16 October 1888
THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS.
HAS THE MISCREANT BEEN HYPNOTISED?
To The Editor Of "THE EVENING NEWS."
Sir- So many theories have been adduced by medical experts and others to account for the Whitechapel atrocities that I am somewhat surprised it should have been left to me, at this late date, to suggest that the culprit may be a victim to hypnotism. Nevertheless, this hypothesis, if improbable, is by no means impossible, for it is well known to scientists that a person who has been thrown into the perfect hypnotic state will, on awakening, proceed to execute any crime, no matter how terrible, which may have been suggested to him by the operator during the mesmeric trance, and this despite his better feelings and without being able to explain his reason for the deed. Herein lies the great danger of this mysterious power, seeing that at any moment some unscrupulous and designing person my utilise it to further his own ends. That such a contingency is foreseen by medical jurisprudists is proved by the fact that, only a few weeks ago, M. Jules Liegeois, Professor of the Faculty of Law at Nancy, made a series of experiments with the object of ascertaining if it would be possible when a crime had been committed by a hypnotic subject to discover the author of the criminal suggestion, who of course would be the really guilty party. Professor Bernheim has also been making similar experiments, and both his and those of M. Liegeois went to show that, supposing the operator had taken the precaution to forbid the hypnotized subject to divulge under whose influence he had been, he would stoutly deny that he had been under any influence all, even though closely questioned on the point, and the actual instigator were present. It will thus be seen what an important problem in medical jurisprudence hypnotism may become. Not only can its inexplicable influence cause idle boys at school to become so diligent as to attain t the head of their class, and drunkards to believe that there is sudden death in the intoxicating cup, bit it can make people, all unwilling though they may be, become liars, thieves, and murderers. This being so, my contention is that it is quite within the bounds of probability that the Whitechapel miscreant may, after all, be merely a murderer by proxy, as it were. Given the requisitely sensitive person, it would only be necessary to say to him, when in the hypnotic state, "On awakening, you must proceed to murder so many fallen women in Whitechapel," and the poor victim to science would be quite powerless to prevent himself from carrying out the awful decree. Now, has any one made such a suggestion to a hypnotic subject - a pseudo-scientific man, a religious fanatic, or some practical joker, out of very thoughtlessness? If so, he must assuredly now stand aghast at the result of his own devilish influence. You will see, Sir, what a wide vista of hypotheses my theory opens , but these I will leave to be dealt with by other men than yours faithfully, WILLIAM BUCHANAN. 11, Burton-street, W.C., October 15.
Sir- May I be allowed a small space in your esteemed journal to make a suggestion in reference to the Whitechapel murders? The fiend who has perpetrated these atrocities is supposed to be a man of the shabby-genteel class who carries a shiny black bag, and many individuals of this description, therefore, are objects of suspicion. Arrests have been made, and several shabby folk, no doubt, are included in these arrests, yet to no effect. My theory is, Sir, the murders may have been committed my a woman, and I think that the fact a woman has not been looked for supports my theory. If it is a woman she is doubtless a maniac. The idea is not to be laughed at. A woman accustomed to midwifery I think is more capable and likely to inflict the dreadful mutilation which has attended these murders (when thirsting for blood) than a man of the shabby genteel cut, who perhaps is even unmarried. The woman may have influence over her fellow sex, or might easily have by mixing amongst them as "pals." - I am, &c., J.O. October 15.
