East London Observer
Saturday, 6 October 1888.
It is useless to attempt to disguise the fact that the murders, of which the East of London has been the scene, have had the effect of causing considerable perturbation and alarm, for the most ready and quite natural inference drawn from such a repetition of horrors is that our police arrangements are by no means so complete as they were believed to be, and that inhabitants of the eastern districts are inadequately protected. This feeling has manifested itself in several ways, and during the week it has found expression in formal resolutions at the meetings of the Whitechapel parochial authorities, the effect of which may be taken as a complaint of inefficiency of police protection. But it must be borne in mind that the last of the crimes was committed within the boundaries of the City of London, where the police arrangements have hitherto been looked upon with confidence, and where the chances of interruption should, in the nature of things, be greater than in the outer districts. It will be well to examine the arrangements with the view of ascertaining if we can reasonably demand an increase in the police for East London, and to this end we have made an attempt to obtain the particulars as to numbers of policemen. There is, however, a disinclination to furnish exact information, and we would suggest that the subject should be taken in hand by the representative authority in each district, simply with the object of ascertaining firstly, whether East London gets value for its money contributed to the police-rate, and secondly, whether the numerical strength and disposition of the force should be improved.
Statements are made, that as the result of the recent atrocious murders, trade is suffering to a marked degree in the Whitechapel district. We trust that this is not so serious as some would have us believe, and that a few days will restore the public mind to its former calmness. It is regretable that so much hysterical nonsense should find its way into print, and that the public should be excited by so many manufactured episodes of a sensational character; but to the thoughtful, there is no very serious ground for alarm, much less for panic, and so far as we can see, the only reasonable doubt that need concern us, is on the point of police supervision. The events which have caused so much excitement are peculiar in their incidence and do not threaten the ordinary inhabitants, or render the passage of any man or woman through the highways of the East of London more open to danger than it has ordinarily been. We know, unfortunately, that the back streets of Whitechapel and the neighbourhood contain a residuum which is hardly consonant with the accepted theories of civilisation. But the number of this class is limited, and they are so distributed that there is no real danger to be apprehended, as the law-abiding subjects preponderate. The mischief, perhaps, of much of what has been said and written of late, may be to suggest to the dangerous class that their opportunities are greater than they had imagined, and if this be the case, it is then that the real danger to the public will commence. To provide against this contingency, it may be well to add to our police staff, and should such a tendency show itself, there must be no squeamishness or modesty in dealing with it. We therefore suggest that the police arrangements should form the subject of inquiry, in committee if thought desirable, by every local authority in the East of London. We repeatedly hear assertions about street assaults and robberies, but have no doubt that there is much exaggeration. Now, however, that the question of adequacy of the police force is to the fore, it would be useful for the local bodies to examine the statements, so as to learn how far the growing feeling of want of confidence in the guardians of peace - so often expressed of late - is justified.
So far as the recent diabolical murders are concerned, we would remind our readers that in each instance they have been committed under circumstances which do not imply danger to the respectable classes. The murderer has found his victims in the middle of the night, and has induced them to accompany him to corners where none but the depraved would resort. The wretched victims to the seeming mania are selected with marvellous definiteness from the lowest class of prostitutes; and these should now be so well on their guard that further attempts on the part of the murderer should result in his capture. At all events, we hope that all who read our columns will agree with us that the ordinary members of society are not in any danger, and that the thoroughfares of Whitechapel are as safe for the general public as ever.
Description of the Victims.
EAST LONDON IN A PANIC.
Extraordinary Revelations at the Inquests.
Still Another Outrage at Berner Street.
