3 September 1888
HUSBAND AND SON IDENTIFY HER
Mary Ann Nichols, the murdered woman has now been identified beyond all doubt. On Saturday night William Nichols, her husband, visited the mortuary, and said the corpse was that of his wife, from whom he had been separated eight years. He stated that she was nearly 44 years of age. The husband, who was greatly affected, exclaimed, on recognising the body, "I forgive you, as you are, what you have been to me." He said the absence of the front teeth was of old standing. Mr. William Nicholls, who lives in Coburg-road, Old Kent-road, is a journeyman printer, in the employment of Messrs. Perkins and Bacon, Fleet-street. His son, who resides with his grandfather at 15, Maidwell-street, Albany-road, Camberwell, also identified the remains of his mother.
It has been ascertained that the unfortunate woman was one of those who, last year, were in the habit of sleeping in Trafalgar-square; and when a clearance of the nightly visitors was made, it being found that she was destitute; and had no means of subsistence, she was admitted as an inmate to the Lambeth Workhouse. After her discharge from the workhouse and subsequent disappearance from service at Wandsworth, little was known of her whereabouts by her relations. Lately, it seems that she had been lodging in a common lodging-house in Thrawle-street, Spitalfields, leading an immoral life, and known by her female acquaintances as "Polly."
For some reason the police have abandoned the theory that the deceased was murdered in a house and carried to the spot. They now believe she was killed at the place where she was discovered by the constable. The blood from the wounds was, it is thought, absorbed by the woman's ulster and long dress, and would thus account for such a small quantity being noticed underneath the body.
While the coroner's court adjourned for luncheon this afternoon, our representative again visited the scene of the murder, where crowds of persons were still congregated, gazing at the place with a morbid interest. Mr. William Perkins, of Essex Wharf, father of the young man whose statement has already been given, states that at three o'clock his daughter opened the bedroom window of the house where they live - only twelve feet from where the deceased woman was discovered, and there was then the greatest stillness. From that time no sound was heard to awaken them. "This alone," says Mr. Perkins, sen., "lead me to think the crime was not committed here, but that the body was brought from some place in the neighbourhood." Mr. Perkins, jun., who is about 35 years of age, is of a contrary opinion. He thinks the murder could have been committed by a "practised hand" at the gateway of Essex Wharf without any cries of distress being heard.
There was a rumour of an arrest having taken place yesterday in connection with the Whitchapel murder; but, on inquiry of the police authorities this morning, we were informed that there was no truth in the report
The inquiry as to the death of Mary Ann Nichols, discovered brutally murdered early on Friday morning at Buck's-row, Whitechapel, was resumed to-day at the Working Lad's Institute, Whitechapel-road, before Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex.
Inspector Abberline, Inspector Helson, and Detective-sergeant Enright watched the case for the police.
Inspector John Spratling of the J Division, deposed that about half past four on Friday morning he was in the Hackney-road, when he received information of the murder. He went to Buck's-row and saw Constable Thain. The body had been then removed. Thain pointed to the spot where the deceased had been found. The blood had been washed away. Witness went with the constable to the mortuary, and took a description of the dead woman and her clothing. In doing so he discovered the injuries to the abdomen, The skin of her body was clean. There was no evidence that it had been washed.
The Coroner - Who stripped the body?
Detective-sergeant Enright - The workhouse officials.
The Coroner - But had they authority?
Inspector Spratling - I did not give them authority.
The Coroner - Then these workhouse officials ought to be here.
Inspector Spratling said he afterwards saw the clothing lying in a heap in the mortuary yard. Her ulster was old; her brown linsey dress was comparatively new. There were also stays. (The witness then gave a further description, already published, of the deceased's garments.) He did not know that the stays were cut.
The Coroner directed that the clothing should be sent for. It was particularly important to know whether the stays were cut.
Inspector Abberline - They shall be sent for.
A Juryman - It is a most important point.
The Coroner - The condition of the clothing is of the utmost importance. Where was the blood?
Inspector Spratling - On the upper part of the body of the dress, and on the cloak. There was no blood on the petticoat.
Having answered other questions, the witness stated that the same morning as the discovery he sent Police-constable Thain to examine the vicinity of the murder - the railway and wharf more particularly - to see if he could find any weapon. Witness himself examined Buck's-row between eleven and twelve that day, but found no blood-stains. Subsequently he and Sargeant Godley examined the Great Eastern Railway and adjacent yards, but found no blood or any weapon.
The Coroner - Do you know who wiped up the blood?
Witness - A carman named Green, in the employ of Mr. Brown.
The Coroner - Is there not a gateman at the Great Western Railway all night?
