THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1888
Yesterday afternoon Mr. Wynne Baxter, coroner for East Middlesex, concluded his inquiry, at the Whitechapel Working Lads' Institute, relative to the death of Mrs. Annie Chapman, whose body was found dreadfully cut and mutilated in the yard of 29, Hanbury-street, Whitechapel, early on the morning of Saturday, the 8th inst.
The Coroner inquired if there was any further evidence to be adduced.
Inspector Chandler replied in the negative.
The Coroner then addressed the jury. He said: I congratulate you that your labours are now nearly completed. Although up to the present they have not resulted in the detection of any criminal, I have no doubt that if the perpetrator of this foul murder is eventually discovered, our efforts will not have been useless. The evidence is now on the records of this court, and could be used even if the witnesses were not forthcoming; while the publicity given has already elicited further information, which I shall presently have to mention, and which, I hope I am not sanguine in believing, may perhaps be of the utmost importance. We shall do well to recall the important facts. The deceased was a widow, forty-seven years of age, named Annie Chapman. Her husband was a coachman living at Windsor. For three or four years before his death she had lived apart from her husband, who allowed her 10s a week until his death at Christmas, 1886. Evidently she had lived an immoral life for some time, and her habits and surroundings had become worse since her means had failed. Her relations were no longer visited by her, and her brother had not seen her for five months, when she borrowed a small sum from him. She lived principally in the common lodging houses in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, where such as she herd like cattle, and she showed signs of great deprivation, as if she had been badly fed. The glimpses of life in these dens which the evidence in this case discloses is sufficient to make us feel that there is much in the nineteenth century civilisation of which we have small reason to be proud; but you who are constantly called together to hear the sad tale of starvation, or semi-starvation, of misery, immorality, and wickedness which some of the occupants of the 5,000 beds in this district have every week to relate to coroner's inquests, do not require to be reminded of what life in a Spitalfields lodging-house means. It was in one of these that the older bruises found on the temple and in front of the chest of the deceased were received, in a trumpery quarrel, a week before her death. It was in one of these that she was seen a few hours before her mangled remains were discovered. On the afternoon and evening of Friday, Sept. 7, she divided her time partly in such a place at 35, Dorset-street, and partly in the Ringers public-house, where she spent whatever money she had; so that between one and two on the morning of Saturday, when the money for her bed is demanded, she is obliged to admit that she is without means, and at once turns out into the street to find it. She leaves there at 1.45 a.m., is seen off the premises by the night watchman, and is observed to turn down Little Paternoster-row into Brushfield-street, and not in the more direct route to Hanbury-street. On her wedding finger she was wearing two or three rings, which appear to have been palpably of base metal, as the witnesses are all clear about their material and value. We now lose sight of her for about four hours, but at half-past five, Mrs. Long is in Hanbury-street on her way from home in Church-street, Whitechapel, to Spitalfields Market. She walked on the northern side of the road going westward, and remembers having seen a man and woman standing a few yards from the place where the deceased is afterwards found. And, although she did not know Annie Chapman, she is positive that that woman was deceased. The two were talking loudly, but not sufficiently so to arouse her suspicions that there was anything wrong. Such words as she overheard were not calculated to do so. The laconic inquiry of the man, "Will you?" and the simple assent of the woman, viewed in the light of subsequent events, can be easily translated and explained. Mrs. Long passed on her way, and neither saw nor heard anything more of her, and this is the last time she is known to have been alive. There is some conflict in the evidence about the time at which the deceased was despatched. It is not unusual to find inaccuracy in such details, but this variation is not very great or very important. She was found dead about six o'clock. She was not in the yard when Richardson was there at 4.50 a.m. She was talking outside the house at half-past five when Mrs. Long passed them. Cadosh says it was about 5.20 when he was in the backyard of the adjoining house, and heard a voice say "No," and three or four minutes afterwards a fall against the fence; but if he is out of his reckoning but a quarter of an hour, the discrepancy in the evidence of fact vanishes, and he may be mistaken, for he admits that he did not get up till a quarter past five, and that it was after the half-hour when he passed Spitalfields clock. It is true that Dr. Phillips thinks that when he saw the body at 6.30 the deceased had been dead at least two hours, but he admits that the coldness of the morning and the great loss of blood may affect his opinion; and if the evidence of the other witnesses be correct, Dr. Phillips has miscalculated the effect of those forces. But many minutes after Mrs. Long passed the man and woman cannot have elapsed before the deceased became a mutilated corpse in the yard of 29, Hanbury-street, close by where she was last seen by any witness. This place is a fair sample of a large number of houses in the neighbourhood. It