East London Observer
Saturday, 15 September 1888.
The East of London has had much to bear in the shape of exaggerated and distorted descriptions of its institutions and inhabitants, but the more general intercourse between East and West which has been cultivated in recent years by out public men, has done much to disabuse the minds of people of the wrong impressions held by them concerning our great industrial district. It is therefore matter for supreme regret that the recent atrocious murders, following so closely upon one another, should have been the means of leading to the circulation of so much deprecation of our end of town. To quote a sample of the rubbish that is written, one paper says: "One way or another, the East End is a plague spot on our civilisation." The writer of these words cannot know the East of London, but the thoughtless use of them conveys to the minds of those who read them an impression which is not easily effaced. People living in the provinces, visiting the metropolis after reading such matter, might well be afraid to approach us; yet, taking the East End as a whole, they could find themselves as safe in person and property as they can be in any part of the kingdom. We must admit that the recent crimes have done us considerable harm; they are blots on our fame, which will take some time to erase. But they are not a justification for a hundredth part of the exaggerated rubbish which, although fit for no higher place than the wastepaper basket, has been given the dignity of type. It may turn out that the evil deeds which have so startled the public are the work of a maniac or of some half-witted creature, who may have arrived at the opinion that it is his mission to slay the women of immoral habits, or as many of them as will cause alarm to that class. Should this be the case, it is a misfortune that he should have selected our end of town; but it is in no sense a reason for writing down the East End as "a plague spot," and East-enders should retaliate on such writers by boycotting the journal that gives scope for such slander.
The coroner (Mr. Wynne Baxter) at the inquest on Monday was displeased because the police had not a plan of the locality to assist him. The Daily Telegraph next day supplied the want in a rough and ready but nevertheless useful way.
Mr. Samuel Montagu, M.P., has offered a reward of £100 for the discovery of the Hanbury-street murderer, and his proposal has been submitted to the authorities for their sanction.
The St. James' Gazette, referring to the above, says "This sort of thing could be better done by Government." And so we think.
The Echo, in mentioning the matter, adds that it must be remembered Mr. Montagu is member for the Whitechapel Division. Just so; that is where the claim comes in.
Although we do not like the idea of blood-money, when our system is so deficient as it appears to be, it is expedient to revert to it, and if the Government will not offer a reward someone should.
Yet Another Horrible Tragedy.
The People Panic-Stricken.
The Police Baffled.
SPECIAL DESCRIPTIVE REPORTS.
The thrill of mingled indignation and horror which passed over the whole of the metropolis at the terrible details attending the murder of the woman Nicholls in Buck's-row had scarcely had time to abate, when last Saturday morning - just about a week after the Buck's-row occurrence - the whole of London was again sent almost crazy by the news of still another tragedy having been enacted - this time in Hanbury-street. The particulars of the murder as they became public were far more horrible even than those connected with the murder of Polly Nicholls [Nichols]. John Davis, who lives at 29, Hanbury-street - a house of three floors, the front room on the ground floor of which is used as a cat's meat shop, while a notice board above the doorway which leads into the yard, tells in straggling white letters that Mrs. A. Richardson, a rough packing-case manufacturer, lives there - happened at about six o'clock in the morning to go into the back yard. The yard is reached by three stone steps leading from the passage, the steps having on their left the fence separating the yard from the next, and this fence the door - which opens outward, shutting off the passage from the back yard - nearly touches when open. So soon as he had arrived at the top of the first step, Davis saw lying between the steps and the fence - a space of some three feet - a site which froze his blood with horror. A woman lay there with her clothes so disarranged as to expose her knees drawn up as if in agony, together with the lower portion of the abdomen, which had been mutilated in a frightful manner, the intestines, with the viscera and the heart, having been literally torn out of the mangled body and laid by her side. The head of the woman was turned back, revealing an enormous gash, so broad and so deep as almost to have severed the connection with the body. The face - that of a woman of about forty - was deadly white, and the hair, which was wavy brown, was slightly disarranged. Portions of the flesh on the lower part of the body hung in shreds, the dress being bespattered with blood - as, indeed, was a portion of the fencing, as if it had received a spurt from a severed artery - beside the woman two pools of blood had formed, and upon her shoulders were splashes of blood and some of the viscera. Her head was lying towards the house, and her feet towards the end of the yard. The police were at once communicated with, and the horribly mutilated remains conveyed on a stretcher to the mortuary at Eagle-place, Montague-street, where they were deposited in the same black shell which, a week before, held the mutilated corpse of Polly Nicholls. A closer examination of the remains of Annie Chapman - for such her name proved to be, although she was more generally known in the neighbourhood as Dark Annie, or Annie Sievey, by reason of her having at one time lived with a sieve-maker in Dorset-street, Commercial-street - by Mr. G. B. Phillips, of Spitalfields, the divisional surgeon, clearly demonstrated that, as in the case of Polly Nicholls, the throat had been first cut - not hacked, but clearly cut from left to right, as if by a practiced hand - and that the corpse had been mutilated subsequent to death. One other important fact was the surgeon able to glean, which discounted the groundless stories of the murdered woman having been seen at five o'clock that morning, and that was that death had taken place fully two hours before the first discovery of the body - probably between three and four o'clock on the Saturday morning. To describe the scenes which took place on that Saturday morning - when the eyes of the metropolis on the bright