21 November 1888
A WOMAN ATTACKED IN A LODGING HOUSE.
THE ASSAILANT SEEN AND FOLLOWED.
As we were about to go to press this morning news reached us from several sources that another murder and mutilation, similar to those which have already been perpetrated, had been committed at the East-end.
We immediately dispatched two of our staff to the spot to report and obtain confirmation. Meanwhile several inhabitants of the locality arrived at our office confirming the first rumour, which, however, we decided not to publish pending the return of our own reporters. Before they had returned we received from the Central News the intelligence which we printed in our Second Edition. In addition to what appeared in that edition, we received also from the same source a detailed description of the supposed murder and mutilation. Almost immediately came the Press Association with news of the crime to the same effect.
Relying as we naturally do upon the news agencies for accurate information, the reports first given by them were of course taken by us as confirming those brought in by persons from the East-end, and we did not hesitate to go to press with the intelligence as furnished to us.
All of this we publish below. When our reporter returned it appeared that the woman had not been killed but only wounded, and it was only subsequent to his return with this important intelligence that we received the messages of the Central News and Press Association, confirming his statement, viz., that the murderer had not succeeded in dispatching his victim.
We make these observations to show our own bona fides in the matter.
The information first supplied to us by the Central News is as follows:
The Central News learns that another terrible murder was committed, last night, near Flower and Dean-street, Spitalfields. The murder took place in a lodging house, the unfortunate woman having her throat cut, and being otherwise shockingly mutilated. The murderer again escaped, leaving no trace behind.
The following was delivered to us but not published:
The Central News says the news that another terrible murder was committed in the East-end of London, last night, has caused another thrill of horror through London.
The news flew like wildfire throughout the whole of East end district, and in a short time hundreds of people were rushing in the direction of the scene, and the building is now surrounded by an excited throng.
It was only when the room occupied by the poor woman was opened, shortly after nine this morning, that the terrible fact was discovered.
The police were hastily summoned, and at once took possession of the building, making a thorough search in the house itself and in the surrounding district. No one is now allowed to enter or to leave the house.
It is conjectured that the victim took her companion home with her last night, and that, as in the last case, the crime was committed during the early hours of the morning.
The mutilations in this case were again of a most shocking character: but the full extent of these have not even yet transpired. Up to the moment of telegraphing there are not the slightest traces of the assassin, and it is doubtful whether even in this case the police will secure any tangible clue. The excitement is growing momentarily throughout the district.
Our first reporter says that the first report which was received by the police stated that a woman named Farmer, was murdered, but that was found not to be so. About eight o'clock, a man and Farmer engaged a bed at a common lodging-house, 19, George-street, Spitalfields. At about 9.30 screams were heard, and a man rushed out. Farmer was seen bleeding profusely from a wound in the throat. She was taken to Commercial-street station after the wound had been dressed.
The description of the assailant is as follows: Thirty years of age: height, 6ft. 6in.: fair moustache: he wore a black diagonal coat, and hard felt hat. He is known, and his capture is confidently anticipated by Superintendent Arnold, Inspector Ferrett and Detective officers Thicke, Dew, Pearse, Record and Macguire, who have this case in hand.
Another of our men reports: The woman is not dead, only severely wounded. The scene of this miscarried crime is within a few yards of Flower and Dean-street. Crowds are blocking the throughfare, but I was fortunate enough to see "Jack the Ripper's" intended victim, though no thanks to the police. It is difficult to guess her age, for want and sordidness have left their mark upon her to such an extent that even the most experienced would be baffled. We met the stretcher as it was borne along Commercial-street, and by the greatest accident managed to be in the station as she walked in, for she seems to be able to walk, if not to speak, unless she has already on the way been forbidden to open her lips to anyone but the constituted authorities. This much we know, the rest must be all conjecture. We frankly confess to not indulging in hopes of being able to inform the public as to the real story, for no doubt the clever guardians of our lives and property will sequestrate the latest intended victim of "Jack the Ripper." As it is at present they look at you, smile, and assume an important demeanour. One might as well try to obtain information from a sphinx.
A third representation of The Evening News, on calling at the Commercial-street Police Station just before noon found a large crowd of people collected in front of the entrance to the station. All efforts made to gain admission, however, proved to be unavailing. A sergeant who was posted at the door, firmly, but courteously, declined to let our representative enter. Questioned as to the cause of this reticence, he stated that the superintendent was inside, and that the strictest orders had been given that under no consideration should any member of the Press be admitted. He further declined to state whether the woman had been brought to the station alive or dead.
Enormous crowds block Flower and Dean-street, Thrawl-street, and George-street, and the most intense excitement prevails in the East-end generally.
The woman was found with her throat badly cut, but still alive, and was taken to the Commercial-street Station, which is close by.
