New York, USA
16 April 1891
A Police Statement Regarding "Jack the Ripper."
A Police Statement Regarding "Jack the Ripper."
Inspector Byrnes made a statement last night in which he says he believes the old woman known as Shakespeare, who was murdered and mutilated Thursday night in the East River hotel, at the corner of Catharine and Water streets, New York, was the victim of a man known as "Frenchy". The man's cousin, George Francois, is a prisoner and is held as a witness. The police say the man who did the deed is still at large. The cousin is also known as "Frenchy." A mysterious prisoner was brought to police headquarters yesterday afternoon. There are reasons to suppose that this man is the one who killed the old woman. It was after this man was brought to police headquarters that Inspector Byrnes made the statement. It was type written and was read by Acting Inspector McLaughlin at the Oak street station house and in the presence of Inspector Byrnes. It is incomplete, but neither Inspector Byrnes nor Captain McLaughlin would answer any of a number of questions put by reporters to cover the deficiencies.
The statement sets forth that Mary Miniton, the housekeeper at the East river hotel, admits that she had known the murdered woman for a number of years. She was known to her both as Shakespeare and as Jeff Davis. Frenchy, the man under arrest, admits that on the night previous to the murder he occupied a room with Shakespeare in the East river hotel and that he was in the hotel, but not in the room with the woman, the night she was murdered. The man suspected of having committed the murder is also known as Frenchy, and is believed to be this man's cousin because the several women held as witnesses say the two men spoke of each other as cousins. The Frenchy who is held as a witness refuses to give any information regarding the missing man who is known to be a native of Assyria.
He speaks an Arabic-French dialect. He was arrested January 24 last for biting Mary Lopez, one of the women now held as a witness. He was her companion in the east river hotel the night he bit the woman. All the women held as witnesses knew him and could identify him. He has been known to the inmates of low dives in the Fourth ward for several months.
This is all the police would say about the murderer. They have looked up the history of the wretched old woman who was so shockingly murdered. They say of her that she first appeared in New York about fifteen years ago. She was then a fine looking woman, of middle age, very intelligent and quite refined, though addicted to drink. Because of her intelligence she came to be known as Shakespeare. Why she was also dubbed Jeff Davis no one seems to know. She became very popular among those with whom she associated because of her liberality and for her superior intelligence. She had plenty of money, and when under the influence of liquor she would spend it freely or would give it away. She rapidly sunk, and soon became as low as the lowest of the women in Water street, although she would frequently disappear and when she returned she would seem to have suspended her drinking and other low habits while absent. She returned periodically to her low companions in the low water street dives.
Detective Crowley, the statement continued, discovered a woman who knew Shakespeare well and who informed the detective that her name was Croline Montgomery and that in early life she became the wife a Captain James Brown, who sailed a ship from Salem, Mass., where they lived. Captain Brown died and left her a fortune. She came to New York shortly after her husband's death and settled in a respectable part of the Fourth ward. She had then become a victim of liquor and when under its influence she drifted to the low dives a few blocks away. The women of these places made her very welcome because of her money and she soon spent most of her time with them. She has often been arrested and sent to Blackwell's Island. When she disappeared from her chums she was an inmate of an old womens' home, where her board was paid by a relative named Lawson, who is a resident of Salem. She was last discharged from the Blackwell's Island prison a few days ago. Her two daughters, Ellen and Annie, still live at Salem.
The above is the statement given by the police. When questions were asked about the previous history of Frenchy it was said that there was nothing more to say than what had been said.
Every dive in the Fourth ward has been visited by detectives, and when the EAGLE reporter went to those places to get information about the man who is suspected, the dive keepers said they had never heard of him, although they had told the reporter before that they knew him well.
The mysterious prisoner at police headquarters was brought in by Captain Reilly and Detective Britt of the Nineteenth precinct and Detective Sergeant Hanley of the Central office. His hands were tied behind him and he was closely guarded by the three officers. He reached headquarters, on Mulberry street, at 3:50 p.m. Later he was taken to the Oak street station house. He answered the description given by Mary Miniter of the man who occupied the room with Mrs. Brown the night she was murdered. His clothing was the same as that given by Mary, with the exception of the trousers, which were different from those worn by the man Thursday night.
It was stated in yesterday's EAGLE that a policeman brought a pair of trousers that were stained with blood to the Fourth precinct police station yesterday morning, and that he spoke of having got them at a Bowery lodging house. The police refused to speak of these trousers. The fact that the mysterious prisoner answered the description of the wanted man in all particulars except as to the trousers, would indicate that after having killed the woman the murderer went to a Bowery lodging house, and finding that some of his victim's blood was on his trousers he secured another pair, leaving the bloodstained pair behind him. When Inspector Byrnes was asked about this mysterious prisoner he replied: "O, he is a small thief we have wanted for a long time. I assure you he is a bum."
But he would not say who the small thief was or why a police captain and two detectives guarded him so closely and had his hands pinioned.
Deputy Coroner Jenkens (sic) who made the autopsy on the body of the murdered woman, was seen by a reporter of the EAGLE after he had finished his scientific examination. He said: "I do not claim, as had been reported, that the slashing must have been done by a left handed man, or that I am sure she was cut before she was dead. That she was strangled there is no doubt, but whether she was cut before she died from strangulation or immediately after death no one can tell. It is evident that great force was used in the clutch at her throat. The liquid condition of the blood in the heart would indicate that strangulation and not hemorrhage caused death, and yet the amount of bleeding would indicate that she was not quite dead or at least that the body was still warm when she was cut. I found one long incision from the top of the right hip bone descending obliquely across the abdomen to the bubes (sic). The intestines protruded from this cut. It appears that after the cut was made the body was turned over and the cut was continued from the pubes upward and backward beyond the base of the backbone. There are also two long scratches in front and a perfect cross scratched in the skin at the back of the thigh."
"Was the cutting such as would have been done by a surgeon as the cutting done by Jack the Ripper of London, is said to be?" asked the reporter.
"If it was done by a surgeon he was a butcher. It was horrible hacking."
"Would you suppose this murder was committed by the London Jack the Ripper?"
"I am not advancing theories. I cannot say."
Water and Cherry streets have not witnessed so quiet a Saturday night as last night in many years. The Fourth ward was overrun with detectives and the fallen women seemed to be more afraid of them than they did of Jack the Ripper. The dives were all open, as usual, but the women kept indoors. The east river hotel was doing a big business and the low patrons of the house indulged in coarse jokes about the awful tragedy that was enacted there two night before.
Inspector Byrnes seemed more at ease after Captain Reilly's prisoner had been brought in. His detectives were still busy rushing about the Fourth ward, but he returned to his normal condition of self confidence. The general opinion of those about police headquarters were that he had his man, but wanted to fasten the crime upon him without a doubt before he would speak of his catch.
Captain O'Connor of the Oak street station strengthened the belief that the murderer, or at least the man suspected, had been arrested by announcing to the reporters shortly before midnight that they might go home, because he said: "I assure you that no information will be given our before tomorrow afternoon. Even if we got the man we are looking for there would be so many things to clear up that nothing could be given for publication before tomorrow afternoon." Steve Brody seems desirous of getting all the cheap notoriety he can out of this case. He announced yesterday that he could tell who the murdered woman was, and he had a statement printed in a New York paper about her life, which proved to be untrue. Then he told reporters that his wife had found parts of the intestines of a woman in the street, near the scene of the murder, and that he had sent them to the police at the Oak street station. The police denied that they had received anything from Brody, but Deputy Coroner Jenkins admitted that the police had sent him a package and he examined the contents, which proved to be parts of the organs of a cat.