sunshiny day were turned, as if by one accord, to that little mortuary off grimy Montague-street, with its black shell inside, and its heap of rags - for they were little more - from which the blood of the murdered woman slowly oozed and dripped, would be well nigh impossible. To say that the whole neighbourhood - nay, that the whole of East London - was terror-stricken, conveys but a feint idea of the panic which existed. That a murder should have taken place almost under the very noses of the thickly-planted police who had been specially stationed to watch the neighbourhood after the affair at Buck's-row; that the murder should be accompanied by such horrible and distinctive mutilation as to at all identify the murderer of Polly Nichols as the murderer of Annie Chapman; that a woman's life should have been sacrificed and her body so foully outraged while nearly a score of people were within ear-shot, and yet no scream - no half-stifled cry for help even - should have reached them; that some hundreds of busy market people should have been passing and re-passing not 20 yards away, and yet should not have the slightest suspicion of the horrible crime which was being perpetrated - considerations such as these, and the painfully, deep, and apparently unfathomable mystery which surrounded the whole affair, made women who were miles away shrink back to their houses terror-stricken, and made even strong men glance uneasily about, while yet they clenched their brawny hands and muttered vengeance upon the perpetrator of so ghastly a deed. Stories began to circulate fast and furiously among the thousands of people who crowded the street, of the murdered woman having been seen drinking at five o'clock in the morning at a public-house, and of a skull-cap and a horrible face having obtruded itself inside the door, and called the woman away to her doom; while others told, with great circumstance and detail, of how a man had been watched by the landlady of another public house, while he emptied a pewter-pot at seven o'clock in the morning; and of how, when conscious that his torn and blood-stained blue-check shirt and his blood-covered hands were being narrowly watched, he pulled his hat over his eyes and slunk away rapidly. With stories such as these was the public imagination fed until every man imagined himself a detective, and looked abroad for a suspicious character. And then other stories began to be told - not by the people, but by the police themselves, and founded only too well upon facts. They showed how high the public passion was against the murderer of Annie Chapman, Polly Nicholls, Martha Tabram, and the poor unfortunate of Osborn-street - for all four were laid at the door of the one man. Men who bore the slightest resemblance to the portraits of the guilty party formed in the wild imagination of the spectators, were unmercifully chased and hounded through the streets until they sought the protection of the police, or satisfied the crowds of their innocence.
For the third time within about four weeks the coroner sat in the Alexandra Room of the Working Lad's Institute, Whitechapel, on Monday, to inquire into the mysterious and horrible death of an unfortunate - this time, Annie Chapman. The room was filled, as usual, by the jurymen - eighteen in all - the police, who included Inspectors Helson and Chandler, and a large number of reporters and messengers. The jury viewed the corpse at the mortuary in Eagle-place, Montague-street, in charge of Mr. Banks, the coroner's officer, but the site presented was scarcely so horrible as that of Polly Nicholls - all evidence of the outrage to which the deceased had been subjected being concealed by a white shroud.
On returning to the room, the first witness called was John Davis, an elderly man, with a decided stoop, who said: I am a carman employed at Leadenhall Market, I have lodged at 29 Hanbury-street, for a fortnight, and I occupied the top front room on the third floor with my wife and three sons, who live me. On Friday night I went to bed at about eight o'clock, and my wife followed about half an hour later. My sons came to bed at different times, the last one at about a quarter to eleven. There is a weaving shed window, or light, across the room. It was not open during the night. I was awake from three a.m. to five a.m. on Saturday, and then fell asleep until a quarter to six, when the clock at Spitalfields Church struck. I had a cup of tea and went downstairs to the back yard. The house faces Hanbury-street, with one window on the ground floor and a front door at the side leading into a passage which runs through into the yard. There is a back door at the end of this passage opening into the yard. Neither of the doors was able to be locked. Anyone who knows where the latch of the front door is, could open it and go along the passage into the back yard. On Saturday morning I found it shut. I cannot say whether it was latched - I cannot remember. I have been too much upset. The front street door was wide open and thrown against the wall. I was not surprised to find the front door open, as it was not unusual. I opened the back door and stood in the entrance. It is a large yard. Facing the door, on the opposite side, on my left as I was standing, there is a shed, in which Mrs. Richardson keeps her wood. In the right-hand corner there is a closet. The yard is separated from the next premises on both sides by close wooden fencing, about 5ft. 6in. high. There was a little recess on the left. From the steps to the fence is about 3ft. There are three stone steps, unprotected, leading from the door to the yard, which is at a lower level than that of the passage. Directly I opened the door I saw a woman lying down in the left-hand recess, between the stone steps and the fence. She was on her back, with her head towards the house and her legs towards the wood shed. The clothes were up to her groins. I did not go into the yard, but left the house by the front door, and called the attention of two men to the circumstance. They work at Mr. Bailey's, a packing-case maker, of Hanbury-street. I do not know their names, but I know them by site. Mr. Bailey's is three doors off 29 Hanbury-street, on the same side of the road. The two men were waiting outside the workshop. They came into the passage, and saw the sight. They did not go into the yard, but ran to find a policeman. We all came out of the house together. I went to the Commercial-street Police-station to report the case. No one in the house was informed by me of what I had discovered. I told the inspector at the police-station, and after a while I returned to Hanbury-street, but did not re-enter the house. As I passed I saw constables there.
