24 September 1888
The inquest on the body of Mary Anne Nichols, 47, who was found murdered in Buck's row, Whitechapel, early on the morning of the 1st inst., was resumed on Saturday afternoon, before Mr. Wynne Baxter, the district coroner, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel.
Dr. Llewellyn stated, in reply to a juror, that no part of the body was missing.
A member of the jury pointed out that it was stated in the newspapers that on the last occasion the foreman of the jury had offered a reward. The fact was it was not he foreman of the jury, but another gentleman.
Thomas Eades, the signalman who had previously deposed to having seen a man carrying a knife near the scene of the murder, was recalled and testified that since last giving evidence he had identified John James, of Hackney, as the man he had seen with the knife.
The coroner observed that the man in question was a well known harmless lunatic, and then proceeded to sum up. After thanking the committee of the Working Lads' Institute for the accommodation they had given for the holding of the inquiry, and commenting strongly on the want of a public mortuary in Whitechapel, where it was so greatly required, he proceeded to recall to the minds of the jury the salient facts of the case, and, adverting to the life of the deceased woman, he said: The deceased has been identified by her father and her husband to have been Mary Anne Nichols, a married woman with five children, and of about 42 years of age. She was of intemperate habits, and left her husband eight years ago. He had not seen or heard of her for three years. She had evidently formed irregular connexions, but still lived under her father's roof for three or four years, and then, either to avoid the restraints of a settled home or in consequence of her own misconduct, she left her father, who had not seen her for more than two years. From that time until her death it is pretty clear that she had been living an irregular and vicious life, mostly in the horrid common lodging houses in this neighbourhood. There is nothing in the evidence as to the movements of the deceased on the day before her death, except a statement by herself that she was living in a common lodging house, called the "White House," in Fower (sic) and Dean street, Spitalfields; but I believe her movements have been traced by the police, and are not considered to have any connexion with her death. On Friday evening, the 31st of August, she was seen by Mrs. Holland (who knew her well) at the corner of Osborn street and Whitechapel road, nearly opposite the parish church. It was then half past two, and the deceased woman was last seen walking down Whitechapel. She said she had had her lodging money three times that day, but that she had spent it, that she was without money, that the lodging house deputy refused to trust her, that she was going to look about and get some money to pay her lodgings, and that she should soon be back. What her exact movements were after that it is impossible to say, but in less than an hour and a quarter after this she is found dead at a spot rather under three quarters of a mile distant. The deceased was first discovered by a carman on his way to work, who passed down Buck's row on the opposite side of the road. Immediately after he had ascertained that the dark object in the gateway was the figure of a woman, he heard footsteps approaching. This proved to be Paul, another carman. Together they went to the woman. The condition of her clothing suggested to them that she had been outraged and had fainted. Neither appear to have realised the real condition of the woman, and no injuries were noticed by them; but this, no doubt, is accounted for by the early hour of the morning and the darkness of the spot. The time at which the body was found cannot have been far from 3.45 a.m., as it is fixed by so many independent data. The condition in which the body was found appears to prove conclusively that the deceased was killed on the exact spot in which she was found. There is not a trace of blood anywhere, except at the spot where her neck was lying. This appears to me sufficient to justify the assumption that the injuries to the throat were committed when the woman was on the ground, while the state of here clothing and the absence of any blood about her legs equally proves that the abdominal injuries were inflicted whilst she was still in the same position. Nor does there appear any ground for doubt that if the deceased was killed where she was found that she met her death without a cry of any kind. Not a sound was heard, nor is there any evidence of any struggle. The clothes do not appear to have been injured, nor the ground disturbed. On the contrary, there is everything that the injuries were committed while the deceased was on the ground. Again, the deceased could not have been killed long before she was found. Police constable Neil is positive that he was at the spot half an hour before, and then neither the body was there nor was anyone about. It seems astonishing at first thought that the culprit should have escaped detection, for there must surely have been marks of blood about his person. If, however, blood was principally on his hands, the presence of so many slaughter houses in the neighbourhood would make the frequenters of this spot familiar with blood stained clothes and hands, and his appearance might in that way have failed to attract attention while he passed from Buck's row in the twilight into Whitechapel road, and was lost sight of in the morning's market traffic. We cannot altogether leave unnoticed the fact that the death that you have been investigating is one of four presenting many points of similarity, all of which have occurred within the space of about five months, and all within a very short distance of the place where we are sitting. All four victims were women of middle age, all were married and had lived apart from their husbands, and were at the time of their death leading an irregular life, and eking out a miserable and precarious existence in common lodging houses. In each case there were abdominal as well as other injuries. In each case the injuries were inflicted after midnight, and in paces of public resort, where it would appear impossible but that almost immediate detection should follow the crime, and in each case the inhuman and dastardly criminals are at large in society. Emma Elizabeth Smith, who received her injuries in Osborn street on the early morning of Easter Tuesday, the 3rd of April, survived in the London Hospital for upwards of twenty four hours, and was able to state that she had been followed by some men, robbed and mutilated, and even to describe imperfectly one of them. Martha Tabram was found at three a.m. on Tuesday, the 7th of August, on the first floor landing of George yard buildings, Wentworth