Monday, 10th September 1888
A FOURTH WOMAN RIPPED OPEN
A REIGN OF TERROR IN THE DISTRICT
(PRESS ASSOCIATION TELEGRAM)
Early this morning a discovery was made in Hanbury street, Whitechapel, of the body of a woman shockingly mutilated and murdered. The scene of the crime is not far from Buck's row, where the woman Nichols as recently murdered. The discovery was made by John Davis, living at 29 Hanbury street, in the yard of which the body was found. Mr. Davis was crossing the yard at a quarter to six, when he saw a horrible looking mass lying in the corner. While he was gone to give information to the police Mrs Richardson, an old lady sleeping on the first floor, was aroused by her grandson, and looking out of the back window saw the body lying in the yard. The throat was cut from ear to ear, and the deceased was lying on her back with her legs outstretched. Her clothes were pushed up above the knees and the body was ripped up from the groin to the breast bone. The heart and liver were torn out, and the remains were lying in a pool of blood.
Chief Inspector West, who was soon called to the spot, states the woman's name is believed to be Annie Siffey, aged forty-five, and for the last few months she has been sleeping at a common lodg-house at 35 Dorset-street, Spitalfields, where she was seen at two o'clock this morning. Like Mary Ann Nicholls, who I supposed to have been murdered by the same hand, she was a prostitute, and was known in the neighbourhood of Brick-lane as "Dark Annie". She was five feet high, fair brown wavy hair, blue eyes, and had one or two of her front teeth missing. Soon after the discovery became known the scene of the crime was visited by large crowds, and great consternation prevailed at the succession of horrible murders in this part of London, this being the fourth case within a comparatively short period. The barmaid at the Bill and Birch, where the murdered woman is said to have been drinking in company with a man, said she opened her house at five o'clock and was very busy on account of Spitalfields market being held on Saturday. She could not say whether she served deceased or not. The body was removed in a rough coffin and placed in the mortuary in Old Montague street, where an excited crowd gathered. The universal opinion in the locality is that the murderer is the same man who killed Mrs Nicholls, and possibly also the two other women who were murdered earlier in the year. It is stated that two men have identified the deceased as a woman named Ellen Clarke, with whom they were drinking last night. In explanation of her being known by the name of "Siffey" it is said that she lived for some time with a man who, it is said, worked at sieve making. The police held the opinion that the murderer is a semi-maniac and has perpetrated the other recent murders in the East End.
About noon to-day a man in charge of the police was conveyed to the London Hospital in a van. On arrival he was fond to be in a dying condition, having, it is believed, taken poison. A rumour was current that the man had been arrested for the Whitechapel murder, but no information could be obtained on the point either from the police or hospital authorities.
On the wall of the yard where the body was discovered the words were found to be written - "Five- fifteen more and then I give myself up." The deputy of the lodginghouse, Timothy Donovan, last saw the deceased alive shortly before two when he refused to admit her, as she was somewhat the worse of drnk, and had not the requisite eightpence.
Up to midnight on Saturday no arrest had been made in connection with the Whitechapel murder. The police confess that they have no clue, but they are making every effort to put an end to the mystery and to bring the criminal to justice. A large number of detectives and police are scouring the neighbourhood. Shortly before midnight the police received information that three rings answering the description of those taken from the murdered woman had been taken in pledge by a pawnbroker in Mile End road. A woman who knew the deceased well was at once sent to see if she could identify the rings, but she failed to do so. In the meantime the police had ascertained that the person who pledged them had a right to do so. Mrs Fiddymont, wife of the proprietor of the Prince Albert public-house, half a mile from the scene of the murder, states that she will be able to identify a man who entered the house early on Saturday morning with stains of blood on him.
The Press Association telegraph later - Hanbury street, Whitechapel, was in an all but impassable state owing to the crowds which had assembled in the neighbourhood of the scene of the latest East End tragedy. Some thousands of people passed through the locality during the early part of the day, and the police authorities at Commercial street Police Station had a number of constables drafted from other parts of the metropolis, and these as evening advanced, were busily occupied in keeping the people moving. The public excitement as the day advanced appeared rather to grow than diminish, and strong evidence of the fact was apparent to-night. Not only did large crowds of the poorer classes loiter in the vicinity of the spot where the murder was committed, but a number of more well to do people were to be seen either gazing with awe-stricken faces at Mrs Richardson's house, in the rere of which the murdered body of the victim was found, or endeavouring to glean some additional particulars as to the circumstances of the tragedy. Up to half past nine o'clock to-night the police at Commercial street were unable to say that their investigations had been attended with success, though our reporter elicited a statement regarding which an important development might, it is thought, be expected. The Deptford police made a communication with the effect that a man had been arrested by them under suspicious circumstances.
The weird terror of the neighbourhood has fixed upon the possible murderer a mysterious roving character, whose proper name is not known, but who is distinguished by the strange cognesion "Leather Apron."
About fifty of the unfortunates in the Whitechapel district gave a description of "Leather Apron," to a Star reporter a few days ago. The description all agreed, and most of them added to it a personal experience with the an during the last two years in which they were more or less injured. From all accounts he is five feet four or five inches in height, and wears a dark close-fitting cap. He is thickset, and has an unusually thick neck. His hair is black and closely clipped, his age being about 38 or 40. He has a small, black moustache. The distinguishing feature of his costume is a leather apron, which he always wears, and from which he gets his nickname. His expression is sinister, and seems to be full of terror for the women who describe it. His eyes are small and glittering. His lips are usually parted in a grin which is not only not reassuring but excessively repellent. He is a slipper maker by trade, but does not work. His business is blackmailing wome late at night. A number of men in Whitechapel follow this interesting profession. He has never cut anybody so far as known, but always carries a leather knife, presumably as sharp as leather knives are wont to be. This knife a number of the women have seen. His name nobody knows, but all are united in the belief that he is a Jew or of Jewish parentage, his face being of a marked Hebrew type. But he most singular characteristic of the man,and one which tends to identify him clearly with last Friday night's work is the universal statement that in moving around he never makes any noise. What he wears on his feet the women do not know, but they all agree that he moves noiselessly.