Amelia Palmer, the next witness, a pale dark-haired woman, who was poorly clad, said: I live at 35, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, a common lodging-house. Off and on I have stayed there three years. I am married to Henry Palmer, a dock labourer. He was foreman, but met with an accident at the beginning of the year. I go out charring. My husband gets a pension, having been in the Army Reserve. I knew the deceased very well, for quite five years. I saw the body on Saturday at the mortuary, and am quite sure that it is that of Annie Chapman. She was a widow, and her husband, Frederick Chapman, was a veterinary surgeon in Windsor. He died about eighteen months ago. Deceased had lived apart from him for about four years or more. She lived in various places, principally in common lodging-houses in Spitalfields. I never knew her to have a settled home. About two years ago she lived at 30, Dorset-street, with a man who made wire sieves, and at that time she was receiving 10s. a week from her husband by Post Office Order, payable to her at Commercial-road. This payment stopped about eighteen months ago, and she then found, on inquiry of some relative, that her husband was dead. I am under the impression that she ascertained this fact either from a brother or sister of her husband in Oxford-street, Whitechapel. She was nick-named "Mrs. Sivvy," because she lived with the sieve maker. I know the man perfectly well, but don't know his name. I saw him last about eighteen months ago, in the City, and he told me that he was living at Notting-hill. I saw deceased two or three times last week. On Monday, she was standing in the road opposite 35, Dorset-street. She had been staying there, and had no bonnet on. She had a bruise on one of her temples - I think the right. I said, "How did you get that?" She said, "Yes, look at my chest." Opening her dress, she showed me a bruise. She said, "Do you know the woman?" and gave some name which I do not remember. She made me understand that it was a woman who goes about selling books. Both this woman and the deceased were acquainted with a man called "Harry the Hawker." Chapman told me that she was with some other man, Ted Stanley, on Saturday, September 1. Stanley is a very respectable man. Deceased said she was with him at a beer-shop, 87, Commercial-street, at the corner of Dorset-street, where "Harry the Hawker" was with the woman. This man put down a two shilling piece, and the woman picked it up and put down a penny. There was some feeling in consequence, and the same evening the book-selling woman met the deceased and injured her in the face and chest. When deceased told me this, she said she was living at 35, Dorset-street. On the Tuesday afternoon I saw Chapman again near to Spitalfields Church. She said she felt no better, and she should go into the casual ward for a day or two. I remarked that she looked very pale, and asked her if she had had anything to eat. She replied, "No, I have not had a cup of tea to-day." I gave her twopence to get some, and told her not to get any rum, of which she was fond. I have seen her the worse for drink. She used to do crochet work, make anti-macassars, and sell flowers. She was out late at night at times. On Fridays she used to go to Stratford to sell anything she had. I did not see her from the Tuesday to the Friday, 7th inst., when I met her about five o'clock in Dorset-street. She appeared to be perfectly sober. I said, "Are you going to Stratford to-day?" She answered, "I feel too ill to do anything." I left her immediately afterwards, and returned about ten minutes later, and found her in the same spot. She said, "It is of no use my going away. I shall have to go somewhere to get some money to pay my lodgings". She said no more, and that was the last time that I saw her. Deceased stated that she had been in the casual ward, but did not say which one. She did not say she had been refused admission. Deceased was a very industrious woman when she was sober. I have seen her often the worse for drink. She could not take much without making her drunk. She had been living a very irregular life during the whole time that I have known her. Since the death of her husband she has seemed to give way altogether. I understand that she had a sister and mother living at Brompton, but I do not think they were on friendly terms. I have never known her to stay with her relatives even for a night. On the Monday she observed: "If my sister will send me the boots, I shall go hopping." She had two children - a boy and a girl. They were at Windsor until her husband's death, and since then they have been in a school. Deceased was a very respectable woman, and never used bad language. She has stayed out in the streets all night.
