EXCITEMENT IN THE DISTRICT.
At five minutes to six o'clock on Saturday morning a man, named John Davis, living at 29 Hanbury street, Spitalfields, discovered that a woman had been murdered in the yard at the rear of that house, and when the police were called in the circumstances attending her murder raised a strong presumption that she was another victim of the murderer of Mary Ann Nicholls, in Buck's row, Whitechapel, only a week previously. The victim was an unfortunate woman, so poor that robbery could not be suggested as a motive. The house, 29 Hanbury street (which is not half a mile from Buck's row), is tenanted by a man named Clark, a packing case maker, and is let out in rooms to several people, all very poor and struggling. The front parlour is in the occupation of Mrs. Hardiman, who uses it as a shop for the sale of cat's meat. She and her son also sleep in the room. The back parlour is a sort of sitting room for the landlady and her family, and looks out upon a yard, at the further side of which stands a shed, where the packing case work is done. The passage of the house leads directly to the yard, passing the door of the front parlour, the yard being about four feet below the level of the passage, and reached by two stone steps. the position of the steps creates a recess on their left, the fence between the yard and the next house being about three feet from the steps. In this recess John Davis, as he crossed the yard at five minutes to six o'clock, saw the body of a woman, her clothes so disarranged as to show that the lower part of her body had been horribly mutilated. The throat had been cut so deeply that the head was nearly severed from the trunk. Davis called in Police constable Pinnock, 238H, who sent information to the Station in Commercial street. Inspector Chandler and others hurried to the place and, before the body was removed from its position, the Divisional Surgeon, Mr. G.B. Phillips, of Spital square, was called to examine it. The surgeon said he had no doubt that the throat was first cut, and the stomach subsequently mutilated. The body had been ripped from the abdomen to the breast bones, and then hacked and gashed until the entrails protruded; portions of the flesh hung in shreds, and some of the viscera were on the shoulders. The body was removed as soon as possible to the mortuary of the parishes of Whitechapel and Spitalfields, in Old Montague street, and placed in a shell - the same in which, a week before, the hacked body of the previous victim had been placed. The police description of the body was made out, and before ten o'clock it was identified as that of Annie Chapman, alias Sivey, a name by which she had become known through living with a sieve maker. The police ascertained that Chapman was the correct name of the deceased, and that she was the widow of a man who had been a soldier or veterinary surgeon, and from whom, until about twelve months ago, when he died, she had been receiving 10s a week. Her usual places of abode were the common lodging houses of Spitalfields and Whitechapel. A stout, well proportioned woman, of about five feet in height, she was much given to drink, but is described as quiet, and as one who had "seen better days."
Detective Inspector Abberline, of Scotland yard, who had been detailed to make special inquiries as to the murder of Mary Ann Nicholls, at once took up the inquiries with regard to the new crime, the two being obviously the work of the same hands. He held a consultation with Detective inspector Helson, J Division, in whose district the murder in Buck's row was committed, and with Acting Superintendent West, in charge of the H Division. The result of that consultation was an agreement in the belief that the crimes were the work of one individual only, that the murders were committed where the bodies had been found, and that they were not the work of any gang. A careful examination was made of the flooring of the passage and the walls of the neighbouring house, but not a trace of blood was found. It is considered impossible that a body could have been carried in, supposing no blood had dropped, without arousing from their sleep Mrs. Hardiman and her son, past whose bedroom door the murderer would have had to go. There is no doubt the deceased was acquainted with the fact that the house door was always open or "ajar," and that she and her murderer stealthily passed into the yard. The absence of a pool of blood is accounted for by the quantity the clothes would absorb. The throat was so severed that there could have been no cry, and the tenants of the house agree that nothing was heard to create alarm. The back room of the first floor, which has an uninterrupted view of all the yard, is a bedroom, and was tenanted by a man named Alfred Walker and his father, neither of whom heard a sound.
