East London Advertiser
Saturday, 14 September 1889.
The world woke up on Tuesday morning and learnt that another crime had been added to London's long list of unavenged murders; but because for twelve months murder has been in the very air if the East End, and is no longer a new thing, and because, forso oth, the victim was presumably an unfortunate, the world interested itself no more in the matter than to buy a newspaper in which to read the details. "Another Whitechapel Murder" is now so ordinary a street cry that the public are no longer startled with or realise its true significance. Outsiders regard the East End as a den of infamy so deep as to be impenetrable. We are one and all, so to speak, branded on our brows with the mark of Cain. That this stain has been fixed on the locality by reason of the crimes committed with such impunity in its area, who can doubt? This most recent atrocity may or may not be the work of that hitherto invisible being "Jack the Ripper," it may or may not be the dastardly deed of the perpetrators of the Battersea, Whitehall, and Rainham outrages; one thing alone is certain, that some steps must be quickly taken to remove the justification for making East London "a by-word of blood." The moral and material interests of the district imperatively demand some prompt action in the direction of improving its reputation. Never before in the course of its history has East London so needed thoughtful care on the part of its chief men and recognised leaders. For us the times are critical; on all sides can be seen the blackness of times through which we are passing. The great shipping industry on which quite half the population of the Tower Hamlets either directly or indirectly depend for their daily bread is in jeopardy, by reason of the great labour strike. No sooner has trade shewn signs of inproving than it is paralysed by the workmen. It is stated on high authority that East London is continually growing poorer, while the pauper community is steadily on the increase. With no prospect of cessation, the indignant foreign element continues to sap the capital of our workers - their labour. And for a crown of sorrow, a series of dreadful crimes is perpetrated within a stone's throw of the "limbs of the law," and no one can lay hands on the murderer to stop his pitiless ravages. These awful deeds steadily, though at irregular intervals, continue to be wrought, damaging both retail and wholesale business by keeping from entering our region visitors who leave behind them yellow metal. Not only so, but the better classes leave the district, taking with them the money which has in many cases been earned by successful trading in our midst. Often in these columns have we defended East London against the attacks of unscrupulous libellers, who for pecuniary interests of their own desire it to bear the worst of names so that philanthropy may empty its pockets in their laps. But what can be said when crimes of such seemingly purposeless infamy are continually recurring? The necessity of discovering the slayer of these women - unfortunates though they are, simple justice decrees even their protection - grows in importance as each week is added to the record of the past. Naturally the question presents itself, What is to be done? We do not mean to blame the police, for although, doubtless, they have made mistakes, yet in their endeavour to discover the murderer or murderers we believe they have zealously put forth every exertion. That nothing has come of their labours is not a matter of surprise, for although they have the whole machinery of the law at their back, with the advantage of the complete organisation of the force as an additional aid, so cleverly and with such consummate skill are these deeds of darkness performed that not the shadow of a clue is left to guide them in their work of vengeance. As far as possible police are watching every court and alley in Whitechapel, and have been for months past. But their skill has been matched against skill and the criminal has triumphed. The whole circumstances and surroundings of the cases are so abnormal in all their features that no precedent in the annals of sin are of the least practical use. Therefore unusual crimes must be met by unusual methods. Their most prominent feature is that the victims are women of the lowest class. Then this class must be pressed - would they need any pressing? - into the service of the law, and be all eyes and ears for a clue and a sign to aid the detectives. Let every East Londoner henceforth be converted into an amateur policeman, and as he or she goes about the daily task let every sense be on the alert. True there have been Vigilance Committees and funds raised, but what has been their constitution, and how has the money been expended? The questions need no answer. Before now we have asked the latter query - for no balance-sheet has been rendered - but we have received no reply. It is a matter of impossibility for prominent local men - men in whom people have faith - to organize a committee to whom money can be sent with the assurance that it will be spent well and wisely. Private detectives are always more successful than the police detectives, for the simple reason that they have more latitude and are generally better supplied with the necessary funds. It would appear that there are sufficient rewards out to make the modest fortune of the man who secures the slayer of "Dark Annie" and her unavenged companions. There can be no lack of incentive, rather it is a lack of organisation, and we commend the suggestion to those gentlemen who have the real interests of East London at heart. To continue to regard these crimes with indifference would be a reproach on that humanity of feeling for which even the worst of us like to receive credit even if we don't possess it.
MURDER AND MUTILATION OF A WOMAN.
NO CLUE TO THE MYSTERY.