Timothy Donovan, of 35 Dorset-street, Spitalfields, said: I am the deputy of a common lodging-house. I have seen the body of the deceased, and have identified it as that of a woman who stayed at my house for the last four months. She was not there last week until Friday afternoon, between two and three o'clock. I was coming out of the office after getting up, and she asked me if she could go down in the kitchen, and I said "Yes," and asked where she had been all the week. She replied that she had been in the infirmary, but did not say which. Deceased went down in the kitchen, and he did not see her again until half past one or a quarter to two on Saturday morning. At that time I was sitting in my office which faces the front door. She went into the kitchen. I sent the watchman's wife, who was in the office with me, downstairs to ask her husband about the bed. Deceased came upstairs to the office and said, "I have not sufficient money for my bed. Don't let it. I shan't be long before I am in." It was eightpence for the night. The bed she occupied, No. 29, was the one that she usually occupied. Deceased was then eating potatoes, and went out. She stood in the door two or three minutes, and then repeated, "Never mind, Tim: I shall soon be back. Don't let the bed." It was then about ten minutes to two a.m. She left the house, going in the direction of Brushfield-street. John Evans, the watchman, saw her leave the house. I did not see her again. She had had enough drink: of that I am certain. She walked straight. Generally on Saturdays she was the worse for drink. She was very sociable in the kitchen. I said to her, "You can find money for your beer, and you can't find money for your bed." She said she had been only to the top of the street - where there is a public-house. She used to come and stay at the lodging-house on Saturdays with a man of soldierly appearance, whose name I do not know. At other times she has come with other men, and I have refused her. The pensioner told me not to let her a bed if she came with any other man. She did not come with a man that night. I never saw her with any man that week. The beds are double at 8d. per night, and, as a rule, deceased occupied one of them by herself. The pensioner was last with deceased at the lodging-house on Sunday, Sept. 2nd. I cannot say whether they left together. I have heard the deceased say, "Tim, wait a minute. I am just going up the street to see if I can see him." She added that he was going to draw his pension. This occurred on Saturday, August 25th, at 3 a.m. I never heard deceased call the man by any name. He was between forty and forty-five years of age, about 5ft. 6in. or 5ft. 8in. in height. Sometimes he would be dressed as a dock labourer: at other times he had a gentlemanly appearance. His hair was rather dark. I believe she always used to find him at the top of the street. Deceased was on good terms with the lodgers. About Tuesday, Aug. 28th, she and another woman had a row in the kitchen. I saw them both outside. As far as I know she was not injured at that time. I heard from the watchman that she had had a clout. I noticed a day or two afterwards, on the Thursday, that she had a slight touch of a black eye. She said, "Tim, this is lovely," but did not explain how she got it. The bruise was to be seen on Friday last. I know the other woman, but not her name. Her husband hawks laces and other things.
John Evans, the next witness, testified: I am night watchman at 35, Dorset-street, and have identified the deceased as having lived at the lodging-house. I last saw her there on Saturday morning, and she left at about a quarter to two o'clock. I was sent down in the kitchen to see her, and she said she had not sufficient money. When she went upstairs I followed her, and as she left the house, I watched her go through a court called Paternoster-street into Brushfield-street, and then turn towards Spitalfields Church. Deceased was the worse for drink, but not badly so. She came in soon after twelve (midnight), when she said she had been over to her sister's in Vauxhall. She sent one of the lodgers for a pint of beer, and then went out again, returning shortly before a quarter to two. I knew she had been living a rough night life. She associated with a man - a pensioner - every Saturday, and this individual called on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and inquired for the deceased. He had heard something about her death, and came to see if it was true. I do not know his name or address. When I told him what had occurred he went straight out, without saying a word, towards Spitalfields Church. I did not see deceased and this man leave the house last Sunday week. On Thursday, Aug. 30th, deceased had a row in the kitchen with a woman known as "Eliza", at 11:30 a.m. They were quarreling about a piece of soap, and Chapman received a blow in the chest. I noticed that she had a slight black eye. There are marks on the body in a similar position. I have never heard any one threaten her nor her express fear of any one. I have never heard any one of the women in the lodging-house say that they had been threatened.
