13 December 1892
Has Jack the Ripper Invaded Texas at Last?
Melinda Mieling, a White Woman, Discovered Murdered at the Head of Her Bed
HORRIBLE WORK SKILLFULLY DONE
The Carotid Artery Severed and the Body Disembowelled - What the Woman's Mother Says
Carotid artery severed and the body absolutely ripped open from the ensiform cartilage to the pubis, crouched behind the chimney in the garret of a story and a half house on the northwest corner of avenue R Half and Forty-third streets.
That is the mere substance of a dreadful murder which was committed in this city some time between the hours of 5 o'clock Sunday night and 10 o'clock yesterday morning.
A German woman of about 35 years of age named Melinda Mieling.
Yesterday morning Coroner Spann was notified that there was a murdered white woman in the old one and a half story house on the southwest corner of avenue R half and Forty-third streets. The coroner and County Physician W.I. Ducie went to the house at once and in the garret of the building beheld a horrible sight.
Crouched on her knees and arms was Melinda Mieling in her house dress cold in death. On the floor was a pool of coagulated blood.
Examination showed that the carotid artery has been severed, the body ripped open from the ensiform cartilage to the pubis, the intestines pushed aside and the womb cut open, exposing the foot of a foetus. The skirts and underclothing were bundled around the woman's body, exposing both legs.
The deed was carefully and calculatingly done; that there is no doubt of.
The body was turned over to the police, removed to the city undertaker's rooms, a preliminary inquest held, and then the burial.
Nothing that has happened in Galveston in years has so affected the citizens of this city as this murder. The deed was as fiendishly and skillfully done as was ever any murder committed by
The whole act showed study and care on the part of the murderer. Read this:
The house where the deed was committed is an old one and a half story structure. No other house is immediately near to it. The upper part is divided into two rooms, or rather, a small room is built off one corner of the large attic. Through the southwest corner of the small room, but away from the wall, a brick chimney goes up through the roof. In the center of the room sits an old bedstead, on which Melinda Mieling and her mother slept. The mother is about 68 years of age, and does not speak English. There is barely room for two persons to pass around the bed, so small is this room. To the west a window opens. From the east, a door is cut, opening into the attic. A flight of narrow stairs leads from the lower floor to the attic.
At the head of the bed. half behind the chimney, Melinda Mieling was found - butchered. In a corner a bottle of whiskey and at the door a pailful of empty soda bottles.
There was absolutely no sign of a struggle. No bloody marks along the floor, on the walls, on the bed or anywhere except just where the dead woman lay. There was no knife to be found, nor any weapon which suggested itself as being used in the commission of the deed. Only a poor, old, feeble, drunken, wrinkled, tottering mother, who
Melinda Mieling and her mother had the reputation of being very dissolute. Those who knew them state that they were drunk whenever they could get liquor. The dead woman is said to have been married to a man named Bishop, who secured a divorce from her some five or six years ago. Since that time she has gone from bad to worse. For several months she lived with a negro named White, who put in part of his time as a laborer and part of it as a preacher. Oftentimes, when mother and daughter were drunk, they would quarrel and fight. Last summer Melinda pushed her mother out of the window which resulted in the old lady's hip being shattered.
When the police arrived at the scene of the murder yesterday a lighted lamp was seen through a window in the house. One officer went to the rear of the building and another to the front. In a moment the mother of the dead woman emerged from an outhouse and pointed to the second story of the dwelling. The policemen entered and found the dead woman as above described.
When the police took charge of the body they discovered that one of the hands of the woman had a deep gash across the palm, as if she had grabbed the blade of the weapon with which she was murdered and it had been pulled from her grasp, cutting as it went. The coagulated blood on the floor was the depth of a man's shoe sole.
A News reporter asked Dr. W.I. Ducie, the county physician, to tell him what he saw at the house where the murder occurred. Dr. Ducie said:
"When myself and Coroner Spann arrived at the house we went upstairs and found the dead woman in the garret. There was a small room built off one corner of the upper floor, and the body was in there. The woman was on her hands and limbs, her face resting on her left hand. her clothes were huddled up on her back, exposing her legs nearly to her thighs.
"When I commenced to examine the corpse, I found on her back, under her chemise and just below the waist, a bundle or roll of cloth. This was a roll about the size of the bundles of trimmings you see in a tailor's shop.