John Richardson, the son of a woman living in the house, states that, in accordance with his usual practice, he entered the place when on his way to work at Leadenhall Market, and at that time, 4.50, he was certain no one was in the yard. The police, however, have been unable to discover any person who saw the deceased alive after 2 a.m., about which time she left the lodging house, 35 Dorset street, because she had not fourpence to pay for her bed. No corroboration of the story that she was served in a public house at Spitalfields Market, on its opening at five a.m., could be gained; nor of the report that the murderer left a message on a wall in the yard, which was made out to read: "Five; 15 more, and then I give myself up." The murder has created the greatest excitement among women of the class in the neighbourhood. Soon after this murder was reported, a woman reported to the police that a man, who spoke to her in the streets of Spitalfields at an early hour that morning, gave her two half sovereigns, but she refused to do what he wished. Thereupon he commenced to knock her about; she screamed, and he ran off. She afterwards discovered that what he said were half sovereigns were brass medals. She was asked to describe the man; her description did not answer the description of a man for whom the police have been searching in connection with the murder of Mary Ann Nicholls. This is a man known as "Leather Apron," and the police incline to the opinion that, after a hue and cry raised about him during the past few days, he would not have ventured into the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, where he is so well known. The last information the police have of him was up to Sunday, the 2nd inst., when he was in the Borough. It has been said that a knife and apron were discovered beneath the body of Annie Chapman; there was, however, no knife, and though and apron was found it belonged to a man in the house, and no importance is attached to the fact, the police not having taken possession of it. It seems certain that the deceased was robbed of three rings she wore on the left hand, and which the murderer mistook for gold, though, to a woman in the lodging house, she admitted they were only brass. In the pockets of the deceased's dress were found a handkerchief, two small combs, two polished farthings, and an envelope stamped "the Sussex Regiment."
Inspectors Abberline and Helson stated, at a late hour last evening, that they were not in possession of any clue likely to lead to a definite result. They and several detective officers had been engaged following up every point which might lead to information, but without a satisfactory result. The police attach importance to the statement of the woman who had the medals given her as half sovereigns. This woman, Emily Walton, is a lodger in the common lodging houses of Spitalfields, and says that she was with the man at half past two, and that they were in the back yard of one of the houses in Hanbury street. A statement has come to hand that "Leather Apron" was seen as late as Friday, on the Surrey side. Mr. Bagster Phillips made a post mortem examination of the body of Chapman on Saturday afternoon, at the mortuary, and stated that a portion of the flesh was missing from the stomach. The examination confirmed his opinion that she was killed by the cuts in the throat, which were first inflicted. The inquest will be opened today, when the police are instructed to press for a long adjournment, in order to leave them fully at liberty.
At eight o'clock last night the Scotland yard authorities had come to a definite conclusion as to the description of the murderer of two of the women found dead at the East end, and the following is the official intimation sent to every Station throughout the Metropolis and suburbs:- "Commercial street, 8.20 p.m. - Description of a man wanted, who entered a passage of the house at which the murder was committed, with a prostitute, at 2.0 a.m., on the 8th. Age 37, height 5ft 7in, rather dark beard and moustache. Dress - Short, dark jacket, dark vest and trousers, black scarf, and black felt hat. Spoke with a foreign accent." This description has been arrived at after mature consideration on the part of the most experienced members of the detective police force.
In the course of Saturday night and yesterday morning the police arrested two men on suspicion of being concerned in the crime. One was found by an officer in Buck's row shortly after one o'clock on Sunday morning. He appeared to be hiding in the street, and, when accosted by the officer, rushed off at great speed. An alarm was raised, and, after a sharp race, the man was arrested. He was a villainous looking fellow, with long hair and shaggy beard, dressed only in a pair of ragged blue serge trousers and in an old dirty shirt. He resisted his captors, but was eventually secured and conveyed to Bethnal green police station. No weapon was found upon him. He gave an account of himself, upon which inquiries were set on foot, which resulted in the man being released from custody. The second arrest was effected in Gloucester street, where a man, aged about 40, having the look of a seafarer, was arrested. It was obvious, however, from the replies which he gave, and his general appearance, that he was not the man sought for, and after he had spent some time in Commercial street Station, he was also set at liberty. A man was arrested at Deptford yesterday afternoon, on suspicion of being the murderer, and Inspector Chandler went down to see him. He has not yet been brought up to Commercial street Police Station. It is understood, however, that not much importance is attached to this arrest.
