11 September 1889
Whitechapel Hardened by Repeated Crimes Looks Listlessly on.
Whitechapel Hardened by Repeated Crimes Looks Listlessly on.
A London special cable dispatch to the Philedalphia Press gives the following details relating to the scene and circumstances of the murder of a woman in Cable street, Whitechapel, discovered yesterday morning:
Thousands of Londoners daily take the train of the Great Eastern railway at French street, which rises above the grade of the populous thoroughfares in Whitechapel, and crosses the Thames on a level with the housetops, below London Bridge. The masonry of the railroad structure has cut up the street below into irregular sections, which end in blind alleys against the arches on one side and start abruptly from the stone piers on the other, leaving gloomy recesses and deserted courts in the center of a densely populated slum. The higher arches of this steam roadway are rented to contractors, coal dealers and junkmen.
Lower down they are boarded up to a height of 10 of 15 feet, and where the stone trestle os lowest the empty spaces under the arches are used as receptacles for garbage and during the daytime as a playground for the children of the wretched tenement houses in the adjoining streets. As a consequence of its location Pinchin street, in Whitechapel, running alongside and partly under the railroad structure, is at night deserted and silent in the center of a neighborhood teeming with the vilest of the human dregs of London.
Cable street, one of the main arteries of travel in that part of the city, intersects Pinchin street just below, on an intermediate arch, and a block to the westward Leman street, a great mercantile thoroughfare, runs from White Chapel road to the river and from it back. Church lane abuts upon the railroad masonry. A gloomier spot or one better fitted for a tragedy may not be found in all London.
Early this morning a police officer, whose beat is through this lonesome district, detected in the growing light what seemed to be a human body under one of the lowest of these dark arches. Turning the light of his bull's eye lamp upon the mass a terrible and sickening sight was disclosed. Lying breast downward upon the ground was the nude trunk and arms of a woman. The head and legs had been severed and carried away, if, indeed, the tragedy had occurred on the spot, and a battered and bloody chemise was thrown over the corpse.
The policeman blew his whistle as a signal for the murderer to get out of the way, and, after abundant time had elapsed for any one to escape from the neighborhood, the police formed a cordon around the spot, and a search was made, with the result that three drunken sailors were found in a state of alcoholic coma under the next arch, whose condition effectually exculpates them from any complicity in the crime. The reporters were carefully excluded from the spot and the marvelous asinity (sic) of the London police force brought to bear upon the case. The result is that this, the ninth murder within a period of eighteen months in Whitechapel, remains as great a mystery as the other eight.
This part of London is teeming with detectives and policemen. A base-ball player could throw a stone from the spot where Berners street murder was committed by "Jack the Ripper", September 30, last year, to the arch where the body was found this morning, and from the arch he might throw another stone into the Leman street police station, and yet right through these swarming detectives and policemen somebody had brought that dead body and thrown it under the arch, or else the murder was committed on that spot and the head and arms taken away.
The only reason for doubting the accuracy of the first theory is that the police hold to it. The body is evidently that of a young woman between twenty and thirty years of age, and there is absolutely nothing about it in its mutilated state to give the slightest clue to its identity. The hands are not those of a working woman, but there are no marks upon the fingers by which it could be conjectured whether or not she had ever worn a wedding ring. She was undoubtedly one of the unfortunates who patrol the streets of Whitechapel.
This is evidently not one of Jack the Ripper's crimes, and neither was that artist responsible for the previous murder in Castle Alley of July 16 last. The terrible significance of this morning's discovery is that it reveals the fact that there are two series of murders being committed by two separate murderers under the eyes of the police, in the heart of London today.
This is the fourth tragedy in which only the trunk of a woman's body has been found and the head and limbs not discovered.
The first was found at Rainham, where it had been thrown up by the Thames, three years ago; the second was the body found on the embankment, near Charing Cross, soon after; the third was the trunk found in Battersea park last spring, the legs of which were afterwards cast up by the Thames. In these three instances the bodies have remained unidentified, and the heads have never been found.
The present case will, doubtless, be identical, as the prevailing theory is that the murderer bludgeons his victims and then severs and burns the heads, throwing what other members he is unable to dispose of otherwise into the Thames. Four undetected murders, therefore, lie at the door of this savage. The seven murders in which the abdominal lacerations occurred between April 3 and November 9, 1888, may be attributed to the Ripper, and the one of July 16 last to a vulgar imitator of the eviscerator. In all there have been twelve murders, in circumstances which should render the perpetrators usually easy of detection, but to whom the police have not the slightest clue.
The London newspapers picture Whitechapel in a state of panic-stricken excitement today. Whitechapel, however, is in a state of torpor. The people have become so accustomed to these tragedies that they cease to excite anything more than mild interest and a vague wonder in the minds of street-walkers as to which one will be taken next. When your correspondent visited Pinchin street under the railway arch at midnight tonight, a crowd had gathered about the police cordon, which for some inscrutable reason is drawn about the spot where the body was found.
Numbers of women lay asleep on the sidewalk and others were talking and jesting with the policemen, but the great body of men, women and children only stared apathetically at the black hole where the bloody trunk was found, and perhaps found a species of gratification in conjuring up the probable details of the crime in their morbid imaginations. The police are as much in the dark now as they were when the body was found this morning, or when the eleven other bodies were found on eleven other mornings.