14 September 1888
Por, Vidocq, Gaberian and Forbes Winslow, the "mad doctor," are the four names most circulated in current conversations. For [illegible] has seriously addressed itself to the question of whether or not the East End murders have been the work of a lunatic. We have divided ourselves into two schools on the subject, and the range of the controversy and the warmth with which it rages rather suggests that if there is a lunatic in the issue his case is debated by a public "mostly fools." But the practical outcome of this question is to be noted. Quite a number of enthusiasts, each confident in his particular theory, have taken upon themselves the function of amateur detectives, and are at present engaged in working out their conclusions. Among them we hear of no less a personage than a director of the Bank of England who is so possessed by his special conviction and the determination to realise it, that he has disguised himself in the orthodox garb of a day labourer, and is exploring the pubs, the common lodging houses, and other likely places in the East in the character of a male Nemesis, in navvy boots, a fustian jacket, a belcher, and a pickaxe.
Speculation still runs high as to who committed the terrible murders concerning which all London has been set by the ears. Theories of every conceivable kind have been advanced and knocked on the head simultaneously with their utterance. One fact remains - the police up to the present moment have been baffled, and now stand at bay. On their behalf it is only right to say that the mystery which surrounds these crimes has precluded the possibility of immediate detection. The interest centred in "Leather Apron" has by his release from custody been dissipated. Still some Whitechapel people are uncharitable enough to contend that Piser is implicated, and say that more will be heard of the matter. To judge by the attendance to-day the resumed inquest into the death of Annie Chapman, it would appear that the interest had considerably subsided. To a certain extent this is true, so far as demonstrativeness is taken into account; but while there is less commotion, the under current of feeling has deepened and broadened and there seems to be but one prevailing desire - to have the murderer or murderers arrested and brought to justice.
The inquest on the body of the unfortunate woman Annie Chapman, otherwise known as Annie Sievey, was resumed this afternoon at the Working Lad's Institute, Whitechapel road, by Mr Wynne Baxter.
Inspector Chander, of the H Division of Police, said on Saturday morning, about ten minutes past 6, I was on duty in Commercial street at the corner of Hanbury street. I saw several men running up that street, and I beckoned to them. One of them said, "Another woman has been murdered." I at once went with him to 29 Hanbury street. I went through the passage into the yard. There were several people in the passage, but not in the yard. I saw the body of the deceased lying on the ground on her back. Her head was towards the back wall of the house about two feet from the wall at the bottom of the steps. The face was turned on the right side, and the left hand was resting on the left breast. The breast was not exposed. The right hand was by her side. The legs were drawn up and the clothing was above the knees. Part of the intestines still connected with the body were lying above the right shoulder with some pieces of skin and flesh. There were also some pieces of skin over the left shoulder and a pool of blood. The body was lying parallel with the fencing. I remained there and sent for the division surgeon, Mr Phillips, and to the police station for the ambulance and other assistance. When the constables arrived I removed the people from the passage and saw that no one touched the body until the doctor arrived. I obtained some sacking to cover the body. The doctor arrived about half past 6, examined the body, and directed removed to the mortuary. It was removed on the ambulance. After the body had been removed I found this piece of coarse muslin, a small tooth comb, and a small comb in a paper case (produced). They were lying near the feet of the body. A small piece of paper - a portion of an envelope - was found near. It contained two pills. On the back of the envelope there was an embossed seal with the words "Sussex Regiment." On the other side there was the letter "M" in a man's handwriting. There was a postal mark on it, "London, August 3rd, 1888." There was also another but that was indistinct. There was no postage stamp.
Was there anything else in the yard? There was a leather apron saturated with wet. It was about two feet from the tap.
Did you show it to the doctor? Yes.
Anything else? There was a box commonly used to hold nails. There were no nails in it. I also saw some flat steel bands. They have been since identified as part of the springs of a pair of leggings. The yard was partly earth and partly rough stones. It has never been properly paved.
Was there any appearance of a struggle? No.
The palings in the yard - are they strongly erected? No, quite the contrary. They may be strong enough to support the weight of a man getting over them. There were stains of blood on the palings near the body. There were marks discovered on the wall of No 25. They were found on Tuesday. Dr Phillips has seen them. There were no marks of blood outside the yard or the passage. The stains in the yard were only in the immediate neighbourhood of the body. There were a few spots of blood on the wall at the head of the body.
Did you see the clothes of the deceased? Yes, at the mortuary. The outside jacket, which was a long black one, had blood stains around the neck. By the appearance of the jacket there did not seem to have been a struggle. The deceased wore two bodices, both of which were stained round the neck. A large pocket worn under the skirt was torn and empty. The two petticoats were stained very much, but not torn. I saw John Richardson in the course of the morning. He told me he had been at the house that morning about a quarter to 5. He had looked into the yard to see if the cellar was all right. He said he was sure the deceased was not there at that time.
By a Juryman - If Richardson went down the steps he must have seen the body. He told me he did not go down the steps at all. I heard him mention cutting his boot there. He said nothing to me about it.
Are you going to produce the man Stanley - the pensioner who used to visit the deceased woman every week? He is a most important witness. We can't find him yet, but are trying.
The Coroner - If the pensioner knows his own business I should think he would come forward himself.
Police Sergeant Vanner said he removed the body to the mortuary on the police ambulance. Are you sure you took every portion of the body with you? Yes, I placed the body in the mortuary shed. I left it on the side of the stretcher of the ambulance. Two females from 35 Dorset street came to identify the body. Sergeant Thicke touched the clothing, and the women described it for me to write down. I did not see Sergeant Thicke touch the body.
Inspector Chandler recalled - I reached the mortuary a few minutes after 7. The body did not appear to have been disturbed.
Robert Mansel - I have charge of the Whitechapel mortuary. On Saturday last I received the body of the deceased at the mortuary about 7 o'clock. I was there most of the day. No one touched the body until the nurses came over and undressed it. I remained at the mortuary until the doctor arrived and the door was locked. The police were in charge of it. No one touched the body, except the nurses. I was not present when they laid the corpse out.
The Coroner - The fact is, gentlemen, Whitechapel has no mortuary, and the body ought not to have been taken to this shed, which is a building attached to the workhouse. There is a great want of mortuaries in the East End, and at Wapping, where bodies are thrown up from the river, they have to be put into boxes. With reference to a reward I cannot speak officially, but I understand the Government have determined not to offer any more rewards, but to leave these cases in the hands of the police. This applies generally, and not specifically to this case.
Witness continued - I was present when the doctor made the post-mortem examination. I found a handkerchief in the corner of the shed. The nurses must have taken it off the woman's throat.
The Coroner - How do you know? You are guessing? Yes.
The Coroner - Well, but you may guess all wrong.
Timothy Donovan, the deputy of the lodging-house at 35 Dorset street, re-called, said - I recognise the handkerchief (produced) found by the last witness as the property of the deceased. She bought it from another lodger. She was wearing it round her neck cornerwise and tied in front with one knot.
A Juryman - Would you recognise this man Stanley, the pensioner? Yes; I don't know what his name is. I know Harry the Hawker.
The Coroner - There is no actual evidence that the pensioner's name is Stanley. (To witness) - When did you see him last? On last Saturday. He used to come to see the deceased every Saturday. I did not hand him over to the police because he would not stay. I sent a man for the police, but the pensioner went away before a constable came.
Mr George Baxter Phillips, divisional surgeon of the police, said - On Saturday morning I was sent for at 6.20 to go to 29 Hanbury street. I found the dead body of a female in the possession of the police lying in the back yard on the left hand of the steps leading into the yard. The legs were brought up, the feet resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned on the right side. The tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen. The small intestines and other portions of the stomach were lying on the right side on the ground above the right shoulder attached by a coil of intestine to the rest of the stomach. There was a large quantity of blood with a part of the stomach over the left shoulder. The body was cold except there was some remaining heat under the intestines left in the body. The stiffness of the body was not marked, but it had commenced. The throat was deeply cut. I noticed that the incision of the skin was ragged and reached right round the neck. There were about six patches of blood on the back wall of the house, and on the wooden paling there were smears of blood corresponding to where the head lay. These were about 14 inches from the ground. Clotted blood was near the severed throat of the deceased. At 2 o'clock of the same day I went to the labour yard of Whitechapel Union for the purpose of further examining the body. I was surprised to find that the body had been stripped, and was lying on the table waiting for me. I made the post-mortem examination under great difficulties and I now raise my protest, as I have done before, that members of the medical profession should be called upon to perform their duties under these inadequate circumstances. The place is only a shed and quite unfitted for making post-mortem examinations.