street, with thirty nine punctured wounds on her body. In addition to these, and the case under your consideration, there is the case of Annie Chapman, still in the hands of another jury. The instruments used in the two earlier cases are dissimilar. In the first it was a blunt instrument, such as a walking stick; in the second, some of the wounds were thought to have been made by a dagger; but in the two recent cases the instruments suggested by the medical witnesses are not so different. Dr. Llewellyn says the injuries on Nichols could have been produced by a strong bladed instrument moderately sharp. Dr. Phillips is of opinion that those on Chapman were made by a very sharp knife, probably with a thin, narrow blade, at least six to eight inches in length, probably longer. The similarity of the injuries in the two cases is considerable. There are bruises about the face in both cases; the head is nearly severed from the body in both cases; there are other dreadful injuries in both cases; and those injuries again have in each case been performed with anatomical knowledge. Dr. Llewellyn seems to incline to the opinion that the abdominal injuries were first and caused instantaneous death; but if so, it seems difficult to understand the object of such desperate injuries to the throat, or how it comes about that there was so little bleeding from the several arteries, that the clothing on the upper surface was not stained, and indeed very much less bleeding from the abdomen than from the throat. Surely it may well be that, as in the case of Chapman, the dreadful wounds to the throat were inflicted first, and the others afterwards. This is a matter of some importance when we come to consider what possible motive there can be for all this ferocity. Robbery is out of the question, and there nothing to suggest jealousy. There could not have been any quarrel, or it would have been heard. I suggest to you as a possibility that these two women may have been murdered by the same man with the same object, and that in the case of Nichols the wretch was disturbed before he had accomplished his object, and having failed in the open street he tries again, within a week of his failure, in a more secluded place. If this should be correct, the audacity and daring is equal to its maniacal fanaticism and abhorrent wickedness. But this surmise may or may not be correct, the suggested motive may be the wrong one; but one thing is very clear - that a murder of a most abhorrent character has been committed.
The jury, after a short consultation, asked permission to retire, and after twenty minutes' absence returned into court with a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown." A rider was added endorsing the coroner's remarks as to the need of a mortuary for Whitechapel.
About nine o'clock yesterday morning the body of a woman named Jane Savage, aged 26 years, unmarried, was found on a railway siding near Birtley, five miles south of Newcastle. She had evidently been dead for some hours. Her throat was cut from side to side, and there was a horrible gash in the abdomen, from which the bowels were protruding. The woman lived with her mother and stepfather near Birtley, and when last seen she was walking to a place in an opposite direction from her own home. There were no signs of a struggle at the place where the body was found, and no clue has been discovered as to the perpetrator of the deed. The similarity of this crime with the recent tragedies in the East end of London has caused the wildest excitement in the neighbourhood.
The inquest on the body of Mary Anne Nichols, who was found murdered in Buck's row on the morning of the 1st inst., was resumed on Saturday, and concluded with a verdict of Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.
Very little time for deliberation was required by the jury which, on Saturday, concluded their inquiry into one of the Whitechapel murders. The unfortunate part of the business is that now, three full weeks after the crime, there should absolutely less trace of the criminal than there was on the morning on which the mangled body of Mary Anne Nichols was discovered in the back yard of a mean house in Whitechapel. Indeed, the progress of the coroner's inquiry has only tended to the further mystification of the public mind; for it appears certain from the later medical evidence that the murderer must have been a man possessed of a considerable degree of anatomical knowledge, and presumably, therefore, belonging to a different class of society than is ordinarily to be found in the locality which counts Flower and Dean street and Buck's row amongst its thoroughfares. The theory suggested by the coroner, that Nichols and Chapman may have been murdered by the same man with the same object, and that the wretch, having been disturbed in the one case before he had accomplished his design, tried again in a more secluded spot, and with complete success, is worthy of respect coming from so competent an authority. Such a supposition contemplates a degree of "maniacal fanaticism and abhorrent wickedness," to quote Mr. Baxter's words, which it is almost impossible to believe any human creature possessed of. Yet the hypothesis cannot be put out of sight, especially after the evidence, so reluctantly given of Dr. Llewellyn. If there is any truth in it, however, it seems almost certain that the two other murders - for four women have been brutally done to death in Whitechapel during the last five months - cannot be attributed to the same hand, unless we accept the supposition that the fiend, for such he must be, tried his 'prentice hand at mere killing before proceeding to the horrible mutilations to which the last two victims were subjected. Mr. Baxter's theory in any case ought not to lost sight of by the police, in whose hands alone the matter is now left, by the verdict of the jury that Nichols was murdered "by some person or persons unknown." Undoubtedly a great responsibility rests upon the Scotland yard authorities, even when every allowance is made for the difficulties which particularly distinguish their present task. The number of undiscovered murders in London during the last four or five years is painfully large, but the public memory is so short that one sensation effectually drives away all recollection of that which immediately preceded it. But this wholesale slaughter, occurring within a very brief period, and all within a radius of half a mile of one of the busiest thoroughfares of the metropolis, will focus attention on the shortcomings of our detective system. If these are to be added to the already long list of London mysteries, the public conscience will demand the reorganisation of a department which has proved its incompetence to discover and bring to deserved punishment the perpetrators of crimes which are without parallel in recent history.