The Eastern Post & City Chronicle
Saturday, 27 October 1888.
INQUEST OF THE BERNER STREET VICTIM.
ON Tuesday afternoon, at the Vestry Hall, St. George's-in-the East, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for the south-eastern division of Middlesex, resumed the inquest on the body of Elizabeth Stride, who was found murdered in Berner Street on Sunday morning, the 30th ult.
Edward Reed [Reid], an inspector of police, deposed that he had made inquiries and examined the books of the Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum, and had found the entry of the death of John Thomas Stride, a carpenter, of Poplar. His death took place on 24th October, 1884. He had also seen Elizabeth Watts, now Stokes, who declared that the statement made by Mrs. Malcolm was false. She had not seen her sister for years, and believed her to be dead. She further stated that she had not received money from her sister, and that it was not true that she had seen her sister on the Thursday before the murder.
Walter Stride, police-constable 385 W, had seen the photograph of the deceased, and identified her as the person who married his uncle in 1872 or 1873. His uncle was John Thomas Stride, a carpenter, living in the East India Dock Road, Poplar.
Elizabeth Stokes, of 5, Charles Street, Tottenham, said that her husband was a brickmaker. Her first husband was Mr. Watts, a wine merchant, of Bath. She believed that he was dead.
The Witness here handed to the Coroner a letter signed "X.Y.Z.," containing a statement to the effect that her husband (Watts) was alive.
Elizabeth Stokes, resuming her evidence, stated that Mrs. Malcolm was her sister. She had not seen her for years, and had never received a penny from her. She wanted to clear her character from the vile assertions made by her sister.
A Juryman: Could Mrs. Malcolm have identified the deceased as another sister?
Inspector Reed: Mrs. Malcolm identified the deceased by a crippled foot, and this witness has a crippled foot.
Elizabeth Stokes declared that she wished to clear her character. Her sister, Mrs. Malcolm, knew her, and what she had stated was "an infamous lie."
The Coroner, in addressing the jury, said it would be unreasonable to adjourn the inquiry again on the chance of something further being ascertained to elucidate the mysterious case. Having referred to the trouble occasioned by Mrs. Malcolm, who swore that the deceased was her sister, a Mrs. Elizabeth Watts, of Bath, he said it was satisfactorily proved that the deceased was Elizabeth Stride. There was no clue to the murderer, and no suggested motive for the murder. He regretted that the time and attention given to the case had not eventuated in a result that would be a relief to the metropolis - the detection of the criminal.
The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against a person or persons unknown, and added their belief that the deceased was Elizabeth Stride, wife of John Stride, carpenter, of Poplar.
During the three days of the week following the Sunday on which the two murders were committed the following petition to the Queen was freely circulated among the women of the labouring classes of East London through some of the religious agencies and educational centres:-
Madam, - We, the women of East London, feel horror at the dreadful sins that have been lately committed in our midst and grieve because of the shame that has fallen on our neighbourhood.
By the facts which have come out at the inquests, we have learnt much of the lives of those of our sisters who have lost a firm hold on goodness, and who are living sad and degraded lives.
While each woman of us will do all she can to make men feel with horror the sins of impurity which cause such wicked lives to be led, we would also beg that your Majesty will call on your servants in authority and bid them put the law which already exists in motion to close bad houses within whose walls such wickedness is done, and men and women ruined in body and soul.
The petition, which received between 4,000 and 5,000 signatures, was presented in due form, and the following reply has been received:-
Whitehall.Madam, - I am directed by the Secretary of State to inform you that he has had the honour to lay before the Queen the petition of women inhabitants of Whitechapel praying that steps may be taken with a view to suppress the moral disorders in that neighbourhood, and that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to receive the same.
I am to add that the Secretary of State looks with hope to the influence for good that the petitioners can exercise, each in her own neighbourhood, and he is in communication with the Commissioners of Police with a view to take such action as may be desirable in order to assist the efforts of the petitioners and to mitigate the evils of which they complain.
Your obedient servant,
Mrs. Barnett, St. Jude's Vicarage,
Commercial Street, E.
At the Guildhall Police-court on Thursday Benjamin Graham, 42, was charged on remand, upon his own confession, with committing the murders in Whitechapel. The prisoner was taken into Snow Hill Police-station on the afternoon of the 17th inst. by a man who stated that prisoner had told him that he was the Whitechapel murderer. The Alderman last week remanded him in order that the state of his mind might be inquired into. A doctor's certificate was now read by the Chief Clerk, to the effect that prisoner had suffered through excessive drinking.
Mr. Alderman Renals regretted that he was unable to punish the prisoner in some way, as by his foolish conduct he had given the police a great amount of trouble; but he had no option, and the accused would have to be discharged.
Graham was discharged accordingly.