All day yesterday five policemen guarded the scene of the crime in Hanbury street, to which hundreds of people obtained admission on Saturday on paying a fee of one penny. No one was admitted yesterday unless he resided in the house. In the street half a dozen costermongers took up their stand and did a brisk business in fruit and refreshments. Thousands of respectably dressed persons visited the scene and occasionally the road became so crowded that the constables had to clear it by making a series of raids upon the spectators. The windows of the adjoining houses were full of persons watching the crowd below. A number of people also visited the house in Dorset street where the murdered woman lodged. At night Hanbury street was all but impassable from the crowds who had assembled on the scene of the murder.
A young woman named Lyons has stated that at three o'clock yesterday afternoon she met a strange man in Flower and Dean street, one of the worst streets in the East end of London. He asked her to come to the Queen's Head public house at half past six, and drink with him. Having obtained a promise that she would do so, he disappeared, but was at the house named at the appointed time. While they were conversing, Lyons noticed a large knife in his right hand trousers pocket, and called another woman's attention to the fact. A moment later, Lyons was startled by a remark which the stranger addressed to her. "You are about the same style of woman as the one that's murdered," he said. "What do you know about her?" asked the woman, to which the man replied, "You are beginning to smell a rat. Foxes hunt geese, but they don't always find 'em." having uttered these words, the man hurriedly left. Lyons followed until near Spitalfields Church, and turning round at this spot, and noticing that the woman was behind him, the stranger ran swiftly into Church street, and was lost from sight. The description of this man is identical with that of the man described as "Leather Apron." Over 200 common lodging houses have been visited by the police, in the hope of finding some trace of this man, but he has succeeded in evading arrest.
Mrs. Richardson, the landlady of 29 Hanbury street, the house where the body of the deceased was found, in the course of an interview, said:- "I have lived at this house fifteen years, and my lodgers are poor but hard working people. Some have lodged with me as long as twelve years. They mostly work at the Fish Market or the Spitalfields Market. Some of the carmen in the Fish Market go out to work as early as one a.m., while others go out at four and five, so that the place is open all night, and any one can get in. It is certain that the deceased came voluntarily into the yard, as if there had been any struggle it must have been heard. Several lodgers sleep at the back of the house, and some had their windows open, but no noise was heard from the yard. One of my lodgers, a carman, named Thompson, employed at Goodson's, in Brick lane, went out at four o'clock in the morning. He did not go into the yard, but he did not notice anything particular in the passage as he went out. My son John came in at ten minutes to five, and gave a look round before he went to market. He went through to the yard, but no one was there then, and everything was right. Just before six o'clock, when Mr. Davis, another of my lodgers, came down, he found the deceased lying in the corner of the yard, close to the house, and by the side of the step. The lower part of her body was uncovered. There was not the slightest sign of a struggle, and the pool of blood which flowed from the throat after it was cut was close to the step where she lay. She does not appear to have moved an inch after the fiend struck her with the knife. She must have died instantly. The murderer must have gone away from the spot covered with blood. There was an earthenware pan containing water in the yard; but this was not discoloured, and could not, therefore, have been used by the murderer. The only possible clue that I can think of is that Mr. Thompson's wife met a man about a month ago lying on the stairs. This was about four o'clock in the morning. He looked like a Jew; and spoke with a foreign accent. When asked what he was doing there, he replied that he was waiting to do a 'doss' before the market opened. He slept on the stairs that night, and I believe he has slept on the stairs on other nights. Mrs. Thompson is certain she could recognise the man again, both by his personal appearance and his peculiar voice. The police have taken a full and careful description of this man."
The deputy of a lodging house at 30 Dorset street, stated that Annie Chapman used to ledge there about two years ago with a man called Jack Sivvy, a sieve maker; hence her nickname, Annie Sivvy. She appeared to be a quiet woman, and not given to drinking; in fact, he was quite surprised to hear that she had been seen drinking the night before her murder. The woman had two children to his knowledge - a boy, who was a cripple, and who, he believed, was at some charitable school; and a daughter, who was somewhere in France.