It is stated, though at present we are not able to say precisely with what foundation, that the woman has rallied sufficiently to place most important clues as to the identity of her would-be murderer in the possession of the police.
The authorities are making extraordinary preparations for carrying out an effective search of the whole district, and many of the members of the Vigilance Committee are already on the spot at work.
Later on we received the following from the Central News:
The Central News says: Later intelligence shows that the woman attacked by a man in a lodging-house in Flower and Dean-street, was not killed but merely wounded.
The police are extremely reticent, and prevent any one entering the house, while an excited crowd surrounds the place, but from one of the residents in the house the Central News learns that a woman, whose name has not yet transpired, was drinking in a public house with a man in Spitalfields. At ten o'clock, he accompanied her home to her lodgings in George-street, Spitalfields, and directly after that appears to have suddenly made an attempt to cut her throat. The woman, however, became aware of his design before he could carry it out, and struggled with the man, at the same time screaming loudly. The throat was wounded but slightly, and the woman was thus able to exert all her strength to cope with her assailant. The man, seeing the alarm was given, sought at once to make good his escape, and, relinquishing his victim, fled from the house. A few persons, attracted by the screams, and seeing the man running, pursued him for 300 yards, but he was then lost sight of. The police were on the spot within a few minutes, and were able to get from the woman a full description of the would-be murderer. The victim is between 40 and 50 years of age, and is now carefully guarded by police. In the district the belief is universal from all the facts surrounding the case that the work is that of Jack the Ripper, and the excitement consequently is intense. If this surmise be correct it is the first of his victims who has escaped. The woman's description of the man, however, will be invaluable to the police, and he should be apprehended within the next few hours. There is, of course, a possibility that after all this may not be the fiend who has already committed so many fearful deeds, but no one in the district entertains this idea.
The Press Association says a report from Spitalfields this morning states that another murder of a woman was discovered about 10 o'clock, at 19, George-street - a street running from Flower and Dean-street to Thrawl-street. The woman's throat had been cut, and it is stated there were a number of stabs on the body. The police were at once informed, and took possession of the premises. The house is a small two-storied building fronting on to George-street, and the right opposite the Loiesworth Model Dwellings, and is within a few hundred yards of Miller-court, Dorset-street, where the last murder occurred. The houses in George-street are mostly let out as lodging-houses, some of them being used by the woman of the streets.
Another report states that the woman whose throat was cut in Spitalfields this morning is generally known as Tilly, and that she went by the name of Mrs. Smith whenever she went into the Casual Ward. A shoeblack, who carries on his vocation outside Shoreditch Church, states that the woman is about 34 years of age. She usually walks about in this neighbourhood of Shoreditch Church, and is believed to be the wife of a flower and feather dyer. It was about half-past nine this morning when he saw a woman from the lodging-house.
The Press Association's reporter had an interview with a woman who professed to have some knowledge of the circumstances. The informant states the woman, who is now at the police station, is called Matilda. She lodges in various common lodging-houses in the locality, and as far as personal appearance is concerned she is very good looking, and altogether appears to have been brought up in far-better surroundings than she now occupies. I believe she has known the man who attacked her for about twelve months. From what I hear it is not true that the couple slept in Dorset-street last night. It was about eleven o'clock in the morning when the woman met the man near to Spitalfield church. He asked her what she was doing at such an early hour, and she said she had not been able to pay for a bed, as the charge was 8d. He gave the woman 8d., and they went to the house together. They had not been long in the room when the woman shouted out, "He has cut my throat," and she followed the man down stairs. He made off, but some men in the lodging-house hearing the cry of the woman pursued the man, but they lost sight of him, and he got away.
It has further been ascertained that a man stood opposite the lodging-house door at the very moment when the fugitive was escaping, but he made no effort to arrest him, thinking that it was perhaps a petty theft of some kind that he had committed. He is not able to describe the man now sought for. The injured woman told the police that she was willing to walk to the station, but the police insisted on taking her there on a stretcher, which, of course, aroused a great deal of excitement, especially as a cover was thrown over the woman.
The Press association says the following telegraphic communication has been circulated among the police this morning:
"Wanted, for attempted murder, on the 21st inst., a man, aged 36 years; height, 5ft. 6in.; complextion dark, no whiskers, dark moustache; dress, black jacket, vest, and trousers, round black felt hat. Repectable appearance. Can be identified."
Sarah Turner, of 27, Thrawl-street, has made the following statement to a Central News reporter:
"About a quarter to ten, this morning, I was standing at my door in Thrawl-street when I saw a man come running round from George-street and three or four men running after him. I saw him turn the corner, and afterwards heard that he had disappeared. He was a short, thick fellow, about five feet four, with no whiskers. I could not see if he had any moustache as his hand was held up to his mouth. He wore a rough blue overcoat, and had a round billycock hat. He did not seem to be carrying anything."