Sir- Now that public confidence has been restored in the East-end, after the awful murders and mutilations that have disgraced our civilisation, and now that people can pursue their lawful business without fear, owing to the steps that have been taken which are sure to catch the murderer should he commit another, the thanks of the community are due to THE EVENING NEWS for the steps it has taken to bring the villain or villains to justice. Also I think that the publication in your issue of September 26 of the letter from "An Old Traveller," giving the authorities and the public the benefit of his experience and knowledge of the use of bloodhounds in various quarters of the globe, has brought about that result. I may point out to you that it has been owing to "An Old Traveller's" letter that the general public has taken up the matter, and forced the Chief Commissioner to take the steps he did take to test the value of bloodhounds in such cases. That test, made in Hyde Park, has been eminently satisfactory; and I think yourself and the general public will agree with me that the gentlemen who offer such handsome rewards for the detection of the criminal should give at least a portion of the rewards to "An Old Traveller," as an acknowledgment of the debt the public owe him for his suggestion, which has prevented further crime and restored confidence. - I am, &c., ALEXANDER McGOVERN. 21 Portland-street, E., October 15.
The City police have succeeded in discovering Thomas Conway, who for some years ago lived with Catherine Eddowes, the woman murdered in Mitre-square. Up to yesterday the efforts of the detectives had been at fault, owing, as was suggested by the City solicitor at the inquest, to the fact that Conway has drawn his pension from the 18th Royal Irish Regiment under a false name, that of Thomas Quinn. Apparently he has not read the papers, for he was ignorant till the last few days that he was being sought for. Then, however, he learned that the City detectives were inquiring after him went to the detective office of the City police in Old Jewry, and explained who they were. Conway was at once taken to see Mrs. Annie Phillips, Eddowes's daughter, who recognized him as her father. He states that he left Eddowes in 1880, in consequence of her intemperate habits, which prevented them from living comfortably together. He knew that she had since been living with Kelly, and has once or twice seen her in the streets, but has, as far as possible, kept out of her way, as he did not wish to have any further communication with her.
A man wearing a slouched hat, carrying a black leather bag, speaking with a slightly American accent, and presenting a travel-stained appearance, was arrested at Limavady, near Londonderry, yesterday morning, by Constable Walsh, on suspicion of being the man who committed the recent murders in the East-end of London. The arrest was made as the result of the police description of the man wanted. The prisoner refused to give his name, or any information whatever about himself. A woman and child who were with him were also taken into custody.
We make the following extract from a letter in to-day's Times by Mr. Percy Lindley:
For town use a bloodhound must be trained in town, and from puppyhood. And if it is to be trained to assist in the detection of murder it must be trained for that one purpose only. Such work would form the supreme test, under the most favourable conditions of time and place, of the finest qualities in the keenest hound.
Any trials such as have been suggested could bring only ridicule on the breed generally, while for the particular hounds tried it would be most unfair.
Bloodhounds, from their extreme nervous temperament, are acutely sensitive to new or strange conditions. To instance this, a few weeks ago I had a bloodhound out, on leash, at an Epping Forest deer-hunt. The shouts and wild noises of the labourers driving the deer from cover to cover so unnerved the hound that when I tried to work the scent of a deer which had got away after one of the "sportsmen" thought he had hit it, the hound proved quite useless. Some mornings later I put her on the scent of a deer which had been seen "running on three legs." The hound worked on leash from the spot where the deer had dodged and took up the stale trail over some rather trying ground without a fault to a point at which, in deference to the Forest byelaws which make no provision for wounded deer being followed up, I deemed it prudent to stop.
While writing on this subject may I instance the precocious powers of well-bred bloodhound puppies? Yesterday morning I took into the woods a 13 weeks' old puppy for the first time , and for its first outdoor lesson. Smearing my boots with a little blood, and letting the puppy scent them, I walked away through thick cover. When I was well out of sight the puppy was unslipped and encouraged forward on my trail, which it took up at a trot, and "set" me without a fault. I continued the lessons with rests and rewards between, and without the blood. The last trial I made was from the centre of a wood, over ground partly covered with dry leaves, partly with heather and bracken. I took a quarter of an hour's start, placing a small brook and a broad, well-trodden green ride between me and the puppy. Neither brook nor ride bothered the hound, and I was tracked down in rather less time than it had taken me to cover the ground.