While yet the names of Martha Tabram, who was stabbed in 39 places at George-yard: of Mary Ann Nicholls, who was cruelly butchered at Buck's-row: and of Annie Chapman, who was fiendishly mutilated in Hanbury-street, were familiar as household words all over the metropolis as the victims of some mysterious murderer who seems to have prowled about Whitechapel ever since the beginning of August, two more unfortunate women met their death at the same hands, and very much in the same way, early on Sunday last. The first victim - since identified as Elizabeth Watts, or "Long Liz", a Swedish woman, residing in a common lodging-house, 32, Flower and Dean-street - was found lying inside a gateway in Berner-street, a turning off the Commercial-road, inhabited mostly by Polish Jews and low-class labourers, and next to Batty-street, where Israel Lipski found his victim last year. The gates are situated on the right, and about half way down the street. They are ordinary wooden ones, bearing the inscription in white paint, "W. Hindley, sack manufacturer, and A. Dutfield, van and cart builder." (Mr. A. Dutfield has, however, intimated that his business has been removed.) Immediately on the right of the gates is the International Workmen's Educational Club - an ordinary house transformed into a club, and covered with bills in English and Hebrew. One entrance to the club is gained from the street, but there is also a side-entrance a little distance up the gateway mentioned. On entering the gateway a brick wall runs for some distance on the right-hand side, and it was on the footpath here, and by the side of the brick wall, that the first victim was found. Lewis Dienischitz [Diemschutz], who is the steward of the club, found the body, and this is his version of the discovery: "On Saturday," he says, "I left home about half-past eleven in the morning and returned home exactly at one a.m. Sunday morning. I noticed the time at a tobacco shop in the Commercial-road. I was driving a pony harnessed to a costermonger's barrow. I do not keep the pony in the yard of the club, but in George-yard, Cable-street. I drove the barrow home in order to leave my goods there. I drove into the yard. Both gates were open - wide open. It was rather dark there. I drove it in as usual, but as I came into the gate my pony shied to the left, and that made me look at the ground to see what the cause of it was. I could see that there was something unusual on the pavement, but I could not see what it was. It was a dark object. I tried to feel it with the handle of my whip to discover what it was. I tried to lift it up with it. As I could not I jumped down at once and struck a match. It was rather windy, and I could not get a light sufficient to show that it was the figure of some person, whom by the dress I knew to be a woman. I took no further notice of it, but went into the club and asked where my missus was. I found her in the front-room on the ground floor. I left the pony in the yard by itself just outside the club door. My wife was with several of the members of the club. I told them, 'There is a woman lying in the yard, but I cannot say whether she is drunk or dead.' I then got a candle and went down. By that light I could see there was blood even before I reached the body. I did not touch the body, but went off at once for the police. I passed several streets without seeing a policeman, and returned without one. As I returned a man whom I had met in Grove-street, and who had come back with me, lifted up the deceased's head, and then for the first time I saw the wound in her throat. Just at that time Eagle, a member of the club, and the constables arrived. I did not notice anything or anybody suspicious as I made my way to the club in my pony cart. The doctors arrived about ten minutes after the constables. The police afterwards took our names and addresses and searched everybody. The clothes of the deceased were in order as far as I could see. She was lying on her side with her face towards the wall of the club; at least I am sure she was lying with her face to the wall. As soon as the police came I ceased to take any interest in the affair, and went on with my duties at the club. I did not notice in what position the hands of the deceased were. I only noticed that the doctor, when he came, unbuttoned the dress of the deceased, and, putting his hand on her bosom, told a constable standing by that she was quite warm. He told the constable to place his hand there, and he did so. There appeared to me to have been about two quarts of blood on the ground. It seemed to have run up the yard from her neck. The body was lying about a foot from the club wall. I have never seen men and women together in the yard by the club, nor have I heard of anybody seeing such a thing. It would have been quite possible for a man to have escaped from the yard while I was driving up to the club door, but after I had told the members what I had seen nobody, I think, could have escaped." William West and others were in the yard at about half-past twelve, but saw nobody lying there, from which it must be presumed that the murder took place about a quarter to one o'clock. The body was afterwards conveyed to the St. George's East mortuary, where it was inspected by Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon of police, and the jury, who commenced the inquest upon it at the St. George's Vestry Hall on Monday, under Mr. Wynne Baxter.
