11 September 1888
The arrest at Gravesend may or may not solve the mystery of the Whitechapel murders, but the incident is decidedly soothing to the public mind. The man arrested is declared by a police surgeon to be insane. In that fact is found relief. It accords with everybody's wish that ordinary human nature should be exempt from suspicion of such crimes, and that it should turn out to be a man "possessed" who has done these dreadful deeds. According to some benevolent ideas now widely entertained, all crime is a form of mental disease; and there is a philosopher among us who prophesies a time when in the natural evolution of society it will become as needless to forbid murder, theft, and the minor offences of our criminal code as it it now to forbid man eating and fetishism. The days of this philosopher's dreams, however, are still far distant. Society in its "process of exuviation" has not yet brought human nature into its ideal conformity with the moral law, "when judges and statute books are not wanted, and when man spontaneously takes the right course in all things." Some very ugly but obvious motives still explain the existence of even such hideous crimes as murder; and where these motives can be traced, where the incitements of gain, or revenge, or lust alarmed at its own danger, are found to explain the capital offence, no plea of insanity will suffice to remove the taint of crime from madness with such method in it. In the Whitechapel murders, however, no motive has, up to the present, been imagined that would account for the atrocity of the acts. One woman, or even two, might have fallen a victim to some impassioned being who thought he had some injury from their sex and their class to avenge. But our knowledge does not in the present case suffice to explain either the failure of one or two homicides to satisfy the desire of revenge, or the dreadful mutilations with which the outrages were accompanied. Brutality in the shape of bloodthirsty hacking of the murderer's victim is an aggravation for which English society, with all its sins on its head, declines to be responsible. When stories appear in our columns of atrocities on dead bodies we can generally boast that they are committed in a different latitude, and belong to a lower civilization than ours. It is true that the murders of Williams, which formed the subject of one of De Quincey's most thrilling writings, were terribly brutal, and that the murderer deliberately cut the throats of the victims whom he had previously despatched by a mallet or crowbar; but De Quincey's own narrative, which has so brilliantly preserved the record of this man's crimes, presents an intelligible reason for this ferocity. Williams murdered his victims in housefuls. Despatch and certainty were essential to his own safety. A possible revival of consciousness and a groan on the part of one would victim would have warned the others. For the Whitechapel atrocities no such plea is discoverable. Life is supposed to have been taken at the throat, and the nameless horrors committed afterwards with the deliberation and revolting ingenuity of a maniac. On no other theory would the thought of such things be endurable.
There is good reason why, without prejudice to the case of the man who is now in custody, the public acceptance of the maniacal theory should be endorsed and encouraged. There is positive danger in the growth of any other opinion at present in Whitechapel. As we have said, the mutilation of bodies, excepting in rare cases to further the murderer's chances of safety, is foreign to the English style in crime. There is a disposition at once therefore to set down such atrocities to the credit of some ill bred and ill nourished foreigner from the lowest dens of vice in Europe. So, in Whitechapel, there was arising a murmur of ugly foreboding for some of the foreign element there. Sheer rumour of the silliest kind was beginning to take an odious precision, and there was arising in the East end a Judenhelze more abhorrent than that which abroad is due to religious fanaticism. To hate the Jew for his religion, to call him "misbeliever, cut throat dog, and spit upon his Jewish gaberdine" even metaphorically is bad enough; but to call him "Leather Apron" and to imply thereby his readiness to murder women, and practise anatomy with his knife upon them, is the refinement of cruelty. There was reason to fear till yesterday that the tendency towards thus insulting the Jews of Whitechapel was growing amid the embarrassing perplexity as to the origin of the murders. The police have discouraged this line of suspicion by acting momentarily upon it, and then proving by their release of the Jew whom they arrested that there was not a doubt of his innocence. For the happy result we may look lightly upon the apparently ludicrous error of this arrest. Piser, the man arrested, was found sitting quietly at home, totally undisturbed by any panic or bloodthirsty demand for that mythical personage "Leather Apron." He is said to be a poor sickly man whom it was not possible to associate with the assassin now so eagerly wanted, and the reporters seem to have found what the police might easily also have learned, that he had not left his house since Thursday last. Piser, however, will probably not regret his short detention if it has finally put a stop to these anti Jewish suspicions. The inquest on the body of Annie Chapman was opened yesterday, but without throwing any new light on the murder. The evidence was obviously ill got together, and there were no signs, but rather the contrary, of any very active co-operation of the police with the Coroner. Two witnesses brought to the scene of the murder by the man Davies, who found the body, had not been called or identified. The person known as "the pensioner" with whom the deceased had relations, has not been discovered; though the fact that on Saturday morning he called and asked for Chapman should have suggested that he would be a valuable witness as to the murdered woman's habits, or as to those of her associates who, upon his request, were excluded from the lodging house. When Mr. Wynne Baxter's inquiry is resumed tomorrow the more evidence that is forthcoming the better. Why the inquest on the woman Nicholls should have been postponed for a fortnight is not apparent. The police desired it, but if a similar suggestion should come from the police in the present case it would be as well that their reasons for the request should be more specifically stated. The mere desire to work out their investigation on their own lines, without public aid, will not be satisfactory, unless they are assured that they are the track of the murderer, and that further public inquiry would favour his escape and frustrate the ends of justice. The story of Williams, as told by De Quincey, has its moral for the police. De Quincey brings into striking prominence the mistake then made through keeping information back from the public. Williams murdered the Marr family seventy seven years ago in Radcliff (sic) highway with a mallet marked "J.P." This fact was withheld till twelve days had elapsed and the villain had massacred another family. Then the story of the mallet was tardily allowed to come out. It led to his immediate detection. Williams had already been suspected at his lodgings, but there was no clue given to the public to justify an accusation. The moment the mallet and the mark J.P. were mentioned suspicion became certainty. A mallet so marked was found to be missing from the lodging house and in a lumber heap, where search was made for it, was found the murderer's knife "glued by gore to the lining of the pockets" of a discarded waistcoat. The detection of Jackson, who murdered the Manchester warder, was unquestionably owing to the full publication of all the details of his case. Even the present arrest, whether it be justified or not in the end, has been aided by the reports in the newspapers. The police have more to gain that to lose by publicity; and, besides, the publicity helps to relieve the tension on the popular mind.
