18 September 1888
TO THE EDITOR OF "THE EVENING NEWS."
SIR- It has been suggested by a correspondent in a contemporary of yours, that the unfortunate woman, Annie Chapman, was murdered by a left-handed person, his reason for thinking so being the fact of the victim's throat being cut from left to right. He says: "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." I cannot agree with the reasoning of this correspondent. He presumes that the woman entered the yard for an immoral purpose; with this view I beg to differ. I believe the woman entered this yard, which was known to her, by herself, with the object of finding a quiet resting place. Donovan, the "deputy" at the lodging-house where the deceased frequently stayed, has stated that when he last saw the woman alive at twenty minutes to two on the morning of her death she was the worse for drink, and that she said, "I haven't enough money now, but keep my bed for me. I shan't be long." From this it is evident she intended returning to the lodging-house; but, presuming she did not get any money, might she not have entered the yard in Hanbury-street, knowing there was little likelihood of her there being disturbed by the police? And I believe the assassin saw and murdered the woman while asleep. Even if brawls and cries of murder are so frequent in the early hours of the morning in Whitechapel, that little or no notice is taken of them, still at the hour at which the murder is supposed to have been committed quietness would almost reign supreme. And if the woman had been attacked from the front, and while awake, however suddenly, she would at least have uttered one piecing shriek, which in the prevailing stillness could not have failed to have been heard by some light sleeper near. But if the woman was sleeping the heavy sleep of the drunkard, the murderer could stoop over her and pass the cold blade across her neck before she awoke. Perhaps the murderer had been sleeping in the yard himself, or perhaps he had followed his victim and bided his opportunity to commit his diabolical crime. And now I would modestly offer an opinion as to the motive of the crime. It has been noticed that all the victims have been women of the "unfortunate" class. Therefore, let us suppose that the murderer has at some time contracted a loathsome disease from one of these women- not necessarily from any of the victims- and that, finding his life a life of misery and suffering, he has allowed his mind to dwell with thoughts of vengeance on the class of women that gave him this disease. This vengeance, growing with a rapid growth in his enfeebled mind, he determines to exterminate as many of these women as he can. He then commences his ghastly work. If this theory of mine should be considered feasible, I would suggest that a visit be paid to all the hospitals in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel, and inquiries made of them as to out-patients attending now or lately for a certain disease. I believe all hospitals keep books, in which the name, address, and occupation of the patient are entered. Therefore, with a little trouble, it could be found what patients by their trade were likely to be skilled in the handling of a knife, and secret inquiries made as to their past and present life. - I am, &e.,
A. W. HUX.
SIR- Amid all the many suggestions for the best means of trying to discover the fiendish perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders no mention has been made of one obvious to all, and most simple - namely, a large compensating reward. For any likelihood of success the reward must be both one and the other. It must be large in proportion to the diabolic ferocity of the crimes, to their unusual and quickly recurring number, and to mark the sense of their hideousness by a feeling that scarcely any amount can be thought too great to prevent their repetition, if, indeed, you cannot punish and avenge their brutality. And it must be compensating enough to make it worth while for the informer to get out of the reach and power of a bloody vengeance, one that may carry him away to a home beyond the seas, safe from the grip or grasp of any of the friends who may have haunted his old associations and neighbourhoods. If it was only an ordinary case no one would ask the Government to go out of their way to break their genera[l] rule. But these murders have startled and staggered the whole country. A thickly populated district lives in abject fear - almost paralyzed. Is there to be no end to this torture? Is it not the duty of a paternal Government to protect those in whom they must take some faint interest? Or will they permit all that has passed to die out unnoticed and forgotten?
As a system of criminal inquiry, public investigation before a coroner is an anachronism; but it is not entirely useless, even as that, if it is able to show up the absurdity of other ancient institutions. The inquiry before Mr. Wynne Baxter yesterday into the cause of the death of Mary Ann Nichols is fruitful in again demonstrating to the people of London the entire fatuity of their police arrangements. On the morning of her murder this poor woman's body was taken to the mortuary attached to the Whitechapel Workhouse, and there undressed and washed by two men, pauper inmates of the workhouse. Decency might have found two women paupers, but idiocy could not have supplied two more incapable men. Robert Mann and James Hatfield, unprovided with material in the shape of body or brains to gain subsistence in the great world, are consigned to a workhouse, and there given power to interfere with the investigations of men with whom brains is a necessity, or their existence is a failure. Robert Mann yesterday did not know exactly what had happened on the morning of the murder, and the coroner explained that "the witness was subject to fits," and "that his statements are hardly reliable." James Hatfield was even less reliable. He cut off some of the woman's clothes, and tore down her chemise, but he swore she wore no stays. Upon this, the foreman exclaimed, "Why, you tried the stays on the body of the deceased in my presence at the mortuary." That two such men should have been allowed without instructions from the police to proceed to cut the clothes, wash the body, and possibly destroy traces that would have aided in the detection of the criminal is so preposterously stupid that it could not exist anywhere but in London. The time has surely come when the police stations of the metropolis shall have proper mortuaries attached to them so that the help of epileptic paupers warranted to forget what they have done shall not be brought into requisition.