At an early hour on Tuesday morning the inhabitants of Whitechapel were thrown into a state of wild excitement by a rumour to the effect that the notorious criminal known as "Jack the Ripper" had been again at his work in their midst. It was about 6 o'clock when the news first became noised abroad, and within half an hour of that time a great and excited crowd had collected in the neighbourhood of Pinchin-street, St. George's, the locality in which the tragedy was discovered, and which lies in close proximity to the scenes of the outrages which have given Whitechapel its evil reputation. It appears that about 20 minutes past 5 Police-constable Pennett, who had been on this beat the whole of the night, was proceeding along Pinchin-street, a poor neighbourhood close to Leman-street station, within three minutes' walk of the police-station, when, the morning being fairly light, he noticed the body of a female under one of the numerous railway arches with which this neighbourhood abounds. This arch is used for breaking stones by the Whitechapel Board of Works, and there are a few boards nailed against it; but the apertures are sufficiently wide to enable a man to get through, and Pennett, who had been round the spot a short time previously without noticing the body, went inside with a view of seeing what it was. On coming close to the body the constable was horrified to find evidences of another brutal murder, the head and legs being severed from the trunk. There was no blood about the spot, and the body appeared to have been brought from some other place and deposited in this spot where it was discovered by the policeman. Attracting the attention of some passers-by, he dispatched a messenger for the ambulance, and the body was at once conveyed to the St. George's Mortuary, Cable-street. Dr. Clark, the partner of Dr. Phillips, the police divisional surgeon, was very soon in attendance, and commenced to make a minute examination of the remains. Telegrams were sent in all directions to the police-stations, and soon after 7 o'clock Mr. Monro, the Chief Commissioner, was on the spot, followed by Colonel Monseun [Monsell], the Chief Constable of the Division. Superintendent Arnold had been earlier on the scene. By order of Mr. Monro, a cordon of police was drawn round the neighbourhood, and detectives were soon on the spot investigating the circumstances.
The police state that the woman appeared to have been dead quite four or five days. There was a gash upon the body from the chest to the pit of the stomach, and the bowels were protruding. It is impossible to give the precise age of the woman, but she was apparently between 30 and 40. Up to the present time there is no clue to her identity.
Later in the day Detective-Inspector Tonbridge, who had charge of what was known as the Thames mystery a short time ago, went to the mortuary and saw the remains. Mr. Clarke, Dr. Gordon Brown (the City police-surgeon), and two other medical gentlemen who have had experience in previous cases of this nature, shortly after made a more careful examination of the body. The doctors from their investigation concluded that the cuts had been inflicted in a left-handed manner. That is to say, the cut in the throat was evidently commenced on the left side and carried to the right with a clean sweep. The same peculiarity was observed in the other wounds, and in severing the legs more flesh had been cut from the trunk on the left side than on the other. In more than one of the previous crimes this peculiarity has been observed and commented upon. The legs were taken out clearly from the groin, the sockets of the joints shewing no signs of a separating instrument. Nothing whatever was found to be missing except these members, and the head. The cut severing the head from the body was skillfully done, there being no hacking, or clumsy dissection noticeable. Furthermore, a saw had been used to sever the bones in such a way as to leave no doubt that the person responsible for the dismemberment possessed a good knowledge of anatomy. There were no signs about the hands which would indicate that the woman had been used to hard work, and, so far as could be seen, there had been no attempt to obliterate a mark on one of the fingers, apparently caused by a ring. The body was well nourished. One of the several doctors who viewed the remains expressed the opinion that had he been asked to dissect the body in the manner in which he saw it, he could not have done it more neatly and skillfully. In consequence of the similarity of the mode of dismemberment pursued in this case and those of the recent Battersea and Rainham mysteries, the officers engaged with those cases were consulted, and their general opinion is that the resemblance in all cases are so remarkable as to give ground for the belief that the present crime is one with a different origin to the previous Whitechapel atrocities. Under Superintendent Swanson, Chief-constable Macnaughten, and Detective-inspector Miller (who, with the local Inspector Reid, has charge of the case), several expert officers were engaged making a minute search in and around the spot where the trunk was picked up. Nothing whatever could be found which would afford a clue for future operations. Neither were footmarks or other signs of the murderer or his accomplice to be noticed.
An incident has come to light which may be regarded as one of the curious circumstances in connection with the recent murder in this locality. Last week a letter was found at the rear of the East London Hospital, announcing the intention of the writer to perpetrate another murder immediately. The letter was handed to the police, but no importance was attached to it, in view of the number of such documents which have found their way into the hands of the authorities. On Tuesday another letter was found in Whitechapel, containing the following words: "I told you last week I would do another murder." Inquiries are being made to test the similarity of the writing of the documents.
On receiving intimation of the discovery a number of officers of the Thames Police, under Detective-inspector Regan, boarded vessels in the docks and at the mouth of the Thames, paying special attention to the cattle-boats. The search occupied nearly the whole of the day, but was absolutely fruitless, the captain of each vessel being able to account for the movements of his crew during the early morning.
Mr. Albert Backert [Bachert], chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, writes as follows: As chairman of the last-formed Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, I have been questioned by a large number of people about this discovery. From the time our committee was formed, my colleagues and myself have done all in our power to discover the Whitechapel murderer. Night after night I have been out watching and making inquiries; but when the dock labourer's strike commenced the interest in the murders seemed to cool down, and thus several of my supporters relaxed the energy they had hitherto displayed… From inquiries, I am confident that the murderer is a Whitechapel person, or at any point he is well acquainted with the back streets. It is a curious fact that in all places where these murders have occurred the houses are such that any person can enter by pulling a string which lifts the latch. My opinion is that the murderer knows this, and that the moment he has committed a murder he enters one of these houses. I firmly believe that if the police had searched the houses in the vicinity the moment a murder was discovered, the murderer would have been captured.