We have received from Dr. Josef S. Bloch, member of the Austrian Parliament, a letter recounting the circumstances of the Ritter trial, which was referred to by our Vienna correspondent on the 2nd inst. In connection with the Whitechapel murders and mutilations. Ritter and his wife were tried in 1882 at Rzezow, in Galicia, for the murder and mutilation of a young woman named Frances Mnich, and were sentenced to death. The High Court, in 1886, unanimously resolved to release the prisoners. According t our Vienna correspondent, at the trial numbers of witnesses deposed that among certain fanatical Jews there existed a superstition to the effect that if a Jew became intimate with a Christian woman he could atone for his offence by slaying and mutilating the object of his passion, and sundry passages of the Talmud were quoted which, according to the witnesses, expressly sanctioned the form of the atonement. In his detailed comments on the facts of the case, Dr. Bloch observes, in the first place, that the surgical evidence as to the mutilations was insufficient, and that there was no actual evidence of Ritter's intimacy with the murdered woman. There was, on the other hand, evidence to show that she was intimate with a notorious thief, in whose lodging she was seen for the last time. In the second place, there are in the Talmud no passages sanctioning such a form of atonement as has been described, and none such were quoted at the trial. Dr. Bloch, himself a native of Galicia, born and educated in an exceedingly orthodox family, "having been Rabbi of orthodox communities for many years, and Deputy of a Polish elective district in which the Orthodox Jews have a majority, solemnly asserts that among these spheres there exists not the least trace of such superstition" as is mentioned by our correspondent. In his postscript Dr. Bloch points out that the probability of the guilt of the thief at whose lodging the murdered woman was last seen is strengthened by the fact that countless trials have shown in the existence among professional thieves of a superstition which has often been the cause of the mutilation of corpses.
Another correspondent, however, who also writes from Vienna, affirms, as a lawyer of more than 20 years' standing, that our Vienna Correspondent was virtually correct in his statement of the case. He declares that, whatever may be the reading of the Talmud, the superstition in question was clearly proved at the trial as existing among the low-class Jews of Galicia. The Ritters, he says, were acquitted, because the only witness against them died in prison, and the rest of the evidence was meagre and incomplete. - Times.
On Sunday the police were watching with great anxiety a house at the East-end which is strongly suspected to have been the actual lodging, or a house made use of, by some one connected with the East-end murders.
From various statements made by the neighbours in the district, the landlady had a lodger, who since the Sunday morning of the murder has been missing. It appears according to the statements made by the landlady to her neighbours, her lodger returned home early on the Sunday morning, and she was disturbed by his moving about. She got up herself very early, and noticed her lodger had changed some of his clothes. He told her he was going away for a little time, and he asked her to wash the shirt which he had taken off and get it ready for him by the time he came back. As he had been in the habit of going away now and then she did not think much at the time, and soon afterwards he went out.
On looking at his shirt she was astonished to find the wristbands and part of the sleeves completely saturated with wet blood. The appearance struck her as very strange, and then when she heard of the murders a horrible suspicion seemed to flash into her mind. Acting on the advice of some of her neighbours, she gave information to the police, and showed them the shirt and the state it was in. They then took possession of it, and obtained from her a full description of her missing lodger. During the last fortnight she has been under the impression that he would return, and was sanguine that he would probably come back on Saturday or Sunday night, or perhaps, on Monday. The general opinion, however, among the neighbours is that he has left her for good.
On finding out the house and visiting it the reporter found it tenanted by a stout, middle-aged German woman, who speaks very bad English, and who was not inclined to give much information further than the fact that her lodger had not returned yet, and she could not say where he had gone or when he would be back. The neighbours state that ever since the information has been given, two detectives and two policemen have been in the house. The house itself has rather a dingy and uninviting appearance. The curtains are kept partly together, and the shutters partly up. It is approached by a court, and as there are alleys running through from one street to the other adjacent, there are different ways of approach and exit. It is believed that in the information obtained as to his former movements and general appearance, together with the fact that numbers of people have seen the same man, the police have in their possession a series of most important clues, and that his ultimate capture is only a question of time.
