12 September 1888
SIR,- Being a tradesman of Whitechapel, I wish to have a few words on the article in your paper of the 11th, about the disgraceful scenes that have been going on lately at the corner of Thomas-street and its neighbourhood. It is not safe for a respectable person to walk the streets while such nuisances are going on. Another great nuisance which I think the police ought to put a stop to are those Italian organs which infest our streets day and night. They cause a large crowd of boys and girls, men and women, to assemble for the purpose of dancing. I was passing through a street only last Friday evening, when I noticed a drunken woman, with a baby which appeared about five months old, running round and trying to dance to one of those organs, the poor child half naked and crying, while a drunken lot of men and women were enjoying the fun. I am sure the police will do their best to quell these disturbances. Hoping this matter will be taken up by the inhabitants of Whitechapel, I remain, yours faithfully, A. LAING.
210, Oxford-street, W., Sept. 11.
SIR,- It being everyone's duty to assist in any way possible the elucidation of the above dreadful tragedies, may I, through you, ask the police whether they have given a thought to the possibility of the crimes having been committed by a woman or a man disguised as such! - Yours obediently, F. H. H.
IS IT ANOTHER MURDER?
THE POLICE FEAR A TRAGEDY
Has there been another terrible crime committed in London? Or have some stupid practical jokers been endeavouring to still further intensify the painful sensation which has been caused in the Metropolis? These are questions which must be asked in connection with the singular discovery in the Western part of London yesterday.
Yesterday, soon after noon, the attention of several persons passing along Grosvenor-road, Pimlico, was drawn to what appeared to be a portion of a human body floating in the River Thames near Grosvenor Railway-bridge. It is stated that the object was first seen entangled among some timber floating on the riverside, and that a number of boys, imagining it to be the carcass of a drowned dog, amused themselves by pelting it with stones. A closer inspection, however, showed it to be a human arm; it was recovered from the water by a man named Frederick Moore, who is employed at Messrs. Ward's timber yard, in the Grosvenor-road. The police were at once sent for, and a constable who was on duty near the spot took charge of the limb, which he conveyed to the police-station at Gerald-road, Eaton-square. While this was being done, the immediate vicinity was searched with the view to discovering whether there were any more remains. None were found.
Dr. Thomas Neville, surgeon of 85, Pimlico-road, and of 128, Sloane-street, subsequently made an examination of the arm. It appears that the limb is the right arm of a female, probably of some 25 or 30 years of age. It has been severed at the shoulder-joint, and has the appearance of having been in the water some two or three days. The cut was not skillfully made, and was such as would be the case had the operation been performed by a person ignorant of the elements of anatomy. Round the arm and above the elbow was a piece of string, tied somewhat tightly, but not sufficiently taut to produce much of an indentation. It is thought not unlikely that by some of those who assume that a tragedy has been committed, that the string may have been employed to prevent the blood oozing through the veins, and so causing a risk of splashing to the person disposing of the severed limb. If this was the intention the artifice was scarcely successful, as when taken from the river there was still some bleeding. Another conjecture is that the string was merely attached for the purpose of easy carriage. At any rate, this was the idea which struck the police-constable, who conveyed the limb to the police-station by means of another piece of string attached to that already round the remains.
The contour of the limb, the delicacy of the hand, and the wont of muscular development clearly indicate that the arm is that of a woman, and that comparatively young. It is difficult, of course, to tell, the precise age, but the examination showed that the female, whoever she was, was a well-developed person, apparently in good health. There was no trace of disease of any kind, and there were no bruises suggestive of violence, but there were one or two slight abrasions, caused probably by contact with bridges or floating timber. It is not easy to say when the limb was cut off, but Dr. Neville inclines to the view that the knife was used very soon after death. Had the act been performed some considerable time after death the appearance of the limb would have indicated it. The suggestion was, as we say, put forward that the limb probably came from a dissecting-room; but the character of the cut somewhat negatives the theory.
One theory which the police are said to entertain is that the arm forms part of a woman who has met with a tragic end, and whose body is being disposed of in sections as opportunity offers. The single limb, which after examination was taken to the mortuary at Ebury Bridge, affords, however, no clue upon which the police authorities can act.