At a quarter to two o'clock on the same morning, Police-constable Edward Watkins, 881, of the City Police, on passing through Mitre-square, Aldgate - a small square containing three or four large warehouses and one dwelling-house, occupied by a policeman, and having an entrance on the south by Mitre-street, on the north by Duke-street, and on the west by St. James-place - found in the south-east corner with her head lying on the iron coal-hole, the body of another woman. The woman, who was apparently 40 years of age, was lying on her back quite dead, although the body was still warm. Her head was inclined to the left side, her left leg being extended, while the right was bent. Both arms were extended. The throat was cut half-way round, revealing a dreadful wound, from which blood had flowed in a great quantity, staining the pavement for some distance round. Across the right cheek to the nose was another gash, and a part of the right ear had been cut off. Following the plan in the Hanbury-street murder, the miscreant was not content with merely killing his victim. The poor woman had been completely disembowelled, and part of her intestines had been laid on her neck - just by the wound there. The murdered woman, who was afterwards conveyed to the City mortuary, Golden-lane, was about 40 years of age, about five feet in height, of dark complexion, with auburn hair and hazel eyes, and was dressed in shabby dark clothes. She wore a black-cloth jacket, with imitation fur collar, and three large metal buttons. Her dress was made of green chintz, the pattern consisting of Michaelmas daisies. In addition, she had on a thin white vest, light-drab lindsey skirt, a very old dark-green alpaca petticoat, brown-ribbed stockings mended at the feet with white material, black-straw bonnet trimmed with black beads and grey-and-black velvet and a large white handkerchief round the neck. In the pockets of the dress a peculiar collection of articles was found. Besides a small packet containing tea and other articles which people who frequent the common lodging-houses are accustomed to carry, the police found upon the body a white pocket handkerchief, a blunt bone-handled table-knife, a short clay pipe, and a red cigarette case, with white metal fittings. The knife bore no traces of blood, so could have no connection with the crime.
The appearance of East London early on the Sunday morning so soon as the news of the murders was known - and, indeed, all day - almost baffles description. At ten o'clock, Aldgate and Leadenhall-street, Duke-street, St. James'-place, and Houndsditch were all literally packed with human beings - packed so thick that it was a matter of utter impossibility to pass through. The babel of tongues as each inquired of the other the latest particulars, or the exact locality of the Aldgate murder, or speculated on the character or whereabouts of the murder, was simply deafening. Every window of every inhabited room in the vicinity was thrown open, for the better view of the inmates; and seats at these windows were being openly sold and eagerly bought. On the outskirts of this vast chattering, excited assemblage of humanity, costermongers, who sold everything in the way of edibles, from fish and bread to fruits and sweets, and newspaper vendors whose hoarse cries only added to the confusion of sounds heard on every hand, were doing exceedingly large trades. Entrance to the square was strictly forbidden by the police, who jealously guarded all the three entrances; and yet, that great multitude seemed to derive a kind of morbid satisfaction in standing even so near the scene of the tragedy of a few hours before, and in gazing with a kind of awe upon so much of the dull flagstones of the square as they could see. As the day wore on the crowds increased, considerably diminished between two and four o'clock, and increased again in the evening. In Berner-street, existed a scene of similar excitement. Some thousands of people had gathered about the streets, and stood watching with the same morbid curiosity that distinguished the crowds at Aldgate, what little there was to be seen of the scene of the murder. And all that could be seen was the big wooden gate inside which the woman Watts had met her death, guarded also by a large force of police. Here too, windows were in great demand, and costermongers and newsvendors as they brought out numerous "special editions," which existed only in their own imagination, did a wonderful trade. Large crowds gathered at Mitre-square and Berner-street, on Monday and Tuesday also, and remained discussing together during the day. Apparently too, the denizens of West London have begun to take a lively interest in the doings of the Whitechapel murderer, for since Sunday a very large number of cabs and private carriages containing sightseers have visited the scenes of the tragedies.
Both murders must have been accomplished with an almost unnatural amount of secrecy, and without a cry being heard from either of the victims, judging from the statements made by those who were within a few yards of the place at the time. Neither Morris Eagle, a Russian Jew, Isaac M. Kazebrodski, a Russian Pole, or Abraham Heshburg, who were in the International Working Men's Club at the time, Barnett Kentorrich, whose house (No. 38) adjoins the yard on the south side, Mrs. Mortimer of 36, Berner-street, who was standing at her door between half-past twelve and one o' clock, Charles Letchford, who passed through the street at half-past twelve, or Mrs. Deimschitz, wife of the steward of the club, who was preparing tea and coffee in the kitchen about a dozen yards away at the time, either heard or saw anything unusual in Berner-street. Similarly, Morris, the night watchman of the warehouses in Mitre-square; Pearce, the constable who was sleeping in the house just opposite the scene of the murder; Mr. Levy, the caretaker of the Great Synagogue just by the square; Mr. Klapp, the caretaker of some other premises whose windows look on the scene of the crime; Mr. Carle, the manager of the club in St. James'-place; Mr. Ayres and Mr. W. Isaacs, also of St. James'-place; or Mr. S. Goldberg, of Duke-street, who were all awake at the time, heard no suspicious sound - no cry for help whatever.