The Press Association, on making inquiries of the City police, this morning, find that the investigations made by Superintendent Farmer, of the River Tyne Police respecting a man who sailed for a French port, and whose description it stated to have corresponded with that of the Whitechapel murderer have not resulted in any satisfactory communication to them. The matter may accordingly be dismissed as of no importance.
The man Conway, who yesterday visited the Old Jewry Police Station with his two sons, is living at 43, York-street, Westminster, and follows the occupation of a hawker. The police describe him as evidently a man of very exemplary character, and he alluded to his wife's misconduct before their separation with evident pain. Since then he stated that he had frequently seen her in the company of the man Kelly. The police have nothing of importance to communicate with reference to this incident.
Since Mr. Vaughan consented, in August last, to state a case for the opinion of the Queen's Bench Division, communications have been passing between the solicitor to the Treasury, on behalf of the Government, and Mr. Edward Dillon Lewis, as representing the leaders of the movement in support of the alleged right of public meeting in Trafalgar-square and open spaces generally, with a view to the agreement as to the points of law to be stated, but so far without result. The case was prepared originally by Mr. Dillon Lewis, and as altered by Mr. Poland, on behalf of the Crown, together with the correspondence has now been submitted to Mr. Vaughan, who, in default of agreement between the parties concerned, will now settle and state the case.
TWO DRUNKEN MEN ARRESTED.
A correspondent supplies the following: Great excitement was caused last night, in the neighbourhood of Peckham by a report that a woman had been found in the gutter of Hornby-road with her throat cut. It appears that a woman named Brett, aged about 40, had been living at No.66, Hornby-road, with a carman named Olney, aged 64, for some time past. About two weeks ago a sailor, Frank Hall, aged 19, came to live with them. Last night they appear to have been drinking together, and shortly before ten o'clock a discussion ensued, in which the woman said, "We'll give Frank 10s. if he'll get rid of me." No sooner had the words been uttered than Frank, it is alleged, took up a large carving-knife, and cut the woman's throat. She rushed into the street, where she staggered and fell. Inspector Taylor, of the P division, and several constables, put in an appearance with great promptitude, and upon being asked by the inspector who committed the deed, the woman replied, "Frank did it." Dr. Maynard was called, and stated it to be a dangerous wound, extending from ear to ear. A search was at once made, and the two men were discovered in bed in an intoxicated condition, the sailor being the worse of the two. On the way to the station in the High-street, Peckham, the youth said he was "Jack the Ripper," and wanted to know if they thought he was the "Whitechapel bloke."
A STRANGE CONFESSION.
The following letter was left at the office of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser on September 27:
"Sir- Two months having now passed, I venture to ask you to be kind enough to allow me a small space in your valuable paper for a few facts concerning the death of the late Mr. Lawrence. In the first place I beg to state that all the evidence given at the inquest and afterwhers as been utterly false, with the exception of the two lads in the timber. I beg to correct the wrong statement that Mrs. Lawrence gave, for I, the murderer, did not summose (summons) him from his house at all, as it was outside the backdoor when I first spoke to him, or my intension was to have shot him on the spot. Lawrence was very talkative when he was out of doors, little thinking of the death he had so shortly got to die. The last words he spoke when in my company was when he caught sight of the pistol sticking out of my pocket. He said, 'What do you carry them there sort of things about with you for?' My answer was, 'To shoot down dogs and curs like you.' (What, would you shoot a ----). Bang! and once more Tunbridge Wells was startled by another mistery which is never likely to be found out. I might here state that the key which was found on the spot is likely to lead to no clue whatever, as it is as much a mystery to me as the murder is to you. I also wish to threaten Mr. Edwards if he has any more to say conserning Mr. Martin, who is as inosent of the crime as he is. - I remain, yours truly,
"ANOTHER WHITECHAPEL MURDERER.