The discovery of human remains at Pimlico has created a profound sensation in that district, and the wildest rumours are already afloat as to whether another hideous crime, even more mysterious than the Whitechapel murders, has or has not been perpetrated in the West-end of London. There are believed to be some startling features in connection with the case which cannot at present be revealed, as officials are now engaged in making their investigation into this the latest London mystery.
Inquiries this morning show that applications at the various London hospitals are, as we state, being made to-day. From some of these institutions- St. Thomas's, St. George's, and those at Westminster and Charing-cross- returns had at an early hour already been made, and these show a negative result. No portions of any body have been missed from these institutions, and such are the stringent regulations applying to dissection that it is considered impossible for a single limb to be clandestinely conveyed out of the hospital without its absence being immediately detected. No student can possess a whole body for dissection- unless under very special circumstances- and each separate portion is supposed to be carefully registered in books kept for the purpose.
Inspector Adams, Inspector Arthur Hare, Inspector Kendrick and other officers are busy to-day in making inquiries at certain localities in Pimlico, while diligent search is being made along the banks of the Thames for any other human remains, as it is thought not improbable that the remaining portions of the woman's trunk- presuming the case to be one of murder- will be sooner or later discovered.
Several theories are to-day advanced as to this mysterious affair. One is that the poor woman died from the effects of an unlawful operation committed in some house of evil repute; that her body was then cut up, in order to first of all conceal the crime and, secondly, to the more easily dispose of it; and that it was the work of a man having medical knowledge. Another theory is that the deceased has been killed by the same unseen hand that committed the dastardly crimes in Whitechapel, and that the arm had eventually been brought from the East-end to Pimlico, in order to throw the police off the scent. Inspector Abberline, Inspector Helson, Inspector Reid, and other officers engaged in investigating the Whitechapel crimes have been in communication with Scotland-yard with reference to the finding of the arm, but no clue has as yet been found.
Dr. Neville is of opinion that the woman met her death about three days ago, probably on Sunday, and that the limb was cut off soon after the poor creature's decease. There is now an impression that the piece of string on the limb was tied round for the purpose of attaching a weight in order to sink it. Search has been made in the mud at the wharf, but no weight could be traced. The police authorities are this morning confident that the arm was thrown into the Thames at the spot where it was found- or a very short distance from it- and the medical testimony is to the effect that the flesh reveals evident signs of very recent immersion.
LATER FROM PIMLICO.
This afternoon Dr. Thomas Neville, the divisional surgeon, accompanied by Chief-inspector Jones and Inspector Adams, of the B Division, visited the mortuary at Ebury-bridge, Pimlico, for the purpose of minutely examining the arm which was found in the river on the previous day. The limb measured to the tips of the fingers exactly thirty inches, and it was noticed that the palm of the hand presented a corrugated appearance, which is, no doubt, attributable to the action of the water. The fingers, which are described as being rather stout, are shrivelled up, and it is said that the back of the hand is peculiarly white, resembling a piece of white coral. The flesh projects beyond the finger rails. which are very dirty. The arm will for the present remain at the mortuary to await the orders of Mr. John Troutbeck, the District Coroner, who has been informed of the discovery; but it is highly improbable than an inquest will be held.
SUSPECTED MURDERER UNDER OBSERVATION.
HIS ARREST PROBABLE.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PISER.
The Exchange Telegraph Company learns that the police have full knowledge of the whereabouts of the man whose description has been circulated as that of the alleged Whitechapel murderer, and his identity is spoken to by several witnesses. Although not actually under arrest, he is carefully watched, and his arrest is said to be only a question of time. The belief is steadily gaining ground that the man who was seen in a passage with a woman who is supposed to have been Mary Ann Nicholls on the morning of the 8th of August, and who spoke with a foreign accent, is the murderer of both Nicholls and Annie Chapman. In the event of his arrest, strong prima facie evidence will be forthcoming to connect him with the crimes. The police have keenly followed up the clue which was given to them about this man. The pensioner, who kept company with Annie Chapman, will, it is said, be forthcoming, and also the two men who were called by the witness Davis when he found the body in Hanbury-street, but whose names were not then known to the police. They are employed at the works of Mr. Bailey, packing-case maker.
