19 July 1889
THE POLICE HAVE NO CLEW TO THE WHITECHAPEL FIEND
London, July 18.
After holding the inquest on the body of the latest victim of the Whitechapel fiend the police appear to be as hopelessly in the dark as ever and to have as little prospect of catching the criminal as when the first of the murdered women was found bleeding in the street. This time the woman's body was scarcely cold before discovered. The warm blood was flowing from the gashes in her body. A policeman was stalking about within fifty yards of the spot. Lights were moving in the windows of the adjacent tenement houses, but the murderer did his work so swiftly and silently that no one heard the victim's cry. He was allowed to escape and will remain unmolested till he gets ready to commit another butchery. This far Chief Commissioner Munroe's tactics have been practically the same as those of Sir Charles Warren. He has filled the Whitechapel district with police, who, acting under special orders, kept the newspapers in the dark as much as possible. As in the case of the previous murders, suspected men were dragged into police stations all day long yesterday simply because they wore rags or had no home, and were immediately let go again. Some of them were so ignorant that they did not know that there had been a murder. One effect of this policy is to fan into a fierce flame the public excitement.
If false news of arrest, of wild rumors and of sensational rumors there are no end; of useful facts which may lead to a clew to catch the murderer there are but very few. In the matter of details this murder differs but little from the others. It is true that there are no such revolting mutilations, but everything goes to show that this is simply because the assassin had been interrupted in his work, being frightened by a drunken peddler, who had stopped to wrangle with the policeman on the beat. The press correspondent saw the body of the victim yesterday in the morgue. The throat was cut in the same manner as in the case of the Berner street woman, by plunging a knife just under the left ear and cutting towards the right ear sufficiently to completely sever the windpipe. The woman probably never had time to utter a cry. The only other wound on the body was a deep cut in the stomach, extending from the waist to the pit of the abdomen. The intestines were not disturbed. Not till last night were the police able to find out who the woman was. Her name was Alice MacKenzie and, as in the case of Jack the Ripper's other victims, she was one of those unfortunate creatures who find their living on the streets. A newspaper correspondent talked to two women, who saw her at 11:30 Tuesday night. She was sober then. At 2:30 when all the public houses were closed by law, the barkeeper of the "pub" situated a quarter of a mile from the scene of the murder, says that he turned her out into the street and that she had been drinking some but was not actually drunk. Making her way home, the woman turned into Commercial street, the exact region where most of the other murders had been committed. Here all trace of her was lost till the body was found in Castle alley at 12:50 in the morning. Four policemen patrol the vicinity of Cast alley. It is considered one of the worst places in London. The officer whose special duty it is to watch the alley swears that he passed the spot ten minutes before he found the body and that there was nothing there then. There are four entrances to Castle alley. It is about twenty feet wide and 100 feet long. At night costermongers living near are allowed to store their wagons and hand carts there. Two tenement houses, a large warehouse with a watchman in it, and a public bath house surround it. It is almost impossible that any struggle should have occurred without somebody hearing it. Only a few yards away is a street as broad as the Bowery and thronged with people going home, the pubs and concert halls, and just as busy a thoroughfare in fact as the Bowery is at midnight. An ex member of the Metropolitan police, who was standing talking with a friend at the corner of Castle alley, not more than forty yards distant, about the time of the murder, neither saw nor heard anything. Mrs. Smith, who keeps the public bath house, says she did not go to bed till after 1. She was moving about the kitchen with the windows facing the alley wide open, and heard no noise till the officer gave the alarm. She does not think that the body was quite dead when it was found. Isaac Lewis, who claims to be the first civilian who saw the body after the murder, watched it while the police went for assistance. He says that the blood was still spurting from the throat when the woman was found, indicating that the heart had not ceased to beat. The clothes were all crushed upon the chest of the body and the legs were nude. There were blood marks on the face and on the left thigh, as if a hand covered with blood had been placed there to hold the woman down. Lewis adds that a watchman had been employed at the Castle alley will two weeks ago to look after the wheelbarrows. When the barrows were removed the man was discharged. He thinks the murderer knew all this. Some fifty constables, selected from other districts of the metropolis last spring for special duty in Whitechapel, were removed this week. Three weeks ago the police received several letters saying that Jack the Ripper was going to begin operations again. No attention was paid to them. They were signed Jack the Ripper, and indicted in the same disguised writing as the letters received last spring. The Pall Mall Gazette says that a fortnight ago a man called at its office and said he knew the East End well, and he was sure the butcheries there would soon begin again. At the inquest held on the body of the woman found murdered in the Whitechapel district yesterday morning the fact was developed that in addition to the two large gashes there were fourteen other wounds on the body. The greater number of the wounds, however, were only skin deep.