The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 18 August 1888.
THE MYSTERY STILL UNSOLVED.
The mystery surrounding the terrible murder of a woman during the night following Bank Holiday, whose body was found on the stairs of some dwellings in George Yard, Whitechapel remains unsolved.
Since our last issue, in which we announced the event and reported the inquest, most persevering and searching enquiries have been made. The body has been identified and there is little doubt that the deceased belonged to that very numerous class termed "unfortunates," and was known to her associates by the name of Martha Turner. That this is the real name of the wretched woman is open to grave doubt, and, as is usual in such cases, the police have received a number of letters and personal applications for detailed particulars. In one case a man has written stating that he has good grounds to believe that the deceased was his wife, who had left him some three years since. Another instance is that of a woman who has written from Devonshire, expressing her strong belief that the body was that of her sister who has been lost sight of for a number of years. These and similar letters have, needless to say, received careful attention, and may be the means of ultimately throwing light upon the real identity of this cruelly murdered woman. The one great object, however, viz., the discovery of the wretch in human form who committed the deed, has been the aim and object of the detectives who are engaged in the case, and whatever the result may be, there can be little doubt every conceivable device that their minds could suggest has been brought to bear.
Since our last report one of the deceased's companions, in fact, a woman in whose company she was the same evening, has been found. This individual, named Mary Ann Conolly - otherwise known in the parlance of her class as "Pearly Poll" - swears clearly to the deceased having left her company with a soldier on the night following Bank Holiday. This circumstance gave a clue to the detectives, and Inspector Reid has not been slow to follow it up, more especially as another link in the chain presented itself in the shape of a statement made by Police-constable Barrett, 226 H, who states that about 2 o'clock on the morning in question he saw a soldier loitering about the immediate neighbourhood, and upon being questioned he said "he was waiting for a mate who had gone away with a woman."
Another circumstance that lent colour to the idea of a soldier being implicated was the evidence of Dr. Keeling [Killeen], who said that one of the most serious stabs received by the woman had been in all probability given with a sword bayonet.
Acting upon these grounds, Inspector Reid, early in the week, placed himself in communication with the military authorities at the various barracks in the metropolis, and on Monday that officer, accompanied by "Pearly Poll" and Police-constable Barrett, attended at the Tower, where the whole of the men who were on leave on the previous Monday night were paraded. Each one was very closely scrutinised, but the woman failed to identify either of the men in whose company she alleged the deceased was on the eventful night. Still
On Wednesday, Inspector Reid, Detective-Sergeant Caunter, and "Pearly Poll" was [sic] present at the Wellington Barracks, Pimlico, where the men of the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards were paraded. The men were drawn up in quarter-column, after which they filed through a passage, where Inspector Reid, Sergeant Caunter, and another police-officer were stationed with "Pearly Poll." The woman was asked to scrutinise the faces of the soldiers as they passed, for the purpose of seeing if she could pick out either of the men who were with her and the deceased on the night on which the murder was committed. After a small number had filed past, "Pearly Poll" picked out a man wearing stripes, and taken by her to be a corporal, as the one who went away with the deceased woman. "That's him," exclaimed she; "I'm positive." The suspect was temporarily detained, and the filing by of the others continued. When a few more had passed, the woman scanning the features of every one intently, pointed to a private as being the second man. She positively declared that he accompanied her to a house in the district where the murder took place. "Are you positive?" was asked and "Pearly Poll" nodded and replied, "Certain." The military authorities immediately placed all the books, showing the time at which the suspected men left and returned to the barracks on the night mentioned, at the disposal of the officers, but the innocence of these men were established.
Having so far failed on tracing the murderer among the soldiers, the officers have re-started their inquiries from the immediate neighbourhood of the occurrence, and as a result of persistent inquiries a Mr. and Mrs. Reeves now state that on the evening and towards midnight on Bank Holiday a
in Wentworth Street and George Street, which thoroughfares can be seen from George Yard Buildings. These streets contain a number of common lodging-houses, and are not far from a house which the woman "Pearly Poll" states that she and the deceased visited that night.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Reeves have pointed out the spot where they allege these disturbances commenced, which they state to be the dead wall of Leterworth Buildings, in George Street.
The first row commenced about 11:30, followed by another at 12:20 when both Mr. and Mrs. Reeves assert they heard cries of "Police!" "Help!" and terrible screaming.
Shortly after one o'clock in the morning they were again disturbed with terrible screams, apparently coming from the same neighbourhood. They went on to the balcony of their dwelling, and found that there was not only one, but two separate rows going on. That in George Street this time was not many doors from the house where the murdered woman and her companion, "Pearly Poll," sometimes lodged, whilst the row in Wentworth Street was not from a house in Angel Alley, which the woman "Pearly Poll" is said to have admitted that she visited that evening.
These two rows, Mr. and Mrs. Reeves say, were of a very noisy and quarrelsome character. The crowds round surged backwards and forwards a great deal. At last the police came and dispersed the crowd. This did not conclude the riotous proceedings of the night. About 2 o'clock Mr. and Mrs. Reeves heard more screams, they were this time very piercing. Only a few roughs seemed to constitute this crowd, which seemed to be moving in the direction of George Yard. However, the noise soon lessened in volume, and Mr. and Mrs. Reeves then retired for the night.
Shortly before going to press our representative had an interview with more than one of the officers engaged in the enquiry. He found them exceedingly reticent, and not at all disposed to give much intelligence.
It, however, was stated that a visit would be paid to Chelsea Barracks, but the fact seems to be pretty clear that they are now disposed to attach but little importance to the soldier theory. They state that George Street (whence the cries and screams were heard to proceed by Mr. and Mrs. Reeves) is known as one of the most dangerous in Whitechapel. For years it has been the rendezvous and hiding place for deserters, and old bayonets are as common to be met with as old knives, in fact often serve as playthings for the gutter children of the street.
The police on the various beats in the adjoining streets confirm the remark of those two persons, and admit that several rows did occur, and repeated screams and cries for help were heard at midnight and during the early hours of the morning of Tuesday, 7th inst., but from the desperate character of the neighbourhood not more than ordinary attention was paid to them. We learn that since Wednesday night last (when another desperate row took place in the same locality) extra police have been put on duty.
seems to be that up to our going to press no one is in custody, and so far no actual clue has been obtained to the brutal murderer of this wretched woman. It is said that the police are of opinion that more than one person belonging to the miserable class of "Pearly Poll," could give very important information, but so great is the terror inspired by the scoundrels of the locality, it would most probably cost them their lives were they to "split." In the meantime our readers have one consolation. The case is in the hands of one of the ablest officers of the Criminal Investigation Department, and assisting him are some of the cleverest and most experienced detectives in the service. It is more than likely, from the reserved manner of these, that they have some important clue, and that when the coroner's court re-assembles on Thursday next evidence of a vital and decisive character will be forthcoming.