In a later despatch the Exchange Telegraph Company states that further inquiries tend to confirm the belief that the Police have evidence of a distinct character against a particular person for the Whitechapel murders, and his arrest cannot be remote.
AN ARREST AT HOLLOWAY.
On inquiry at the Leman-street and Commercial-street Police-stations this afternoon, an Echo reporter was informed that, up to 8:30 p.m., no arrests had been made in that neighbourhood. However, an arrest had been made at Holloway, the prisoner being charged on suspicion. The police evidently attach little importance to it. The prisoner is believed to be insane. The police authorities were unable to substantiate the rumour that a man, answering the description of "Leather Apron," is being watched by detectives. The reason of that is that the detectives who are engaged in the case are, to use an Inspector's own phrase, working entirely "on their own hook."
Later information with regard to the alleged finding of pieces of paper smeared with blood in the back premises of Bayley's packing-case shop, in Hanbury-street, is to the effect that investigation has proved that the stains are not those of blood, but of some other matter. The police attach no importance either to this supposed clue or to the marks on the wall of the yard. Piggott still remains under police observation at the Infirmary.
WILLING TO GIVE INFORMATION.
The man John Piser, who, it is supposed, bore the sobriquet of "Leather Apron," was, as we have stated, released from Leman-street Police-station at 8.20 last night. He immediately returned to the house of his brother, Samuel Piser, at 22, Mulberry-street, Commercial-road, where he had been in the habit of residing. He has not left the house since. Our representative had an interview with him to-day. "I am," he said, with a frank acknowledgment, "the individual about whom there has been so much unnecessary noise." "I am," he added, "quite willing to give the police authorities any information they may desire as to my whereabouts during the past few weeks, and as to where I was staying at the time this horrible and atrocious crime was committed. I am willing," he repeated, with considerable emphasis, "before God and man, to furnish all particulars."
"During the early part of last week I had been," he proceeded, "living at Holloway-road. Thursday last was a Jewish holiday. I therefore came to stay here. I entered the house at about a quarter to eleven. I saw my sister and her young man. They retired to rest shortly after I arrived. I was the last to retire, as I slept in the kitchen. My sister, however, locked the door before she went to bed. The latch is a peculiar one, and if anyone goes out after the door is locked it is impossible for them to return, unless, of course, someone opens the door from the outside."
"Did you (inquired the reporter) go out the next day?" - "No, I did not go out of the door again until I was taken out by the police. I did not go out of the house at any time during Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, with the exception of occasionally going into the back yard. One of the neighbours saw me in the yard."
"At about nine o'clock on Monday morning there was a knock at the door, I opened the door personally, and found Sergeant Thicke standing outside. He then arrested me."
"Did he not say anything to you?" was the natural question of our reporter.
"Yes, He said, 'you are just the man that is wanted.' I said, 'what for?' He replied, You know what for. You are the man wanted, and you will have to come with me.' I said, 'I will go down to the station with the greatest of pleasure,' and I went. The sergeant. said to me, 'You are the man whom the women call "Leather Apron."' This, however, I denied. I do not acknowledge (said Piser to the reporter) that name at all, and I have not recently worn a leather apron."
Were you not surprised (the reporter at once asked) when he said you were known as 'Leather Apron'?"
"Yes. I was not aware that I was known by that name. None of my neighbours have ever called me by it."
"What happened when you got to the police-station?"
"When I arrived at the station, there was some fear that the place would be besieged, and precautions were taken by the police to prevent any disturbance. I was, of course, searched, but I am thankful to say that nothing was found on me that would incriminate me."
"I am" (proceeded Piser with considerable fervour) quite innocent of the charge that has been brought against me in connection with the murder in Hanbury-street. My character will bear the strictest investigation. I can get references both from men of my own religion and from 'Gentiles,' for whom I have worked."
Do you live at 22, Mulberry-street?
