MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 1888
The first portion of this issue's reporting of Whitechapel murder is reproduced in "News from Whitechapel" pages 37 - 45. Immediately following that portion the Telegraph reported:
Mrs. Fiddymont, wife of the proprietor of the Prince Albert public-house, at the corner of Brushfield and Stewart streets, half a mile from the scene of the murder, states that at seven o'clock yesterday morning she was standing in the bar talking with another woman, a friend, in the first compartment. Suddenly there came into the middle compartment a man whose rough appearance frightened her. He had on a brown stiff hat, a dark coat, and no waistcoat. He came in with his hat drawn over his eyes, his face being partly concealed, and he asked for "half a pint of four ale." She drew the ale, and meanwhile looked at him through the mirror at the back of the bar. As soon as he saw the woman in the other compartment watching him he turned his back, and got the partition between himself and her. It struck Mrs. Fiddymont particularly that there were blood-spots on the back of his right hand. This fact, taken in connection with his appearance, caused her uneasiness. She also noticed that his shirt was torn. As soon as he had drunk the ale, which he swallowed at a gulp, he went out. Mrs. Mary Chappell, a friend, who lives at 28, Stewart-street, near by, corroborates Mrs. Fiddymont. When the man came in the expression of his eyes caught her attention, his look was so startling and terrifying. It frightened Mrs. Fiddymont so that she requested her to stay. The man wore a light-blue check shirt, which was torn badly, into rags in fact, on the right shoulder. There was a narrow streak of blood under his right ear, parallel with the edge of his shirt. There was also dried blood between the fingers of his hand. When he went out she slipped out the other door, and watched him as he went towards Bishopsgate-street. She called Joseph Taylor's attention to him, and Taylor followed him. Taylor is a builder, of 22, Stewart-street, and states that as soon as his attention was attracted to the man he followed him. He walked rapidly, and came alongside him, but did not speak to him. The man was rather thin, about 5 ft. 8 in. high, and apparently between forty and fifty years of age. He had a shabby-genteel look, wore pepper-and-salt trousers which fitted badly, and a dark coat. When Taylor came alongside him the man glanced at him, and Taylor's description of the look was, "His eyes were as wild as a hawk's." The man walked holding his coat together at the top. He had a nervous and frightened way about him. He wore a ginger-coloured moustache and had short sandy hair. Taylor ceased to follow him, but watched him as far as Halfmoon-street.
A number of sensational stories are altogether without corroboration, such, for instance, as the tale that writing was seen on the wall of No. 29: "I have now done three, and intend to do nine more and give myself up." One version says some such threat as "Five - Fifteen more and I give myself up," was written upon a piece of paper that was picked up. There has also been a good deal said about "Leather Apron," a man who is known as a blackmailer of women. The police have some particulars of this man which it is not to the public interest to divulge, but it is stated that the description which has been published of him is misleading. He is reported to have been seen in various places, and in South London. So much has been said of "Leather Apron" that, when it became known that a leather apron had been discovered in the yard, the people immediately associated it with the supposed culprit. There were three aprons, in fact, and they belonged to workmen, who have no connection with the case. With regard to the bright farthings found on the deceased, a woman has stated that a man accosted her on Saturday morning and gave her two "half-sovereigns," but that, when he became violent, she screamed and he ran off. She discovered afterwards that the "half-sovereigns" were two brass medals. It is said that this woman did accompany the man, who seemed as if he would kill her, to a house in Hanbury-street, possibly No. 29, at 2.30 a.m.
On Saturday there were many exciting scenes in the neighbourhood; but yesterday, although occasion was taken to preach sermons upon the subject, and to deliver speeches condemnatory of the police, the perturbation had visibly calmed down. Inspectors Abberline and Helson are pursuing their inquiries, and measures have been taken narrowly to watch every street lest any fresh crime should be attempted. On Saturday a woman raised a cry against a man that he was the murderer, and he was thereupon pursued by a crowd. Fortunately the police were enabled to give him protection. The arrest of a man who had cut a woman in Spitalfields Market with a knife, also caused commotion, and led to the report that another murder had occurred. More than one person was detained on suspicion; one at Limehouse, another at Bethnal-green, and a third at Deptford, but in each case no tangible result followed. A crowd collected about the Commercial-street Police-station yesterday morning, but it is a customary pastime on Sunday mornings to watch for prisoners who are brought in. It is stated that the post-mortem examination has shown that a portion of the flesh is missing from the stomach. The inquest, which is to be opened this morning at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, will elicit the official facts as regards the condition of the body.
