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East London Observer
Saturday, 21 February 1891.

(Comment) THE MURDER.

Frances Coles lies at the Whitechapel mortuary to-day, the latest victim of a murderous ferocity that seems, for some reason or another, to have been directed of late years among the women who ply the most degraded of trades in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel. Her apparently mysterious death is the sensation of the hour. The manner in which her destroyer has disappeared, silently and mysteriously, without leaving the shadow of a clue behind, is spoken of with awe bordering almost on the superstitious.

Of course there has been the usual hysterical outburst against the police that came, as a matter of course, with every one of the series of murders that was committed two or three years ago. If it has not been so virulent or so violent as in past years, it is because the police have managed to put their hands on an unfortunate sailor who, however guiltless of the crime laid to his charge, has succeeded by his own folly in gathering around himself just a sufficient amount of circumstantial evidence to warrant his temporary detention. Of course, too, the local Board of Works and the local authorities generally have come in for their share of blame. It is difficult to say why they should be blamed - unless it be for being so unfortunate as to happen to have the local government of the district in which the murders have occurred. But popular opinion, which is not always the same thing as reasonable or right thinking opinion, must have its vent in one form or another.

We must again insist, as we have consistently insisted throughout the whole of the previous murders, that there is nothing mysterious, or, still less, anything supernatural, in the perpetration of these crimes upon this particular class of victims. We will go further, and say that the murderer, whoever he may be, could perform a similar series of crimes among the same class of women, with almost equal impunity in any other district in London. That may be rather a startling assertion to make, but it is confirmed by the experience of all who have penetrated the depths of human misery and degradation. The class of women from whom the victims of the murderer, or murderers, have hitherto been recruited, are compelled by the exigencies of the degrading trade to know every secluded lot, and every unfrequented court, alley and bye-way in the district or part of in the district, where they ply that trade. They are as well acquainted - perhaps even better acquainted - with the extent and duration of the police “beats” in their neighbourhood as the local sergeant or inspector. When the measured tread of the police constable on night duty has died away on their ears, they can tell to a minute, almost to a second, at what time to expect it again. Secrecy is essential to their calling, and in securing secrecy they are rendering comparatively easy the task of their would-be murderer. In other words, they are accessories to their own murders.

It is unfortunate for Whitechapel, certainly, that is should have formed the scene of so many of these brutal murders - unfortunate for its reputation, unfortunate for its trade, and unfortunate for its people. At the same time, there is nothing in its police arrangements, and nothing in the manner in which its local government is carried on, that gives greater facilities for the commission of these crimes, than is offered in any other district in London. So long as our streets are infested with these lowest class of unfortunate women, choosing for the practice of their calling the time and the place best suited for the scene and the time of their butchery, so long will it be possible for this destroyer among us to add to his crimes with as much impunity as has been the case in the past.

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