As a result of the investigations of the police into the circumstances attending the murder of Annie Chapman at Whitechapel, several men were arrested yesterday on suspicion. The arrests which were considered to be of most importance were those of a Polish Jew, named Piser, near the scene of the crime, and of a man named Pigott, at Gravesend. Piser was released last evening, but Pigott, being considered to be insane, is to be detained under observation. An inquest on the body of the murdered woman was opened yesterday by Mr. Wynne Baxter at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel road. The witnesses examined were the old man, John Davies, who discovered the body; Mrs. Palmer, who had known the deceased for five years; and the deputy and night watchman of the common lodging house where she was last seen alive. The inquiry was then adjourned till tomorrow.
From morning till night crowds of people have been lounging about the police office in Commercial street, in Hanbury street - the scene of the last murder - and in Buck's row, the scene of the previous murder. A letter carrier, and, subsequently, a policeman, to whom I expressed a little surprise that crowds of sightseers should have come to Buck's row so long after the event, both remarked that the sightseers were there "because Monday is a holiday." The agreement between the pair was curious. Monday a holiday, and from all quarters of the East end they have come to celebrate it in these slums of filth and crime. About a hundred people - most of them, it is fair to state, of the loafer class - were clustered round the big gate where Ann Nicholls's body was found. At a short distance from the spot stand the Board School - a tall, red brick building. Through its half open windows came the shrill, pure, thoughtless voices of the children. There, at any rate, I thought, the better generation is growing up. But I was thinking aloud, for my friend the postman struck in sharply, "I hope they are; but meanwhile their mothers take the young 'uns to the gin shop. You may see them if you like." I did not want to see them. Buck's row has an evil reputation, apart from its present notoriety for murder; a fight there last Sunday afternoon flooded the place with the rascality of the neighbourhood - unseen of the police. Walking on to the police station in Commercial street, I heard a hue and cry. This was at half past one o'clock. "The murderer! the murderer! Leather Apron's ketched!" shriek the street urchins, and they scurry round the corner of the police station; slatternly women; hulking, ruffianly fellow, in greasy raiment, join in the run. Then there is a noise of laughter, screaming of the small folk, coarse guffawing of the older ones, who ought to know better, but did not. It was a "sell." Hideous, loathsome, inhuman sport. The small boys in the Campaign district of Ireland play at battering rams upon "forts" improvised out of sticks and street mud. Their fun is humour and wit, in comparison with the bogus hue and cry of the dismal, rancid region where the presence of the unknown murderer is felt mysteriously.
I enter the police office, where there is some considerable bustle about people who as I am told are giving evidence as to the man who has been arrested in Gravesend. the officer in charge tells me that nothing is known definitely about him as yet. Intending to call again, I walk up Hanbury street to the scene of Saturday morning's murder, No 29. A great crowd stood in front of it, extending a considerable way up and down the street. Nearly one half of the persons in it were women, most of them bareheaded and unwashed, and a great many with children in their arms. From the windows of upper storeys on both sides of Hanbury street other women leant out, their elbows or outstretched palms resting on the window sills. Not a man could I see in any of those windows, only women, grown up girls and children. They had the air of people who thought their quarter of the world invested with a new importance. What were the crowds gaping and staring at? Nothing. At any rate, at nothing which they could "take in" in a couple of minutes. There stood the dingy house in the backyard of which the crime took place, the ditto of its dingy neighbours. A mangling house, with the yellow paint peeling off its wall like skin disease, flanks it on one side; an ordinary dwelling house on the other. To reach the backyard of No 29, you must traverse the "hall" and passage of the house; there is no back entry, for, as already said, the houses flank each other closely, leaving no intervening space. On traversing the passage, you reach a backdoor, from which three steps lead downwards - that is, to the level of the ugly, little, stony, slimy backyard. This backyard is separated from the next neighbour's by a paling so low that one may vault over it with the utmost ease. In the narrow level space between the steps and the paling was found the murdered body.
