East London Advertiser
Saturday, 17 August 1889.
SPECIAL AND DESCRIPTIVE REPORT.
Painfully familiar have become the proceedings at the inquests held on the victims of the Whitechapel assassin. The same coroner presides at the table, the same number of jurymen occupy the same corner, the same police officials face them on the left, the same doctors appear with the same horrible details, the same coroner's officer acts as a lesser dignitary of the law, the same constable guards the door, and the same array of pressmen anxiously and attentively watch and listen to all that is going forward. So it was on Tuesday morning last when the adjourned inquest on the last unfortunate who met her death in Castle-alley about a month ago was held in the Alexandra Room of the Whitechapel Working Lads Institute. It was a sharp contrast to glance out into the road, flooded with a bright sunlight and filled with the full tide of life, and then look back into the room, upon a body of men all earnestly engaged in considering the blackness of a horrible crime. In the room there was not a single individual but who had business there. At one time the public flocked to these inquiries, but now they are content to leave them in the hands of their faithful representatives, the reporters. Mr. Banks, big and burly, the coroner's officer, was first on the scene, and he was quickly followed by the coroner himself, Mr. Wynne Baxter, well dressed as usual. During the period of waiting he occupied himself with reading over the first day's evidence. Then arrived Inspector Reid accompanied by Inspector Moore, of Scotland Yard, both of whom chatted familiarly with one or two of the pressmen. The jury came in one by one, the foreman, Mr. Robert Ayton, so well known in East London, being the first to take his seat. A few constables, the reporters, and their messengers, completed the list. Dr. Phillips, the police surgeon, whose evidence had that day to be completed, was late, so the Court very considerately waited for him. At 10 minutes past 10 Mr. Wynne Baxter's quick tones "open the court," woke every one up, startling Mr. Banks into unwonted activity as he fumbled with the jurors summonses. He called out their names, and everyone was present "to save his recognisances." There were in addition to Mr. Ayton Messrs. Benjamin, Goult, Hutchins, Thomas, Mattey, Karamelli, Tipper, Crowther, Courtney, Lovegrove, Barker, Barnes, Quin, Ellis, Franklin, Bullock, Benn, Monte, Goldstein, and Johnson. This done, a whispered conversation between Inspector Reid, Dr. Phillips, the coroner and his officer took place as to sending for the eldest attendant at the Whitechapel mortuary, and the officer's assistant - a veritable Chown - was accordingly despatched to the workhouse. Dr. Phillips was then re-examined. He is of middle height, advanced in years, and has a slight stoop, his white hair and whiskers imparting to his face almost a venerable appearance. It is stated he is liked in the force as an upright, kindly man. Giving his evidence with no uncertain voice, he went through the horrible details, prefacing his remarks by recalling that a short clay pipe fell out of the clothes - not out of the pockets, this he was sure - of the deceased as she lay in the post-mortem room. This pipe he placed on a ledge in the room, and it had since disappeared, although search had been made for it high and low. Mr. Ayton elicited the useful fact that it was not the pipe alluded to at the last inquiry. So it seemed as if a clue to the assassin in the shape of his pipe had been found and lost. Then came the particulars of the injuries, the marks on the abdomen of the woman being made with the finger-nails. The doctor expressed his conviction that the instrument by which the murder was committed was a short one but very sharp. Gruesome details then followed, and the jury listened intently for the reply to the coroner's question, "Did you detect any skill in the injuries?" Taking his time the doctor said slowly and distinctly, "A knowledge of how effectually to deprive a person of life, and that speedily." In reply to the jury the witness said the marks of the finger-nails were clearly not made by the woman herself, but by another hand, which had broad fingers and a pointed finger-nail. What a point for a Lecocq to dwell on until he strikes a theory, as if by inspiration, which leads him to triumph! Inspector Reid then intimated this was all the evidence, and the coroner proceeded to sum up. It was a very careful and accurate statement of the facts, in which all the chief points were clearly brought out - the absence of motive, the class of victim, similarity of the injuries and, the abnormal circumstances of the case perhaps warranted his going beyond the narrow scope of the inquiry. He concluded an eloquent speech with a direction to the jury to return a verdict of an open character. The summing up, which had been listened to by the jurymen with that attention which men who have a duty to perform pay to their leaders, and they all at its close held earnest consultation with one another for about 10 minutes, at the close of which they brought in an open verdict of wilful murder with a recommendation to the Whitechapel District Board to throw Castle Alley open into the main road. Mr. R. Ayton did good service to his brother jurymen, and ably expressed their views to the coroner. The proceedings then closed, the jury were dismissed, the doctor hurried down to his brougham, Mr. Wynne Baxter returned to the City, and each and all went on their separate ways. But who can tell when a similar inquiry shall again demand their attendance?
The inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Alice M'Kenzie, who was found dead, on the pavement in Castle-alley, Whitechapel, was resumed by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter on Wednesday morning. - Dr. G. Bagster Phillips, divisional surgeon, gave additional evidence. He said that there were five marks on the abdomen not dealt with on the last occasion, and with the exception of one they were immediately over the middle line. The largest was the lowest, the smallest being the exceptional one mentioned, and was typical of a finger-nail mark. In his opinion they were caused by the nails of a hand. The important cut would prevent the victim from crying out. There was no mark suggestive of pressure against the windpipe. He detected in the injuries a knowledge of how effectually to deprive a person of life, and that speedily. The injuries to the abdomen were not similar to those he had seen in the other cases, neither were the injuries to the throat. It was probable the woman's assailant was on the right side of the body. The instrument used was a sharp one - with a sharp blade, and pointed. - The coroner said they had practically come to the end of the inquiry. He detailed the circumstances under which the body was found, and said that if the crime was not committed by the same person as perpetrated the others, it was clearly an imitation of the other cases already investigated. If no other advantage came from these mysterious murders, they would probably wake up the Church and others to the fact that it was the duty of every parish in the West to have a mission and localise work in the East-end, otherwise it would be impossible to stop these awful cases of crime. There were not only cases of murder there, but many of starvation. At least he hoped these cases would open the eyes of those who were charitable to the necessity of doing their duty by trying to elevate the lower classes. - After a short deliberation, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased was murdered by some person unknown. The jury also added a rider that, "in their opinion, steps should be taken to open up Castle-alley to Whitechapel High-street as a thoroughfare." - The coroner said he would communicate the resolution to the proper authorities.