But Mrs. Lindsay, of Duke-street, who is also corroborated by her husband, and Miss Solomon, of the same street, gives an account of an extraordinary incident, stating, as she does, that she was awakened during the night by hearing voices in the street below, and on looking out of the window heard the words distinctly uttered by a man who carried an umbrella and a parcel, and who was rapidly hurrying away "I am not the murderer."
Amongst the most startling evidence given at the inquest - which commenced on Monday; was continued on Tuesday and Wednesday, and was resumed yesterday (Friday) - was that of the sister of the deceased woman - Mrs. Mary Malcolm, the wife of a tailor, living at 50, Eagle-street, Red Lion-square, Holborn. She said: I have seen the body in the mortuary and it is that of my sister, Elizabeth Watts. There is not the slightest doubt about that. I had my doubts about what she did for a living. She was sober when she came to me, but she was sometimes the worse for drink. Drink was unfortunately a failing with her. (The witness here burst into tears.) She was in her 38th year. She was married. Her husband, who is living, is the son of Mr. Watts, a large wholesale wine and spirit merchant of Walcot-street, Bath. I believe her husband is now in America. My sister left him I believe about eight years ago, having been caught misconducting herself. She has had two children. Her husband sent her home to my mother, who was then alive, with the children. The little girl is dead, I believe, and the boy is at a boarding school with his aunt, Miss Watts. My sister was not subject to epileptic fits, but she was a very excitable woman, especially when she had been drinking. She had been before the Thames Police-court magistrate charged with drunkenness. I believe she has at times got off on the ground that she was subject to epileptic fits, but I do not believe that she was. The deceased lived with a man who kept a coffee stall. His name was not Stride, but Dent, I think. This man went to sea, and was wrecked on the Island of St. Paul. This is about three years and a half ago. She did not to my knowledge live with anyone after that, but there is a man who says he has lived with her. I have never heard of her having any trouble with any man. She always brought her trouble to me. I never heard of any one having threatened her. I never visited her in Flower and Dean-street. I knew that she was nicknamed "Long Liz". Her Christian name was Elizabeth. I never heard the name of Stride till Monday. I think she would have told me if she was living with any one. She came to see me every Saturday, when I gave her two shillings. She did not come to me on Saturday last, at which I was surprised. The Thursday visit was an unusual one. She had not missed coming on a Saturday for three years. She used to come to me at four o'clock in the afternoon. She used to meet me at the corner of Chancery-lane. I was there last Saturday from 3.30 until 5 p.m., but she did not turn up.
On Sunday morning, when I read the paper, I thought that as my sister had not turned up on Saturday it might be her who was murdered. A sort of presentiment came over me, and I went to St. George's Mortuary. My sister used to have beautiful black wavy hair. I did not recognise her on Sunday in the mortuary, as it was in the gas-light. As I was in my bed, at 20 minutes past one, on Sunday I had a presentiment. I felt the pressure of three kisses on me, and heard them. I did not see a vision of my sister. I am sure the deceased is my sister. She always had a small black mark on her right leg, and I have seen it on the corpse. The mark came from the bite of an adder when she was a child. I have a similar mark on my hand. (Witness showed it). The adder bit me first and then her, as we were rolling in the grass playing. My husband saw my sister once, about six years ago. I have a brother and a sister, but they have not seen the deceased for years. I always kept her shame from everyone. (Witness here broke into tears, and said the disgrace of the story would kill her other sister.) The deceased had a hollowness in her right foot, caused by its being run over. I do not notice any hollowness in the foot of the body in the mortuary. I cannot recognise the clothing, as I never noticed what she wore. She left one of her own babies naked outside my door.
The Coroner: Was that one of the two children mentioned?
Witness: Oh, no; it was one she had by a policeman, I believe. I kept it until she came and fetched it away. That child is dead, I believe. She was a girl that anyone could like.