"Mostly, but when I see anything to be done that is likely to be beneficial to me I sometimes go away.
Where do you live, then?
In lodging-houses, or rather chambers.
Have you ever lived in a lodging-house in Dorset-street.
No. I have never lived there. On Sunday week last, while I was walking through Church-street, two women accosted me. I did not know them. One of them accused me of committing the crime in Buck's-row. The other, the elder of the two, however, said, "You are not the man, are you?" I said, "I know nothing about it. At that moment a stalwart and strong-looking man came up. Addressing me, he exclaimed, "Mate, come and stand me half-a-pint." I, however refused, and walked away.
It has been stated that on Saturday night last you went to Mrs. Fiddymont's house, and that your clothes were then covered with blood. Is that so?
No. I never left this house on Saturday.
Did you know the woman who was murdered in Hanbury-street.
No. I did not know the woman's name. I do not ever recollect ever hearing the name of Mrs. "Sivvey," and to the best of my belief I have never seen the woman.
"Oh there is another important point which I wish to mention," afterwards said Piser. "While I was in Leman-street Police-station yesterday, an Inspector came to me and asked me if I had any objection to being put to a test with a view to identification. I said I had not. I was then taken out into the yard, and placed among some other men who had apparently been called in from the street. One man who was standing next to me I recognised as a boot finisher. After I had been standing there for a few minutes with the other men, a man stepped forward from the office, which was on the Leman-street side of the station. He deliberately came up to me and tapped me on the right shoulder. I said to him, 'You are mistaken. I have never seen you before.' His statement to the effect that he saw me threatening a woman in Hanbury-street on the night of the murder is utterly false. As I told you, I never left this house on that night."
"I intend (said Piser, as the reporter took his leave) taking legal proceedings against him. I do not know the man's name. He wore dark clothes, had fierce-looking eyes, was of stalwart appearance, and of negro cast. That, I think, is all I have to tell you. My spirits are quite broken down over this affair, and I expect I shall be under medical treatment for some time to come."
Piser told his story with considerable ease. While making his statement he more than once appealed to his brother, who was present, for confirmation of his story. He displayed more than an ordinary amount of intelligence. He is a man of medium height, with florid complexion. He wears a moustache and side whiskers.
Mr. Wynne Baxter resumed the inquiry this afternoon, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, into the circumstances attending the murder of Annie Chapman, whose body was discovered in the back-yard of 29, Hanbury-street.
The police were represented by Inspector Abberline, Inspector Helson, and Inspector Chandler.
It was thought at an early hour of the proceedings that the inquiry would not terminate to-day, the police having a mass of evidence to lay before the Coroner. There was great interest manifested in the case, and long before Mr. Baxter arrived every seat in the Court was occupied. There was an anxious crowd waiting in the precincts of the building, as it was rumoured that some startling statements were to be forthcoming.
Tomkin Smith, a printer's warehouseman, was now called to identify the deceased. He said she was his only sister. Her name was Annie Chapman. She was the widow of John Chapman, a coachman, who lived at Windsor at the time of his death. Her age was 47. Her husband died in 1886- about Christmas time. When witness saw her last she did not say where she was living, nor what she was doing.
Do you know anything of her associates? - No.
James Kemp, living at Shadwell, deposed- I work for Mr. Bailey, 23A, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, and am a packing-case maker. I go to my work at six o'clock. On Saturday last I got there about ten minutes or a quarter past six. It struck six by Whitechapel Church as I passed up Brick-lane.
Was the gate at Hanbury-street closed? - There were some other men there- workmen. I generally wait until some of my mates come up.
Were you called by anyone? - Yes, an old man named Davis called me.
Did he come up? - No; he came out of his house, 29, Hanbury-street, with a belt off his waist in his hand, and said, "Men, come here." He was then in the middle of the road. I went with James Green, who was standing with me. There were more than two of us there. I went to the passage of 29, Hanbury-street.
Into the back-yard? - No. I only went to the back door. I saw the dead woman. She was lying in the yard, at the bottom of the steps. She lay between the steps and the partition to the next yard.
