27 September 1888
The inquest respecting the death of Annie Chapman, whose body was found in a mutilated state in the back yard of the house, 29, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, about six o'clock on the morning of the 8th inst., was resumed yesterday afternoon by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter and a Jury, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road.
The Coroner proceeded to sum up, and said - Gentlemen of the Jury, I congratulate you that you labours are now nearly completed. Although up to the present they have not resulted in the detection of the criminal, I have no doubt that if the perpetrator of this foul murder is eventually discovered our efforts will not have been useless. Deceased was a widow, 47 years of age, named Annie Chapman. Her husband was a coachman living at Windsor. For three or four years before his death she had lived apart from her husband, who allowed her 10s. a week until his death at Christmas, 1886. She had evidently lived an immoral life for some time, and her habits and surroundings had become worse since her means failed. She no longer visited her relations, and her brother had not seen her for five months when she borrowed a small sum from him. She lived principally in the common lodging-houses in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, where such as she herd like cattle. She showed great signs of deprivation, as if she had been badly fed The glimpses of live in those dens which the evidence in the case discloses is sufficient to make us feel that there is much in the nineteenth century civilisation we have small reason to be proud; but you who are constantly called together to hear the sad tale of starvation, or semi-starvation, of misery, immorality, and wickedness which some of the occupants of the 5000 beds in the district have every week to relate at coroners' inquests, do not require to be reminded of what life in a Spitalfields lodging-house means. It was in one of these that the older bruises found on the temple and in front of the chest of the Deceived were received, in a trumpery quarrel, a week before her death. It was in one of these that she was seen a few hours before her mangled remains were discovered. On the afternoon and evening of Friday, September 7, she divided her time partly in such a place as 35, Dorset-street, and partly in the Ringers public-house - where she spent whatever money she had; so that between one and two on the morning of Saturday, when the money for her bed is demanded, she is obliged to admit that she is without means, and at once turns out into the street to find it. She leaves there at 1.45 a.m. She is seen off the premises by the night watchman, and is observed to turn down Little Paternoster-row into Brushfield-street, and not in the direction of Hanbury-street. On her wedding finger she was wearing two or three rings, which appear to have been palpably of base metal, as all the witnesses are all clear about their material and value. They now lose sight of her for about four hours, but at half-past five, Mrs Long is in Hanbury-street on her way from her home in Church-street, Whitechapel, to Spitalfields market. She walked on the northern side of the road going westward, and remembers having seen a man and woman standing a few yards from the place where the Deceased is afterwards found. And, although she did not know Annie Chapman, she is positive that that woman was the Deceased. The two were talking loudly, but not sufficiently so to rouse her suspicions that there was anything wrong. The words she overheard were not calculated to do so. The laconic inquiry of the man, "Will you!" and the simple assent of the woman, viewed in the light of subsequent events, can be easily translated and explained. Mrs. Long passed on her way and neither saw nor heard anything more of her, and this is the last time she is known to have been alive. She was found dead about six o'clock. She was not in the yard when Richardson was there at 4.50 a.m. She was talking outside the house at half-past five when Mrs. Long passed them. Cadosh says it was about 5.20 when he was in the back yard of the adjoining house, and heard a voice say "No," and three or four minutes afterwards a fall against the fence; but if he is out of his reckoning but a quarter of an hour, the discrepancy in the evidence of fact vanishes, and he may be mistaken, for he admits that he did not get up till a quarter-past five, and that is was after the half hour when he passed Spitalfields clock. It is true that Dr. Phillips thinks that when he saw the body at 6.30 the Deceased had been dead at least two hours, but he admits that the coldness of the morning and the great loss of blood may affect his opinion; and if the evidence of the other witnesses is correct, Dr. Phillips has miscalculated the effect of those forces. But many minutes after Mrs. Long passed them cannot have elapsed before the Deceased became a mutilated corpse in the yard of 29, Hanbury-street, close by where she was last seen by any witness. This place is a fair sample of a large number of houses in the neighbourhood. It was built, like hundreds of others, for the Spitalfields weavers, and when hand-looms were driven out by steam power, these were converted into dwellings for the poor. Its size is about such as a superior artisan would occupy in the country, but its condition is such as would to a certainty leave it without a