"Another letter, giving the whole of the particulars from beginning to end, will follow on shortly."
It was naturally thought the letter, which was illiterately worded, and apparently in a disguised handwriting, was a hoax, but it was put in the hands of the police, who placed no reliance upon it. From the opening statement, yesterday, of Mr. W. C. Cripps, the town clerk, who prosecuted, it appeared that on the 9th inst. Dobell was in conversation with a fellow workman, named Page, about the Whitechapel murders, and said, "I have shot a man," the remark being looked upon as an empty boast. Two days afterwards both men went to the local Salvation Army services, where they appear to have been striken by remorse.
When the matter was put into the hands of the police authorities Superintendent Embery proceeded to the sawmills, and saw Gower, stating that he should charge him with being concerned, with another man, in murdering Lawrence, detailing also what the Salvation Army captain had told him. Gower replied, "Yes, that is right. Dobell is a mate of mine, and as true as steel." The superintendent, on searching him, found a key, and this the prisoner said belonged to an outhouse where he kept rabbits, and where the pistol would be found in a box on the top of a rabbit hutch. The superintendent found these things as described, the revolver being loaded in all six chambers. Dobell had been arrested I the meantime by Police-constable Bennett at his house.
On the road to the police-station he said, "I know nothing about the murder. I am quite innocent of it." Later he asked, "Where is my mate- is he at the police-station?" The detective said, "Who do you mean?" and the prisoner replied, "William Gower." At the police-station Dobell volunteered the statement: "There is only one thing I know of the murder. At the inquest Mrs. Lawrence said a man came to the door and called her husband out. That is wrong. Lawrence was already outside the door when I got there. My intention was to have shot him on the spot, but I heard someone in the passage."
Subsequently Dobell added: "A good many people have wondered how it was that Lawrence was on the timber side of the yard. I coaxed him across, telling him we should be able the better to see Mr. Potter coming down the road. The only persons to speak the truth were the two lads in the yard, and everything they said was correct." This statement was not made in answer to questions, but of the prisoner's own free will. The superintendent of police charged him with the murder, and informed Dobell that Gower had declared that he (Dobell) had fired the shot. Prisoner said, in reply, "You are right, you have got the murderer." When searched, a letter was found on him from Gower, commencing, "My dear Mate: I believe the Holy Ghost entered your heart last night; God only knows I wish it had mine. There seems to be something I cannot give up, but I am still believing. I went to see the captain this morning, and had an hour with him and confessed all. He wants to see us both to-night, so please come down to my home at six o'clock instead of 5.30. - Yours, Mate."
A fresh disclosure was made on Saturday morning, and which, when repeated in the police-court, yesterday, created marked sensation. - Police -constable Bennett said Mr. Cripps was passing Dobell's cell when he put his head through the door and remarked, "It is a wonder you did not hear of another murder." Upon the constable replying, "What do you mean?" Dobell answered that on the previous Wednesday week, September 26, he and Gower had sent a letter to a man named Langridge, who worked at the saw mills, telling him to meet them in Clarence-road, where they were going to bring a girl for him. "I and Gower," he continued, "went to Clarence-road and saw Langridge, and we were going to pop him off, only a policeman was there. We thought to finish one more off, and that was Edwards, and ten we should have stopped." The latter, Mr. Cripps explained, gave evidence at the Police-court, on September 14, to the effect that one day a short time preciously he met a man named Martin, who said he had broken into the Baltic Saw Mills some years ago. Edwards informed the police, and Martin was consequently taken into custody, and committed for trial on a charge of breaking into the mills. These facts having been given at yesterday's proceedings, which lasted nearly six hours, both prisoners were committed for trial. The young fellows appeared very cool and self-possessed. They are respectably connected, and the case has created a painful sensation in the town. On one of the prisoners was found a copy of an illustrated paper whose contents are devoted to stories of a blood-curdling character.