15 September 1888
Having finished a long day’s work, I was returning home by way of Whitechapel-road when three shows attracted my attention. One, a waxwork exhibition, had outside a blood-curdling picture of Martha Turner, the victim of the George-yard murder, and of Mary Ann Nicholls, whose body was found in Buck’s-row a few days since. The details were ghastly in the extreme, the head of the latter victim being depicted nearly severed from the body, and three fearful gashes streaming with blood being shown, extending from the abdomen to the ribs. I had only a few minutes before left (sic) George-yard-buildings, passing over the spot where the unhappy Martha Turner gasped out her life after fearful mutilation.
I wanted no more horrors. Next door was a rival show—“The Home of Mirth, Mystery, and Magic,” apparently an illusionist performance; so closely does comedy follow tragedy in busy, vulgar Whitechapel as well as elsewhere. A few doors eastward, opposite the west wing of the London Hospital, in a sidestreet leading to Buck’s-row, stood, on a platform, three male and one female professional athletes. Like the immortals, Sullivan, Smith, and Kilrain, they wished to be noticed; and sometimes with unaided lungs, and sometimes with a huge speaking-trumpet, they called aloud for men with whom to box. One champion was Golding of Whitechapel-road, boss of the show; a second was Davis, of Walworth; a third, whose name I forget, hailed from Aldgate. All these were professors of “the noble art of self-defence,” and each one wanted a friendly set-to with volunteers from the crowd outside, offering to each aspirant his choice of an antagonist. In the event of any one outside “spoiling for a fight,” and not daring to tackle any of these three, a fourth champion was held in reserve. A young Dutchman quickly claimed “the little ‘un” from Aldgate—a tall, active man claimed Davis of Walworth, while a dirty, shabby fellow, apparently 50, and known as Mad Murphy, claimed Golding, who looked as if he could knock over three such objects as he at a single blow. “You’re too old, old man; better have a set-to with the girl,” was the Professor’s answer, and this was arranged.
Miss Violetta, a girl apparently of 15 or 16, with fair hair, nez retroussé, and a bored look, stood in tights on the platform watching the proceedings. On the wall above her head hung a canvas, having on it painted representations of her feats of strength. In one corner she was depicted swinging heavy Indian clubs, in another, supporting on her body and chest six fifty-six pound weights; in a third, lifting by the hair of her head two hundredweights; and in the fourth, bearing on her upturned body a huge mass of stone, which a burly workman was breaking with a sledge-hammer. The centre piece represented her holding with her teeth a cask, on which rode an ugly Bacchus in the shape of a fat Jew of some twelve or fourteen stone weight.
To see her feats of strength the charge was one penny, and the boxing was given free. I entered. Two “ladies of the Whitechapel-road” were indulging in an informal set-to, but as soon as about fifty persons had entered the “hall” (a kind of coal-shed, about sixteen feet square), the ladies were called to order. Then the Dutchman and “the little ‘un” put on the gloves and found good-humouredly several rounds, the professor acting as second, umpire, timekeeper, &c., to both men. Then Davis and his antagonist, and, finally, Golding and Davis banged each other with considerable science and perfect good humour. It was now Miss Violetta’s turn for her feats of strength. Her back hair was arranged in plaits, strengthened by twice, and lengthened by ropes, to which were attached meat hooks. It was explained that the strain of weight-lifting broke the ends of the hair, and so the rope was necessary. Then three weights were brought, one said to weigh 90lbs., and the others 56lbs. each. The girl stooped and attached the hooks to the ring of the 90lb weight, and slowly raised it by her hair about a foot from the floor. Then, stooping, she detached this and raised at once the two smaller weights to about the same height. When she had finished, every nerve seemed to quiver with the strain. She rested for a few minutes, then put on the gloves and proceeded to fight with Mad Murphy, who, with hat off, looked ten years younger, though as dirty and foolish as before. After a little sparring, she struck him several smart and, I thought, spiteful blows in the face which he, perhaps realizing his own degradation, scarcely attempted to return. Eventually Mad Murphy was well banged amidst the plaudits of the crowd. As far as I was concerned this was the end of the performance for seeing the proprietor going out, I followed and told him that the strain was too much for the poor girl, and she ought not to be allowed to attempt such feats. “Oh, said he, she could lift two hundred-weight and a half; That doesn’t hurt her.” If this poor girl lifts much more and boxes after it, a ruptured body and an early grave are, I take it, within measurable distance. So far as I know no protest has up to now been raised, although the Sunday library and the organ performance at the Peoples’ Palace hard by are by some thought to be demoralizing. What of this?