At eight o'clock last night the Scotland-yard authorities had come to a definite conclusion as to the description of the murderer of two, at least, of the hapless women found dead at the East-end, and the following is the official telegram despatched to every station throughout the metropolis and suburbs: "Commercial-street, 8.20 p.m. - Description of a man wanted, who entered a passage of the house at which the murder was committed with a prostitute, at two a.m. the 8th. Aged thirty-seven, height 5 ft. 7 in., rather dark, beard and moustache; dress, short dark jacket, dark vest and trousers, black scarf and black felt hat; spoke with a foreign accent."
Terrible as is the story, told above, of the murder of Annie Chapman, it is made all the more painfully significant when considered in the light of recent records of capital crimes committed in the same locality. Within less than twelve months four women have been done to death, in streets adjacent to Whitechapel-road, in a manner which has left no room to doubt that resort has been had to foul play of the worst kind. It is a regrettable fact, worthy of the serious attention of residents in this vast metropolis, that vigilant as are the members of the police force, their numbers are not nearly sufficient to enable them, however wisely distributed, to afford a reasonably adequate "safe conduct" to that indefinite and indefinable factor, the "public." The increase of the police establishment has been often advocated by responsible advisers, but the advice has been in the past, as it still is, regarded with indifference by the statesmen in charge of the exchequer. Notice has already been given that attention will again be called to the matter in the next session of Parliament, and it cannot be doubted that the shocking events which are now engrossing the minds of the people of London will lend a melancholy zest to any discussion that may be raised on the subject in the House of Commons. It is obvious, however, that no augmentation of the police force could supply absolute immunity from crimes of the astounding character recently perpetrated. Prevention is said to be better than cure, and what London seems to want is better means of guarding against crime and of bringing offenders, after detection, home to justice. The first of the series of murders was committed so far back as last Christmas, when the body of a woman was discovered with a stick or iron instrument thrust into her body as if she had been interred under the law until recently applicable to suicides, which required a person found guilty of felo de se to be buried at the four cross-roads with a stake driven through the chest. In this case the woman was never identified, and no particular sensation was caused, the death being generally assumed to be the result of a drunken freak on the part of the nameless ruffians who swarm about Whitechapel. The second noticeable tragedy occurred on Aug. 7 last, when a woman named Martha Turner, aged thirty-five, a hawker, was discovered lying dead on the first floor landing of some model dwellings known as George-yard-buildings, Commercial-street, Spitalfields. The body when found presented a shocking appearance, being covered with stab-wounds to the number of thirty-nine, some of which appeared to have been caused by a bayonet. At the inquest reference was made to the similarity of this murder to that which had been perpetrated in the same locality at Christmas, and a verdict was returned of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown." Scarcely had the emotion caused by this affair had time to abate when another discovery was made which, for the brutality exercised on the victim, was even more shocking. As Constable John Neil was walking down Buck's-row, Thomas-street, Whitechapel, about 3.45 a.m., on Aug 31, he discovered a woman, apparently between thirty-five and forty years of age, lying at the side of the street with her throat cut right open from ear to ear, the instrument with which the deed had been committed having apparently traversed the throat from left to right. The wound was an inch wide, and blood was flowing profusely. She was immediately conveyed to the Whitechapel mortuary, where it was found that besides the wound in the throat the lower part of the abdomen was completely ripped open, the bowels protruding. The wound extended nearly to the breast, and had evidently been effected with a large knife. Buck's-row, where the deceased was discovered, is described as a narrow passage, running out of Thomas-street, containing a dozen houses, said to be of a very low class. An inquest was opened on Tuesday last, when the body was identified as that of a Mrs. Nicholls, who had been separated from her husband for a period of eight years, and who had of late been leading a disreputable life. The inquiry stands adjourned until Monday next, and its future course will depend upon the statements which the police authorities may then be able to make. Meanwhile there is a general impression that all the outrages described, including that of Saturday, have been conceived and executed by one man, and he in all probability a maniac.
With reference to the murder of Mrs. Nicholls in Buck's-row, her husband (Mr. W. Nicholls) writes in regard to a statement that at the funeral of the deceased he did not recognise his own son: "That is not so. He left home of his own accord two years and a half ago, and I have always been on speaking terms with him. Only two or three months ago I saw him, and last week received two letters from him asking me if I knew of any work for him. I did not leave my wife during her confinement and go away with a nurse-girl. The dead woman deserted me four or five times, if not six. The last time she left me without any home, and with five children, the youngest one year and four months. I kept myself with the children where I was living for two and a half years before I took on with anybody, and not till after it was proved at Lambeth Police-court that she had misconducted herself."