tenant. In this place 17 persons were living, from a woman and her son, sleeping in a cat's meat shop on the ground floor, to Davis and his wife and their three grown-up sons, all sleeping together in the attic. The street door and the yard door were never locked, and the passage and the yard appear to have been constantly used by people who had no legitimate business there. There is little doubt the Deceased knew the place, for it was only 300 or 400 yards from where she lodged. If so, it is quite unnecessary to assume that her companion had any knowledge - in fact, it is easier to believe that he was ignorant both of the nest of living beings by whom he was surrounded, and of their occupations and habits. Some were on the move late at night, some were up long before the sun. A carman named Thompson, left the house for his work as early as 3.30 a.m.; an hour later John Richardson was paying the house a visit of inspection; shortly after 5.15, Cadosh, who lived in the next house, was in the adjoining yard twice. Davis, the carman, who occupied the third floor front, heard the church clock strike a quarter to six, got up, had a cup of tea, and went into the back yard, and was horrified to find the mangled body of the Deceased. It was then a little after 6.0 a.m. - a very little for at ten minutes past the hour Inspector Chandler had been informed of the discovery while on duty in Commercial-street. There is nothing to suggest that the Deceased was not fully conscious of what she was doing. It is true that she had passed through some stage of intoxication, for, although she appeared perfectly sober to her friend who met her in Dorset-street at five o'clock, the night watchman noticed that she was the worse for drink, but not badly so, while the "deputy" of the lodging-house asserts that though she had evidently been drinking, she could walk straight. Dr. Phillips is convinced that she had not taken any alcohol for some time. The Deceased, therefore entered the house in full possessions of her faculties, although with a very different object to her companion. From the evidence which the condition of the yard affords and the medical examination discloses, it appears that after the two had passed through the passage and opened the swing-door at the end, they descended the three steps into the yard. On their left hand side there was a recess between those steps and the palings. Here, a few feet from the house and a less distance from the paling, they must have stood. The wretch must have then seized the Deceased, perhaps with Judas-like approaches. He seized her by the chin. He pressed her throat, and while thus preventing the slightest cry, he at the same time produced insensibility and suffocation. There is no evidence of any struggle. The clothes are not torn. Even in these preliminaries the wretch seems to have known how to carry out efficiently his nefarious work. The Deceased was then lowered to the ground, and laid on her back; and although in doing so she may have fallen slightly against the fence, this movement was probably effected with care. Her throat was then cut in two places with savage determination, and the injuries to the abdomen commenced. All was done with cool impudence and reckless daring; but, perhaps, nothing is more noticeable than the emptying of her pockets, and the arrangement of their contents with business-like precision in order near her feet. The murder seems. Like the Buck's-row case, to have been carried out without any cry. Sixteen people were in the house. The partitions of the different rooms are wood. Davis was not asleep after 3.0 a.m., except for three-quarters of an hour, or less, between 5.0 and 5.54. Mrs. Richardson only dosed after 3.0 a.m., and heard no noise during the night. Mrs. Hardiman, who occupies the front ground-floor room, did not wake until; the noise succeeding the finding of the body had commenced, and none of the occupants of the houses by which the yard is surrounded heard anything suspicious. The brute who committed the offence did not even take the trouble to cover up his ghastly work, but left the body exposed to the view of the first comer. This accords but little with the trouble taken with the rings, and suggests either that he had at length been disturbed, or that as the daylight broke a sudden fear suggested the danger of detection he was running. There are two things missing. Her rings had been wrenched from her fingers, and have not been found, and the uterus has been taken from the abdomen. The body had not been dissected, but the injuries have been made by some one who had considerable anatomical skill and knowledge. There are no meaningless cuts. The organ has been taken by one who knew where to find it, what difficulties he would have to contend against, and how he should use his knife, so as to abstract the organ without injury to it. No unskilled person could have known where to find it, or have recognised it when it was found. For instance, no mere slaughterer of animals could have carried out these operations. It must have been someone accustomed to the post-mortem room. The conclusion that the desire was to possess the missing abdominal organ seems overwhelming. If the object were robbery, the injuries to the viscera were meaningless, for the death had previously resulted from the loss of blood at the neck. Moreover, when we find an easily accomplished theft of some paltry brass rings and an internal organ taken, after, at least a quarter of an hour's work, and taken by a skilled person, we are driven to the deduction that the abstraction of the missing portion of abdominal viscera was the object, and the theft of the rings was only a thin-veiled blind, an attempt to prevent the real intention being discovered. Had not the medical examination been of a thorough and searching character it might easily have been left unnoticed that there was any portion of the body which had been taken. The difficulty in believing that the purport of the murderer was the possession of the uterus is natural. It is abhorrent to our feelings to conclude that a life should be taken for so slight an object; but when rightly considered, the reasons for most murders are altogether out of proportion to the guilt. It has been suggested that the criminal is a lunatic with morbid feelings. This may or may not be the case, but the object of the murderer appears palpably shown by the facts, and it is not necessary to assume lunacy, for it is clear that there is a market for the missing organ. To show you this, I must mention a fact which at the same time proves the assistance which publicity and the newspapers afford in the detection of crime. Within a few hours of the issue of the morning papers containing a report of the medical evidence given at the last sitting of the Court, I received a communication from an officer of one of our great medical schools, that they had information which might or might not have a distinct hearing on our inquiry. I attended at the first opportunity, and was informed by the sub-curator of the Pathological Museum that some months ago an American had called on him and asked him to prepare a number of specimens of the organ that was missing in the Deceased. He stated his willingness to give 20s/. a-piece for each specimen. He stated that his object was to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a publication on which he was engaged. He was told that his request was impossible to be complied with, but he still urged his request. He wished them preserved, not in spirits of wine, the usual medium, but in glycerine, in order to preserve them in a flaccid condition, and he wished them sent to America direct. It is known that this demand was repeated to another institution of a similar character. Now, is it not possible that the knowledge of this demand may have incited some abandoned wretch to possess himself of a specimen? It seems beyond belief that such inhuman wickedness could enter into the mind of any man, but, unfortunately, our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible. I need hardly say that I at once communicated my information to the Detective Department at Scotland-yard. Of course, I do not know what use has been made of it, but I believe that publicity may possibly further elucidate this fact, and therefore I have not withheld from you the information. By means of the press some further explanation may be forthcoming from America, if not from here. Gentlemen, I have endeavoured to suggest to you the object with which this crime was committed, and the class of person who must have committed it. The greatest deterrent from crime is the conviction that detection and punishment will follow with rapidity and certainty, and it may be that the impunity with which Mary Anne Smith and Anne Tabram were murdered suggested the possibility of such horrid crimes as those which you and another jury have recently been considering. It is, therefore, a great misfortune that nearly three weeks have elapsed without the chief actor in this awful tragedy having been discovered. Surely, it is not too much even yet to hope that the ingenuity of our detective force will succeed in unearthing this monster. It is not as if there were no clue to the character of the criminal or the cause of the crime. His object is clearly divulged. His anatomical knowledge carries him out of the category of common criminal, for that knowledge could only have been obtained by assisting at post-mortem examinations, or, by frequenting the post-mortem room. Thus, the class in which search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover, it must have been a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of the 8th of September. His hands were undoubtedly bloodstained, for he did not stop to use the tap in the yard, as the pan of clean water under it shows. If the theory of lunacy be correct (which I very much doubt) the class is still further limited; while if Mrs. Long's memory does not fail, and the assumption be correct that the man who was talking to the Deceased at half-past five was the culprit, he is even more clearly defined. In addition to his former description we should know that he was a foreigner of dark complexion, over 40 years of age, a little taller than the Deceased, of shabby genteel appearance, with a brown deer-stalker hat on his head and dark coat on his back. If your views accord with mine, you will be of the opinion that we are confronted with a murder of no ordinary character, committed not from jealousy, revenge, or robbery, but from motives less adequate than the many which still disgrace our civilisation, mar our progress, and blot the pages of our Christianity. I cannot conclude my remarks, gentlemen, without thanking you for the attention you have given to the case, and the assistance you have rendered me in our efforts to elucidate the truth of this horrible tragedy.
The Jury consulted for a minute, when
The Foreman - If that would meet the case we do not want to add anything more. We were to add a rider as regards the mortuary, but that having been done by the previous Jury we will allow that to stand as it is. There is only one thing that we may ask. We have sat here for five days, and the majority of the Jury now wish to be excluded for at least two years from attending on any other Coroner's Jury in you district.
The Coroner - We will endeavour to meet you views; but I am sure, if any important case occurred, you would not be unwilling to serve, as, from your residence in the district, your attendance would be important.
Our Newcastle Correspondent, telegraphing last evening, says:- "The excitement that has prevailed throughout the northern portion of the county of Durham in connection with the mutilation of Jane Beetmoor, at Birtley, on Saturday evening, is, to some extent, abating. The universal sorrow, however, with which the event has been regarded throughout the district was manifested in a very impressive manner to-day, by the enormous crowds which attended the funeral of the deceased. People came in thousands to the little cottage on Birtley Fell side. There were numerous floral offerings from those who took part in the ceremony. The funeral service was read by the Rev. Arthur Watts, of Durham, who, in the absence of the vicar of Birtley, had been performing the clerical duties of the parish. At the graveside Mr. Watts departed from the usual course, and made a few touching remarks concerning the terrible deed that had been done in their midst. The police have altogether abandoned the idea that the Birtley crime is the work of the Whitechapel murderer. Dr. Phillips, who performed the post-mortem examination yesterday, is convinced that the nature of the wounds does not support the opinion he was led to form on reading the newspaper reports of the case. Inspector Roots, of Scotland Yard, has also expressed the view that the Birtley affair is nothing more than a clumsy imitation of the mutilations that took place in the Metropolis. An anxious search is still being made for the man whose mysterious disappearance since the day of the murder has naturally excited grave suspicions. A rumour reached Consett this morning, that a person answering the description of the missing man had been seen loitering about the remote uplands in the Satley district, and Superintendent Oliver and some constables are diligently searching that part of the countryside. In spite of these reports, however, the prevalent opinion is that he has committed suicide. The description given of the man's habits has for a short time before the murder point to a slight mental derangement on his part. To his fellow workmen he had been explaining for days the method he would adopt if he had to, despatch anybody, and his reading the details in connection with the Whitechapel murders, seems to have made a powerful impression upon his mind, for he was constantly talking about them. If he desired to commit suicide, there was abundant opportunity for him to do so in one of the numerous disused coal shafts about the district. Many of these are filled with water, and if he has thrown himself down one of them his body may never be recovered. The police, on the other hand, are firm in their belief that the man is alive and in the immediate district. The latest news, indeed, from Birtley is that the officers in charge of the case have obtained an important clue, and before many hours are over there may be some important light thrown upon the affair."
The inquest on ANNIE CHAPMAN, who was murdered in Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, concluded yesterday. Mr. WYNNE BAXTER, the Coroner, narrated to the Jury an incident which might afford a clue to the motive for the murder. He had been informed that an American called recently at two of our medical schools and offered to purchase a number of specimens of that portion of the body which had been cut out of the deceased woman after her murder, and he suggested that the crime might have been committed by some wretch who knew there was a market for part of the remains. The Jury found a verdict of Wilful Murder against some person unknown.