The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 11 August 1888.
About 10 minutes to five o'clock on Tuesday morning, John Reeves, who lives at 37, George Yard Buildings, Whitechapel, was coming downstairs to go to work, when he discovered the body of a woman lying in a pool of blood on the first-floor landing. Reeves at once called in Constable Barrett, 26 H, who was on his beat in the vicinity of George Yard, and Dr. Keeling, of Brick Lane, was communicated with and promptly arrived. He made an examination of the woman, and pronounced life extinct, giving it as his opinion that she had been murdered, there being knife wounds on her breast and abdomen. The body, which was that of a woman apparently between 35 and 40 years of age, about 5 ft. 3 in. in height, complexion and hair dark, wore a dark green skirt, a brown petticoat, a long black jacket, and a black bonnet. The woman is unknown to any of the occupants of the tenements on the landing on which the deceased was found, and no disturbance of any kind was heard during the night. The circumstances are therefore mysterious, and the body was removed to the Whitechapel mortuary, and Inspector Elliston, of the Commercial Street Police-station, has placed the case in the hands of Inspector Reid, of the Criminal Investigation Department.
On Thursday, Mr. George Collier, the deputy coroner for south-east Middlesex, opened an inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, on the body of Martha Turner, aged 35, a single woman, lately living at 4, Star Place, Commercial Road, who was found lying on the landing of George Yard Buildings, on Tuesday morning last, with over 30 stabs about her body. Previous to calling the first witness the coroner said the body had been identified that morning, but he had just been informed that two other persons also identified it as quite a different person, and under those circumstances he thought the question of identity had better be left till the last.
Elizabeth Mahony, of 47, George Yard Buildings, Whitechapel, the wife of a carman, stated that on the night of Bank Holiday she was out with some friends. She returned shortly before two in the morning with her husband, and afterwards left the house to try and get some supper at the chandler's shop. The stairs were then clear of any obstacle, and were the same on her return. She and her husband heard no noise during the night, but at ten o'clock she was told that a murder had been committed in the building. There was no light on the staircase. The spot where the body was found had been pointed out to her. She was sure it was not there at two o'clock as she went in, as it was in the wide part of the stairs and quite in the dark.
Alfred George Crow, a cabdriver, of 35, George Yard Buildings, deposed that on Tuesday morning he returned home from work at half-past three. On his way up the stairs he saw somebody lying on the first landing. It was not an unusual thing to see, so he passed on and went to bed. He did not know whether the person was dead or alive when he passed.
John Saunders Reeves, 37, George Yard Buildings, a waterside labourer, deposed that on Tuesday morning he left home at 5 o'clock to go in search of work. On the first-floor landing he saw a female lying in a pool of blood. She lay on her back, and seemed dead. He at once gave notice to the police. The woman was a perfect stranger to the witness. Her clothes were all disarranged, as if she had had a struggle with someone. The witness did not notice any instrument lying about.
Police-constable Barrett, 226 H, deposed to being called by the last witness to view the body of the deceased. She was lying on her back, and before she was moved a doctor was sent for, and on arrival pronounced life extinct. The woman's hands were clenched, but did not contain anything. Her clothes were disarranged.
Dr. Timothy Robert Keleene, 28, Brick Lane stated that he was called to the deceased and found her dead. He examined the body and found 39 punctured wounds. In the witness's opinion the wounds were not inflicted with the same instrument, there being a deep wound in the breast from some long, strong instrument, while most of the others were done apparently with a penknife. The large wound could have been caused by a sword-bayonet or dagger. It was impossible for the whole of the wounds to be self inflicted. Death was due to loss of blood consequent on the injuries.
At the conclusion of this witness's evidence, the inquiry was adjourned.