A policeman guarded the street entrance to this passage, admitting none "except on business."
Few there were who had any legitimate business; nevertheless the crowd stood patiently in the street - stood and stared, hour after hour - a living monument to the innate impulse of wonder and curiosity, showing infinite capacity for good if only civilization should open other paths for their exercise. the sign board on the house says "Mrs. A. Richardson, rough packing case maker." On the ground floor is a cat's meat shop, the lower half of the window of which is thrown up, affording a view of the counter, and of the two or three people who are moving about inside it, stooping down now and again to take another look at the multitudes outside. Above the ground floor are two storeys - the windows of the lower one being filled with flowers, and adorned with red curtains. As the place is let out in lodgings - there is one room in which five people of a family live together - the street door is usually open, even at night. An open door might tempt the murderer, even suppose he had no previous knowledge of the premises, Nobody, neither constable nor householder, nor patient sightseer ("holiday" maker) knew anything about the murder beyond what had been published in the morning papers. Returning to Commercial street, I again saw the constable in charge. "Have you made anything of your Gravesend prisoner?" I asked. "Nothing whatever," said he, "except that the man is insane; we shall remove him shortly." If the London police were as capable in other respects as they are in holding their peace, no criminal in the realm would pass undetected. the constables at the police offices in the Whitechapel were marvels of reticence. Nobody knew anything. The instructions to say nothing had come from Scotland yard.
The police engaged in investigating the murders of Mary Ann Nichols and Annie Chapman are, according to their latest admission, still without any definite clue. Colonel Maunsell, one of the assistant commissioners, yesterday morning visited Commercial street and Leman street police stations, and conversed with the acting superintendent and Inspector Helson. At about the same hour Detective sergeant Thicke, H division, who has long done duty in the district, receiving information which led him to believe that the man known by the nickname of "Leather Apron" was to be found in a house in Plummer's row, also called Mulberry street, succeeded in apprehending the man, whom he lodged at Leman street police station. The man's name is Piser, a Jew, who certainly bears a remarkable resemblance to the published description of "Leather Apron." Witnesses were, however, called to identify him, and it soon became certain that he was not the man wanted, and he was liberated. A man was also taken to Hackney Police Station, on the information of some people that his conduct was suspicious, but he, too, was subsequently released. Other persons whose conduct was considered suspicious found themselves arrested and provisionally detained during the day, but no apprehension was considered serious. A man was, however, detained at Gravesend Police Station in Sunday night, whose conduct in a public house in the town had drawn attention, which resulted in a sergeant removing him to the lock up. His manner was wild, his appearance very dirty, and his hands bitten and scratched, as if in a fight with a woman. He admitted that he had come during the day from Whitechapel, and he further said that a woman with whom he got into a row in Brick lane had bitten his hand. He was carrying a bindle which contained two shirts and on these something resembling blood marks were found. It was decided to detain him, and yesterday morning Detective Inspector Abberline left for Gravesend to see the man. He found him to be a man who years ago he had known as a respectable tradesman of Hoxton, but it seems that drink has reduced him, and he is at present suffering, it is said, from delirium tremens. It was considered advisable to bring him to London, and he was removed by the officer to Commercial street Police Station, where he was lodged in a cell, with a constable to watch him. The man has respectable friends, and though his bitten hands and the stains on the linen garments are matters of suspicion, it is not thought likely he will be found to be the murderer. He in no way answers the description of the man wanted, as published by the police. That description applies, as well as can be gathered, to the man who gave the woman Emily Walton two brass medals, or bright farthings, as half sovereigns when in a yard of one of the houses in Hanbury street at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and who then began to ill use the woman. The police attach importance to finding the man, but it is not true that two farthings were found in the dress pocket of the murdered woman, which would have been an important corroboration of Walton's story. Up to a late hour last evening, Pigott, the man brought from Gravesend, was detained at Commercial street, but he is known to have respectable friends, who will probably come forward to take care of him.
