Tuesday, 11th September 1888
(BY FREEMAN SPECIAL WIRE)
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
Freeman Office, 211 Strand, London,
The police are still on the hunt for the Whitechapel murderer. Up to the present they have failed to find anyone resembling the man seen in the vicinity of the last murder on Saturday morning with the stains of blood upon him. The detectives are to be commiserated. All London is shocked at their inefficiency in face of so grave a crisis. They are, it appears, confining their attentions to the most villainous looking characters they can meet in the purlieus of Whitechapel, but some of them, after being detained in custody for some time, have had to be discharged for want of the least trace of evidence against them. Now, as the Pall Mall Gazette suggests, the murderer may be a perfectly innocent looking person; a visit to the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud's shows that some of the most atrocious murderers of modern times are persons of the most harmless appearance. "Leather Apron" turns out, it appears, not to be the monster that he has been pictured, but a hard-working and inoffensive shoemaker. Now that he is out of the way, the detectives may widen the field of their pursuit.
It was rumoured yesterday that Sir Charles Warren had resigned the Chief Commissionership of Metropolitan Police. He returned to London yesterday after a holiday on the Continent, and his unexpected re-appearance in Scotland Yard gave rise to the report that in consequence of recent events connected with the police force under his charge he had tendered his resignation to the Home Secretary. Inquiry at Scotland Yard, however, elicited from Sir Charles Warren a prompt denial of the report. He does not intend to resign, nor does he intend to accept any other appointment. It is suggested that his return in London is caused by an apprehended renewal of the Socialist demonstrations of last year, but it is more likely to be connected with the panic which has been caused by the East End murders and the failure of the police to capture the murderer or murderers.
SUPPOSED IMPORTANT ARREST
The Press Association states that there was no diminution of the excitement to-day around the scene of the latest Whitechapel murder, and police activity has been shown in various directions. About nine o'clock this morning a man named John Piser, residing at 22 Mulberry street, Commercial road, was arrested at his home on suspicion of being the unknown man who has been described as "Leather Apron." The arrest was effected quietly but when it became known some time afterwards there was great excitement. Priosoner by trade is a boot finisher and lives with his stepmother and a married brother. He has recently been in a convalescent home. He is a Jew, about 35 years of age. A representative of the Press Association, who interviewed friends and neighbours of the man, ascertained that he had the character of being entirely inoffensive and the most unlikely person to be confounded with the description and character of Leather Apron. He was taken to Leman street police station. He was detained there some hours while inquiries were being prosecuted by the police. These were satisfactory, and during the afternoon the prisoner was quietly liberated. On this becoming known there was great rejoicing among his co-religionists, who gathered in large numbers. Meanwhile, information had been received that what was believed to be an important arrest had been effected at Gravesend. On Sunday night a communication was made to Superintendent Berry that a suspicious looking individual was at the Pope's Head publichouse, West street. A sergeant who was dispatched to the place arrested a man who was found to have been bitten in the hand. The prisoner whose name was William Henry Pigott, aged fifty two, explained this by stating that while going down Brick lane, Whitechapel, at half-past four on Saturday morning, a woman fell down in a fit. He stopped to pick her up, when she bit him. He then hit her, and as two policemen came up he ran away. Pigott's clothing was carefully examined by Dr Whitcombe, the divisional surgeon, and it was announced the two shirts which Pigott carried in a bundle were stained with blood, and also the blood appeared to have been recently wiped off his boots. After the usual caution the prisoner made a further statement to the effect that the woman who bit him in the street was at the back of a lodging house when seized with the fit. He added that he slept in a lodginghouse in Osborne street on Thursday night, but on Friday was walking the streets of Whitechapel all night. He tramped from London to Gravesend on Saturday. He was a native of Gravesend, and said to police that he had been keeping several publichouses in London. As the prisoner's description tallied in some respects with that furnished by headquarters of the man "wanted," Superintendent Berry decided to detain him until this morning. In response to a telegram Inspector Abbeline proceeded to Gravesend this morning and decided to bring the prisoner back to Whitechapel so that he could be confronted with the women who had furnished the description of Leather Apron. On arriving at London bridge Station Pigott was driven to Commercial street and the news of his arrival having spread quickly the police station was soon surrounded with an excited crowd. Pigott arrived at Commercial street in much the same condition as when taken into custody. He wore no vest, had on a battered felt hat, and either from drink or fright appeared to be in a state of extraordinary nervous excitement. Mrs Fiddymount, who is responsible for the statement that a man resembling Leather Apron was seen at the Prince Albert publichouse on Saturday was sent for, as were the other witnesses likely to be able to identify the prisoner; but after a very brief scrutiny it was the unanimous opinion that Pigott was not Leather Apron. Nevertheless, looking at his condition of mind, it was decide to detain him until he could