Is the following incident a sample of our "detective" work? Yesterday, at Woolwich Police-court, a labourer, named Edward Quinn, was charged with being drunk at the police-station. His face and hands were bruised, and it was deposed that when arrested he was much blood-stained. Quinn stated that on Saturday afternoon, having stumbled in the street and cut his face and hands, he went into a bar at Woolwich for a drink. "While at the bar," he said, "a big tall man came in and stood beside me and looked at me. He got me in tow, and gave me some beer and tobacco, and then he said 'I mean to charge you with the Whitechapel murders.'" This seems rather like the ingenious coup de main that would suggest itself to our average British policeman.
The man's face and hands were bloody, and there had been a murder in Whitechapel only seven days before. What more likely than that the murderer should have forgotten to wash himself for a week? To Quinn, however, it did not seem probable that such astute calculation would be made, for he says, "I thought it was a joke, and laughed, but he said he was serious, and pointed to the blood about me. I said, 'Nonsense, is that all the clue you have got?' He then dropped the subject, and took me for a walk until we got to the police-station, where he charged me with the Whitechapel murders." Quinn was subsequently released on his own recognisances. But we should like to know if his tale is true, and, if so, who was the big stout man?
About four o'clock yesterday afternoon a respectably dressed woman, apparently about 30 years of age, was sitting in a waiting-room at Liverpool-street Station, when suddenly she left her seat, remarking to a gentleman standing close by that she had poisoned herself. Almost immediately she screamed out and fell to the ground. She was picked up and taken into an inner room, where she was attended to by Dr. Berwick, the Great Eastern Railway Company's medical officer. Everything was done to restore the poor woman, but without success and she was soon pronounced to be dead. The City police were called in, and the body was removed by the coroner's officer to the mortuary in Golden-lane to await an inquest. On the body being searched, 1s. 5d. in money was found in her pocket, together with the following letter, undated and without address: "Dear Tom, I could not see the things taken from my house; what I said this morning is true. Pray to God for me, your distressed wife. I hope God will forgive me and help you. I cannot stand this any longer, it is too much for me. Good-bye; farewell! - LUCY." An address, "Mrs. Groves, Halby-road, Enfield Lock," was found on a slip of paper, but not in the same handwriting as the letter. The body has not yet been identified.
A POSSIBLE CLUE.
The following facts, which have just come to hand, may furnish a clue by which the Hanbury-street murderer may be traced:
On the day of the murder (the 8th inst.), a man was seen in the lavatory of the City News Rooms, 4, Ludgate-circus-buildings, changing his clothes. He departed hurriedly, leaving behind him a pair of trousers, a shirt, and a pair of socks. Unfortunately, no one connected with the establishment saw the man, or he would certainly have been stopped and questioned as to why he was changing his clothes there and leaving the old ones behind.
Mr. Walker, the proprietor of the News Rooms, states that he did not hear of the occurrence until late in the afternoon, when his attention was called to the clothes in the lavatory. He did not at the time attach any importance to the fact, and the clothes were thrown into the dust-box and placed outside, being carted away in the City Sewers cart on the Monday. On the following Tuesday, however, he received a visit from a man who said he was a police officer, and asked for the clothes which had been left there on Saturday. Mr. Walker replied that if he wanted them he would have to go to the Commissioners of the City Sewers, telling him at the same time what he had done with them. Two detectives called on Thursday last, and had an interview with Mr. Walker, and they succeeded in finding a man who saw the party changing his clothes in the lavatory, and he has given the police a description of him. He is described as a man of respectable appearance, about 30 years of age, and wearing a dark moustache, but the police are very reticent about the matter, and decline to give any information on the subject. They evidently attach some importance to the affair, as Mr. Walker again received a visit from two detectives yesterday morning. The police are now trying to trace the clothes, as it is hoped that they will furnish some clue to lead to the identity of the man whom they are searching for.