A further communication with regard to this arrest says; Between eight and nine on Sunday night Superintendent Berry, Gravesend, had a communication made to him that there was a suspicious looking individual at the Pope's Head public house, West street. He at once despatched a sergeant to the house, and the man was arrested and taken to the police station. It was noticed that one of his hands was bad, and on examining it the superintendent said it had evidently been bitten. When asked how he accounted for his hand being in this condition, the man said that he was going down Brick lane, Whitechapel, at about four o'clock on Saturday morning last, and a woman fell down in a fit. He stopped to pick her up, when she bit him. He then hit her, and as two policemen came he ran away. Having examined the man's clothing very carefully, Dr. Whitcombe, the police surgeon, was sent for, and the doctor discovered blood spots on two shirts which the man was carrying in a bundle. the doctor also expressed an opinion that blood had been wiped from off his boots. After being cautioned, the man is alleged to have stated that the woman who bit him was at the back of a lodging house at the time. He also said that on Thursday night he slept at a lodging house in Osborne street, Whitechapel, but that on Friday he was walking about Whitechapel all night and that he came from London to Gravesend by road on Sunday. Yesterday morning he stated that his name is Wm. Henry Pigott, and that he is 52 years of age. He further said that some years ago he lived at Gravesend, his father having at one time held a position there connected with a Friendly Society. The man appears in a very nervous state. Pigott was brought up yesterday morning to London Bridge by the 10.18 train, in charge of Detective Abberline, who was met at the station by Detective Stacey, from Scotland yard. The prisoner was not handcuffed, and was smoking a clay pipe and carrying a white cloth bundle. He passed quickly out of the station, no one among the public apparently noticing him, and was driven in a four wheel cab to the police station in Commercial street. He arrived there at 12.48, and is detained pending the arrival of witnesses who have been sent for to identify him. He answers to the description of "Leather Apron" and when taken into custody was without a vest. On being examined by the police at Commercial street station, Pigott was found to be bespattered with what was believed to be blood from head to foot. In his pockets were found a few pence and a piece of lead pencil. He sits in the cell in a state of deep lethargy, taking apparently no notice of anything. His whole demeanour betokens a recent bout of excessive drinking. He adheres to his original story of having been bitten by a woman in a fit, and having thus sustained an injury to his hand. Pigott is a man about five feet four inches in height, and is respectably dressed in grey trousers, black morning coat, and a black bowler hat. His clothes, however, show signs of having been exposed to the weather, and have evidently not been brushed recently. The prisoner has a florid complexion, and wears an iron grey beard, cut in the style generally worn by Americans. Pigott has been examined by Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon, and pronounced insane. In due course he will be removed to the infirmary. The police have released Piser.
Another account says:- So quietly did the police affect the arrest in the morning of Piser that few people saw it, and those who did had no idea that it had any connection with the recent tragedies in the district. As the news spread, however, the excitement in the district became intense, and was momentarily heightened, the crowd being largely composed of Piser's co religionists. Soon after 3 o'clock a scene of the most extraordinary character took place, the participants being in a mental condition little short of frenzy. A message was brought to Piser's house to the effect that he had been released. Hundreds of Jewish men and women were in Mulberry street. They danced about, clapped their hands, and shouted in great glee, some crying in shrill voices "Praise Jehovah!" Having exhausted these outward demonstrations of joy, they made a rush in the direction of Leman street police station in the hope of meeting and welcoming the released man. Piser appeared unwilling to face the exuberance of his friends, and did not return to the house for some time. It may be mentioned that previous to his discharge Piser was confronted by Mrs. Fiddymont and another woman who were acquainted with "Leather Apron." They were quite unable to identify Piser as this personage, and with this the whole case against him may be said to have collapsed.
From inquiries made by Superintendent Hayes, of the Windsor police, there is every reason to believe that the murdered woman was the widow of a coachman named Chapman, formerly in the service of a gentleman living near the Royal borough, and not of a veterinary surgeon as stated. Her husband held a most excellent position, but she appears to have become very dissipated while with him, and he was at last reluctantly obliged to dissociate himself from her. She lived for a time at Windsor, and eventually quitted there for London. One of her children, a girl, was educated at a respectable ladies' school in Windsor, the cost of her tuition being defrayed by the victim's sister. Chapman was taken ill two years ago, when the remittances sent to his wife seem to have ceased. During his sickness a wretched looking woman, having the appearance of a tramp, called at the Merry Wives of Windsor, in the Spital road, and inquired where he was living. She said that she was his wife, and that she had walked down from London, and had slept at a lodging house in Colnbrook on the way. She also stated that, having been told that her husband, who had discontinued sending her ten shillings a week, was ill, she had come to Windsor to ascertain if the report was true, and not merely an excuse for not sending her the money as usual. The woman quitted the house soon afterwards, and the landlord did not see her again. Chapman died over eighteen months ago, and there is little doubt that since his decease the unfortunate woman has had to depend upon her own resources for a livelihood.
Yesterday morning Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, at the Working Lads' Institute in the Whitechapel road, an inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of the murdered woman Annie Chapman. Excitement in the neighbourhood had subsided somewhat, though the interest in the occurrence was still apparently almost as keen as ever. A mob of people began to assemble quite early in the day before the house in Hanbury street, where the body had been found. A considerable number gathered round outside the building in which the Coroner was to hold his court, and the premises in which the mortuary is situated were again, as on Saturday, thronged round at both entrances by people eager to see anything that might transpire, and earnestly discussing the details of the affair as set forth in the newspapers. On the whole, however, the thorough threshing out of known facts from the alarmist fiction and vague rumours of Saturday had probably exerted a quieting influence.