was built, like hundreds of others, for the Spitalfields weavers, and when hand-looms were driven out by steam and power, these were converted into dwellings for the poor. Its size is about such as a superior artisan would occupy in the country, but its condition is such as would to a certainty leave it without a tenant. In this place seventeen persons were living, from a woman and her son sleeping in a cat's-meat shop on the ground floor to Davis and his wife and their three grown-up sons, all sleeping together in an attic. The street door and the yard door were never locked, and the passage and yard appear to have been constantly used by people who had no legitimate business there. There is little doubt that the deceased knew the place, for it was only 300 or 400 yards from where she lodged. If so, it is quite unnecessary to assume that her companion had any knowledge - in fact, it is easier to believe that he was ignorant both of the nest of living beings by whom he was surrounded, and of their occupations and habits. Some were on the move late at night, some were up long before the sun. A carman, named Thompson, left the house for his work as early as 3.50 a.m.; an hour later John Richardson was paying the house a visit of inspection; shortly after 5.15 Cadosh, who lived in the next house, was in the adjoining yard twice. Davis, the carman, who occupied the third floor front, heard the church clock strike a quarter to six, got up, had a cup of tea, and went into the back yard, and was horrified to find the mangled body of deceased. It was then a little after six a.m. - a very little, for at ten minutes past the hour Inspector Chandler had been informed of the discovery while on duty in Commercial-street. There is nothing to suggest that the deceased was not fully conscious of what she was doing. It is true that she had passed through some stages of intoxication, for although she appeared perfectly sober to her friend who met her in Dorset-street at five o'clock the previous evening, she had been drinking afterwards; and when she left the lodging-house shortly before two o'clock the night watchman noticed that she was the worse for drink, but not badly so, while the deputy asserts that, though she had evidently been drinking, she could walk straight, and it was probably only malt liquor that she had taken, and its effects would pass off quicker than if she had taken spirits. Consequently it is not surprising to find that Mrs. Long saw nothing to make her think that the deceased was the worse for drink. Moreover, it is unlikely that she could have had the opportunity of getting intoxicants. Again the post-mortem examination shows that while the stomach contained a meal of food there was no sign of fluid and no appearance of her having taken alcohol, and Dr. Phillips is convinced that she had not taken any alcohol for some time. The deceased, therefore, entered the yard in full possession of her faculties; although with a very different object from her companion. From the evidence which the condition of the yard affords and the medical examination discloses, it appears that after the two had passed through the passage and opened the swing-door at the end, they descended the three steps into the yard. On their left hand side there was a recess between those steps and the palings. Here a few feet from the house and a less distance from the paling they must have stood. The wretch must have then seized the deceased, perhaps with Judas-like approaches. He seized her by the chin. He pressed her throat, and while thus preventing the slightest cry, he at the same time produced insensibility and suffocation. There is no evidence of any struggle. The clothes are not torn. Even in these preliminaries, the wretch seems to have known how to carry out efficiently his nefarious work. The deceased was then lowered to the ground, and laid on her back; and although in doing so she may have fallen slightly against the fence, this movement was probably effected with care. Her throat was then cut in two places with savage determination, and the injuries to the abdomen commenced. All was done with cool impudence and reckless daring; but, perhaps, nothing is more noticeable than the emptying of her pockets, and the arrangement of their contents with business-like precision in order near her feet. The murder seems, like the Buck's-row case, to have been carried out without any cry. Sixteen people were in the house. The partitions of the different rooms are of wood. Davis was not asleep after three a.m., except for three-quarters of an hour, or less, between five and 5.45. Mrs. Richardson only dosed after three a.m., and heard no noise during the night. Mrs. Hardman, who occupies the front ground-floor room, did not awake until the noise succeeding the finding of the body had commenced, and none of the occupants of the houses by which the yard is surrounded heard anything suspicious. The brute who committed the offence did not even take the trouble to cover up his ghastly work, but left the body exposed to the view of the first comer. This accords but little with the trouble taken with the rings, and suggests either that he had at length been disturbed, or that as the daylight broke a sudden fear suggested the danger of detection that he was running. There are two things missing. Her rings had been wrenched from her fingers and have not been found, and the uterus has been removed. The body has not been dissected, but the injuries have been made by some one who had considerable anatomical skill and knowledge. There are no meaningless cuts. It was done by one who knew where to find what he wanted, what difficulties he would have to contend against, and how he should use his knife, so as to abstract the organ without injury to it. No unskilled person could have