Wednesday, 26th September 1888
The murder panic which was beginning to wane, received a fresh impetus yesterday on receipt of the news of the Gateshead crime. Now again to-day Dr. Forbes Winslow keeps the ball rolling by a graphic description - second hand, by the way, from his sister-in-law and her daughter - of a man at Brighton who, according to the testimony of the ladies, procured a large bowie knife, and proceeded to sharpen it in their presence. The affrighted ladies immediately took refuge in their own house, the man beat a retreat, and so the story ends. The facts, we think, hardly warrant their appearance in print. Most women's nerves are affected by reading the ghastly details of the recent brutalities, and the mere fact of a man sharpening a knife on the public highway ought not to brand him a suspicious person. If all these strange coincidences, witnessed in most cases by women with highly strung nerves, continue to be chronicled, the result may prove anything but pleasant for the community at large.
The murderer of Jane Savage is still at large and no fresh facts of consequence in connection with the Durham tragedy have transpired to-day. The body of the murdered woman was examined by Dr Phillips, of Whitechapel, this morning, but that gentleman will report direct to Scotland Yard, and meanwhile he declines to make any statement. Inspector Rootes, of the Criminal Investigation Department, has given the local detectives the benefit of his large experience, but so far their united efforts have been without result. The continued absence of the man with whom the deceased kept company has increased the popular suspicion against him. The police have issued handbills minutely describing the man, and they have been distributed very widely. It has been ascertained that he left home on Saturday evening, and said nothing about not returning to sleep as usual. He has disappeared without leaving any trace by which he could be followed. The disused shafts in the neighbourhood will be searched to-morrow in the hope of finding the weapon with which the crime was committed, and possibly the body of the murderer who, it is thought, may have committed suicide.
A man answering in almost every particular the descrition of the man wanted by the police in connection with the murder at Birtley was seen at Byers Green Colliery about 7 o'clock on Sunday morning by Robert Lodge, foreman coke burner. The man was in a cabin near the coke ovens, and either whetting or cleaning a large knife on the leather of his boot. The stranger inquired the time, and disappeared suddenly. Mr Lodge speaks positively as to the description of the man. The distance from the scene of the murder to Byers Green is about 14 miles. Many persons still believe that the crime has a connection with the Whitechapel butcheries, though the murderer of Jane Savage appears not to have done his brutal work with the same skill as the Whitechapel criminal, but rather to have hacked at the body with mere brute force. Some of the pit shafts in the neighbourhood of Birtley, into which the suspected murderer may have thrown himself, are of great depth, and their exploration will be a work of considerable difficulty.