Timothy Donovan, the deputy of the lodging house, 35 Dorset street, where the deceased frequently stayed, stated that the deceased stayed there on Sunday night, the 2nd inst. She had been in the habit of coming there for the past four months. She was a quiet woman, and gave no trouble. He had heard her say she wished she was as well off as her relations; but she never told him who her friends were, or where they lived. A pensioner or a soldier usually came to the lodging house with her on Saturday nights, and generally he stayed until the Monday morning. He would be able to identify the man instantly if he saw him. After the man left on Monday deceased would usually keep in the room for some days longer, the charge being eightpence per night. This man stayed at the house from Saturday to Monday, the 3rd inst., and when he went the deceased went with him. She was not seen at the house again until Friday night about half past seven o'clock, when she passed the doorway, and Donovan calling out, asked her where she had been since Monday, and why she had not slept there, and she replied, "I have been in the infirmary." Then she went on her way in the direction of Bishopsgate street. About 1.40 a.m. on Saturday morning she came again to the lodging house, and asked for a bed. The message was brought upstairs to him, and he sent downstairs to ask for the money. The woman replied, "I haven't enough now, but keep my bed for me. I shan't be long." Then, as she was going away, she said to John Evans, the watchman, "Brummy, I won't be long. See that Jim keeps my bed for me." She was the worse for drink at the time, and was eating some baked potatoes. He saw nothing of her again until he was called to the mortuary on Saturday morning, when he identified the deceased by her features and her way hair, which was turning grey. After the deceased left on Monday he found two large bottles in the room, one containing medicine, and labelled as follows: "St. Bartholomew's Hospital. Take two tablespoonfuls three times a day." The other bottle contained a milky lotion, and was labelled, "St. Bartholomew's Hospital. The lotion. Poison." This confirmed her statement that she had been under medical treatment. On being asked whether he knew the man called "Leather Apron," Donovan said he knew him well. He came to the lodging house about twelve months ago, a woman being his companion. In the early hours of the morning the woman commenced screaming murder, and it seemed that "Leather Apron" had knocked her down and torn her hair and clothes. "Leather Apron" said the woman was trying to rob him, but he (Donovan) did not believe him, and turned him out of the house. The man had come there several times since for a lodging, but they would not admit him.
About ten o'clock on Saturday morning a woman, named Amelia Farmer, gave information that she had been a fellow lodger with the deceased, and had known her for some considerable time. She stated that the deceased woman was Annie Chapman, the wife of a veterinary surgeon, who died at Windsor about eighteen months ago. She was, accordingly, taken to the mortuary at half past eleven o'clock, and immediately recognised her friend. Later on she stated what she knew of the history of the murdered woman. Annie Chapman had for a long time been separated from her husband, by mutual agreement, and had been allowed 10s a week by him for her maintenance. The money had been sent by Post office Order, made payable at the Commercial street Post office, and had always come regularly. About eighteen months ago the instalments suddenly ceased, and, upon inquiry being made, it was found that the husband had died. Annie Chapman had two children, but where they were Farmer could not say. The deceased had a mother and sister, who were living in the neighbourhood of Brompton or Fulham. Farmer had been in the habit of writing letters for her friend, but could not remember the exact address of the mother or sister, but thought it was near the Brompton Hospital. On Monday Chapman intimated her intention of communicating with her sister, saying, "If I can get a pair of boots from my sister, I shall go hop picking." Another relation, a brother in law of the deceased, lived somewhere in or near Oxford street. Farmer asserted that her murdered friend was apparently a sober, steady going sort of woman, and one who seldom took any drink. For some time past she had been living occasionally with a man named Ted Stanley, who had been in the militia, but was mow working at some neighbouring brewery. Ted Stanley was a good tempered man, rather tall - about 5ft 10in - fair, and of florid complexion. He was the last man in the world to have quarrelled with Chapman, nor would he have injured her in any way. At the beginning of the week the deceased had been rather severely knocked about in the breast and face by another woman of the locality through jealousy in connection with Ted Stanley, and had been obliged to go to the casual ward. As a regular means of livelihood she had made antimacassars for sale. Sometimes she would buy flowers or matches, with which to eke out a living. Farmer was certain that on Friday night the murdered woman wore three rings, which where not genuine, but were imitations, otherwise she would not have troubled to go out and find money for her lodgings.