Inspector Spratling - Yes; I questioned him, but he heard nothing. His box is fifty or sixty yards from the spot where the deceased was found. I also saw William Conolly and other persons who live near. None of them could give me any information. They all said they heard no noise. Mr. Green lives in rooms almost looking down the spot.
The Coroner - How far is the slaughter-house of which we have heard? How far from where the deceased lay?
Witness - It is 150 paces from the spot.
A Juryman - Where the murder was committed?
The Coroner - Say where the body was found. It has yet to be decided where it was committed.
By the Jury - The only constable who would be near the spot on his beat on that night would be Neil. The other nearest constable on our Bethal-green-road sub-division would be in Brady-street. Neil would have been "within sound" of this place in Buck's-row from time to time during the night - more or less during the whole of the night. There was "a fair quantity of blood" on the clothes in and about the neck.
A Juryman - Did it occur to you that the woman had been murdered with her clothes on or off?
Witness - With her clothes on.
A Juror - Were they cut at all?
Witness - No, not that I could see. I did not examine them carefully at the time, not being well.
Henry Tomkins, horse slaughterer, of Coventry-street, Bethal-green, said he spent Thursday night in a slaughterhouse at Winthrop-street, Buck's-row. He commenced work on Thursday night between eight and nine.
What time did you leave off work? - A little before four. I went out at twenty minutes past twelve. On that morning my mate and I left off about twenty minutes after four.
Generally we go home, but we did not on that morning.
Where did you go? - I went to see "that woman" lying down there.
What made you leave to go there? - Because I heard a policeman pass the slaughter-house and say, "There is a woman murdered in Buck's-row."
Who were at work there on Thursday night? - Three of us - James Mumford, Charles Brittain, and myself.
No one else? - No.
You say you went out at twelve o'clock? - A little after.
How many of you? - Two of us - Brittain and myself. We stopped out till about one o'clock, and returned to work again.
And none of you left the place afterwards? - No, Sir. Until twenty minutes past four.
Did you go far? - No, only as far as the court-weed's-buildings.
The latter part of the morning were you at work? - It was as near four o'clock as possible when we were done.
Were you at any noisy work? - No, sir. We heard no noise at all.
I am not speaking of hearing any noise; but were you all quiet? - Yes; we were all quiet from two o'clock. The gates were all open. I heard no noise until I returned at one o'clock - no cries. No one came to the slaughter-house until the policeman came. No one passed except the policeman at 4.15.
I suppose people do come and look you up? - Just an odd 'un now and then.
Were there any women about?
Witness (placing his hands in his pockets) - I don't like -
The coroner - I am not asking you that. But did you see any? - No; but there are always both men and women in the Whitechapel-road.
Suppose anyone should have
"Murder! Police!" - Would you have heard it at the spot where the deceased was found? - I should not have heard it from the slaughter-house. It is too far away.
When you heard that a woman had been murdered in Buck's-row, you all went there? -
Two of us. My mate came about five minutes later. I ran down, and Mumford followed directly. Then Brittain came.
Who else were there? - The doctor was there, and three or four policemen. I don't know whether there were two men there.
Why two men? - I think they went to work, but I was in such a hurry that I don't know.
The Coroner - I don't understand what you say. - I think now (thinking) that there were two men there. I don't know who they were. I waited until they (the police) took the body away.
I don't know.
The Coroner - But you do know; you were there. Where there twenty or thirty, ten or a dozen?
Witness - I should think there were ten or a dozen. I did not hear anyone say how the deceased came there.
Are you sure there were three people there when you first went? - I believe there were two. I have not read anything in the paper about it. I believe there were two.
The Coroner (warmly) - Believe there were! I see you here, and know you are here. What do you mean by saying 'believe'?
Witness - There were two men there - there you are, sir.
The Coroner - I don't understand this slaughter-house language.
By the Jury - I saw no cart go by the slaughter-house between one o'clock and four o'clock.
A Juror - Where did you go from twenty minutes past twelve to a quarter past one? - To the court near. My mate was with me. As soon as we do our work we go home.
By the Coroner - We sometimes go home at three, four, five, six, and up to ten o'clock in the morning. It is according to whether we get our work done. We always go out to get a drink before the houses close.
Did a constable come to fetch a cape which he had left at the slaughter-house/ - Yes, and it was then he said a woman had been murdered.