A man was arrested at Deptford this afternoon on suspicion of being connected with the East end tragedy, but there is reason to believe he will be able to establish his innocence, and will soon be released. A very large number of constables in civilian clothes have been put on duty in the district where the murders have taken place. The inhabitants of the East end appear to have all their attention absorbed in the loathsome details of the murder, knots of people having stood about until a late hour this evening discussing every point of the tragedy. The people are in a terrible condition of terror and fear. "God knows," said an official to our reporter, "but we may have another to-night, though we have men patrolling the whole region of Whitechapel and Spitalfields." That the police are putting forth every possible effort there can be no doubt. To-night there is a large force on duty. One-third of all the men are in plain clothes, and even those entitled to leave on absence are retained. That the public are anxious to second their efforts is testified by the presence on the record at Commercial street of no less than fifty personal statements made with the object of assisting in the work of identification. One officer has been occupied many consecutive hours in writing these statements, and up to nine o'clock to-night they were being supplemented by others. The police are not permitted to make public the written evidence, if evidence it can be called. It is doubtful if it will ultimately prove of much value, but our special representative in pursuing his investigations to-night heard, in the presence of the police, a statement which perhaps ought not to be altogether dismissed as unworthy of notice. The informant was a young woman named Lyons, of the class commonly known as unfortunates. She stated that at three o'clock this 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 go to the Queen's Head public-house at half past six and drink with him. Having obtained from the young woman that she would do so, he disappeared, but was at the house at the appointed time. While they were conversing Lyons noticed a large knife in the man's right hand trousers pocket, and called another woman's attention to the fact. A moment later Lyons was startled by the 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 them." 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 at a swift pace into Church street, and was at once lost to view. One noteworthy fact in the this story is that the description of the man's appearance is in all material points identical with the published description of the unknown and up to the present undiscovered "Leather Apron." Over 200 common lodging houses have been visited by the police in the hopes of finding some trace of the mysterious and much talked of person, but he has succeeded in evading arrest. The police have reason for suspecting that he is employed in one of the London sweating dens as a slipper maker, and that as it is usual to supply food and lodging in many of these houses he is virtually in hiding. The "Leather Apron" was a figure known to many policemen in Whitechapel district prior to the murder of Mrs Nicholls in Bucks row. The man has kept himself out of the way since, and this is regarded as a significant circumstance. The inquest will be opened to-morrow at ten o'clock at Lads'.
(BY FREEMAN SPECIAL WIRE)
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
Freeman Office, 211 Strand, London,
The terrible murder at the East End on Saturday morning has thrown the whole of London into a state of intense excitement. The fiendish crime, occurring immediately after four others of equal atrocity in the same neighbourhood within a short space of time, has generated in the eastern portion of the metropolis a feeling of positive fear of their lives among the majority of the inhabitants. The fact that a woman was the victim in each case, and that she was poor, takes away the suspicion of robbery and suggests some unutterably fiendish motive such as that which is supposed to animate the mystical character of Hyde in Mr. Stevenson's book. When the devilish nature of Hyde was pictured in the novel nobody could believe that his prototype could be found in real life. These atrocities and apparently causeless murders show that there is abroad at the present time in the East End a human monster even more terrible than Hyde. The murders were committed apparently for no other reason than the satanic delight of spilling the blood of defenceless women and hacking up their writhing carcasses. The simple act of taking the life did not satisfy the murderer. He cut and mangled the bodies in each case in a perfectly horrible manner. That all the murders are the work of one person seems conclusive from the similarity of the circumstances in each case. The theory of the police is that it is a man, but there are some who think it is a woman. The latter suggestion has not been made in the papers, but some of those who have visited the East End and inquired into the circumstances believe there is ground for supposing that a woman is the murderer. In support of this idea it is urged that a woman would at least have the motive of jealousy, whereas the wretched and unfortunate condition of life of the victims could furnish no motive to a man. The woman theory is, however, I think, the least probable of the two.
The question which every Londoner, east and west, is now asking is, what are the police doing. Here are five revolting murders committed within a week of each other in the same locality, in one of the most populous parts of London, and yet the police have not the faintest clue to the murderer in either case. This is an alarming state of things. There are nearly fourteen thousand police in London, and competent authorities say that with this number the metropolis can be most effectively patrolled. It is quite clear that the scene of Saturday's murder was not properly patrolled. A man whose movements attracted suspicion was followed through several streets by a civilian even before the murder was heard of at all, and not a policeman was to be seen along the route to take the man into custody. I am glad to see that in this connection with the Pall Mall Gazette supports the complaint which I have frequently made as to the withdrawal of large numbers of London police from their proper duties for the purpose of keeping irritating and needless watch upon politicians and men who have about as much connection with crime as the Archbishop of Canturbury. If Mr. Munro would turn his attention to the discovery of the Whitechapel monster he would do a much more substantial service to his country than he did when he tried to connect an Irish member with a conspiracy to blow his colleagues in the House of Commons into small bits with dynamite. It is ridiculous speculations of this kind that occupy the wits of the London detectives, not the discovery of monsters in human form who go about hacking their fellow creatures with knives in the broad daylight.