Just after eleven o'clock on Saturday morning a woman passing through the Spitalfields Market was suddenly attacked by a man, who, after felling her to the ground with a blow, began to kick her, and then pulled out a knife. Some women who had collected, having the terrible tragedy that brought them there still fresh in their minds, on seeing the knife raised piercing shrieks of "Murder!" that were heard by the enormous crowds in Hanbury-street. There was at once a rush for the market, as it was declared by some that the murderer had been caught. Seeing the immense crowd swarming around him, the man who was the cause of the alarm made furious efforts to reach the woman, from whom he had been separated by some persons who interfered on her behalf. He, however, threw them on one side, fell upon the woman, knife in hand, and inflicted several stabs on her head. When he was again pulled away the woman lay motionless, and the immense crowd took up the cry of "Murder!" and the people outside called "Lynch him!" At this juncture the police arrived, arrested the man, and after a while had the woman conveyed on a stretcher to the police-station in Commercial-street, where she was examined by the divisional surgeon. She was found to be suffering from several wounds, but none of them were considered dangerous. She was subsequently removed to the London Hospital, where she was detained as an in-patient. The affair occurred midway between Buck's-row and Hanbury-street, where the last two horrible murders have been committed.
Another most horrible murder has been perpetrated in Whitechapel. At an early hour on Saturday morning, the body of a woman was found lying in the corner of a yard in Hanbury-street, a low thoroughfare, not far from Buck's-row, the scene of a similar tragedy ten days ago. The deceased's throat was cut, she had been disembowelled, and there were other circumstances of the most revolting barbarity. The body proved to be that of Annie Chapman, a widow, who had for many years been separated from her husband, and had of late been leading a somewhat loose life, taking up her quarters principally in the poorer sort of East-end lodging-houses. There is at present no very tangible clue to the murderer, but the police have issued a description of the man who is "wanted" for the deed. The coroner's inquest will be opened this morning.
It is not to be wondered at that, in the absence of any large political question or event of general importance, the attention of the public should at this hour be concentrated on the horrible murder in Whitechapel, which makes the fourth of a series of similar atrocities recently committed in the same locality. Not long ago the corpse of a woman was found near the Whitechapel-road who had been killed at night by the thrust of a stake or iron rod driven right through her body. No revelation was made of the assassin, and shortly afterwards, at Osborne-street, near the first-mentioned spot, a woman was again discovered lying dead, bearing more than thirty wounds, most of them directed to some vital part. This crime, known as the "George's-yard-buildings murder," also lacked any explanation; the murderer remained at large, and no light of any kind could be thrown on the deed. The third assassination in the same quarter took place at Buck's-row, also close by, where a helpless creature, named NICHOLLS, a street-walker, like the others, was found dreadfully hacked and pierced; and only on Thursday last the body of this third victim was carried to burial through Hanbury-street, Whitechapel, her murderer remaining unknown, notwithstanding the anxious investigation of the police and the increasing excitement and publicity which these consecutive crimes naturally caused in the vicinity. And now, on Saturday morning last, in that very thoroughfare through which the body of the third victim was thus borne, and quite near to Osborne-street and Buck's-row, the scenes of the two preceding slaughters, a woman of the same class and character has been discovered terribly and barbarously butchered, and so mutilated that no wild beast in its fury could have displayed a fiercer rage to rend and destroy than the again unknown perpetrator of this latest enormity. The circumstances under which the fourth victim of so shocking a series of murders was seen weltering in her blood and disembowelled are fully given in another portion of our columns, and we may, therefore, spare ourselves and the public a repetition here of the ghastly details. Assuredly no surprise can be felt that with the recurrence of such startling crimes in a circumscribed space, committed upon miserable women of the same sad category, and with reiterated evidence of the existence of some perfectly fiendish being, possessed with a murderous frenzy, as cunning as he is cruel - no surprise, we say, can be felt that the whole quarter of London wherein these frightful acts have been perpetrated is at present in a state of consternation and horror, and that the attention of the Capital itself should be concentrated upon them. Repulsive in almost all particulars, sordid and vulgar in scene and surroundings, and in indications of the low, unhappy, reckless lives going on in our midst, the terrible character of these acts still causes universal pity for the victims, while the Metropolis at large cannot but thrill with anger and apprehension to know that the miscreant concerned in such a series of abominable offences goes to-day undetected and at full liberty to commit new horrors about its streets and lanes.