At ten o'clock the Coroner entered the large front room on the first floor of the Institute, and a jury was sworn in, one young man, being a Jew, putting on his hat and taking the oath on the Old Testament. Two inspectors, understood to be watching the proceedings were gently rebuked for not having provided a plan of the premises in which the body was found, and at two other points had to admit that they had been unable to discover persons mentioned in the course of the evidence. The proceedings lasted for nearly three hours, but nothing of any conspicuous importance was elicited. So far as the investigation went, the most remarkable results of it were a demonstration of the accuracy of the later newspaper accounts and the painful side lights it threw on low life in Spitalfields. John Davies, a small, elderly man, who was not quite sure whether the number of the house he lived in was 19 or 29 or some other number, lived with his wife and three sons in one room at the top of the house. He had been the first to find the body. There was the usual difficulty in confining the witness to the rules of evidence, but on the whole he gave his testimony well. Amelia palmer, the intimate friend and associate of the murdered woman, came next. She was a decently but poorly dressed woman of middle age, with a thin, unhappy face, and said she got her living by charing. Very sad indeed was the general tenor of this woman's evidence, given in a low, nervous undertone. Evidently anxious to say the best she could of her friend of five years' standing, she could make out but a pitiful case, in which drink and despondency and lawless living and hunger and sickness made up a doleful record. She was obliged to admit that she had often known the deceased the worse for drink; but then she pleaded she had led such a irregular life that a very little drink upset her. When sober she was "a very respectable woman" - a very straightforward and a very clever, industrious little body. She had never heard her use bad language. Since the death of her husband she had given way altogether. The last time the witness had seen the murdered woman was on Friday. According to her usual practice she should then have been down at Stratford, where she went every Friday to sell her crochet work or whatever. I said, "Aren't you going to Stratford today?" She said, "I feel too ill to do anything." I saw her again about ten minutes afterwards upon the same spot. She said, "It's no use my giving away. I must pull myself together and go and get some money, or I shall have no lodgings." "That," continued the witness, "is the last I saw of her." That was on the Friday afternoon before her tragic death on Saturday morning.
Tim Donovan came next. He was the deputy of the lodging house in which these women had lived - a thin, pale faced, sullen looking young man, with a plentiful lack of shirt collar and a closely twisted crimson scarf round his throat. He had not gone far before ha and the coroner got into a wrangle over the question as to whether a man who got up as late as a lodging house deputy was not justified in speaking of half past two p.m. as half past two in the morning. The coroner got the best of the argument and reprimanded the witness for his insolence of tone. Then things went on smoothly, and Donovan threw a lurid light upon the manners and customs of his people. Deceased, he said, had been very partial to the lodgers, by which, as it was explained, he meant that she was very sociable with them. He gave her a very good character, because in the course of the four months she had been in the habit of frequenting his house she had only had one row in the kitchen, in the course of which she had received a "clout" on the forehead and a bruise on the breast. Donovan's establishment appears to be designed for "married" people. He has only one single bed on each floor. All the rest are double with wooden screens round them, and eightpence a night is charged for each. Number 29 had been regularly occupied by the deceased, sometimes by herself and sometimes not. Donovan had sometimes refused to let her in. This was not because the rules of the house forbid anything objectionable, but he had been ordered by the woman's "husband," the flitting pensioner, not to admit her in any company but his own. The watchman of the lodging house came next, a pallid youth whose duty it was to sit up all night. A curiously cropped head, a huge dirty white muffler round his neck, and a quiet, sphynx like imperturbability of countenance were his chief characteristics. The only material point of evidence he gave was that the pensioner who had been in the habit of coming with the woman had called on Saturday, after the murder, to make inquiries about her. He was told what had occurred, and had gone away without saying a word. By this time rumours of important arrests had reached the Coroner's court. There was a buzz of excitement distinguishable from the pavement below, and the clock pointed towards luncheon time. In due form the Court was adjourned until two o'clock tomorrow, when the inquiry will be proceeded with.
Yesterday, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel road, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for South east Middlesex, opened an inquest into the circumstances attending the death of Mrs. Annie Chapman, alias Sievey, the victim of the murder. Inspector Helson watched the case on behalf of Scotland yard. Throughout the proceedings a shifting crowd of thirty or forty persons stood about the door, without, however, seeing anything of an exciting nature. In the neighbourhood of the mortuary when the jury went to view the body there was a larger crowd and some little excitement. The jury also examined the clothes worn by the poor woman at the time of her assassination, but they seemed eager to terminate the duty quickly, and soon returned to the Lads' Institute. In the course of the inquest considerable interest was aroused by the news that a man known as "Leather Apron" had been arrested on suspicion of being the murderer.
