10 August 1888
39 STABS WITH TWO KNIVES.
Yesterday afternoon Mr. G. Collier, the deputy coroner for South-East Middlesex, opened an inquiry at the Working Lad's Institute, Whitechapel, on the body of Martha Turner, aged 35, a single woman, lately living at 4, Star-place, Commercial-road, who was found lying on the landing of Georges-yard-buildings on Tuesday morning last, with over twenty stabs about her person.
Detective-inspector Reid watched the case for the police.
Considerable interest was taken in the proceedings, but owing to the size of the room the public were not overcrowded.
Previous to calling the first witness, the coroner said that the body had been identified that morning, but he had just been informed that two other persons also identified her as quite a different person, and under those circumstances he thought the question of identity had better be left till the last.
Elizabeth Mahony, 47, George-yard-buildings, Whitechapel, the wife of a carman, stated that on the night of Bank Holiday she was out with some friends. She returned shortly before two in the morning. Her husband was with her. She afterwards left the house to try and get some supper at the chandler's shop. The stairs are of stone, and were perfectly clear of any obstacles. She walked down the street, and was not absent more than five minutes and then retired to bed. They heard no noise during the night, but at ten o'clock she was told that a murder had been committed in the building. There is no light on the staircase. The spot where the body was found had been pointed out to her. She was not sure it did not lay there at two o'clock when she went in, as it was in a wide part of the stairs and quite in the dark.
Alfred George Crow, a cab-driver, of 35, George-yard-buildings, deposed that on Tuesday morning he returned home from work at half-past-three. On his way upstairs he saw somebody lying on the first landing. It was not an unusual thing to see, so he passed on, and went to bed. He did not know whether the person was dead or alive when he passed.
John Saunders Reeves, 37, George-yard-buildings, a waterside labourer, deposed that on Tuesday morning he left home at five o'clock to go in search of work. On the first-floor landing he saw a female lying in a pool of blood. She lay on her back, and seemed dead. He at once gave notice to the police. The woman was a perfect stranger to witness. Her clothes were all disarranged, as if she had had a struggle with some one. Witness did not notice any instrument lying about.
Police-constable Barrett, 226 H, deposed to being called by the last witness to view the body of deceased. She was lying on her back, and before she was moved a doctor was sent for, and on arrival pronounced life extinct. The woman's hands were clenched, but did not contain anything. Her clothes were thrown upwards.
Dr. Kaleene stated that he was called to the deceased and found her dead. He examined the body and found 39 punctured wounds on the body and legs. There were no less than nine in the throat and 17 in the breast. She appeared to have been dead about three hours. The body was well nourished. He had since made a post-mortem examination, and found the left lung penetrated in five places, and the right lung in two places. The heart had been penetrated, but only in one place. Otherwise it was quite healthy. The liver was healthy but penetrated in five places, and the spleen was penetrated in two places. The stomach was healthy but penetrated in six places. In witness's opinion the wounds were not inflicted with the same instrument, there being a deep wound in the breast from some long, strong instrument, while most of the others were done apparently by a penknife. The large wound could be caused by a sword-bayonet or dagger. It was impossible for the whole of the wounds to be self-inflicted. Death was due to loss of blood consequent on the injuries.
At the conclusion of this witness's evidence the inquiry was adjourned.