Thursday, 27th September 1888
CORONER'S SUMMING UP AND VERDICT
(PRESS ASSOCIATION TELEGRAM)
Mr. Wynne Baxter this afternoon resumed the inquest at Whitechapel on the body of Annie Chapman, who was murdered on the 8th instant in the back yard of 29 Hanbury street. The Coroner at once proceeded to sum up the evidence. He recalled the important facts of the case which have already been fully detailed. It was in a Spitalfields lodging-house that the deceased received the older bruises found on her temple and in front of the chest, in a trumpery quarrel a week before her death. It was in one of these lodginghouses that she was seen a few hours before her mangled remains were discovered. She was found dead about six o'clock. All was done with reckless daring. The murder seemed like the Bucks row case to have been carried out without any cry. Sixteen people were in the house. The partitions of the rooms were of wood; the brute who committed the offence did not even take the trouble to cover up his ghastly work, but left the body exposed to view. Probably as daylight broke he hurried away. The Coroner then proceeded to observe - There are two things missing. Her rings had been wrenched from her fingers and have not been found, and the uterus has been taken away. The body has not bee dissected, but the injuries have been made by some one who had considerable anatomical knowledge and skill. There are no meaningless cuts. The organ has been taken away by one who knew where to find it, what difficulties he would have to contend against, and how he should use his knife so as to abstract the organ without injury to it. No unskilled person could have known where to find it or have recognised it when it was found. For instance, no mere slaughterer of animals could have carried out these operations; it must have been someone accustomed to the post-mortem room. The desire to posses the missing organ seems overwhelming. If the object were robbery, the injuries to the viscera were meaningless, for death had previously resulted from loss of blood at the neck. There was difficulty in believing that the purpose of the murderer was the possession of the uterus. It is unnatural and abhorrent to our feelings to conclude that a life should be taken for so slight an object; but when rightly considered the reasons for most murders are altogether out of proportion to the guilt. It has been suggested that the criminal is a lunatic with morbid feelings. This may or may not be the case, but the object of the murderer appears palpably shown by facts, and it is not necessary to assume lunacy, for it is clear that there is a market for the missing organ. To show you this I must mention a fact which at the same time proves the assistance which publicity and the newspaper Press afford in the detection of crime. Within a few hours of the issue of the morning papers containing the medical evidence given at the last sitting of the court I received a communication from an officer of one of our great schools that they had information which might or might not have bearing upon our inquiry. I attended at the first opportunity, and was informed by the sub-curator of the Pathological Museum that some months ago an American had called on him and asked him to procure a number of specimens of the organ that was missing in the deceased. He stated his willingness to give £20 for each specimen, and said his object was to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a publication on which he was then engaged. He was told that his request was impossible to be complied with, but he still urged his request. He wished them preserved, not in spirits of wine, the usual medium, but in glycerine, in order to preserve them in a flaccid condition, and he wished them sent to America direct. It is known that this request was repeated to another institution of a similar character. Now is it not possible that knowledge of this demand incited some abandoned wretch to possess himself of specimens? Our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible. I at once communicated my information to Scotland Yard. I do not know what use has been made of it, but I believe that publicity may further elucidate this fact, and therefore I have not withheld from you the information. By means of the Press some further explanation may be forthcoming from America if not from here. I have endeavoured to suggest to you the object with which this crime was committed, and the class of person who committed it. The greatest deterrent from crime is the conviction that detection and punishment will follow with rapidity and certainty, and it may be that the impunity with which Mary Anne Smith and Anne Tabram were murdered suggested the possibility of such horrid crimes as those which you and another jury have recently been considering. It is therefore great misfortune that nearly three weeks have elapsed without the chief actor in this awful tragedy having been discovered. It is not as if there were no clue to the character of the criminal or the cause of his crime. His object is clearly divulged. His anatomical knowledge carries him out of the category of common criminals, for that knowledge could only have been obtained by assisting at post-mortems, or by frequenting the post-mortem room. Thus the class in which the search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover, it must be a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of the 8th September. His hands were undoubtedly blood-stained, for he did not stop to use the tap in the yard, as the pan of clean water under it shows. If the theory of lunacy be correct (which I have much doubt) the class is still further limited; while if Mrs Long's memory does not fail and assumption be correct that the man who was talking to the deceased at half-past five was the culprit, he is even more clearly defined. He was a foreigner of dark complexion, over forty years of age, a little taller than the deceased, of shabby-genteel appearance, with a brown deerstalker hat on his head, and a dark coat on his back. We are confronted with a murder of no ordinary character, committed not for jealousy, revenge, or robbery, but from a motive less adequate than the many which still disgrace our civilisation, mar our progress, and blot the pages of Christianity.
The jury immediately returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.
The Press Association reporter had an interview with Dr Phillips, the Divisional Police Surgeon for Whitechapel, who has been making inquiries into the murder near Gateshead. Dr Phillips attended the inquest at Whitechapel for the purpose of answering any further questions which might be put to him with a view to elucidating the mystery, but he arrived while the Coroner was summing up, and thus had no opportunity. When told by the reporter of the startling statements in the Coroner's summing up he said he considered it a very important communication, and the public would now see his reason for not wishing in the first place to give a description of the injuries. He attached great importance to the applications which had been made to the pathological museums, and to the advisability of following this information up, as a probable clue. With reference to the murder and mutilation at Gateshead, he stated that it was evidently not done by the same hand as the Whitechapel murder, that at Gateshead being simply a clumsy piece of butchery. A telegram from the district states that the same opinion is entertained there, the idea being that the mutilation of the body was suggested to the murderer by reading the accounts of the murders in the East End of London.