The first witness called was the old man who found the body. He said his name was John Davis, and he had lived at 29 Hanbury street, Spitalfields, for rather more than a fortnight. He occupied with his wife and three sons one room on the top floor at the front. They all lived together, but the room was a large one. On Friday night he went to bed at 8 o'clock, and his wife followed him about half an hour later. His sons came home at different times, the last at about a quarter to 11. The window of the room was not open. He awoke at 3 o'clock on Saturday morning, and remained awake till five, when he fell asleep till he heard quarter to six strike by a neighbouring clock. Then he got up with his wife, who made him a cup of tea. After drinking it he went downstairs and into the back yard. The house was three storeys high. The front door in Hanbury street opened into a passage which ran right through into the back yard. There was a back door opening into the yard, and he did not believe that either of the doors could be locked. He had seen no lock on them, and had never known them to be fastened. Anyone who knew where the latch of the front door was could open it and go along the passage into the back yard. When he went into the yard on Saturday morning the back door was shut.
The Coroner - Was it latched?
The witness - I cannot say. I was too much upset. The front door was wide open. I was not surprised at that. I opened the back door and stood on the top of the steps.
The Coroner - Before we go any further will you describe the yard?
The witness - It is a biggish yard. Facing me on the opposite side of the yard, but to the left, was the shed in which Mrs. Richardson, who occupies part of the house, keeps her wood. On both sides are close wooden fences, about 5ft 6in high, separating the yard from others on each side.
The Coroner - I hope the police will supply me with a little plan. The case is of sufficient importance.
Inspector Chandler - You shall have one after the adjournment.
The Coroner - That may be too late.
The witness (resuming) - Between the steps and in fence, on the left hand side, is a recess about 3ft 6in wide. As soon as I opened the back door I saw a woman lying in this corner. She was flat on her back, with her head towards the house but not touching it. Her clothes were disarranged. I did not touch her. I did not even go down the steps, but went back to the front door and called two men who work for Mr. Bailey, packing case maker, Hanbury street. I don't know their names although I know them by sight.
The Coroner - Have they been identified?
Inspector Chandler - Not yet.
The Coroner - The witness must find them, either with the assistance of the police or of my officer. Did these men come to you when you called them?
The witness - Yes. They were waiting outside their shop to commence work. They came along the passage and saw the sight without going into the yard. Then they ran to find a policeman. We left the house together, and I went to Commercial street police station to report the case. I did not inform any one in the house of what I had discovered. The inspector at the station sent two men off at once. After a while I went back to Hanbury street, but did not go into the house again. Constables were there then. I had never seen the deceased before. I was not the first one that got up in the house that morning because there is a man called Thompson who goes to his work about half past three. I have never seen women in the lobby of the house, but Mrs. Richardson says they frequently come in. I heard no noise about the place on Friday night or Saturday morning. I returned to the house about three o'clock on Saturday afternoon after leaving off work.
Mrs. Amelia Palmer deposed that she lived at 30 Dorset street, Spitalfields, a common lodging house. Her husband was a pensioner, and she went out charing for the Jews. She knew the deceased well, having been acquainted with her quite five years. The body at the mortuary was that of Annie Chapman. She was the widow of the late Mr. Frederick Chapman, a veterinary surgeon, who lived in Windsor. He died about eighteen months ago. the deceased had lived apart from him for four years or more. She resided in various places, principally in common lodging houses in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, but for some time she lived with the witness when the husband of the latter was in work. About two years ago she lodged at 30 Dorset street with a man who made wire sieves. At that time she was receiving 10s per week from her husband. It always came by P.O.O. to Commercial road, but the payments stopped about 18 months ago, and the deceased then found that her husband was dead. When she told the witness she cried. After living with the man that made sieves she was called "Sievey." The witness had met the sieve maker twelve or eighteen months ago. He had left the deceased, and said he had gone to live at Notting hill. She last saw the deceased on Friday afternoon about four o'clock. She had seen her previously on Monday and Tuesday. On Friday afternoon the deceased was standing opposite the lodging house, 35 Dorset street. She had no bonnet or jacket on, and said she felt very ill. Her right eye was black, and the witness said "How did you get that black eye?" Instead of answering directly the deceased said, "Look at my chest," and she showed a bruise there, Both bruises had been done by another woman who, like the deceased, was acquainted with a man called "Harry the Hawker." The deceased told witness that on Saturday, Sept 1, she was with a man named ted Stanley, a very respectable person, in a beershop at the corner of Dorset street and Commercial street. "Harry the Hawker" was also there. He was under the influence of drink. He put down a two shilling piece to pay for some beer, and the woman already alluded to picked it up and put down a penny. Harry the Hawker accused the woman of taking two shillings, and she had some ill feeling against the deceased because she believed that it was she who had told Harry the Hawker about the two shillings. The same evening she met the deceased and inflicted the bruises on her that the witness had seen. On Tuesday the witness met the deceased walking near Spitalfields Church. She said she felt "queer," and should go into the casual ward to pull herself round. She was looking very pale. She had had nothing to eat that day. The witness said, "Well, I'm not doing very well; bet here is twopence. Get yourself some tea, but don't take any rum." The witness had seen her the worse for drink many times. She used to do crochet work, make antimacassars, and sell flowers.
