Wednesday, 12th September 1888
As any reader of the newspapers can see, an epidemic of crime is raging in England. Every day brings its own budget of dreadful deeds; horror succeeds horror; and the most hardened student of the gruesome literature of murder pauses involuntarily to ask how such atrocities are possible in communities that are not accounted barbarous. The English people are certainly to be commiserated with. A fierce light has been cast into the obscure noisome places of their civilisation, and the world, according to its custom, regards the ghastly sights that are disclosed as the shame, not of localities nor of a class, but of the entire nation. So the English people have regarded Irish crime in the past; they cannot complain if others apply to them the system of reasoning which they never hesitate to apply to the Irish. We have always protested against the assumption that, because half-a-dozen Irishmen in the course of a year commit as many murders, all Irishmen are to be considered and treated as murderers; our English friends will now appreciate the force of our protest. First, in the pre-eminence of crime, we must reckon the as yet unknown perpetrator of the series of murders in the East End of London. Four murders of the most appalling kind have been committed at brief intervals within a limited area in the Whitechapel district. All were apparently the work of the one man, for the similarity in the hideous details of outrage and mutilation cannot be accounted for on any other supposition. The victim in every case has been a woman of the unfortunate class; her throat has been invariably cut so deeply that the head has been almost severed from the trunk; and the murderer has sated his blood thirst by hacking the inanimate body in elaborate and nameless forms of mutilation. Naturally there has been intense excitement in the neighbourhood, and in the horror of these repeated butcheries ordinary murders committed in other parts of England are almost entirely ignored. One of the mysteries which all the crimes present is the absence of apparent motive. The women were destitute, and robbery could not therefore have been the object. But it happens that numerous wretches in the slums of London subsist on the black mail which they extort from miserable outcasts of the female sex, and it has been suggested that one or more of these monsters may have committed the crimes with the view of intimidating other women. Another theory is that the criminal is a maniac, and in support of this contention the cunning exhibited by the murderer is adduced. Unquestionably he - if he be a solitary individual - is a fiend in human shape, possessed of savage boldness and diabolical ingenuity in concealing his identity. He evidently knows the locality well, as he consistently selects a suitable spot for the perpetration of the crime and for his escape after revelling in blood. So complete has been his success that the police are groping in the dark, seemingly without a clue. The mysterious character known as "Leather Apron" supposed to be the author of the awful deeds, turns out to be a myth. A man was arrested on suspicion of identity with the person of whom such uncanny stories have been told, and now it seems that the detectives have satisfied themselves that their prisoner could not have been the murderer. As usual, numerous brutes, with hands soaked in drink, have presented themselves at the police stations, each claiming the distinction of being the person "wanted" for the atrocities. The detectives seem to be hopelessly at fault; the most that they have managed to do is to publish a description of the suspected person which would suit at least ten thousand innocent men, and the probability is that, saving some happy accident, one of the most desperate criminals of modern times will remain undiscovered. The appalling incidents of these tragedies and the investigation which has been conducted under the prying eyes of the public, have revealed the existence in the world's wealthiest city of such sordid misery and abandoned beastliness as no novelist would dare to truly portray without exposing himself to the charge of exaggeration beyond the licence of fiction.
(BY FREEMAN SPECIAL WIRE)
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
Freeman Office, 211 Strand, London,
Horror mounts upon horror in London. Before the shock of the latest Whitechapel murder has died out, the public are startled by another tragedy in the West End which appears to have been of the same fiendish character. Yesterday afternoon the arm of a young woman was found near the Thames at Grosvenor-road, the medical examination of which shows that it was cut off from the body only two days ago. That the owner of the arm was murdered appears clear from the appearance of the limb. The discovery has intensified the excitement which has prevailed in London for some days in connection with the Whitechapel murders. Ever before, even in London, was there such an outbreak of terrible crimes as the present one, and in face of it all the police appear to be completely helpless. What has aggravated the general sense of insecurity is the apathy of the Government. No reward has been issued from the Home Office in the case of any of the recent murders, and it has been left to a local member of Parliament to offer £100 for the discovery of the Whitechapel fiend, and to the inhabitants of the locality to supplement the sum by another £100.