known where to find it, or have recognised it when it was found. For instance, no mere slaughterer of animals could have carried out these operations. It must have been some one accustomed to the post-mortem room. The conclusion that the desire was to possess the missing part seems overwhelming. If the object were robbery, these injuries were meaningless, for death had previously resulted from the loss of blood at the neck. Moreover, when we find an easily accomplished theft of some paltry brass rings and such an operation, after, at least, a quarter of an hour's work, and by a skilled person, we are driven to the deduction that the mutilation was the object, and the theft of the rings was only a thin-veiled blind, an attempt to prevent the real intention being discovered. Had not the medical examination been of a thorough and searching character, it might easily have been left unnoticed. The difficulty in believing that this was the real purport of the murderer is natural. It is abhorrent to our feelings to conclude that a life should be taken for so slight an object; but, when rightly considered, the reasons for most murders are altogether out of proportion to the guilt. It has been suggested that the criminal is a lunatic with morbid feelings. This may or may not be the case; but the object of the murderer appears palpably shown by the facts, and it is not necessary to assume lunacy, for it is clear that there is a market for the object of the murder. To show you this, I must mention a fact which at the same time proves the assistance which publicity and the newspaper press afford in the detection of crime. Within a few hours of the issue of the morning papers containing a report of the medical evidence given at the last sitting of the Court, I received a communication from an officer of one of our great medical schools, that they had information which might or might not have a distinct bearing on our inquiry. I attended at the first opportunity, and was told by the sub-curator of the Pathological Museum that some months ago an American had called on him, and asked him to procure a number of specimens of the organ that was missing in the deceased. He stated his willingness to give £20 for each, and explained that his object was to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a publication on which he was then engaged. Although he was told that his wish was impossible to be complied with, he still urged his request. He desired them preserved, not in spirits of wine, the usual medium, but in glycerine, in order to preserve them in a flaccid condition, and he wished them sent to America direct. It is known that this request was repeated to another institution of a similar character. Now, is it not possible that the knowledge of this demand may have incited some abandoned wretch to possess himself of a specimen. It seems beyond belief that such inhuman wickedness could enter into the mind of any man, but unfortunately our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible. I need hardly say that I at once communicated my information to the Detective Department at Scotland-yard. Of course I do not know what use has been made of it, but I believe that publicity may possibly further elucidate this fact, and, therefore, I have not withheld from you my knowledge. By means of the press some further explanation may be forthcoming from America if not from here. I have endeavoured to suggest to you the object with which this offence was committed, and the class of person who must have perpetrated it. The greatest deterrent from crime is the conviction that detection and punishment will follow with rapidity and certainty, and it may be that the impunity with which Mary Ann Smith and Anne Tabram were murdered suggested the possibility of such horrid crimes as those which you and another jury have been recently considering. It is, therefore, a great misfortune that nearly three weeks have elapsed without the chief actor in this awful tragedy having been discovered. Surely, it is not too much even yet to hope that the ingenuity of our detective force will succeed in unearthing this monster. It is not as if there were no clue to the character of the criminal or the cause of his crime. His object is clearly divulged. His anatomical skill carries him out of the category of a common criminal, for his knowledge could only have been obtained by assisting at post-mortems, or by frequenting the post-mortem room. Thus the class in which search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover it must have been a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of Sept. 8. His hands were undoubtedly blood-stained, for he did not stop to use the tap in the yard as the pan of clean water under it shows. If the theory of lunacy be correct - which I very much doubt - the class is still further limited; while, if Mrs. Long's memory does not fail, and the assumption be correct that the man who was talking to the deceased at half-past five was the culprit, he is even more clearly defined. In addition to his former description, we should know that he was a foreigner of dark complexion, over forty years of age, a little taller than the deceased, of shabby-genteel appearance, with a brown deer-stalker hat on his head, and a dark coat on his back. If your views accord with mine, you will be of opinion that we are confronted with a murder of no ordinary character, committed not from jealousy, revenge, or robbery, but from motives less adequate than the many which still disgrace our civilisation, mar our progress, and blot the pages of our Christianity. I cannot conclude my remarks without thanking you for the attention you have given to the case, and the assistance you have rendered me in our efforts to elucidate the truth of this horrible tragedy.