The Coroner - Is it correct that she got money in the streets?
The Witness - I am afraid that she was not particular how she earned her living. She has told me that she was out late at night sometimes. Continuing, the witness said that on Fridays the deceased used to go to Stratford to sell anything she had. She did not see her from last Tuesday till Friday, about five o'clock in the afternoon, in Dorset street. She appeared perfectly sober. The witness said, "Are not you going to Stratford today?" and the deceased replied, "I feel too ill to do anything." Ten minutes afterwards she found the deceased still standing in the same place. She said, "It is no use giving way. I must pull myself together and get some money, or I shall have no lodgings." She added that she had been in the casual ward. That was the last the witness saw of her alive. She was a very straightforward woman when sober and a very industrious, clever little woman in crochet and things of that kind. Although often the worse for drink, the witness did not think she could take much. She had been living a very irregular life during the whole five years that she had known her. Since the death of her husband she seemed to have given way altogether. Her mother and a sister lived in Brompton, but they were not on friendly terms with her. On Monday last, however, she said, "If my sister sends me the boots I will go hopping." She had two children, a boy and a girl, and she often seemed downhearted about them. After her husband's death the deceased said that they were put into a school at Windsor.
The Coroner, after reading a letter handed to him by the police, remarked that it appeared doubtful whether the husband of the deceased had been a veterinary surgeon. It was stated that he was really a coachman.
Timothy Donovan deposed that he was deputy at the common lodging house, 35 Dorset street, Spitalfields. For the last four months the deceased lodged there, excepting that she was not there last week till Friday afternoon about two or three o'clock. She asked him if she could go into the kitchen. He replied, "Yes, but where have you been all the week?" She said she had been in the infirmary.
Inspector Chandler - She had been in the casual ward.
The Witness resuming, said the deceased went down to the kitchen, and he did not see her again till half past one or quarter to two on Saturday morning, when he saw her come in at the front door and go downstairs again. He sent to ask her about the bed. She came up, eating potatoes, and said, "I have not sufficient money. Don't let it, Tim. I shan't be long before I am in again." The money required was eightpence for the night. When she left the house to get the money it was just before two o'clock. The next time he saw her was in the mortuary dead. She had had enough to drink on Saturday morning, but could walk straight. He remarked to her that she could find money for beer but not for her bed. Her reply was that "She had only been to the top of the street." There was a public house there called The Ringers. The deceased did not say whether anybody had given her the drink; and he did not see her with any man that night. She had been in the habit of bringing a pensioner, whose name the witness did not know, to the lodging house on Saturdays. At other times she had brought other men to whom he had refused admittance, the pensioner having told him not to let her in with any other men. He did not see her with any man last week. The pensioner and the deceased were together at the lodging house on Sunday, Sept. 2nd. He was about 45 years old, of rather dark complexion, and about 5ft 6in or 5ft 8in high. Sometimes he was dressed like a dock labourer and at other times he had a gentlemanly appearance. The deceased was always on very good terms with the other lodgers, and the witness never had any trouble with her. Last week but one, however, she had a bit of a "row" with another woman in the kitchen. That was when she got the "clout." He had not heard of the witness having any other "row."
John Evans, night watchman at the common lodging house, 35 Dorset street, said that on Saturday morning last about a quarter to two he saw the deceased leave the house and go into Freshfield street, where she turned towards Whitechapel. He had no suspicion that anything was wrong, and watched her from curiosity only. He had heard her say that night that she had been to her sister's at Vauxhall. When she left the house she said that she had not enough money for her lodgings, but would go and get some. With the exception of the pensioner the witness did not know any man she had associated with. He was not acquainted with the pensioner's name or address. On Saturday morning he called and asked for the deceased, and when the witness told him she had been murdered he went straight out of the house without saying a word. The witness had never heard any man threaten her, and never knew her to express fear of any one. She was always sociable and quiet. There were many women in the lodging house, but he did not know that any of them had ever been threatened or asked for money by strangers.
The inquest was then adjourned till two o'clock tomorrow.
At the Thames Police Court yesterday, before Mr. Saunders, William Seaman, a builder, of 11 Princes street, Whitechapel, was charged with attempting to murder John Simkin, chemist, of 82 Berner street, Whitechapel.