Under the above heading a letter appears in to-day's Times, from which we make the following extracts:
The occurrences in Whitechapel are being made the opportunity for raising a cry against the metropolitan police. This is on every account to be regretted, for whatever imperfections there may be in the administration of that force a cry by people who know nothing about administration is not a good means whereby to reach its reform. Neither is a cry directed against its chief.
Sir Charles Warren is not to be blamed for those alterations in general management which were initiated, I believe, as long ago as 25 or 30 years before the present time. He has carried out, with some additions of detail, a system that began under Colonel Henderson. That system differs from what preceded it in two particulars chiefly.
It was formerly the practice to keep a well-behaved policeman - and nearly all policemen are well-behaved - on the same beat, without shifting, for a very long time; and a man was seldom or never removed from his beat without some reason. It is now the practice to shift men sometimes once a month, sometimes at the end of two months, and nearly always at the end of three months. I may be told that there is no rule or order on the subject. I have no means of knowing what the rule, if any, may be, but I know what the practice is, about which any Londoner may satisfy himself by asking any policeman that he may have acquaintance with, or, indeed, any policeman whom he may address civilly.
Sir Edward Henderson's other innovation was to separate, far more than had been before, the police on ordinary duty from the detective police in as it were two departments. I do not know the particulars, I only know the heads, of this change; and I strongly suspect, though I cannot prove from facts, what its working has been. The two alterations are based, it will be evident to all acquainted with police management, on the idea of treating the force as a machine. Many minor details that have arisen under the same idea look like militarism. While I do not want to impute militarism to either the late or the present chief, I am of the belief that what I would prefer to call the mechanical idea has dominated both of them too much.
A policeman who knows his beat - being not merely a beat the duty of which is attending to traffic - is worth three who do not know the beat. This applies to the whole of a city, and it applies with double force to such parts as Whitechapel. A man will know the streets of his beat in a day - or may do so if he chooses; although I have asked my way to a street, naming it, which was part of a man's beat, without his having heard of it. But a man will not, till after a very considerable time, know the people who live in a beat; nor will he know, as an old hand will, every house and its doors and windows. A policeman who has attained thorough knowledge, who knows the people, and is known to them, becomes a kind of referee, especially in the poorer neighbourhoods. Knowledge of him produces confidence in him; and he becomes without his knowing it an embryo detective. He is able to put down street rows with a mere glance when a stranger would be unheeded. I need not enumerate the particulars in which the old policeman is and must be the superior of the stranger. If it be said that he will become too intimate with the population, it is not so; he cannot be too intimate. He may abuse his intimacy, which is another thing. Last year there was much talk of blackmail in connection with the Regent-street affair. I believe, perhaps, one-hundredth part of it. But it would be a more difficult thing for a policeman, known by hundreds of the neighbours, to pursue a system of blackmail, such as was imputed, than for a man transferred once a month from one beat to another.
If I be thought to be giving my unsupported opinion, I have authority, the very highest, for my views; indeed, I think the following two authorities amount to proof. Every one that I know holds that the City police is superior in effectiveness to the metropolitan. The only difference, but the slightest, in their organisation is that the City men are kept without a break on the same beats for a minimum period of three years, never being removed during those three years except for misconduct; and often, at the end of the term, being placed on day duty instead of night duty on their old beats.
My other authority is Paris, the best policed city in the world. There the sergents de ville are never removed. I knew one who had been in the same district for 30 years. He knew every man, woman, and child, dog, and cat, door, window, shutter, and spout in his six or seven streets; and burglary and disorder were most difficult.
Sir Charles Warren inherited the traditions of his predecessor. It is not, as I said, so much the military as the mechanical conception of the force that is erroneous, though these two ideas may have something in common. The military idea is that soldiers, to be effective, must act in bodies; the policeman must nearly always act alone. Such occasions as occurred last winter in Trafalgar-square are quite exceptional.
Last evening, at a meeting held in the large hall at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, Mr. S. Montagu, in addressing his constituents, referred to the recent murders in Whitechapel, and said that the crimes had sent a shudder of horror throughout the whole of England.
Mr. Montagu proceeded to explain why he had offered a reward of £100 for the detection of the murderer, and said that after he had heard of the murders he drove to Leman-street Police-station, and he was not then aware that the Government had abandoned the system of offering rewards. He found that Superintendent Arnold was out of town, and knowing the Home Secretary was also out of town, and that some delay might result, he offered Inspector West a written undertaking to pay £100 for the apprehension of the murderer. He was told that the offer would be communicated to the Commissioners of Police and to the Home Office. This he believed had been done; and that morning he had written to the police authorities begging that they would at once have printed and posted at his expense a sufficient number of placards to give publicity to his offer.