Mrs. Fiddymont, wife of the proprietor of the Prince Albert public house, better known as the "Clean House," at the corner of Brushfield and Stewart streets, half a mile from the scene of the murder, states that at seven o'clock on Saturday morning she was standing in the bar talking with another woman, a friend, in the first compartment. Suddenly there came into the middle compartment a man whose rough appearance frightened her. He had on a brown stiff hat, a dark coat, and no waistcoat. He came in with his hat down over his eyes, and, with his face partly concealed, asked for a half pint of four ale. She drew him the ale, and meanwhile looked at him through the mirror at the back of the bar. As soon as he saw the woman in the other compartment watching him, he turned his back, and got the partition between himself and her. What struck Mrs. Fiddymont particularly was the fact that there were blood spots on the back of his right hand. This, taken in connection with his appearance, caused her uneasiness. She also noticed his shirt was torn. As soon as he had drunk the ale, which he swallowed at a gulp, he went out. Her friend went out also to watch him.
That friend is Mrs. Mary Chappell, who lives at 28 Stewart street, near by. Her story corroborates Mrs. Fiddymont's, and is more particular. When the man came in, the expression of his eyes caught her attention, his look was so startling and terrifying. It frightened Mrs. Fiddymont so that she requested Mrs. Chappell to stay. He wore a light blue check shirt, which was torn badly, into rags in fact, on the right shoulder. There was a narrow streak of blood under his right ear, parallel with the edge of his shirt. There was also dried blood between the fingers of his hand. When he went out she slipped out by the other door, and watched him as he went towards Bishopsgate street. She called Joseph Taylor's attention to him, and Taylor followed him. Joseph Taylor is a builder, of 22 Stewart street. He states that as soon as his attention was attracted to the man he followed him. He walked rapidly, and came alongside the man, but did not speak to him. The man was rather thin, about 5ft 8in high, and apparently between 40 and 50 years of age. He had a shabby genteel look, pepper and salt trousers, which fitted badly and dark coat. When Taylor came alongside him the man glanced at him, and Taylor says, "His eyes were as wild as a hawk's." The man walked holding his coat together at the top. He had a nervous and frightened way about him. He had a light moustache and short sandy hair. Taylor ceased to follow him, but watched him as far as "Dirty Dick's" in Halfmoon street, where he became lost to view.
John Davis, who was the first to make the shocking discovery, says - Having had a cup of tea in the morning, about six o'clock, I went down stairs. When I got to the end of the passage I saw a female lying down, her clothing up to her knees, and her face covered with blood. What was lying beside her I cannot describe - it was part of her body. I had heard no noise, nor had my missus. I saw Mr. Farley's men waiting at the back of the Black swan ready to go to their work - making packing cases. I said to them, "Here's a sight; a woman must have been murdered." I then ran to the police station in Commercial road, and told them what I had seen, and some constables came back with me. I did not examine the woman when I saw her - I was too frightened at the dreadful sight. Our front door at 29 Hanbury street is never bolted, and anyone has only to push it open and walk through to the gate at the back yard. Immoral women have at times gone there, and Mrs. Richardson, our landlady, had occasion to keep a closet locked there, but no lock has ever been placed on the front door; at least, I have never seen one; but it is only a fortnight ago that I came to lodge there. I have known people open the passage door and walk through into the yard when they have had no right there. There are about fifteen altogether living in the house.
Mrs. Davis has made the following statement:- The bell was ringing for six o'clock, and that is how I know the time that my husband went downstairs. He went down, but did not return, as he tells me that when he saw the deceased, and the shocking state in which she was, he at once ran off for the police. We never heard any screams, either in the night or this morning. I went down myself shortly after, and nearly fainted away at what I saw. The poor woman's throat was cut, and the inside of her body was lying beside her. Some one beside me then remarked that the murder was just like the one committed in Buck's row. the other one could not have been such a dreadful sight of this, for the poor woman found this morning was quite ripped open. She was lying in a corner of the yard, on her back, with her legs drawn up. It was just in such a spot that no one could see from the outside, and thus the dead creature might have been lying there for some time.
