:15 and 5:25 a.m. and it has been said that he heard a voice exclaim ‘No’ followed by the sound of someone falling against the fence, giving us the impression that this must have been the sound of the killer striking.
Of course there is a problem not only with the exact time and the time difference between the events that Cadosch related, but also with the general time of what he witnessed compared to the testimony of other witnesses. Dr. Phillips estimated the time of death as being at least two hours before he saw the body at 6:30 a.m. which would give the time of death as 4:30 at the latest. Although coroner Wynne Baxter said that Phillips had qualified his opinion and the coldness of the morning may have affected his judgment of the time of death, there is some debate over how this would be affected. Also there is the testimony of Elizabeth Long, which on the face of it conflicts with that of both Cadosch and Phillips, in that she said she saw the deceased with a man outside No. 29 at about 5:30. These issues will be discussed in a future article. The intention of this article is to look closely at Cadosch’s statements.
John Richardson sat on the steps leading into the back yard of No. 29 at about 4:50 for two or three minutes and did not see the body at that time. When John Davis came into the back yard at just after 6:00 he was met with the gruesome sight of Annie Chapman’s mutilated body.
Richardson, Cadosch and Davis were the only witnesses who said they went into the yards of Nos. 27 or 29 between about 4:50 and 6:00. No one else came forward to say they had been in either yard in that time period.
House and yards
Let’s first take a look at what the reports and inquest testimony tell us about No. 29 and the backyards of that house and of No. 27.
In his inquest testimony John Davis gave the following details:
The house faces Hanbury-street, with one window on the ground floor and a front door at the side leading into a passage which runs through into the yard. There is a back door at the end of this passage opening into the yard. Neither of the doors was able to be locked, and I have never seen them locked. Any one who knows where the latch of the front door is could open it and go along the passage into the back yard.
- When you went into the yard on Saturday morning was the yard door open or shut?
- I found it shut. I cannot say whether it was latched—I cannot remember. I have been too much upset. The front street door was wide open and thrown against the wall. I was not surprised to find the front door open, as it was not unusual. I opened the back door, and stood in the entrance.
- Will you describe the yard?
- It is a large yard. Facing the door, on the opposite side, on my left as I was standing, there is a shed, in which Mrs. Richardson keeps her wood. In the right-hand corner there is a closet. The yard is separated from the next premises on both sides by close wooden fencing, about 5 ft. 6 in. high…
There was a little recess on the left. From the steps to the fence is about 3 ft. There are three stone steps, unprotected, leading from the door to the yard, which is at a lower level than that of the passage. Directly I opened the door I saw a woman lying down in the lefthand recess, between the stone steps and the fence. She was on her back, with her head towards the house and her legs towards the wood shed.1
Also to note about the back door was that it would shut on its own as indicated by John Richardson at the inquest: I did not close the back door; it closes itself.2
The ‘closet’ referred to as being in the right hand corner of the yard would be the outside lavatory or privy. A water closet (W.C.) is “a privy; especially, a privy furnished with a contrivance for introducing a stream of water to cleanse it”.3
Another report gave the detail about the steps leading down to the yard.
The passage of the house leads directly to the yard, passing the door of the front parlour, the yard being about four feet below the level of the passage, and reached by two stone steps. The position of the steps creates a recess on their left, the fence between the yard and the next house being about three feet from the steps.4 Davis’s estimate of the distance between the steps and the fence was given slightly differently in another account. Between the steps and in fence, on the left hand side, is a recess about 3ft 6in wide.5 However from another report we see that Davis’s account was confused.
Witness was asked to describe the general appearance of the yard, but was not very clear in his statements. Some time having been occupied in attempting to elicit answers.6
More details of the layout of the house and yard were given in another account: