24 September 1888
ATROCIOUS MURDER NEAR GATESHEAD
FEARFULLY MUTILATED WITH A LONG KNIFE.
A young woman named Jane Beatmoor, 28 years of age, was the victim of a horrible murder at Birtley, near Gateshead, on Saturday night or Sunday morning. It appears that the deceased, who was in delicate health, had been at the Gateshead Dispensary on Saturday for medicine, and on returning home she went out to purchase some sweets with which to take her medicine. She called at several farms while she was out and at half-past seven at night left the house of an acquaintance named Mrs. Newall, evidently with the intention of returning home. She had not arrived at 11 o'clock, and her mother and step-father went to look for her, without success, and concluded that she must have spent the night with some neighbor.
Early in the morning a miner, named John Fish, going to work, found the body of the deceased at the bottom of the railway embankment in a horribly mutilated condition. The county police were communicated with, and Superintendent Harrison and Sergeant Hutchinson, of Birtley, were soon on the spot. A closer inspection revealed the fact that the lower part of the deceased's body had been cut open and the entrails torn out. She was also cut about the face. The body was conveyed home, and a doctor sent for, who expressed the opinion that the cuts had been made with a knife.
The affair has caused quite a panic in the district, the resemblance to the Whitechapel tragedies encouraging the idea that the maniac who has been at work in London has traveled down to the North of England to pursue his fiendish vocation. No arrests have been made.
Later particulars say: Further inquiries made at the scene of the murder do not diminish the shocking brutality of the crime. The unfortunate woman is stabbed in three places, once in the bowels and twice in the face. The wound in the stomach is very deep, the knife having knocked a piece off the vertebral column. The body was found only a few hundred yards from the Girls' Home, by the side of the colliery railway. Beatmoor was last seen at eight o'clock on Saturday night. She was then alone. The man Fish found her about half-past seven yesterday morning. There were no marks of a struggle, and no trace of footsteps. The police are completely baffled, as the murderer has left not the slightest clue. During yesterday thousands of persons visited the spot where the body was found.
The Newcastle Chronicle says: By whom the dastardly deed has been committed is not yet known, nor is the object thereof as yet by any means clear. The murdered woman had little if any money upon her, and that which she had on Saturday night, together with a portion of the sweets she had bought was found in the pocket of her dress. Although she was well dressed it is not thought that robbery was the object of the murderer. Circumstances generally, and the nature of the wound on the body, seem to suggest a different theory- that an attempt at outrage had been made, and the attacker, meeting with stubborn resistance, had taken the life of his victim. This seems to be the impression amongst some of the people living in the vicinity, but whether such was the real and only object of the crime is not clear.
The mother of the murdered woman has made a statement which bears out what we have already related regarding the visit of her daughter to Newcastle, to her return home, and subsequent departure to visit some friends. The mother works in the fields, and the daughter used to stay at home to attend to the domestic affairs of the household, which consisted of her stepfather, her mother, her brother, and herself.
On Saturday the murdered woman had made one of her visits to the Dispensary at Gateshead, from which place she returned in the afternoon. After her arrival at home she decided, about nightfall, t go on a visit to a neighbouring farm house. She set off for this purpose, and on her way thither she called at the Moor Inn, near Birtley, kept by Mr. Morris, who also sells general groceries and sweets. Here she purchased some sweets, which she said were to take with her unpalatable medicine, and she then resumed her way. As nearly as can be ascertained, she left Mr. Morris's establishment at half-past seven, and proceeded in the direction of the farmhouse she intended to visit- the High Farm, occupied by Mr. Newall. She appears to have been last seen alive while on her way from the Moor Inn to Mr. Newell's farm. This must have been about eight o'clock, although several persons state that they saw her between these two places about nine o'clock. Be that as it may, it is affirmed by more than one individual that she was seen about nine o'clock with a young man. After this she does not appear to have been again seen alive. As night wore on Mr. and Mrs. Savage began to feel anxious about the young woman, and as eleven o'clock drew nigh their anxiety gave place to serious misgivings as to her safety. At eleven o'clock they decided to go out in search of her. They did so, and, after walking a considerable distance and making many inquires, they returned to their home without eliciting any information as to her whereabouts. They endeavoured, however, to console themselves with the thought that perhaps she had agreed to stay overnight with some hospitable neighbour, a practice which is by no means uncommon in the country and colliery districts; and with only partially allayed fears they retired to rest.