Two young men, named Simpson and Stevens, living in Dorset street, who knew the deceased as residing at that address, state that her name is Annie Chapman. She returned thither about twelve o'clock on Saturday night, stating that she had been to see some friends at Vauxhall. The murdered woman had two children - one a girl, aged 14, at present performing in a circus travelling in France. The other is a boy, between four and five years of age. He is now at a school in Windsor, the native place of the deceased.
At five minutes after eleven o'clock on Saturday an exciting incident took place. A man suddenly attacked a woman in the Spitalfields Market. After felling her to the ground with a blow he began kicking her, and pulled out a knife. Some women who had collected, on seeing the knife, raised such piercing shrieks of "Murderer" that they reached the crowds in Hanbury street. There was at once a rush for Commercial street, where the markets are situate. Seeing the crowd swarming round him the man who was the cause of the alarm made furious efforts to reach the woman, from whom he had been separated by some persons who interfered on her behalf. He threw these on one side, fell upon the woman knife in hand, and inflicted several stabs on her head and her forehead, neck, and fingers before he was pulled off. At this juncture the police arrived, arrested the man, and after a while had the woman conveyed on a stretcher to the police station in Commercial street, where she was examined by the divisional surgeon. She was found to be suffering from several wounds, but none of them was considered dangerous.
Sir - Although it is hardly true to say that the inhabitants of Whitechapel are in a state of panic, yet, no doubt, excitement does exist, and the Committee which I represent think that the present moment is advantageous for turning the feeling which has been aroused into action. They hope, therefore, that your kindness in publishing this letter may lead others to take steps to do what private citizens can do to better the state of our streets.
A few days after the murder of the woman in George yard, last month, a meeting of about seventy men, residing in the buildings in the immediate neighbourhood, was held, and after discussion a Committee of twelve was appointed to act as watchers, whose duties should be to observe the state of certain streets, chiefly between the hours of eleven and one, and not only to try to support the action of the police when necessity arises, but also take careful note of disorderly houses and causes of disturbance. This Committee has since met once in a week to receive reports, which are carefully preserved, and to decide on future plans.
It must not be supposed that we have in any way attempted to supplant the regularly constituted authorities, or that we are concerned merely with particular outrages, or their perpetrators; but it does not need a long residence in the district to convince anyone that many of the social conditions of the neighbourhood distinctly favour the commission of such crimes as those which have lately startled London. The police, whom we have found courteous and ready to allow us to work with them, must remain practically powerless as long as the apathy of the neighbourhood tolerates the scandalous scenes of daily and nightly occurrence. We have at present, no definite suggestion, but we feel strongly that, until deep rooted causes of these evils are known and attacked, the action of Police courts, School Boards, and Philanthropic Institutions can do little to stamp out the disorder and crime which disgrace our city.
The space which our Committee is covering is very small, and must needs be so to secure efficiency, and as there is, at least, equal need for such District Committees, for the better regulation of our streets elsewhere, we wish to suggest to those who feel, as we do, that steps should be taken in this direction without loss of time. If some communication could be set up between these Committees, when constituted, our powers would be strengthened, and our opportunities improved.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
The Secretary of the St. Jude's District Committee.
28 Commercial street, Whitechapel, September 9.
A murder was perpetrated in Whitechapel, early on Saturday morning, which was identical in its dreadful details with the crime of a few days before. A man going to his work, shortly before six o'clock, found, in the back yard of a lodging house, the body of a woman, who had been murdered in a shocking manner. It has been identified as that of a widow, named Chapman, whose husband was a veterinary surgeon, at Windsor. She had been frequenting low lodging houses at the East end for some time. The crime has created intense excitement in the district. A man was arrested at Deptford, yesterday afternoon, on suspicion of being connected with the murder, but there is reason to believe that he will be able to establish his innocence, and will soon be released.
