Thursday, 13th September 1888
(BY FREEMAN SPECIAL WIRE)
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
Freeman Office, 211 Strand, London,
The cry of "Down with the Home Secretary" was raised afresh yesterday by the Daily Telegraph. The fact that so influential a Ministerial journal should consider itself justified in making a ferocious attack upon Mr. Matthews at the present juncture, when the Government has trouble enough upon its hands, would seem to indicate that the Home Secretary's position has again become precarious. Mr. Matthews has survived many trials, and he may survive this one, but it is quiet patent that he is considered by some of his colleagues as well as the majority of Ministerial supporters as a source of weakness to the Government. He is especially blamed for the mismanagement of Scotland Yard, and there can be no doubt that he was privy all along to Mr. Munro's extraordinary proceedings for the implication of Mr. Nolan in the dynamite plots. He has not got on well with Sir Charles Warren, who is too independent for him, and it is reported that the fresh mess he has got into lately is entirely owing to the quarrels he has had with the Chief Commissioner, and the improbability of establishing harmonious relations between them.
INTEVIEW WITH LEATHER APRON
A Press Association representative had an interview this morning with John Piser at 22 Mulberry street. He was released from Leman street Police Station about 8.30 last night. In reply to questions the ex-prisoner said:- Whatever particulars the world at large and the police authorities wish to know as to where I was staying when these atrocious and horrible crimes were committed I am quite willing to give. I came into this house at a quarter to eleven on Thursday night. I knocked and my sister opened the door. My sister's young man was present, and we had a conversation about work. My sister first went to bed and put the belt in the latch, so that anyone going out afterwards would not get in again. From Thursday until I was arrested I never left the house except to go into the yard I was seen several times I the yard by a neighbour. On Monday morning Sergeant Thicke came. I opened the door. He said I was wanted and I asked what for. He replied, "You known what for; you will have to come with me." I said, "Very well; I will go with the greatest pleasure." The officer said, "You know you are 'Leather Apron,'" or words to that effect. Up to that moment I did not know I was called by that name. I have been in the habit of wearing an apron from my employment, but not recently. When I arrived at the police station I was searched. They took everything from me, according to custom, as I suppose. They found nothing that could incriminate me, thank God, or connects me with the crime that I have been unfortunately suspected of. I know of no crime, and my character will bear the strictest investigation. I am generally here, but occasionally at a lodginghouse, but not in Dorset street. Before coming here on Thursday I was at Holloway. Last Sunday week I was accosted in Church street by two females, unknown to me. One of them asked me if I was the man, referring presumably to the Buck's row murder. I said "God forbid, my good woman." A man then asked me to treat him to beer. I walked on. I do not known Mrs Fiddyman's publichouse, and was ignorant of such a name as Mrs. Siffy until it was published. I don't know the woman. Yesterday a man came to Leman-street station, and at the request of the police I went out into the yard. A stalwart man, of Negro cast, whom I know to be a boot finisher, placed his hands upon y shoulder. I said, "I don't know you, you are mistaken." His statements that he saw me threaten a woman in Hanbury street is false. I can give a full account of my whereabouts. I shall see if I cannot legally proceed against those who have made statements about me. The charges against me have quite broken my spirits, and I fear I shall have to place myself under medical treatment. The Press Association representative adds that Piser is a man of medium height, with a moustache and whiskers. For a man of his class he displays more than an ordinary amount of intelligence. He was perfectly at ease when making his statement, and more than once appealed to his father for confirmation of his story.
An inquest into the circumstances connected with the death of the woman Chapman was resumed this afternoon by Mr Baxter, coroner, at the Working Lads' Institute.
Inspectors Affeline and Helson watched the proceedings on behalf of the police.
Fontain Smith, printers' warehouseman, identified the body as that of his eldest sister, Annie Chapman, a widow. She was forty-seven years of age. He last saw her alive a fortnight ago, when he gave her two shillings. She did not say where she was living or what she was doing, and he knew nothing of her associates.
Evidence was then given by James Kemp, one of the men who found the body, as to its position and appearance, his statements agreeing with the descriptions previously published.
Mrs Richardson, who occupied the house at the back of which the deceased was discovered, said she heard no noise during the night. About a month ago there was a man on the stairs who said he was waiting for the market, and on being told he had no business there he went away. If anybody had gone through the house about half-past three in the morning she would have thought it was one of the lodgers. She had no doubt people did go into the back who had no business there.
John Richardson, son of the last witness, said he had caught people in the back yard for immoral purposes.
John Piser was the next witness. In answer to the coroner he said - I am a shoemaker.
Are you known by the nickname of Leather Apron? Yes sir.
Where were you on Friday night last? At my home, 22 Mulberry street, Commercial road. I went there on Thursday, and I never went out all day Friday.
Where did you come from? From the west end of town.