Of the J Division, said he received information of the murder at 6.45 Friday morning. He went to the mortuary between eight and nine o'clock. All the clothing, except the bonnet, was then on the deceased. Witness was present when the clothing was removed from the body. The stays were fairly tight on the body. There was no blood on the seat of the ulster or petticoats. The back of the bodice of the dress was saturated with blood near the neck. There was a discoloration as of a bruise, under the jawbone. There were no marks of any kind from her shoulders to her fingers - no evidence that any struggle or resistance had been offered.
The Coroner - Were there any cuts on the clothing?
Witness - No, there were not. (Surprise) The clothes were so loose on the body that it was quite possible all the wounds could have been inflicted with the clothes pulled back.
There were no signs of any blood on the large gates near where the body was found. Except a stain in Brady-street - which might have been blood - I saw nothing of any stains.
By the Jury - It did not strike me as unusual - seeing a woman, butchered as she was - to find no blood stains. The blood had apparently gone into the abdominal cavity made by the wound. Witness was of opinion that the murder was committed where the deceased was discovered.
Police-constable George Myzen, 55 H, said that on Friday morning, at twenty minutes past four, he was at the corner of Hanbury-street, Baker's-row, when a man, who looked like a carman, said, "You are wanted in Buck's-row." Witness now knew the man to be named Cross, and he was a carman. Witness asked him what was the matter, and Cross replied, "A policeman wants you; there is a woman lying there." Witness went there, and saw Constable Neil, who sent him to the station for the ambulance.
The Coroner - Was there anyone else there then? - No one at all, Sir. There was blood running from the throat towards the gutter.
By the Coroner - There was another man in company of Cross when the latter spoke to witness. The other man, who went down Hanbury-street, appeared to be working with Cross.
By the Jury - Witness went to the spot directly Cross told him, and did not stop to knock any one up.
Charles A. Cross, a carman, in the employ of Messrs. Pickford and Co., said that on Friday morning he left his home about half-past three. He reached Messrs. Pickford's yard at Broad-street, City, at four o'clock. He crossed Brady-street into Buck's-row. Was there any one with you? - No, I was by myself. As I got to Buck's-row, by the gateway of the wool warehouse, I saw someone lying at the entrance to the gateway. It looked like a dark figure. I walked into the centre of the road, and saw that it was a woman. At the same time I heard a man come up behind, in the same direction as I was going. He was about thirty or forty yards behind then. I stepped back to await his arrival. When he came, I said to him, "Come and look over here. There's a woman." We then both went over to the body. He stooped one side of her, and I stooped the other, and took hold of her hand, which was cold. Her face was warm. I said to the man, "I believe the woman is dead." The other man at the same time, put his hand on her breast over her heart and remarked, "I think she is breathing, but very little, if she is." He then said, "Sit her up," I replied, "I'm not going to touch her. You had better go on, and if you see a policeman tell him." When I found her, her clothes were above her knees. There did not seem to be much clothing. The other man pulled her clothes down before he left.
Did you touch the clothes? - No, Sir.
Did you notice any blood? - No, it was too dark. I did not notice that her throat was cut. I then left her, went up Baker's-row, turned to the right, and saw a constable. I said to a constable - the last witness - "There's a woman lying in Buck's-row. She looks to me as though she was dead, or drunk." The other man then said, "I believe she is dead." I don't know who this man was; he was a stranger, but appeared to me to be a carman. From the time I left my home I did not see anyone until I saw the man who overtook me in Buck's-row.
The Coroner - Did you see anything of a struggle.
Witness - She seemed to me as if she had been outraged.
You did not think so at the time? - Yes, I did; but I did not think she had been injured.
You had no idea that she had been injured at all? - No.
William Nichols, a printer's machinist, of Coburg-road, Old Kent-road, said the deceased was his wife. They had been separated for about eight years. He had last seen her alive about three years and five months ago. He had no communication from her.
By the Jury - Seven years ago witness had his wife watched. She was then living with another man or men, and a summons for maintenance was then dismissed by the Lambeth Magistrate on that ground. It was not true that witness "took up with a nursemaid" who nursed him.
Emily Holland, living at a lodging-house in Thrawle-street, Whitechapel, said she saw the deceased about two o'clock on Friday morning. Witness saw her at the corner of Osborne-street, Whitechapel-road. The deceased was coming down Osborne-street. She was standing by herself, at the corner of a grocer's shop.
The Coroner - Did she walk straight? - No, she was staggering. She told me she was lodging in Flower and Dean-street. I tried to persuade her to come home with me. She refused. I was with her about seven or eight minutes. She said she had no money, and wanted some.
Mary Ann Monk, inmate of Lambeth Work-house, deposed to seeing the deceased about seven weeks ago, in a public-house in the New Kent-road. She saw her in the workhouse six or seven years ago.
The inquiry was then adjourned.