At the inquest also, Thomas Coram of 67, Plumber's-row, Commercial-road, said he was a labourer in a cocoanut warehouse. Last Sunday, about midnight, he was coming away from Bath-gardens, Brady-street, and when he got to Whitechapel-road, he found a knife lying on the doorstep of No. 253, which is a laundry, belonging to Mr. Christmas. The knife produced was the one he found, and the handkerchief (also produced) was wrapped round it. The blade of the knife was apparently about ten inches long, and the handkerchief was bloodstained. Witness continued that he called a policeman, and showed him the knife as it lay on the step. The constable took it to Leman-street Police-station, and witness accompanied him. - Police-constable Joseph Drage, H 282, said he saw the last witness stooping down opposite the doorway of No. 253. He rose up and beckoned to witness, afterwards saying, "Policeman, there is a knife lying here." Witness picked up the knife, which was covered with dried blood, and had a blood-stained handkerchief bound round the handle and tied with string. Witness took the knife to Leman-street Police-station, and Coram accompanied him. The knife was not on the doorstep at 11.30. On Monday, witness handed the knife and handkerchief to Dr. Phillips, sealed and secured.
The inquest held by Mr. Langham on Thursday at the inquest hall, Golden-lane, on the body of the woman Kate Eddowes, resulted in some curious revelations. Eddowes, it appeared, was an unmarried woman of 43 years of age, who had lived with a man named Conway - by whom she had two children - and then with a man named John Kelly. Kelly and the woman had recently returned from the "hopping," but their luck was out, and it looked as if they would have, as they had done before, to walk the streets all night for want of eightpence to pay for a lodging and bed. But Kelly gave the woman his boots to pawn, which she did with Jones, of Chrisp-street, for half-a-crown, while he walked about with bare feet. On the Saturday Beddowes [sic] went off to see her daughter at Bermondsey, and it was probably when returning, she met her murderer. But the last and most important witness of the day was Dr. F. Gordon Brown, the City police surgeon. He described with great minuteness and at great length everything pertaining to the condition of the body when found and the results of the post-mortem examination on the day of the murder. The first important inferences he drew from his examination were that death must have been the immediate result of the cutting of the throat, that is was cut in such a manner that no cry could have been raised, and that the various mutilations were certainly done after death. Probably the murder was committed with a sharp-pointed blade at least six inches long, and the throat had been cut right through to the vertebral cartilages, just as was the case, it will be remembered, in the Hanbury-street murder. Dr. Brown said that he had removed the stomach, but had not as yet had time to examine it so as to determine whether any kind of drug had been administered. The left kidney, the witness went on to explain, had been removed in a particular manner. "Do you," said the City Solicitor, Mr. Crawford, "draw any conclusions from that?" and the answer evidently received the deepest attention. "I think that somebody who knew the position of the kidney and how to cut it out must have done it." It had been manifest for some little time that the City Solicitor in his cross examination of the witness had been leading up to what he knew would prove sensational, and the profoundest interest was displayed by all in court as the fact of the anatomical knowledge of the assassin became established by repeated answers of the surgical expert; and when at length in answer to explicit inquiry he stated that precisely the same organ - the uterus with its ligaments - as had been found missing in the case of Annie Chapman was also missing here, together with the left kidney, the sensation in court was profound. The possibility of this had, of course, been surmised, but all information on the results of the post-mortem examination had been steadily refused, and this announcement came as a startling confirmation of what had before been only suspected. In proof of the anatomical and surgical skill of the assassin, Dr. Brown added that for the purpose of practically testing the time required for what had been done to this unfortunate woman, an expert practitioner had actually performed this operation, and found that it took three minutes and a half. The witness was disposed to believe that the murderer had been hurried, and had probably done all he intended to do, or he would not have slashed and hacked the face about, which he had no doubt done merely for the sake of concealing the identity of the woman. "Would the parts removed be of any use for professional purposes?" asked Mr. Crawford. "Not the slightest," was the reply. "Would the knowledge necessary for these mutilations be likely to be possessed by one engaged in cutting up animals?" was another question put, and the answer was unhesitatingly, "Yes, sir."
Late on Thursday night, as one of the charwomen attached to the Great Assembly Hall was passing along Redman's-road, Mile End, she was accosted and addressed by a dark man of medium height, who, on finding that he had made a mistake as to the character of the woman he had addressed, at once made off. Both the woman and a gentleman who was passing at the time positively state that a large knife was seen in the man's hand. Information of this occurrence was taken to the Arbour-square Police-station by Mr. F. N. Charrington and Mr. J. Richardson.