In reference to his article on the recent murders, “About Town” replies to two Correspondents. First to “John Davis,” who has evidently misunderstood his article. “About Town” meant that if all people who wore leather aprons were to be arrested great injustice would be done to cabinetmakers and others who wear such articles of dress. Secondly, in reply to “A Soldier,” “About Town” simply points to the medical evidence given in the case of Mary Ann Nicholls, which distinctly alluded to the use of a bayonet, and to the parade of soldiers in the Tower which took place in consequence of that medical evidence.
THE PRESS and the public are always ready to criticize freely the conduct of the police when they commit any serious indiscretion, or fail to capture the criminals of whom they are in search. Let us be just to them, and give them the credit which is justly their due. Last month twenty-nine policemen were specially commended for their courage in stopping runaway horses. In most of such cases the stoppage was effected at no little personal risk; the very same paper that records the fact on which we comment records the attempt of a coachman to stop his own horse, the result being that he was killed on the spot. Perhaps it requires a yet greater courage to face a mad or savage dog than a runaway horse, for of the six constables who are commended for destroying such animals, no less than four were themselves bitten. Three men are commended for courage at fires, which involved quite as much personal risk, two for courageous apprehensions of persons by whom they were assaulted, and 127 others for various services of a courageous character. There is evidently plenty of pluck in the police force, which is continually being recruited by healthy new blood from the country; what we want is that the policeman should be encouraged to use his brains instead of being snubbed, as he too often is. Who is there that does not pity the unhappy constable of Spitalfields Market, who, when called to the scene of the murder at Hanbury-street, close by, was compelled to tell the person who called him that he could not leave his post, even for a murder, but that some other constable must be sought further on? Policemen, like other men, are ambitious of promotion, and they know how promotion is most easily obtained. That is the secret too often of their too officious interference with cabmen and omnibus drivers, which sometimes amounts to downright persecution. Perhaps we should not have so many undiscovered crimes if a man could be sure that a good capture would entail certain promotion.
THIS DAY’S NEWS.
THE PRISONER RELEASED TODAY.
THE HEATH-STREET ADVENTURE.
THE PENSIONER FOUND—HIS STORY.
THIS DAY’S NEWS.
The latest prisoner of the police was taken into custody last night, he being conveyed to the Commercial-street Station. Edward McKenna by name, he answered, it was thought, to the description of the man who, running through Heath-street, frightened Mrs. Lloyd, and was observed to hold a knife behind him, and who has been assumed by a suspicious public to correspond with a man seen in Flower and Dean-street also armed with a knife. McKenna is a slightly-built man is about five feet seven or eight inches in height, and is dressed very shabbily. He has a careworn look. Covering a head of hair, somewhat sandy, with beard and moustache of the same colour, he wore, when arrested, a cloth skull-cap, which did not improve the man’s miserable appearance.
Throughout Thursday this man’s movements are stated to have created suspicion amongst various persons; but it was not till last night that he was arrested by a constable on duty in the neighbourhood of Flower and Dean-street. On his arrival at the police-station in Commercial-street, the detective officers and Mr. Abberline were communicated with, and an investigation was at once commenced concerning him. On being searched, an odd collection of articles was found upon him—pieces of dress fabrics, old and dirty linen, two or three pocket-handkerchiefs, one a comparatively clean white one, and a white one with a red spotted border; two worn purses, with several compartments; two small tin boxes, a small card-board box, a small leather strap, which might serve the purpose of a garter, and a spring onion. Suspicion, however, was the sole reason for his apprehension.