give a somewhat more satisfactory explanation of himself and his movements. After an interval of a couple of hours, the man's manner becoming more strange hand his speech more incoherent, the Divisional Surgeon was called in, and he gave it as his opinion that the prisoner's mind was unhinged. A medical certificate to that effect was made out, and Pigott for the present will remain in custody. At several of the police stations in the East End of London men suspected of being concerned in the tragedy have been in custody during the day, but on investigation only a brief detention has been found necessary except in the two cases above noted. As an evidene of th effect which the murders have had on the public mind several drunken men have professed to be connected with the outrages, and in one or two instances have been taken to the police station surrounded by an excited crowd, with the result only of wasting the time of the police and adding to the pani which prevailed in some parts of the metropolis. Inquiries made at Windsor to-day make it highly probable that Mrs Chapman was the same woman who had been in Superintendent Hayes's custody for drunknenness, though she was never brought before the magistrates. It was stated at the inquest to-day that the murdered woman was the wife of a veterinary surgeon, but it would appear from information received from Windsor that in her happier days Mrs Chapman was the wife of a respectable coachman in the service of a gentleman at Clower, near Windsor, but who was compelled to retire from his service through ill health. His illness lasted for some time, and he died at Grove road, Windsor at Christmas '86. Chapman had been forced to separated from hs wife in consequence of her habits. During her residence in the East End, and until his death, she received an allowance of ten shillings a week from her husband. There were two children, a boy and a girl. The boy was admitted to a London hospital, and the girl, was for some time at Grove road, Windsor; but nothing is known of their present whereabouts. We understand that Superintendent Hayes sent one of his men to London, and the policeman identified the body at Whitechapel mortuary as that of Mrs Chapman, formerly of Windsor.
Telegraphing at a late hour the Press Association says - In consequence of the reticence shown by the police in giving information it was understood that the man Piser, alleged to be Leather Apron, had been released, but it appears from later information that he is still in custody. It is stated that this person is a well known character in the East End, and that the police attach considerable importance to his capture. It is stated that since the police made public his description he has been missing to the officers who knew him to frequent the neighbourhood of Whitechapel at night, and this is considered an important circumstance in connection with the arrest. When the officers lost sight of him a vigilant search was made, but without any result until this morning. Detective Sergeant Thicke, who made the arrest, has been watching the house in which he was concealed for several days , but at nine o'clock this morning made his final effort to secure his man. He had no difficulty in effecting this object, the man submitting quietly, and accompanying the officer through the streets unobserved. It is understood that the prisoner did not reside at the house in which he was arrested. He is detained at the Leman street police station, but at midnight, as far as can be ascertained, had not been charged with any specific offence. In the meantime, however, a large number of officers are directing their investigations into the man's antecedents. As was anticipated, the greatest difficulty is and will be experienced in bringing the crime home to any person, adding to the mystery which surrounds its perpetration. The local police to-night, we are informed, requisitioned the assistance of some experts. Among those who came from Scotland Yard are Detective Inspector Abbeline and Superintendent Shaw, the latter an officer who perhaps knows more about rime and criminals than any man in the detective service. The prisoner was seen by these officers, being brought from the cells to the superintendent's office, where, it is stated, he was prevailed upon to make a statement. It is believed this man, if not personally guilty, is able to throw some light on the crime. The police have no power to detain the man Piser for any considerable time without charging him, and for this reason it is believed the man will shortly be brought up and charged on suspicion. Public opinion runs so high in the neighbourhood against the person known as "Leather Apron" that the police have set aside the rules generally adopted in such cases. No matter where a man is arrested he is conveyed to the police station in which the crime had been committed, but in this case it is thought advisable to remove him, and the statement made this evening by the police that the man had been liberated is believed to have been a ruse to prevent an unpleasant manifestation of public indignation in the vicinity of the police station. Considerable importance is attached to the apprehension of the man Pigott by the Whitechapel police. He still adhered to the statement made shortly after his arrest that he was in the vicinity at the time of the murder. The police surgeon having given orders that the man should be watched, he has been conveyed to the Whitechapel Infirmary, where he is under close observation. Under the Lunacy Laws it is necessary to charge a person said to be a lunatic within three days; therefore in case the man recovers he will have to be brought before a magistrate.
Investigations concerning the man are being closely followed up, but at midnight nothing of material importance to the case in hand has been discovered nor have any of his friends or relatives been found. Dr Phillips will during the man's detention analyse the bloodstains on his clothing to ascertain whether it is human blood or otherwise.