Charles M'Carthy, labourer, of 11 Ellen street, Whitechapel, stated that about 12 o'clock on Saturday night he was walking along Ellen street, when he heard a scream in the direction of Berner street. He went into the chemist's shop, No 32, in Berner street, and there he saw the prisoner and Simkin, the latter with his white beard all over blood. He was behind his counter, and the prisoner was standing in the shop. Mr. Simkin said to the witness, "Here is the hammer he hit me with," and gave it to the witness. The prisoner made no attempt to escape and made no remark. The police came and took the prisoner into custody. Constable 85 H said the prosecutor was dangerously injured, and was confined to his bed. When he arrested the accused he said, "I shan't tell you what I did it for, but I will tell the magistrate." He had been drinking. Mr. Saunders ordered the accused to be remanded.
Sir Charles Warren yesterday conferred with some of the chief officials respecting the murders. It is rumoured that he had under consideration the advisableness of offering a reward for the apprehension of the murderer. The statement lacks confirmation, but it is certain that great indignation prevails in the East end that this means of eliciting information has not been resorted to. So strong did the feeling become that a meeting of the chief local tradesmen was held yesterday, at which an influential committee was appointed, which has issued a notice stating that they will give a substantial reward for the capture of the murderer, or for information leading thereto. The movement has been warmly taken up by the inhabitants, and it is certain that a large sum will be subscribed within the next few days.
Although it is hardly true to say that the inhabitants of Whitechapel are in a state of panic, yet no doubt excitement does exit, and the committee which I represent think that the present moment is advantageous for turning the feeling which has been aroused into action. They hope, therefore, that your kindness in publishing this letter may lead others to take steps to do what private citizens can do to better the state of our streets. A few days after the murder of the woman in George yard last month a meeting of about 70 men residing in the buildings in the immediate neighbourhood was held, and after discussion a committee of twelve was appointed to act as watchers, whose duties should be to observe the state of certain streets, chiefly between the hours of 11 and 1, and not only try to support the action of the police, when necessity arises, but also take careful note of disorderly houses and causes of disturbance. This committee has since met once a week to receive reports, which are carefully preserved, and to decide on future plans. It must not be supposed that we have in any way attempted to supplant the regularly constituted authorities, or that we are concerned merely with particular outrages or their perpetrators. But it does not need a long residence in this district to convince any one that many of the social conditions of the neighbourhood distinctly favour the commission of such crimes as those which have lately startled London. The police, whom we have found courteous and ready to allow us to work with them, must remain practically powerless as long as the apathy of the neighbourhood tolerates the scandalous scenes of daily and nightly occurrence. We have at present no definite suggestion, but we feel strongly that until the deeply rooted causes of these evils are known and attacked, the action of police courts, School Boards, and philanthropic institutions can do little to stamp out the disorder and crime which disgrace our city. The space which our committee is covering is very small, and must needs be so to secure efficiency, and as there is, at least, equal need for such district committees, for the better regulation of our streets elsewhere, we wish to suggest to those who feel as we do that steps should be taken in this direction without loss of time. If some communication could be set up between these committees when constituted, our powers would be strengthened and our opportunities improved.
I am, Sir, yours truly,
The Secretary of the St. Jude's District Committee.
Among the earliest uses to which the phonograph may advantageously be put is the recording of evidence in courts of justice. Nobody can be present in court for a quarter of an hour without being struck by the sad waste of everybody's time involved in the tedious process of taking down the evidence of witnesses word by word. To the lazy mind it is not very clear why shorthand, which is sufficient for almost all other purposes under the sun, is not to be trusted for this. At the latest Whitechapel inquest, for example, a great number of witnesses, policemen, jurymen, and others, are detained three times as long for the recording of the evidence by the deliberate longhand system of Mr. Baxter as is necessary for the mere hearing of testimony. Business is interrupted, justice is impeded, expense is incurred, and everybody grows tired of the slow procedure, simply because it is deemed necessary to dribble out what has to be said sentence by sentence, with long pauses between. When each witness box has, as a part of its furniture, an infallible recorder of words and tones, hesitations, and emphases, for reference wherever and whenever required, the summons to serve on a jury will be a far less serious matter, the steps of Justice will be quickened, and the cost of legal proceedings will be considerable reduced.
H.R.H. the Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck, witnessed Mr. Richard Mansfield's dual impersonation of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" at the Lyceum Theatre last evening.
Over many districts of mid Kent what was wont to be a picturesque sight will this year be missing and be missed. Part of the hop crop is so poor and the local growers - counting the cost, and considering the necessary outlay and the probable return - have decided that it is not worth the labour of getting in. The hop poles will be allowed to stand and the plants to wither as the coming frosts attack them. It is the experience of last year that has decided the farmer to adopt this course as the result of the memorable summer of 1888, in which, it will be remembered, that the recorded sunshine figured as 5 per cent as against an average of 40 per cent computed over a long series of years. Happily, however, this experience extends only to a comparatively small area of the hop growing counties, chiefly in the mid Kent district. In other parts the picking, which will be in full swing at the end of the week, will give employment to multitudes of all classes and almost of all races. In Yorkshire and in the western counties the Irish labourer is freely met with at harvest times. It shows how great must be the want in his own country when he is found so far afield as Surrey and Kent.