The police themselves did not attach any importance to McKenna. The man gave an address at 15, Brick-lane, Whitechapel. The most suspicious article found upon him was a small table-knife rather the worse for wear, which McKenna asserts he uses for the purpose of cutting his food. According to his own statement, which was fairly detailed, the man has recently been on tramp in Kent, and he only just returned to London. He gains a living by peddling laces and other small articles. To-day he was confronted with Mrs. Lloyd and her daughter. The result of this was that it was decided to release him. The man is absolutely innocent of any connection with the murder.
The pensioner, Ted Stanley, has been found, or, rather, has discovered himself. Stanley, who is about 47 years of age, is decidedly superior to the ordinary run of those who frequent the lodging-houses of Spitalfields. Last night he attended at the Commercial-street Police-station, and made a statement. This was taken down by Inspector Helson. His explanation of his proceedings is regarded as perfectly satisfactory, and as affording no possible ground for associating him in any way with the recent outrage. In view of his relations with the deceased woman, Stanley felt considerable difficulties in coming forward, but after the expressions of opinion by the Coroner at the inquest on Thursday, he placed himself in indirect communication with the police. It was by arrangement that he subsequently proceeded to Commercial-street Police-station. Stanley has given the police a full account of his whereabouts since he last saw the deceased woman, which was on the Sunday preceding the murder. Sine then he has been following his usual employment, and has taken no steps to conceal his movements.
Stanley has known Chapman, so he says, for about two years, and denies that she was of a quarrelsome disposition. So far as he is aware there was no man with whom she was on bad terms, or who would have any reason for seeking her life. Stanley will attend the inquest when the proceedings are resumed, though his evidence is not expected to throw any light on the tragedy. Yesterday morning a telegram was received from the police at Brentford, stating that a pensioner there answered the description of Stanley, and a detective was at once dispatched to make inquiries. When, however, the real Stanley had appeared, further investigation was abandoned.
As a fact, Ted Stanley is not a pensioner at all. It this morning transpires that he was induced to give himself up from reading the account published in The Echo of yesterday.
It seems that Stanley very rarely slept at 5, Dorset-street, his more regular place of abode being at No. 1, Osborn-street, Brick-lane, one of the most commodious registered lodging-houses in the East-end of London. The Echo reporter made an inspection of these premises this afternoon, when Mr. Charles Argent, the proprietor, gave some details respecting the history of Ted Stanley, whom the deputy, known as Fred, described as a very respectable but reticent man.
I have known Ted Stanley for about twelve years, said Mr. Argent. During that time he has mainly lodged here. I may say that he went by the name of Wand here. He is not a pensioner, but belongs to the Militia—somewhere near Barnet, when he is called in. He has worked at Roberts’s cooperage, Bancroft-place, Whitechapel. He lived here, but when he left I really could not say precisely. You see, as soon as he came he paid so much a week until he went temporarily elsewhere. It was, therefore, not necessary to book him as we should those who come for a night or two only casually. He was absent at his militia duties from July, and came in again here on the 2nd of this month, and has lived here since then.
“But how do you account for the fact, Mr. Argent, that he slept at 35, Dorset-street, with Annie Chapman?”
“Ah, that I cannot tell,” answered Mr. Argent. “You see, as soon as he comes here he engaged a bed right off for a week. He may be a night out, and we should not notice it. But that he is a very honourable man I am sure, and when he read the account yesterday afternoon in The Echo he went to the Commercial-street Police-station and voluntarily made a statement, which was taken down by the police. He did not say why he didn’t appear at the inquest.”
“That is the only thing he didn’t like,” interposed “Fred,” the deputy. “The police told him he would have to attend next Wednesday, and he said he didn’t like that, as it would interfere with his work. He is now doing some labouring work up at Marylebone.”
Mr. Argent continued:—“As I say, I don’t believe he is a pensioner—only a Militiaman. I have never seen his pension papers, and only those relating to the Militia twice. He said to me, a long time ago, ‘If letters come here addressed “Corporal Stanley,” take them in, will you?’ I told him I would do so. He never kept his accoutrements here, and I have never seen him with a knife or, for that matter, in uniform. He has occasionally lodged elsewhere. For instance, [last?] Sunday I saw him standing at the corner at Brushfield-street, and he told me then he had been in the country, but I believed he had been staying at another house because he owed me some money. I may tell you, though, that he came back here at once and paid me what he had borrowed. Yes, he’s an honourable and straightforward man. He did not say anything here when he slept from the Saturday to the Monday, at 35, Dorset-place. But then that place is registered for ‘couples,’ but this place of mine is only for single men.”