The whole of the circumstances point to the fact that the body was conveyed to its destination during the night. It could not possibly have been there the previous day, for this ground is used as a playground by the children in the neighbourhood, and had the sack with its horrifying contents been there it must have been seen. The police are satisfied that it was conveyed, possibly in a trap, or more likely on a costermonger's barrow, during the dark hours of the night. They discount the idea that it was carried, for any one carrying so noticeable a parcel must have been stopped by the police. A costermonger's barrow - especially if the parcel was hidden under cabbages - might readily have escaped attention. The place having been previously chosen, the bundle could have easily been deposited there unobserved, for the place is desolate and unfrequented, and is not overlooked at any point. Diligent inquiries were made as to whether anything unusual had been observed, but without success.
The inquest on the dismembered trunk of a woman found in Pinchin-street, Whitechapel, on Tuesday, was opened on Wednesday morning by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, at the Vestry Hall, Cable-street. The proceedings created no public interest in the neighbourhood, only the jury, police, and reporters being present, and there was no assemblage of people around the door.
The first witness called was Police-constable William Bennett [sic]. He said that he went on duty at 10 o'clock on Monday night. He was on a regular beat and went through Pinchin-street every half-hour, always entering it from one end. He occasionally went down Frederick-street, which is a turning under the arches, having an exit into Backchurch-lane. About 5:15 on Tuesday morning he was passing along Pinchin-street, when his attention was attracted to one of the arches by seeing a bundle lying there. On reaching the bundle, which lay about five yards up the archway, he found that it was a human body covered with a few pieces of rags which had been thrown on it. The head had been severed from the body, and the two legs were missing. He examined the surroundings, but though the place was very dusty, he did not find any footprints. There was no blood about. He waited near the remains till a man came past, when he sent him to the constable on the next beat. Soon afterwards two constables came up, and he told them of his discovery. One of them went to the station for the inspector. Questioned by the coroner, the witness said he passed the spot the last time previous to the discovery a few minutes before 5 o'clock. He then looked into the arch, but saw nothing unusual. The body was not there then. Between that time and the discovery he passed up Backchurch-lane round into Pinchin-street at the other end. He did notice anyone carrying a bundle, nor did he meet anyone with a cart or barrow. Dr. Clarke, the assistant divisional surgeon, arrived on the spot before 6 o'clock, and when his examination was complete the body was removed to the St. George's mortuary. - By the jury: The witness said he believed the body had been carried in a sack and then taken out. If the body had been shot out, the neck, which was wet with blood, would have been covered with dust.
Inspector Charles Pinhorn stated that he was called to the spot shortly after half-past 5 o'clock. He caused every arch and piece of vacant ground in the neighbourhood to be searched, but nothing was discovered. The three persons found near the spot were questioned, but nothing of any importance was gleaned except that at 4 o'clock, when two of them looked into the arch, there was nothing there. By the coroner: A person who knew the neighbourhood well would no doubt be aware that the arches were used for sleeping purposes by casuals. The witness had ascertained that no constable had seen a person carrying such a bundle as this would be that morning. In fact, all their inquiries had revealed nothing. When he saw the body it was lying on the breast with the hands under the abdomen. A machine-made chemise of calico such as would be worn by a very poor person was over it. The garment was very dirty. There was no lace round the arms and neck. There were blood stains on it, but they were dry. There were no stains on the body except where blood had oozed from the neck. The chemise bore the name of neither owner nor maker.
The examination by the medical gentlemen not having been completed, the inquiry was adjourned till the 24th of September.
Since Christmas week in 1887 nine women have been murdered in the East-end under mysterious circumstances, five of them within a period of eight weeks. The following are the dates of the crimes and names of the victims so far as known:-
- Christmas-week, 1887. - An unknown woman found murdered near Osborne and Wentworth streets, Whitechapel.
- August 7th, 1888. - Martha Turner found stabbed in 39 places on a landing in model dwellings known as George-yard-buildings, Commercial-street, Spitalfields.
- August 31st. - Mrs. Nicholls [sic], murdered and mutilated in Buck's-row, Whitechapel.
- September 7th. - Mrs. Chapman, murdered and mutilated in Hanbury-street, Whitechapel.
- September 30th. - Elizabeth Stride, found with her throat cut in Berner-street, Whitechapel.
- September 30th. Mrs. Eddowes, murdered and mutilated in Mitre-square, Aldgate.
- November 9th. - Mary Jane Kelly, murdered and mutilated in Dorset-street, Spitalfields.
- July 17th, 1889. - Alice Mackenzie, otherwise Bryant, murdered in Castle-alley, Whitechapel.
- September 10th. - Woman unknown. Mutilated body discovered in Pinchin-street, Whitechapel.