Where was her head? - Her head was against the house. Her body was not up against the house. Her feet were lying in the direction of our premises at the back.
Did you notice whether her clothes were disarranged? - They were disarranged- thrown back. Her face was visible.
Did you remain to examine her? - I did not go down the steps, and I don't believe anyone else did until Inspector Chandler came.
Did you see she was dead? - I believe she was. I saw a handkerchief, and that seemed "soaked" into her throat.
I could not see any flowing blood, but she was smeared with blood- her face and hands, as if she had struggled.
Did you notice any other injuries? - No, Sir; I did not.
You spoke about something of a struggle. What was it? - I thought she had been lying on her back, and had struggled to free herself- "as if she had fought for her throat."
Was there any blood about her clothes? - I did not notice; I was too much frightened to-
The Coroner - I only wish to ask you if you saw any casually.
Witness - I did not notice any particularly. I saw some water, which seemed to me as if it had been thrown at her. Part of her body was lying beside her. I went on to the kerb to see if I could see a policeman. They generally march on duty at about that time.
What did you do then? - After that I went and had some brandy. When I had returned to the house a mob had assembled.
Was there anyone in your shop before you? - Yes, our foreman. He arrives about ten minutes to six and writes our orders down.
James Green, 36, Acland-street, Burdett-road, Bow, stated that it was six o'clock when he passed the London Hospital on Saturday morning. He got to his work, as a packing-case maker, at ten minutes past six, and saw the last witness there. Witness saw the body of the deceased. It was not touched until Inspector Chandler arrived.
living at 29, Hanbury-street, said: - I occupy half of the house- the lower part. In the back shop I carry on the business of a packing-case maker. My son is John Richardson, 37. A man, Francis Tidy, works for me there. The man came about eight o'clock. He is often late at his work. My son lives at John-street, and works in Spitalfields Market. About six o'clock my grandson, Thomas Richardson, fourteen years of age, came upstairs, and said, "Granny, there's a woman murdered." There had been a great noise in the passage, so I sent him down to see what was the matter. It was then he said, "Granny, a woman is murdered." I went down. There was no one in the yard, but some people were in the passage. I occupy the first floor front room. My grandson slept in the same room on Friday night. I went to bed at about half-past nine.
Did you sleep all night? - Oh, no. I was very wakeful. I should think I was awake half the night. I was awake at three, and only dozed afterwards.
Did you hear any noise? - No; I heard no noise during the night. Mr. Walker occupies the first-floor back room. He makes lawn tennis hats, and is an old gentleman. His son sleeps with him. He is about 27, but is an imbecile.
A lunatic? - No, but weak-minded, and very inoffensive. On the ground floor Mrs. Harderman occupies one room, with a son, 16 years of age. Mrs. Harderman uses the room as a cat's meat shop- "cuts it up and has a walk." I occupy the back parlour. On Friday night I had a prayer-meeting?
The Coroner - A what?
Witness - A prayer-meeting there, until half-past nine. I locked the room then, and it was locked until I came down in the morning. Upstairs there are two floors. John Davies and his wife and a little girl share one room- third floor front. An old lady that I keep- Sarah Cox- occupies the third floor back.
Do you keep her out of charity? - Yes. Mr. Tomkins and his wife have the second floor front, with a little girl. On Saturday morning I called Tomkins at a few minutes to four. I heard him leave the house.
EVEN SCOTLAND-YARD HAS ITS MYSTERY.
Sub-Inspector Turner, of Scotland-yard, left the office about a week ago to attend to private business, and has not returned, although notice of his disappearance has been circulated in the usual way.
"An East-ender" objected yesterday to the wax-works in the Whitechapel-road, on the ground that they are fostering a morbid love of the ghastly and horrible by giving pictorial representations of the recent murders, and in calling them "sinks of iniquity," applied a much harder term to them than they deserve. It is not long since "A Saturday Night" in both these exhibitions was described in these columns. Course, crude, and vulgarly realistic they may be, and the educated mind and eye may have its own idea as to the truth of the likenesses, but there is no more "iniquity" attaching to them than there is to the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's.