The neighbouring clocks had just struck two on Wednesday afternoon when Mr. Wynne Baxter, the Coroner - still dressed in his resplendent white waistcoat, check trousers, and crimson tie - entered the Alexandra Room of the Working Lads' Institute, which was already crowded with a large assemblage of pressmen, artists, and messengers. These, with the eighteen jurymen, formed an almost uncomfortably large audience, commodious as was the room. For a time the Coroner remained seated, while he discussed the fresh aspects of the murder with Inspector Helson, and his officer, Mr. Banks, and then, the decision having apparently ended satisfactorily, the jury were again sworn. They included Messrs. Crossman, Knight, Upson, Thorpe, Hunt, Statham, Mead, Hawkins, Wood, Ford, Latier, McCarthy, Neville, Chaplin, Kemp, Souden, and Birks. The first witness called was F. Smith, one of the brothers of the deceased woman, a tall man, with dark hair and a heavy brown moustache - evidently about thirty years old. He wore a dark morning coat, black and white striped trousers, and, evidently considerably downcast at the identification of his sister, gave his evidence in a low voice. The next witness was James Cable, a man from Shadwell. A youngish-looking man, with a bullet head and closely cropped hair, and a sandy close-cut moustache; he wore a long overcoat that had once been green, and into the pockets of which he persistently stuck his hands. He had a peculiar habit of lowering his neck into the blue and white spotted neckerchief which encased it when not under examination, and jerking it out suddenly whenever he was called upon to answer a question. He was a very independent witness, and answered every question loudly and roughly, and without even designating the Coroner as "sir". A very demonstrative witness, too, was he, and his description of the finding of the body of Annie Chapman was a pantomimic repetition of the part which he enacted on being called to the scene by John Davis. When describing the wound to the throat of the murdered woman, too, he brought his neckerchief up to his throat and realistically described how the handkerchief found on the woman seemed "soaked into her throat." Then, unloosening his neckerchief, and extending his arms and fingers slightly upwards, he personified the position of the victim's hands on her discovery. When he had arrived at the discovery of the body, indeed, the hands of the witness were kept in constant motion - describing alternately, in pantomime show, how the intestines of the woman were thrown slightly over the left shoulder, and what position the body precisely occupied in the yard. James Green, a fellow workman of the last witness, was quite the reverse of his predecessor - quiet and inactive. He stood with his hands behind him holding his coat-tails. Of medium height, his hair was cut short and neatly plastered down, while the freshness of his color was somewhat added to by the black and red scarf which encircled his neck. He wore a long black coat and corduroy trousers, and seemed greatly relieved when he was allowed to take his seat beside the police and witnesses. Amelia Richardson took her stand before the Coroner next. She was a somewhat undersized woman, with a pale face and dark hair, just beginning to get streaked with grey. Her dress was very neat for her position in life, consisting as it did of a skirt of dark material, a heavy black dolman, and a black silk bonnet with violet trimmings. Unlike the majority of female witnesses, she was neither excited, nor rambling in her answers, but replied clearly and directly to the questions of the Coroner. This was more particularly evident when she accurately rattled off to the Coroner the names and businesses of all the lodgers in the house. Mrs. Richardson was under examination for fully half-an-hour, during which time the Coroner had pretty well exhausted all the questions that suggested themselves to him, and began - as is his usual custom - to pass his hands through his short black hair, without any result. Mary Hardman, the proprietress of the cat's meat store kept on the ground floor of the house near which the murder was committed in Hanbury-street, accordingly took her place. She was a medium-sized, well-proportioned woman, with a very pale face and a curiously rounded chin, and dressed in a black skirt, blue body, white apron, black shawl, and a black crape-trimmed bonnet. Her evidence was not very material, and she was soon replaced by John Richardson, a tall, stout man, with a very pale face - the result, doubtless, of the early hours he keeps as a market porter - a brown moustache, and dark brown hair. He was shabbily dressed in a ragged coat, and dark brown trousers. He was another motionless witness, giving his evidence quietly - as quietly, at all events, as was consistent with a severe cold and a very hoarse voice. The Coroner was very severe on him over the story of the knife with which he had cut a piece of leather off his boot before five o'clock on Friday morning, on the stone steps near which the body was found. He wanted to know why he had the knife, why he should put a table knife in his pocket, and altogether made the witness look very uneasy and very uncomfortable. His discomfort was increased when, at the suggestion of the Coroner, he was sent off in charge of Inspector Chandler to find the knife with which he had cut the leather off his boot. Mrs. Richardson having been recalled to undergo another severe examination with regard to the leather apron which was found hanging near the yard, John Piser [Pizer], who admitted that his nickname was "Leather Apron", was brought in by Sergt. Thicke, and having been sworn in Hebrew, proceeded to give his evidence. He was a man of about five feet four inches, with a dark-hued face, which was not altogether pleasant to look upon by reason of the grizzly black strips of hair, nearly an inch in length, which almost covered the face. The thin lips, too, had a cruel, sardonic kind of look, which was increased, if anything, by the drooping, dark moustache and side whiskers. His hair was short, smooth and dark, intermingled with grey, and his head was slightly bald on the top. The head was large, and was fixed to the body by a thick, heavy-looking neck. Piser wore a dark overcoat, brown trousers, and a brown and very battered hat, and appeared somewhat splay-footed - at all events, he stood before the Coroner with his feet meeting at the heels, and then diverging almost at right angles. His evidence was given quietly and distinctly were it not for the thick, guttural foreign accent. He stood for a long time undecided, however, when the Coroner asked him where he was on 30th August. He asked the Coroner first to tell him what day that was, and otherwise to help him, which Mr. Baxter readily did, and finally, he identified it as being the night of the London Dock fire, on which night, at a quarter-past two, he went into Crossman's Lodging-house, in the middle of the Holloway-road, going out at eleven o'clock on the same day. He then went, in detail, into all his doings on that night, and stated that he retired to bed about three o'clock, and was up at eleven o'clock. He was firm also in his statement that he had been indoors at 22, Mulberry-street, between Thursday last week and the time of his arrest. Detective-sergeant Wm. Thicke, otherwise known as "Johnny Upright", who was "flashily" attired in a suit of loud checks, was a fresh-coloured, youngish-looking man, with dark hair and a heavy, drooping brown moustache. He merely proved the arrest and release of Piser, and then took his seat besides that individual on a form at the back of the room. John Richardson having returned at this point, red and out of breath, produced the rusty little table knife without a handle, which was closely examined by the jury without remark. Henry John Holland - a thin, sickly-looking youth, with straw-coloured hair - who, clad in a rusty-black suit and a red neckerchief, stood, hat in hand, and half frightened, before the Coroner, gave merely formal evidence as to seeing the body.
