24 December 1888
IDENTIFICATION OF THE DECEASED.
PROBABLE LOCALITY OF THE CRIME.
IS THE MURDERER A SAILOR?
The body of the woman found murdered at Clarke's yard, Poplar, has been identified as that of Alice Downey, otherwise "Fair Alice," otherwise "Drunken Liz." Alice Graves, a young woman living at Spitalfields, has stated that she was an acquaintance of the deceased, and last saw her alive with two men at 2.30 on Thursday morning - an hour and three quarters before the body was found.
It has transpired that late on the night of Wednesday or early on Thursday morning, an engineer, whose name has not transpired, while passing along the East India Dock road, near the Eagle Tavern, noticed a woman's hat within the railings of a garden in front of a private dwelling. He thought nothing of the matter at the time, but on hearing of the murder the police were told of the incident, and are carefully following up this slight piece of evidence. It will be remembered that the deceased was without her hat when found in Clarke's yard, therefore this curious discovery sets up a new theory. There were no indications of a struggle in the yard where the woman was found, and serious doubts have arisen as to whether the woman's life was taken in the yard or not. The discovery of the hat which is supposed to have belonged to Downey, in the East India Dock road, shows that the woman must have been helplessly intoxicated or rendered powerless by her assailant or assailants.
It is pointed out, and with some degree of reason, that the woman's life may have been taken elsewhere than in Clarke's yard, and that, supposing her assailants to be the two men with whom she was last seen it would have been a very easy task to have carried her from the spot where her hat was found to the yard in which she was discovered. With regard to the manner in which the woman's life was taken, it is supposed that it was done by a sailor, actuated by jealousy. This receives support in many ways.
It is thought from the marks on the neck that the cord used was a "laid" cord, which comprises four plaited strings, which when made is about the thickness of a bootlace. In support of the supposition that a seafaring man is responsible for the death of Alice Downey, it is stated that this would be about the thickness of a lanyard, and the peculiar knots, as described by Dr. Brownfield at the inquest, through which the cord was passed in order to produce strangulation, are such as would be found in a lanyard, while, moreover, the loops at the one end and the knife at the other, would have enabled its owner to bring into play force which could not have possibly been acquired with a piece of string. Furthermore, this would account for the cord being taken away. Regarding the phial which was found in the deceased's possession, together with money and other things, which conclusively prove that robbery was not the motive of the person guilty of this murder, some curious facts have transpired which undoubtedly clear or tend to clear up the mystery surrounding it.
Although the phial was quite empty when found, a medical expert, who has since examined it concludes that it had contained sandal wood oil. A chemist residing in the neighbourhood believed the bottle to have been given to a postman who purchased some sandal wood oil at a large chemist's in the East India Dock road some time before Wednesday last.
It is believed the bottle and also its purchaser can be identified. At the forthcoming adjourned inquest, which is fixed for January 2, some further important medical evidence will be adduced. On this occasion Dr. Harris will then be called, and will give his theory of the murder and certain post mortem inferences arrived at by Dr. Brownfield and corroborated by Dr. Harris will, it is expected, give the case a still more mysterious aspect.
Up to noon today, the latest victim of the murder maniac remained unidentified. Yesterday, several persons visited the mortuary, amongst them a woman named Alice Graves, who stated that she knew the deceased and saw her at 2.30 on Thursday morning. This, however, is not credited, as Graves at first said she saw the woman on Friday morning, which of course was impossible. Inquiries are still being prosecuted by the coroner's officer, Mr. Cheevers, and the police, and it is thought that the deceased belonged to the Whitechapel brigade, and had been driven into Poplar by the fear of "Jack the Ripper." In support of this it may be mentioned that two or three women who have seen the body, state that deceased used to walk Baker's row, Whitechapel, but none of them knew her name or address, though from what deceased had told them it would appear that she lived with her mother somewhere in the district.