The nest of poor streets and small houses which lies about Commercial street and the Whitechapel road has once more become the scene of a peculiarly hideous and revolting murder. The crime of Saturday morning exceeds in strangeness, and, apparently, also, in its unutterable atrocity, any one of the other three which have been committed on women in that district during the last few weeks. What makes it specially appalling and mysterious is the fact that it must have been perpetrated almost in broad daylight, and within a few yards of a frequented and even crowded thoroughfare. The yard in which the mutilated body of Annie Chapman was found at six o'clock on Saturday morning, is separated only by a short and narrow passage from Hanbury street, which, at that hour, is thronged with people going to their work, or attending the Spitalfields Market. All round the little paved courtyard are tenement houses occupied by numerous families, some of whom were sleeping on the ground floors, behind flimsy brick partitions which absolutely abutted on the spot where the murder was committed. In some cases, the windows of these ground floor rooms were actually open during the night, so that anything in the nature of a struggle or scuffle in the yard could hardly have failed to awake the sleepers. That in this confined and overlooked space, almost under the eyes of numerous spectators, it should have been possible for a person to be murdered, and mutilated in the ghastly fashion which is partially described elsewhere, is certainly the most extraordinary circumstance connected with this mysterious tragedy. It appears, too, that the murderer could have had little time to do his ghastly work, for the body was found soon after six, and about an hour previously a person living in one of the adjoining houses passed through the yard, and saw no one there. This evidence, if it is to be relied on, fixes the time of the murder; beyond this, all is conjecture. Of the victim little is known but that she belonged to the same unhappy and friendless class as the poor creature who ten days ago was found dead at a spot not more than half a mile away. She is said to have been at a common lodging house in the neighbourhood on Saturday morning, and to have left about two o'clock because she had not enough money to pay for her night's lodging. After this nothing is to be learnt of her movements. It is supposed that she was met in the streets by her assassin, was decoyed, half drunk and stupefied, into the back yard in Hanbury street, and was then swiftly and silently despatched. It seems to be agreed that the poor creature met her death where her mutilated remains were found in the morning; but how it was that the murderer managed to go through his detailed process of butchery, without so much as raising a sound that would excite attention or suspicion, is, as we have said, as yet an unsolved mystery.
One point only seems to be clear. It is the theory of the police and of the inhabitants of the district that this murder was the work of the same hand which perpetrated two, at least, of the other crimes we have mentioned, and there is certainly no reason to discredit the hypothesis. The murders in each case were followed, or accompanied by, outrages of such peculiar and exceptional brutality that it is impossible not to assign them a common origin. It is almost equally certain that they were not, as was at first conjectured, the work of a gang. There are ruffians enough to be found in the lower quarters of London who would not stick at murder; but even the worst of these desperadoes do not kill without cause, and no motive can be suggested for the Hanbury street or the Buck's row crime, which would be sufficient to tempt a body of men to put their necks in jeopardy in order to commit them. Robbery could scarcely have been the object, for the wretched, homeless outcasts had nothing on their persons worth stealing; nor would a band of robbers have wasted time to perform the fearful mutilations which lend a peculiar horror to these shocking cases. Again, it is hardly possible to conceive that any gang could have covered up their tracks as silently and completely as the person who stole through Mrs. Richardson's passage on Saturday morning. The evidence all points to a different conclusion. The murderer has probably done his barbarous work alone and unaided. With his own hands and his own pitiless knife he put these poor women to death, and hacked and disfigured the lifeless bodies. the suggestion, which at first seemed almost too fantastic for credence, is, probably, the right one. It would seem that there is, haunting the slums and purlieus of Whitechapel, some obscene creature in human guise, whose hands are stained with the "gory witness" of a whole series of butcheries. It is vain to speculate on what kind of being this monster is. It may be that he is some shocking perversion of Nature, something between the bestial wretch who wrote "Justine," and the weird and horrible creation of Mr. R.L. Stephenson's tale. Possibly it will turn out that the assassin is merely a madman, whose mania has taken the form of a craving for human blood. Such cases are not uncommon, though the maniac is usually caught and caged before he has been able so long to gratify his insane lust for slaughter. We may imagine (and it is a sufficiently appalling thought) that there is at large in the East end some being of this sort, whose thirst for murder and for revolting outrages upon the bodies of his victims is as fierce and unquenchable as the taste of a man eating tiger for human flesh, who is, nevertheless, like many lunatics, calm and composed enough to all outward appearance, except when this awful "fixed idea" gets possession of him, and who brings to the service of his shocking pursuit the inscrutable and baffling cunning of madness. It is difficult to believe that any sane person could have had the nerve and callousness to go through the awful drama which must have been enacted in the solitude of the yard at Hanbury street on Saturday morning. Such insensibility to those feelings which are the common heritage of our nature seems to augur a mind which has become degraded to a level below that of humanity.