To briefly summarise the evidence, the first witness, F. Smith, seemed to speak with great reluctance, and in so low a tone that few of the jury could have heard anything of it. The publicity into which he was so painfully dragged was evidently very distasteful to him. He simply proved the identity of the murdered woman. - James Kent, a packing-case maker, said he was one of those called in by the man Davis, who had first made discovery of the body. - James Green was another, and the questions put to him turned mainly on the probability of anybody having touched the body before the police arrived; but he added nothing very material in the way of information. - Mrs. Richardson, who has been alluded to as the landlady of the house, but who explained that she herself rented only a part of it, and sublet some of the rooms, gave evidence turning chiefly on the tenants of the place. She herself had the first floor front and the downstairs back, in which she was accustomed to hold a weekly prayer meeting. On the first floor back lived an elderly man with an imbecile son 37 years of age. She heard no noise during the night of the murder, though if there had been any, she would certainly have heard it. She affirmed, and when afterwards recalled repeated, that she had no knowledge of the yard or the staircase being resorted to for improper purposes; but her son, a rough-looking young man, unaware, it may be presumed, of the line his mother's examination had taken, stoutly affirmed that both yard and staircase had been so used; and when subsequently recalled he not only repeated his statement, but added that his mother had been made aware of it. - Mrs. Hardiman, the proprietress of the cat's meat shop on the ground floor, added nothing of importance. - John Richardson, the young man already alluded to, was closely examined as to his business in the yard on the morning of the murder. Richardson's appearance and his hoarse voice were not altogether pre-possessing, and the Coroner appeared to think the circumstances of his visit required explanation. It was not quite daylight, and he went in to see that the cellar was locked. He admitted that he had a largish knife in his coat pocket, and that all he did in the yard was to glance at the padlock of the cellar, and cut a piece of leather off his boot. The knife he was sent back to fetch was impounded, but he came on the whole very well out of his cross-examination. - The next witness was quite unexpected, and created some little sensation. He took the oath in the Hebrew fashion, and answered all questions in a perfectly calm, clear voice, but with the deliberation of a man who had just been in deadly peril, and still felt the need of the utmost caution. He explained that he had on Thursday night last gone to the house in which his brother, sister, and stepmother lived, and he had never left them till he was apprehended, "You were the subject of suspicion, were you not?" inquired the Coroner. "I was the subject of a - false suspicion," replied Piser, "speaking very distinctly and making an emphatic pause". The Coroner thought he had not been well advised in staying in. "I will tell you why," promptly retorted the man, speaking with quiet impressiveness, "I should have been torn to pieces." He wished, he said, to vindicate his character to the whole world, and Mr. Baxter informed him that he had been brought there partly to give him an opportunity of doing so. His account of himself was perfectly straightforward, and the Coroner explained that his statements had been corroborated. Upon this the foreman of the jury observed that he and his fellow jurymen considered that the witness had cleared himself, and Piser, evidently well pleased, returned his thanks, and bowed all round. His evidence showed beyond doubt that this insignificant, quiet-speaking man, with his plain tale, really was the dreadful and mysterious "Leather Apron" whose reputation had made thousands quake with terror.