A SUPPOSED IMPORTANT DISCOVERY
The Press Association says there is little to record to-day of a sensational character in connection with the East End tragedies. The men Pigott and Piser are still in custody. With regard to the former it is understood that he has not yet recovered from the fit of delirium from which he was suffering when arrested, nor is it known whether the scientific examination of the stains on his clothing has proved the existence of blood. Throughout the day Detective Sergeant Thicke has been continuing his inquiries as to the movements and antecedents of Piser. This afternoon a number of men who were hanging about Leman street Police Station were asked to come inside, and they were glad to satisfy their curiosity by doing so. Piser was then brought from a room in which he is confined and placed amongst them. A man was then brought into the station yard and asked if he could identify "the man." He immediately picked out Piser, who appeared to be most dejected on being as readily selected. It is understood that this witness says he saw Piser threatening a woman in Hanbury street in the early hours of the morning of the murder. A representative of the Press Association this evening interviewed a brother of Piser who was waiting at Leman street to convey food to the prisoner, and this brother is confident the result of the investigation will prove that Piser has no connection with the crime. He says he can prove beyond doubt that Piser was not out of his residence after Thursday night; and that he kept indoors on his (the brother's) suggestion. He denies the prisoner was in the habit of associating with loose women in the streets.
A later telegram from the Press Association says the statement that Piser was this afternoon identified as having been seen threatening a woman in Hanbury-street, which was made on the authority of the police, has since been positively denied by one of the detective inspectors, and it is added that not many hours will elapse before Piser is released. Up to ten o'clock to-night there had been no further arrests made. Donovan, the keeper of the lodging house at which the woman Chapman lived, expressed surprise in an interview to-night that although the police were aware that he new Leather Apron well he had not been called on to see the prisoner. He could have decided at once whether Piser was the man in question or not. The police, however, had been to Donovan with two rings found at a pawnbroker's, but Donovan was of the opinion that they were not those wore by the murdered woman. The excitement in the district has now almost subsided, and the streets have resumed their normal appearance. Mr. S. Montagu, member for the Whitechapel Division, has offered a reward of £100 for the discovery of the assassins, and a subscription is being raised among local trades people for the same purpose.
The Central News says - an important discovery throwing considerable light on the Whitechapel murderer's movements after the commission of the crime was made to-day. A little girl found on the wall and path in the yard behind No 25 Hanbury street, the next house but one to the scene of the murder, peculiar marks which the police, when communicated with, detected to be a bloody trail extending towards the back door of the house. Following the track it became evident that the murderer had climbed the dividing space between Nos 27 and 28, and passed into the yard of 25. On the wall of eth last there was found a great smudge of dried blood, as if the murderer had beaten a blood soaked coat against it. In the adjoining yard was found a crumpled paper almost saturated with blood, on which it appeared the murderer wiped his reeking hands. No 25 is let out in tenements, back and front doors being left wide open or on latch, the occupants of each room looking after their own safety. The general appearance of the aforesaid blood track and other indications show that after performing his gruesome toilet in the yard he passed into Hanbury street through the passage of 25. The discoveries point to the possession by the criminal of deep cunning.
Another Central News telegram says the man Piser, who has been in custody since yesterday morning on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murder, was released this evening.
An official description of the supposed murderer has been circulated by the police in London and provinces as follows - "Description of a man who entered a passage of the house at which the murder was committed of a prostitute at two a m on the 8th - Age 37; height, 5ft 7in; rather dark beard and moustache; dress shirt, dark jacket, dark vest and trousers, black scarf, black felt hat, spoke with foreign accent."
The Star in a late edition published the following account of a supposed murder and mutilation - a discovery which is held to afford incontestable proof of a murder and mutilation was made in Pimlico to-day. In the canal near Ebury Bridge and Grosvenor-road a policeman's attention was attracted to something at which a number of boys were pelting stones. He had the object of the boys amusement extricated from planks of timber amongst which it was entangled, and on examination he found it tow be a woman's arm. He had it at one removed to the station, where it was inspected by Dr Neville, of Pimlico-road, the police surgeon. The arm had been removed from the shoulder, and had evidently been done by an unskilful person. It must have been removed from the body of a person murdered but a day or two, as when touched the bldoo began to trickle freshly from it. The instrument must have been exceedingly sharp, the joint being cut into, and the limb removed at the shoulder socket. There was a cord tied round the arm above the elbow. The person murdered must have been a very fine young woman, as the arm as fully as long as that of a an of five feet ten or five feet eleven. There were a few abrasions on portions of the skin, but these might be caused by knocking against the timber in the water. The police deny all knowledge of the subject.
A representative of the Press Association had an interview to-night with Dr Neville, of Pimlico, who examined the arm of a young woman found to-day. He stated that the limb was but cleanly, but not apparently with a scientific object, so that it is supposed a murder has been committed. The police are making careful search for other portions of the body.