It is, however, just in this exceptional and unique character of the assassin that the one grain of comfort in the whole shocking business lies. It is said that a feeling of consternation, approaching panic, prevails in Whitechapel and Spitalfields. The alarm is natural, but it should not exaggerated. After all, if the theory broached above is correct, there is less cause for apprehension than there might be under some other circumstances. If we could suppose the murders were the work of a gang, there would, indeed, be reason to shudder for the future of a Society in which so diabolical a conspiracy could be hatched. If, again, they were the work of different and isolated individuals, it would be equally alarming to know that there were a number of men in Whitechapel capable of committing such horrible crimes. As it is, we are not yet bound to conclude that a section of our community has sunk back into barbarism. There is a wild beast loose in Whitechapel, and that is all. He must be trapped, like any other deadly and cunning brute, and till he is in the net every effort must be made to keep fresh victims from his maw. As will be seen from a letter we publish this morning, the more active and influential inhabitants are already aware that they must be on the alert, and assist in guarding their poorer neighbours from harm. Their system of inspection and patrolling is a good one, and it may be of considerable value in preventing an addition to the series of atrocious crimes which have struck terror into the district. As the murderer is still at large, and has, so far, been able, in spite of the hue and cry, to conceal himself with complete success, it is, of course, not absolutely impossible that he may seek a fresh victim. It should be the business of the inhabitants of Whitechapel to guard themselves against such an attempt, by practising the utmost caution and vigilance. But, after all, their chief reliance must be on the police. The scoundrel must be hunted down and caught, if the inhabitants of these East end streets and courts are to sleep quite easily at night. No doubt, the task is difficult. The police have scarcely even the habitual "clue" in their hands, and, though they have circulated a description of the man who is "wanted," it is hardly definite enough to give rise to sanguine hopes. But, difficult or not, the task ought to be accomplished. It is a case in which it will not do to contemplate the possibility of failure. The feeling of insecurity which prevails will not be removed till the author of these crimes is safely lodged in gaol. It is for Scotland yard to put him there without loss of time. A cordon should be steadily and scientifically drawn round the comparatively circumscribed district which the murderer is known to haunt, and it must be tightened till he is fairly caught in the meshes. The affair is one which should put the police authorities on their mettle, for if they bungle it their credit will be disastrously impaired, and a serious blow given to the public confidence in their abilities. This, of course, is well understood at headquarters. Every nerve will be strained in the chase of this bloodthirsty scoundrel, and we trust that the pursuit will be short, sharp and speedily successful.
|Press Reports: Evening Standard - 10 September 1888|
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|Home: Timeline - Annie Chapman|
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|Dissertations: The Pensioner, and a Brief History of Fort Elson|
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|Message Boards: Annie Chapman, Jack the Ripper Victim: A Short Biography|
|Official Documents: Annie Chapman's Inquest|
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|Ripper Media: Annie Chapman, Jack the Ripper Victim: A Short Biography|
|Ripper Media: Dark Annie (Piston Baroque)|
|Victims: Annie Chapman|
|Victims: Testimonies of Elizabeth Long and Albert Cadoche|
|Victorian London: Hanbury Street|
|Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - John Richardson|
|Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 12 November 1888|
|Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Cast of Thousands - Mrs. Fiddymont|
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|Ripper Media: Jack the Ripper: A Suspect Guide - Timothy Donovan|