When the inquest was resumed on Thursday afternoon at the Institute - with all the surroundings which characterised it on the previous day - Inspector Chandler, of the H Division - a tall, dark man - was called, and merely deposed to being called to, and finding the body, on which he found a piece of coarse muslin, a small-tooth comb, and a small comb in a paper case - all of which were produced - together with a portion of an envelope containing two pills, and having on it an embossed seal with the words, "Sussex Regiment," and having the postmark, "London, August 3, 1888." There were, he also added, stains of blood on the palings near the body. - Police-sergeant Venner, deposed to taking the body on a stretcher to the mortuary, while Robert Mansel, the mortuary keeper, testified to finding a handkerchief in a corner of the mortuary, which was afterwards identified as belonging to the deceased, Timothy Donovan, the deputy of the lodging-house having next been recalled, Mr. George Baxter Phillips, divisional surgeon of police, said: On Saturday morning I was sent for at 6:20 to go to 29, Hanbury-street. I found the dead body of a female in the possession of the police lying in the back yard on the left hand of the steps leading into the yard. The legs were brought up, the feet resting on the ground and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned to the right side, the tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen. The small intestines and other portions of the stomach were lying on the right side on the ground above the right shoulder, attached by a coil of intestine to the rest of the stomach. There was a large quantity of blood, with a part of the stomach over the left shoulder. The body was cold except that there was some remaining heat under the intestines left in the body. The stiffness of the body was not marked, but it had commenced. The throat was deeply cut. I noticed that the incision of the skin was ragged, and reached right round the neck. There were about six patches of blood on the back wall of the house, and on the wooden paling there were smears of blood corresponding to where the head lay. These were about 14 inches from the ground, clotted blood was near the severed throat of the deceased. At two o'clock of the same day I went to the labour yard of the Whitechapel Union for the purpose of further examining the body. The body had probably been partially washed. There was a bruise over the right temple and on the upper eyelid. There were other bruises on the chest. The stiffness of the limbs is now well marked. The finger nails were turgid. There were abrasions on the ring finger. On the head being opened, the membranes of the brain were found to be opaque, and the veins loaded with blood of a dark character. There was a large quantity of fluid between the membranes and the substance of the brain. The throat had been cut from the left side. The cause of death arose from the throat being cut. I should say that the same instrument was used for cutting the throat as for the after mutilations. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin blade, from six to eight inches in length - probably longer. It could not have been a bayonet or a sword bayonet. The knife might have been one such as a slaughterer uses, well ground down. I think the knives used by cobblers would not have been long enough. There were indications of anatomical knowledge displayed by the person who mutilated the corpse. A portion of the body from the abdomen was missing. The mode in which the intestines were abstracted showed some anatomical knowledge, but there was also evidence of haste. The deceased had been dead at least two hours - probably more. - The inquiry was adjourned until Wednesday next at two o'clock.
Never, since the day - now many years ago - when the metropolis resounded with the story of horrible barbarity practiced upon the dead body of Harriet Lane, have the streets of East London presented such an appearance of mingled excitement, awe, and indignation, until within the last few days. Poor murdered Polly Nicholls, lying butchered outside the Essex Wharf in Buck's-row, was bad enough in all conscience, and sent every spectator of the spot where the body was found away with a desire for vengeance against the perpetrator of so foul a deed; but the latest butchery of Annie Chapman at Hanbury-street has driven the inhabitants of Whitechapel nearly crazy. The murder - or rather, the series of murders, because the perpetration of all four by one common author has become a fact as generally accepted as the earth's rotundity - has been the one all-absorbing topic of conversation in East London since Saturday morning. When the factories, workshops, warehouses, and counting-houses began at mid-day to let loose their thousands of workers, and the story of the horrible discovery at Hanbury-street was first bruited amongst them, there were but few inclined to believe it. By with the confirmation of the story given by the advent of the evening papers, the half-amused, half-angry looks on men's faces, as who should say, "It's a grim story, mate, but a trifle too far-fetched to be true," faded. Every newsagent within two miles of the scene of the tragedy concurs in saying that never, in the whole of his experience, has there been such a run on the evening papers. Crowds waited outside the shops until fresh supplies had been brought in, while around those who were successful in obtaining copies gathered yet other crowds, who read with many a muttered exclamation of indignation, the revolting details of the murder. And as the evening wore on, and others who had just closed work were made acquainted with the news, the excitement increased apace. Rumours of other murders were set afloat, and gained no small amount of credence, until East London became panic-stricken - for there is no other term to describe the aimless, frightened way in which people paraded the crowded thoroughfares. Reports of numerous arrests, too, were made, and thousands of people assembled outside the Leman-street, Commercial-street, and Bethnal Green Police Stations, and shouted and hooted for the murderer of Annie Chapman. And the shouts for vengeance which went up from some thousands of throats on Saturday afternoon were no idle threats. The population of London was in no mood then for idle threats or idle words.
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The vendors of a doggerel ditty meant at first to describe the details of the Buck's-row tragedy, but slightly and ingeniously altered in order to include that of Hanbury-street, reaped a rich harvest of coppers, but by no means so large as that obtained by the proprietor of a small waxworks concern in the Whitechapel-road, who, by daubing a few streaks of red paint over three sadly mutilated figures that have done duty on many previous occasions, and by exhibiting three horrible-looking pictures outside his establishment, contrived to induce several hundreds of the gullible public to pay their pennies and witness the "George-yard, Buck's-row and 'Anbury-street wictims." But his triumph was short-lived, for a police-inspector, with some respect for decency, had the pictures hauled down, and left the waxworks proprietor using the whole of his h-less and ungrammatical, if strong, vocabulary against the police in general, and that police inspector in particular. But with the closing of the shops and the removal of the flaring lamps of the stalls, what a stampede there was from the main roads. Everybody seemed to fly for protection to their own homes, and few but the thickly-planted police were left in possession of the roads after half-past twelve. On Sunday the excitement was renewed; nothing was heard from the passing crowds in the streets but "Hanbury-street," "Buck's-row," "George-yard," and "Leather Apron," and late in the evening the streets again wore an unusually and unnaturally deserted aspect. Truly, it was a reign of terror unprecedented in the history of East London.