The inquest on the body of Annie Chapman, or Siffey, who was found murdered in Hanbury street, Whitechapel, on Saturday, was opened at 10 o'clock by Mr Wynne Baxter, District Coroner, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel road. Inspector Nelson, J Division, represented the police. The court and vicinity were crowded, and the latest newspapers were eagerly scanned by those in waiting for the commencement of the proceedings. Mr Collier, Deputy Coroner, accompanied Mr Wynne Baxter.
The jury, having been sworn, went to view the body at the mortuary, and on their return,
John Davis deposed - I live at 29 Hanbury-street, Spitalfields. I am a carman and occupy a front room with my wife and three sons. On Friday night I went to bed at eight o'clock. My sons came in at different times, the last about a quarter to eleven. I was awake between that and five o'clock but fell asleep for about half an hour, and got up at a quarter to six. I went across the yard. On the ground floor there is a door leading into a passage through the basement. There is a back door in this passage. Sometimes the doors are left open during the night. I have never known either of them to be locked. Anyone can open the front door by the lath and enter the yard by the passage. I cannot say whether the back door was latched when I got down, but the front street door was thrown wide open, which was not an unusual occurrence.
The witness, being asked to describe the general appearance of the yard, was not very clear in his statements.
The Coroner said the police in country places generally prepared a plan of the locality which was the subject of investigation. Certainly this was a case of sufficient importance for such a plan.
Inspector Chandler promised that a plan would be drawn up.
The Coroner said the delay might prove fatal.
Witness, resuming, said - When I opened the back door of the yard I found a woman lying on her back. I called two men in the employ of Mr. Bayley, packing-case maker in Hanbury street, three doors from No 29. They came and looked at the body. I do not known them personally.
In reply to the Coroner Inspector Chandler said the men referred to were not known to the police.
The Coroner expressed surprise at this. He said the men must be found if they had not already been seen and identified.
Davis, continuing, said - I informed the Inspector at Commercial street what I had seen in the yard.
Amelia Palmer, living at 30 Dorset street, a lodginghouse, was next examined. She said her husband was an army pensioner. She knew deceased five years, and identified the body s that of Annie Chapman, a widow. Her husband died at Windsor eighteen months ago. Prior to that she received ten shillings a week from him. Deceased was called Mrs Siffey, because she lived with a man who was a sieve-maker. She had been staying at 35 Dorset street. Witness had seen her several times "the worse for drink," and she was frequently out in the streets late at night. On Friday afternoon witness saw her in Dorset street about five o'clock. She said she had no money, and had been in the casual ward, as she could not pay for her lodging.
Timothy Donovan, 35 Dorset street, deputy of the common lodging house, identified the body at the mortuary as a woman who had lodged at his house occasionally. She was not at number 35 last week until Friday afternoon, about three o'clock. She went into the kitchen, and he did not see her again till Saturday morning at 1.45. She afterwards left the house and said she should be back for a bed. She was somewhat the worse for liquor, and when she left in the morning witness said, "You can find money for beer, but not for your bed." He did not see her with any man that night. Sometimes she came to the house with a man said to be a pensioner, and sometimes with other men, and witness had refused to allow a bed.
Replying to the Coroner, witness added that the pensioner had told him not to admit her with any other man.
Inspector Chandler, in answer to the Coroner, said nothing was known of the man called the pensioner.
Donovan, resuming, said on August 28 deceased had a row with another woman in the kitchen and sustained a bruise over her eye.
John Evans, night watchman, 35 Dorset street, said he saw deceased go out on Saturday morning. She never returned. She was the worse for drink. Witness knew she was out in the streets at nights, but only knew of one man with whom she associated. He used to come to her on Saturdays. He called about half-past two on Saturday last, and when he was told of the murder he went away without saying anything. He did not know this man's name or address.
The inquest was adjourned till Wednesday afternoon.
The Standard says - The feeling of insecurity will not be removed till the author of the crimes is lodged in jail. It is for Scotland Yard to put him there without loss of time. The affair should put the authorities on their mettle, for if they bungle it their credit will be disastrously impaired. This, of course, is understood at headquarters. Every nerve will be strained in pursuit of this bloodthirsty scoundrel, and we trust that the contest shall be short, sharp, and speedily successful.
The Telegraph says - we are not inclined to agree with those who have raised an outcry against the local police for not preventing a repetition of these Whitechapel murders. In a labyrinth like that surrounding Whitechapel ten times the number of constables now on duty could not see what is nightly and daily going on. It is to be hoped that the investigation into these abominable crimes will be conducted with judgement, promptitude, and success. Moreover, if the monster be captured it must not readily be assumed that he is responsible.
The Chronicle says - London is disgusted with the inadequacy of the police protection which Sir Chas Warren gives. The present regime must be mended or ended.