The Foreman: We can only find one verdict - that of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. We were about to add a rider with respect to the condition of the mortuary, but that having been done by a previous jury it is unnecessary.
A verdict of wilful murder against a person or persons unknown was then entered.
TO THE EDITOR OF "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH"
SIR - Should the correspondence now appearing in your columns under the above heading prove the means of initiating a movement for improving the condition of the dwellings of the poorest of the poor in our large cities and towns, by inducing capitalists and investors to turn their attention to the undoubtedly profitable employment of their capital in the direction indicated by your correspondents, you will have inaugurated a great social reform, and have earned the gratitude of countless outcasts by inserting such correspondence and by your able leading article on the subject. Apart from the more speculative aspect of the question, however, a great field of usefulness is now opened out for the County and District Councils to be so soon established, in pursuance of the Local Government Act. Upon this view of the case it may not be out of place to here quote the pathetic (and now prophetic) words of the great master of fiction - Charles Dickens - in "The Old Curiosity Shop," when he says: "Oh, if those who rule the destinies of the nation would but remember this - if they would but think how hard it is for the very poor to have engendered in their hearts that love of home from which all domestic virtues spring, when they live in dense and squalid masses where social decency is lost, or rather never found; if they would but turn aside from the wide thoroughfare and great houses, and strive to improve the wretched dwellings in bye-ways where only poverty may walk - many low roofs would point more truly to the sky than the loftiest steeple that now rears proudly up from the midst of guilt, and crime, and horrible disease, to mock them by its contrast. In hollow voices from workhouse, hospital, and jail this truth is preached from day to day, and has been proclaimed for years. It is no light matter - no outcry from the working vulgar - no mere question of the people's health and comforts, that may be whistled down on Wednesday nights. In love of home the love of country has its rise; and who are the truer patriots or the better in times of need - those who venerate the land, owning its wood and stream and earth, and all that they produce; or those who love their country, boasting not a foot of ground in all its wide domain?"
These stirring words of the great novelist come home to us with startling effect in these present days, when so much needs to be done to stamp out the demons of filth, disease, and crime which rage rampant in our large centres of population.
The adoption of the Labouring Classes Lodging Houses Act, 1851, in many large towns has done great service in the direction of providing clean, respectable, well-regulated lodgings for the poor at a reasonable rate, and in proof of the successful working of this Act in the town from which I write - a manufacturing town in the North, with a population of about 90,000 - a model lodging-house on the most approved principles has been established for many years, and is now under the control of the Town Council.
This house is divided into the following departments, viz., single men's department, single women's ditto, married couples' ditto, and mechanics' home; and the average number of inmates for many years past has been at the rate of 5,000 per month, or 60,000 a year. These pay a small fixed charge per night, and in return get a clean comfortable bed and lodging, whilst every attention is paid to the sanitary conditions and comforts of the establishment. As to the financial aspect of the question, the result has been most satisfactory, and the surplus income, after providing for the necessary sinking fund for the redemption of borrowed capital, goes in reduction of local taxation. Here, then, is a vast field for the enterprise, not only of private speculators, but of the newly constituted local authorities under Mr. Ritchie's Act; and may some of us live to see the day when all the foul dens of pestilence and disease now existing in our towns are swept away from the face of the earth, and cleanliness, health, and comfort reign in their stead. - Yours obediently,
Yorkshire, Sept. 25.
THE GATESHEAD MURDER. - The remains of Jane Beetmoor, or Savage, the young woman who was murdered and her body mutilated, near Gateshead, were interred yesterday afternoon in the burial ground of the parish church at Birtley. The ceremony was witnessed by an enormous crowd. There is still no clue to the perpetrator of the murder.
Yesterday the inquest touching the death of Annie Chapman, who was found murdered and shockingly mutilated in a yard in Hanbury-street, was brought to a conclusion. In his summing-up the coroner described the mutilations, which were evidently the work of a skilled person and one who had been accustomed to the post-mortem room. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against a person or persons unknown.