“He knew of the murder of the woman whom he knew. Did he say anything about it?”
“No,” exclaimed Fred, “he did not do so to me. He was a very reticent man—very reticent.”
Mr. Argent then reiterated his assertion as to his belief in Ted Stanley’s innocence, and then alluded to the terror created amongst abandoned women in the East-end by the three murders. “Last night,” he said, “there were only five couples in one registered lodging-house where, until the last murder, there were twenty couples. These women are afraid to stop in Whitechapel. Many of them have apparently gone elsewhere.”
“Now tell me, Mr. Argent, where Ted Stanley slept on Friday night. Did he sleep here?”
“That I cannot say,” replied Mr. Argent. “We have not him booked, but then that is nothing. No, I cannot say where he slept then. Perhaps a man who sleeps in the same room may recollect, but it is quite uncertain.”
As to the man Piggott, who was apprehended at Gravesend, nothing has been discovered which can identify him with the murder. The lunatic who was arrested at Holloway has been missing from his friends for some time. The police have been actively prosecuting inquiries concerning him, and it is understood that the result, so far, increases their suspicion. He is at present confined in the Asylum at Grove-road, Bow.
In respect to the pieces of newspaper discovered in Bailey’s yard on Tuesday afternoon, where they had been, it was supposed, thrown by the murderer, who had first wiped his hands upon them when standing in the yard of No. 25, Hanbury-street, it has been alleged that they have been subjected to analysis, and the stains upon them prove to be those of human blood. On inquiry at the surgery of Mr. Phillips it was stated that these pieces of paper have not been examined as reported, and the doctor was so satisfied of the real nature of the other so-called bloodstains upon the wall that he has not thought it necessary to analyse the matter submitted to him.
The attention of the police is being directed to the elucidation of a suspicious incident which occurred yesterday. About ten o’clock in the evening a man passed through the Tower Subway, from the Surrey to the Middlesex side, and said to the caretaker, “Have you caught any of the Whitechapel murderers yet?” He then produced a knife, about a foot in length, with a curved blade, and remarked, “This will do for them.” He was followed, but ran away, and was lost sight of near Tooley-street. The following is the description of the man:—“Age about 30, height five feet three inches, complexion and hair dark, with moustache and false whiskers, which he pulled off while running away. Dress, new black diagonal suit and light dustcoat, and dark cloth double-peak hat.”
SIR,—Is the treatment the man Davis received on Monday from the Coroner calculated to induce others to offer any evidence they may hold? Remarking that he had lost a day’s work, he was told that he would probably lose many more before the inquiry finished. Asking who was to pay for his day, was curtly told the Treasury might do something, but he (the Coroner) had no power. Seeing that a day’s wage means so much to this hard-working class, would it not be desirable to let it be known that loss of time in the interests of Justice will be paid for? Another suggestion from Dr. Phillips’ evidence yesterday. The throat of the deceased was cut from left to right. Now, from the position of the body, the purpose, presumably, of her visit to the yard, is it not most likely the victim was attacked from the front, in which case, judging from the force of the blow, it would appear to be the work of some left-handed person? Is this point overlooked by the police?
“For God’s sake lock me up. I don’t want to be killed.” This was the exclamation of a well-dressed woman, who was found asleep in a garden in Park-place, East Greenwich, when she was awoke by a constable. She was charged with being drunk and disorderly at the local police-court to-day. The prisoner said she came to London to look for her husband, and fell asleep in the garden. “I was afraid,” she added, “I might be murdered like the women in Whitechapel.” Mr. Marsham discharged the prisoner. Annie Gregory, who has been repeatedly charged with drunkenness, was brought up at the same Court for her old offence. She complained that a man had cut her hand with a knife, and she was afraid of being killed like the Whitechapel women. Mr. Marsham discharged her, and said he would grant a summons against the man who had assaulted her.