Coroner - I will take that for the present, but I shall have to get a better address than that presently. Who lives at 22 Mulberry street? My brother and stepmother.
And you remained there till when? Till I was arrested on Monday last. My brother advised me to remain in-doors, and I never left the house.
Were you the object of suspicion? I was the object of false suspicion.
Coroner - It was not the best advice that could have been given you, but still you acted on the advice of your brother in staying in? Yes, but I had certain proof that I should have been torn to pieces. I now wish to vindicate my character to the world at large.
Yes, you were called to admit of your doing so. Where were you on Thursday, 30th August, that would be bank holiday, would it not? No, last Thursday week in Holloway road.
Did you sleep the night there? Yes sir; I went in about a quarter past two and left it on Saturday morning.
But you had not been out on Friday? Yes, at eleven o'clock. I saw on the Star placard "Another Terrible Murder."
Previously to this where were you? ON Thursday night I had supper in the same house. Then I went out, and seeing a reflection of fire at the Docks I spoke about it to a policeman. I then went towards Highgate Station, ad did not get to the lodginghouse till a quarter to two on Friday morning. I got up at eleven next morning.
Is there anything else you wish to say? Nothing else.
Referring to your previous evidence, what do you mean when you said the west end of town?
Witness - Peter street, Westminster. Another lodginghouse there.
Coroner - I think it only fair to say that these statements by witness have been corroborated in every particular.
Detective Sergeant Thicke said he had known him for many years as Leather Apron, and, knowing he was suspected of murder, had arrested him,
Coroner - When people in the neighbourhood speak of Leather Apron they mean Piser? They do.
After further evidence the inquiry was adjourned until to-morrow afternoon.
The Press Association adds that Pigott, who was arrested at Gravesend, is still in Whitechapel Infirmary. Dr Lardner cannot yet express a decided opinion a to his state of mind, and he will probably remain in the institution for some days. A policeman is in charge of him, but otherwise there is nothing to distinguish his care from that of any other patient. A man was arrested on suspicion at Holloway to-day, but on being medically examined was found to be of unsound mind, and was sent to the workhouse infirmary.
Central News says - No further arrests have been made in connection with the Whitechapel murders. The bloodstained paper found in Bailey's Packing case yard abutting on the back of the garden of No 25 Hanbury street has been handed to the police experts for chemical analysis. The woman Durrell has identified the body of the murdered woman Chapman as that of the woman whom she saw talking with a man outside No 29, the scene of the murder, about half past five on Saturday morning. This corroborates other witnesses and leaves no doubt that the murder was committed between half-past five and six o'clock, in almost broad daylight.
Dr Forbes Winslow writes to the Times expressing a confident belief that the murderer is not of the class to which "Leather Apron" belongs, but is of the upper classes of society, and that the murderer is a lunatic lately discharged from some asylum, or one who has escaped. He suggests a return of all homicidal patients recently discharged.
This afternoon Dr Thomas Neville, divisional surgeon, visited the mortuary at Ebury bridge, Pimlico, for the purpose of minutely examining the arm found in the Thames on Tuesday. The limb at present will remain at the mortuary awaiting the orders of Mr Troutbeck, the district coroner, who has been officially informed of the discovery, but it is improbable that an inquest will be held. The Thames police are making every endeavour to find other portions of the body if there are any in the river, and the officers of the Criminal Investigation Department are making inquiries. The authorities still believe murder has been committed. Although the river in the immediate neighbourhood of the spot where the arm of the young woman was discovered has been dragged, no further portions of the body have been found. Close to the place where the arm was discovered is a sluice under the embankment wall, from which flows a stream of water from a brewery in Grosvenor-road.
The Central News says - The Thames police were engaged for several hours this afternoon in dragging the river between Pimlico Steamboat Pier and London and Brighton South Coast Railway Bridge, between which points the arm of the woman was found yesterday. A careful examination was also made of the timber rafts floating in the river, but no discovery of huma remains was made. It is the opinion of the police that the arm was dropped over the Embankment which at night is darker than most thoroughfares owing to the numerous trees now in full leaf, and little frequented. The arm is still in the mortuary, and will be further examined by surgical experts. In regard to the theory that the arm might have been thrown on to the river bank by a medical student with a view to create a scare, a representative of the Central News called at one of the chief London hospitals to-day. He was assured that the arm could not possibly have been removed by a student from any hospital dissecting room. Students are allowed to dissect only in the room set apart for the purpose. Under the Act of William the Fourth hospitals and medical schools are allowed to receive unclaimed bodies for the purposes of dissection, but 48 hours has to be given after death to the inspector under the act before the body can be removed from the place of decease, and then only after a certificate of death has been given. The bodies, if dissected, must be buried in consecrated ground, and within six weeks a certificate of burial must be forwarded to the inspector. Under no circumstances are students allowed to take portions of bodies to their own houses; in fact, they would be liable under the act to heavy penalties for doing so.