At Woolwich Police-court, yesterday, a labourer, named Edward Quinn, aged 35, was placed in the dock before Mr. Fenwick, charged nominally with being drunk at the police-station. - His face and hands were much bruised, and he was considerably blood-stained. - The magistrate was about to dispose of the case briefly, when the prisoner remarked that he had a complaint to make. He said: On Saturday I was at a bar down by the Arsenal, at Woolwich, having a drink. I had stumbled over something in the street, just before, and had cut my face and knuckles, as you see, and I had bled a good lot. While at the bar a big, tall man came in and stood beside me and looked at me. He got me in tow, and gave me some beer and tobacco, and then he said, "I mean to charge you with the Whitechapel murders." I thought it was a joke, and laughed, but he said he was serious, and pointed to the blood about me. I said, "Nonsense! Is that all the clue you have got?" He then dropped the subject, and took me for a walk until we got to the police-station, where he charged me with the Whitechapel murders. - Mr. Fenwick: Were you not drunk? - Quinn: Certainly not, sir. - Mr. Fenwick: You will be remanded until tomorrow. - Quinn: This is rather rough. I am dragged a mile to the station and locked up, and I am to wait another day with all this suspicion of murder hanging over my head. - Mr. Fenwick: I will take your own bail in £5 for your reappearance. - Quinn: I object to the whole thing. Me murder a woman! I couldn't murder a cat. (Laughter.) - The prisoner was then released on his recognisances.
ANOTHER MURDER SCARE.
Charles Ludwig, 40, a decently-dressed German, of the Minories, was charged, at Thames Court to-day, with being drunk and threatening to stab Alexander Finlay, of 81, Leman-street, Whitechapel.
Prosecutor said at three o'clock that morning he was standing at a coffee-stall in Whitechapel, when the accused came up drunk, and in consequence was refused to be served. He then said to prosecutor, "What are you looking at?" and then pulled out a knife and tried to stab witness. Ludwig followed him round the stall and made several attempts to stab him. A constable came up and he was given into custody. - Constable 221 H, said the prisoner was in a very excited condition, and witness had previously received information that he was wanted in the City for attempting to cut a woman's throat with a razor. On the way to the station he dropped a long-bladed penknife, and on him was found a razor and a long-bladed pair of scissors.
Inspector Pimley, H division, asked the magistrate to remand the prisoner, as they had not had sufficient time to make sufficient inquiries concerning him.
A City constable, John Johnson, 856, stated early that morning he was on duty in the Minories, when he heard loud screams of "Murder" proceeding from a court in which there were no lights. The court led to some railway arches, and was a well-known dangerous locality. On going into the court he found the prisoner with a prostitute. The former appeared to be under the influence of drink. Witness asked what he was doing there, when he replied, "Nothing." The woman, who appeared to be in a very frightened condition, said "Oh, policeman, do take me out of this." The woman was so frightened that she could then make no further explanation. He got her and the accused out of the court, and sent the latter off. He walked with the woman to the end of his beat, when she said, "Dear me. He frightened me very much when he pulled a big knife out." Witness said, "Why didn't you tell me that at the time?" and she said, "I was too much frightened." He then went and looked for the prisoner, but could not find him, and therefore warned several other constables what he had seen. Witness had been out all the morning trying to find the woman, but up to the present time had not been able to do so. He should know her again. He believed the prisoner worked in the neighbourhood.
Great excitement prevails, as it is believed that some important discoveries in connection with the recent murders may come to light, and several people have alleged that he knows something about the tragedies. It has already been ascertained that Ludwig, who now professes he is not able to speak English, has been in this country for about three months. He accounts for his time during the last three weeks, but nothing is at present known as to what he has been doing before that time.
Mr. Saunders said it was clear the prisoner was a dangerous man, and ordered him to be remanded.
There was a rumour current of another murder in Whitechapel, this morning, but it seems to have had its origin in the above case.
"Lesbia," the "classical comedy" produced at the Lyceum, last night, as a front piece to "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," would be better if it were a little less classical and a little more comical. It is a rather pretty and rather silly little piece, wherein there is one fickle young gentleman, Catullus, one foolish young lady, Lesbia, and one sensible sparrow. Catullus proposes to desert his loving Lesbia in order to marry money, and Lesbia, having tried reproaches and found them not answer, resorts to pretended indifference, and conveys to the faithless one that she really thinks less about him than the sparrow. The simple little ruse succeeds in its design, and Catullus returns to his allegiance, and the sparrow to his groundsel. That is all. "Jekyll and Hyde" is still drawing good houses.