10 January 1889
It is unfortunate that there is a fundamental difference of opinion between the coroner and the jury who have been investigating what has become known as the Poplar mystery. For months past there has been a succession of abhorrent enormities forced upon public attention, and it would have been a great relief to have been assured that the death of ROSE MILLETT was due to accidental strangulation. As the matter stands additional responsibility is thrown upon the metropolitan police, who from the first have contended that the death was attributable to natural causes, and who have, in the person of DR. BOND, what the public will justly consider to be weighty authority in support of their view. MR. WYNNE BAXTER, the coroner, says "there is no evidence to show that death was the result of violence." In that he follows DR. BOND. The jury flatly disagree with him, and return a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown, being chiefly guided to that conclusion by the evidence of Doctors BROWNEIELD, HARRIS, HIBBERD, and M'KENNA, each of whom is of opinion that the woman was murdered by means of something of the nature of a cord drawn tightly around her neck. It is impossible for the lay reader to accurately estimate the value of the medical testimony for and against the theory of murder. In arriving at their verdict the jury were probably influenced by other than expert evidence. The woman was an unfortunate, the yard in which she was found bore an ill character, and the skilful murderer of others of her class is still at large. Much might be said in favour of their verdict and much against. It is about equally open to belief that the woman fell in a drunken stupor, and that the weight of her head against the collar of her dress compressed her larynx and caused suffocation, or that she was strangled by a cord held in a similar way to that by which soap is often cut. Either conclusion is feasible. The truth may never be known with certainty until the adage that "murder will out" - if murder it be - is once more justified.