"There were two cuts on the neck. The upper one was deeper than the other, but not so long. The carotid artery was cut deep enough to cause death, and after that particular wound was inflicted the woman could not have lived but a very few minutes.
"The cut in the abdomen extended from the ensiform cartilage to the pubis. This cut was done with a very sharp instrument, maybe a knife or maybe a razor. Whoever made the cut took care not to cut the intestines.
"The intestines had been shoved aside, and the womb had been slit at the lower end. I noticed that the womb was distended, and with a lance enlarged the cut already made, exposing a foot of a foetus. The woman was four or five months gone with child. In my opinion the cut in the abdomen was made after the woman had died.
"There was very little blood on the clothing of the dead woman above th waist, and this inclines me to the opinion that she was neither sitting nor standing when the wounds on the throat were inflicted. There was not enough blood on the floor to indicate that a struggle had taken place, nor were there any signs of a struggle. The features were not distorted much, if any.
"I searched the entire premises carefully for signs of a struggle. Found none. No blood spots along the floor, no bloody marks on the wall, no blood on the building. The stairs were steep, and if the woman had been murdered outside the house, it would have been possible for one man to have carried her up these stairs. There were no signs of blood on the steps, nor any signs that any marks had been erased by washing. There were absolutely no signs of blood except just where the corpse lay.
"Do you think it possible for the murderers to have held the woman where she was, inflicted the wounds, and then held her while she died?" asked the reporter.
"That was possible. It was a regular Jack the Ripper case without the devilish mutilations," replied Dr. Ducie. Dr. Ducie will make a formal report of his investigations in a day or two.
Christiana Nelson, the mother of Melinda Mieling, is a little, wrinkled old German woman. When seen at the police station last night she certainly appeared unique. Clad in a calico dress, with a faded handkerchief around her head, she seemed to have retained her old country ideas of dress. Her hands, short and wrinkled, were clenched as is usual with old people, and she was still drunk. During the afternoon she had cried and chuckled by turns. When crying she shed no tears, and her bleared eyes suggested the idea that the old woman's mind was weakened from the use of liquor.
A News reporter asked Mrs. Nelson through and interpreter how old she was.
"Ach! I am 68 years of age," said she.
"How long have you been in America?"
"About twelve years."
"When did you see your daughter last?"
"Last night (Sunday); she and I, we went to bed together. I go to sleep. I wake up in the night and Melinda she gets up. I fall asleep again and when I wake up it is day. I look around and I see my daughter on the floor. I call her. She not answer me. Then I go to her and I see her dead - killed. I did hear no noise, not any. I hear nobody come into the room at all. I do not know who killed my daughter."
When Mrs. Nelson was examined by the coroner she gave a different version of when she last saw her daughter. Mrs. Nelson's stockings had blood spots on them
Yesterday noon, Coroner Spann held a preliminary inquest on the body of Melinda Mieling. The facts brought out are as follows:
Melinda Mieling was about 37 years of age. She and her mother, Christiana Nelson, were the only persons living in the house where the murder was committed. Mrs. Nelson testified through an interpreter that the last time she saw her daughter alive was about 5 o'clock of Sunday evening at home. At about midnight she, Mrs. Nelson, went to the little room, and found Melinda on the floor near the chimney, dead. She notified a Mrs. Hampton, a sister of the deceased, of Melinda's death yesterday morning.
Mrs. Nelson said that she slept in the large room of the attic which was used for a kitchen. She did this because she snored so loud that it kept Melinda awake. She said that she heard no one go into the house during the night, and has no idea who killed her daughter.
Coroner Spann adjourned the inquest until further notice.
W.H. Botsford, sheriff of Orange county, Nevada, who was in Galveston yesterday, speaking of the murder of Melinda Mieling, said to a News reporter:
"I went to the house where the dead woman was. There she lay, huddled up on the floor, her head behind the chimney. I examined the situation carefully, but not a sign of a struggle could I find.
"My idea is that the murder was committed right where the body was found. The blood on the floor showed that a strong man could have held the woman down while he killed her. The work was well done by some one who knew how to do the job - the disembowellment shows that."
Mrs. Nelson is detained at the police station under arrest pending the result of the investigation.
A white man and a negro were pulled in by the police last evening as suspects, but were released again.
Three special officers were at work on this matter last night, all looking for a suspected man. Nothing now had been developed at midnight.