The Coroner - There is no mortuary from the City right up to Bow.
Mr Phillips (continuing) - The body had probably been partially washed. There was a bruise over the right temple and on the upper eyelid. There were other bruises on the chest. The stiffness of the limbs was now well marked. The finger nails were tinged. There were abrasions on the ring finger. On the head being opened the membranes of the brain were found to be opaque, and the veins loaded with blood of a dark character. There was a large quantity of fluid between the membranes and the substance of the brain. The throat had been cut from the left side. The cause of death arose from the throat being cut.
What sort of instrument was used? I should say that the same instrument was used for cutting the throat after mutilation. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin blade about 6 to 8 inches in length - probably larger. It could not have been a bayonet or a sword-bayonet. The knife might have been one such as a slaughterer uses, well ground down. I think the knives used by cobblers would not have been long enough. There were indications of anatomical knowledge displayed by the person who mutilated the corpse.
The Coroner - Is there anything missing? Yes, a portion of the body from the abdomen.
You say anatomical knowledge was displayed? Yes, the mode in which the intestines were abstracted showed some anatomical knowledge, but there was also evidence of haste.
How long do you think the deceased had been dead? At least two hours - probably more. The inquiry was adjourned until Wednesday next, at 8 o'clock.
No fresh facts of importance have transpired to-day in connection with the Whitechapel murder, beyond the evidence given at the inquest. Dr Phillips positive opinion that the woman had been dead quite two hours when he first saw the body at half past six, throws serious doubt upon the accuracy of at least two important witnesses, and considerably adds to the prevailing confusion. There have been no other arrests, but some important information respecting the two lunatics under surveillance has been obtained. The man arrested at Holloway has, for some reason, been removed to the asylum at Bow. His own friends give him an indifferent character. He has been missing from home for nearly two months, and it is known that he has been in the habit of carrying several large butcher's knives about his person. Inquiries are now being made with a view to tracing his movements during the past two months. Pigott, the man arrested at Gravesend, is still under surveillance.
The principal officers engaged in investigating the Whitechapel murders were summoned to Scotland Yard to-day, and conferred with the chief officers. Later in the day Mr Bruce, Assistant Commissioner, and Colonel Mansell, Chief Constable, paid a private visit to the Whitechapel district, without notifying the local officers of their intention to do so. They visited the scene of the Buck's row murder was well as Hanbury street, and made many inquiries. They spent nearly a quarter of an hour at No 29 Hanbury street, and minutely inspected the yard in which was found the mutilated body of Mrs Chapman. The police have satisfied themselves that the man Pigott could have nothing to do with the murders. His movements have been fully accounted for, and he is no longer under surveillance. Most of the street doors in Hanbury street and the neighbourhood heretofore left on the latch all night have now been fitted with locks, and the lodgers supplied with keys.
Up to an early hour this morning the police had made no arrests, nor had gained any clue which would give hopes of a speedy capture of the murderer.
The police still adhere to the statement that they believe they are on the track of the murderer, this individual being carefully looked after, but they cannot arrest him until they have more definite information to act upon.
Vital evidence is being withheld from the police by some women who were associates of the last two murdered women because of their terror of sharing a like fate, and several of them have left the neighbourhood.
Mrs Potter, of Spencer Buildings, Westminster, appeared at Westminster Police Court this afternoon, stating that she had reason to fear that the arm found in the river off Grosvenor road belonged to her daughter, Emma, aged seventeen, of rather weak intellect, who had been missing from home since Saturday morning. She stated her daughter had given trouble by going in the streets at night. She had seen Dr Neville, Divisional Surgeon, who remarked that the particulars she gave him would in every way correspond with the arm which had been found. Mr D'Eyncourt said he could only refer the applicant to the Press and police.
The police have continued the search in the Thames for the remainder of the body of the missing woman, but up till to-night without success.
It was reported yesterday that the body of a woman tied up in a sack had been found at Sloan Square Station of the District Railway, London, but the police state that no such discovery was made, and that there is no foundation for the report. Following on recent tragedies the rumour created much excitement, and occasioned many inquiries.