We say "the miscreant," adopting therein the common theory which has taken possession of the public mind, although nothing is known as yet to prove that these four murders have really been committed by one and the same hand. The considerations, however, which lead to that view are certainly strong. First, it is to be noticed that the sufferers have all been females of the same class - poverty-stricken and hopeless street-walkers, who would repulse no approaches, and would thus offer the very readiest victims to an execrable wretch seeking to gratify the double passion of possession and of destruction. They would know the nooks and corners of the locality perfectly well - perhaps he would also - and it is notable here that the latest of the four poor creatures was found, like the others, in a bye-place, out of sight of casual wayfarers. Then the time chosen for the frightful deeds appears to have been much the same - the early hours of morning, just before the industrial classes turn out to their work; a time when London, even in the East-end, is often as quiet as a desert. Next, the characteristics of each murder show a rage of cruelty, a fantastic brutality, which is strangely marked and individual. The thrust which pierced the first miserable prey of the supposed assassin through and through; those thirty-six deadly wounds rained upon the body of the second; the savage hurts inflicted upon MARY ANN NICHOLLS, the third; and now the almost decapitation and disembowelling of this last poor woman, ANNIE CHAPMAN - all point to some single villain too uniquely hideous in his mania for murder and mutilation to have an accomplice or an imitator. Any desire of plunder can have mingled very slightly, if at all, with these detestable crimes, because the most ignorant or the most destitute assassin - were he a foreign sailor half intoxicated or a reckless and ruffianly tramp - would surely know there was nothing to be purloined of value from such women. The hapless prostitute butchered on Saturday morning in the back-yard of No. 29, Hanbury-street, had in her pocket two bright farthings only - possibly passed off upon her as half-sovereigns - and it is still only a suspicion that her rings of base metal had been wrenched from the fingers. Indeed, the two strongest points sustaining the belief that these crimes have been wrought by one and the same person are, first, the circumscribed locality in which they have taken place, and next, the frightful identity of method displayed in the swift and merciless silencing of the victim by one deadly stroke on the throat, and afterwards the savage reduplication of blows and the insensate maiming and mutilation of the corpse. We are certainly led by these elements in the appalling series of homicides to imagine the existence of some baleful prowler of the East-end streets and alleys, who, in his own particular quarter, knows every bye-place well, who is plausible enough in address to beguile his victims, strong enough to overcome them the moment homicidal passion succeeds to desire, cunning enough to select the most quiet hour and the most retired spot for his furious assaults, and possessed of a certain ghastly skill in using the knife, which seems to be his weapon. The evisceration of the wretched woman found on Saturday evening last - performed as it must have been in the gloom, and amid momentary possibilities of discovery - while it, perhaps, evidences the desperate wantonness of a madman, also suggests a hand practised in some shambles or knacker's yard. For the act of mutilation itself there can be conceived, we think, only three possible explanations. Either the scoundrel was carried away with sanguinary fury, and sought pleasure in utterly destroying his victim; or he was possessed with an insane desire to horrify society by an unexampled atrocity - a feeling which has been exhibited ere now in criminals bitten with the lust of notoriety; or, finally, he was recklessly, yet not incapably, drunk, and has each time escaped, by an evil chance, in the hardihood lent by that condition.
All this is but conjecture, which we must hope, will soon be confirmed or rectified by the capture of the author, or authors, of these shocking murders. In pursuit of that object the intelligence and interest of the whole metropolitan community will now be enlisted in aid of the police, who will themselves, for every reason, spare no effort to bring the perpetrator of such atrocious outrages to justice. The inquest to be held to-day may throw some fresh light upon the crime; but meanwhile we are not at all inclined to agree with those who have commenced an outcry against the local police for not preventing a repetition of these Whitechapel murders. In a labyrinth of bye-ways and back-yards like that surrounding Whitechapel-road ten times the number of constables now on duty could not know or see what is nightly going on. This latest murder was committed in the rear premises of a three-storeyed lodging-house full of people, and yet none of them knew or heard of it until an inmate rose early and passed downstairs - how, then, should the police have witnessed it? When we pass to the question of detective skill there is more to say, and it is to be hoped that, with so many willing eyes and ears to help them, the investigation of these abominable crimes will be conducted with judgement, promptitude, and success, so that the streets of the East-end may be purged from the Red Terror which now lurks in them, and the minds of the citizens be quieted. Moreover, if the monster in human form whom we have imagined be captured, it must not be too lightly advanced or admitted that he is insane and irresponsible. There are natures "mad" only in being immeasurably bad - beings who look like men, but are rather demons, vampires, of whom society has the right to be quickly rid, without too much attention to the theories of mental experts. It may be trusted that, if no clue be found to the perpetrator of this latest horror, his own cunning will eventually fail him, and that the villain will, by some garrulity or imprudence betray his guilty knowledge. Failing this, and in the hope that he may have some confidant, if not accomplice, a large reward ought, we think, to be offered for his apprehension. It is not because "Dark ANNIE" and her fellow victims were the "lowest of the low" that Justice must spare a single effort to arrest and punish the wretch who has thus alarmed and horrified a whole capital.