On Saturday in several quarters of East London the crowds who had assembled in the streets began to assume a very threatening attitude towards the Hebrew population of the district. It was repeatedly asserted that no Englishman could have perpetrated such a horrible crime as that of Hanbury-street, and that it must have been done by a Jew - and forthwith the crowds proceeded to threaten and abuse such of the unfortunate Hebrews as they found in the streets. Happily, the presence of the large number of police in the streets prevented a riot actually taking place. "If the panic-stricken people who cry 'Down with the Jews' because they imagine that a Jew has committed the horrible and revolting crimes which have made Whitechapel a place to be dreaded knew anything at all of the Jewish horror of blood itself, writes a correspondent, they would pause before they invoked destruction on the head of a peaceful and law-abiding people. Since the return of the Jews to England in 1649, only two Jews have been hanged for murder, Marks and Lipski, and taking into consideration the origin of many of the poor wretches who fly to this country from foreign persecution, this is a very remarkable record. That the beast that has made East London a terror is not a Jew I feel assured. There is something too horrible, too unnatural, too un-Jewish, I would say, in the terrible series of murders for an Israelite to be the murderer. There never was a Jew yet who could have steeped himself in such loathsome horrors as those to which publicity has been given. His nature revolts at blood-guiltiness, and the whole theory and practical working of the Whitechapel butchery are opposed to Jewish character".
The man Piser - otherwise known as "Leather Apron" - who lives at Mulberry-street, was arrested by Sergeant Thicke at his residence, as also was a man named Piggott, at Gravesend, by Sergeant Berry. Piggott, whose clothes were blood-stained. He confessed to having been in Brick-lane on Saturday morning, but it being proved that he was insane, he was sent to the Whitechapel Infirmary, where he has remained during the week, under the care of Doctor Lardner and in the charge of a police-constable. Piser, having been very severely catechized as to his whereabouts on certain days, was liberated from Leman-street Police Station this week, and was warmly received by his friends in Mulberry-street. Both of these - at one time - suspicious characters having been disposed of, the police have busily engaged ever since in hunting up fresh clues, without, however, any very great success - greatly to the disappointment and alarm of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, who are convinced that the murderer, whoever he may be, has not yet finished his ghastly work. As explained in another column, however, the neighbourhood, and, indeed the whole of the East End is very thickly studded with police and detectives, while the details of the previous murders are so familiar to everybody, that every suspicious character will be closely watched, and he will find it next to impossible to - even should he attempt it - to perpetrate another crime with same secrecy as others. Indeed, the more frequent the crimes, the more closely is the murderer drawing the halter round his neck. The area over which the police inquiries extend is gradually being lessened until now they are fairly convinced that they have formed a complete network round the hiding place of the murderer. Their reason this belief is, that the Hanbury-street murder having been committed at a time, and in such a manner, that the perpetrator could not fail to have stained his clothes with blood, and it was next to impossible for him to have walked far in daylight, and in a busy neighbourhood in such a condition without being recognised. The theories then at which the police have arrived are briefly these: 1. That the murderer resides or lodges at but a very short distance from Hanbury-street. 2. That the motive of the crimes not being plunder, the murderer belongs to the middle or even to the upper classes. 3. That the horrible mutilations on the bodies, inflicted without any apparent cause, point to the murderer as being either a man of deep and strong passions, or slightly demented, and not improbably suffering from a form of epilepsy. 4. That the clean manner in which all the wounds have been cut, the knowledge displayed, as in the Hanbury-street crime, of the vital parts, and the laying out of the viscera and heart by the side of the victim as if for inspection, point to the murderer as being - not a butcher, for the wounds would have been different - but one who is handy in the use of the knife, who has studied anatomy, and has not improbably used a dissecting knife before; and (5) that if the man is demented, he must have a special dislike against the class of unfortunates amongst whom he has found his victims. Acting on these theories, and working in and around the scene of the murder, the police are confident of eventually securing their man.
To the Editor of the East London Observer.
SIR, - As the above lamentable affair is creating vast exciting interest in this end of London, it may not be known to many of your readers how inadequately the streets of the East End are lighted. My professional duties frequently call me out at midnight, and during the early hours of the morning, when the streets are almost entirely deserted save by the guardians of the peace; and how it is possible for them to keep proper guard over life and property under the existing dingy lighting, does not seem difficult to surmise. Under the present system it is impossible to discern objects, even at a near distance. Such sad occurrences as the above should in some way arouse the latent energies of our local Boards in adopting an adequate and scientific system of lighting by means of reflectors and otherwise, and thus lucubrate all courts and turnings likely to afford obscurity. The more reliance we place in the police, the more likely we are to remain unprotected, unless we assist in adopting individual care, and thus help to maintain a social protection. Increase of punishment must necessarily bring about increase of wanton and dastardly crime. In order to remedy this, our moral and intellectual faculties should be strengthened, instead of placing so much reliance upon physical force. I am sure we East Enders can boast that our police protection does not equal that of other parts of London, especially the City and West End, with its military array. - I am, sir, yours obediently,
M. CURSHAM CORNER,
113, Mile End-road, E.