27 September 1888
Lord Onslow, one of the most active members of the select committee on the sweating system, has, through his secretary, written to Mr. Louis Lyons, who was examined before that committee as to the effect of the system in the East end of London, requesting that he may, in the course of the next month, be taken over some of the sweating shops in the East end, in order to obtain some practical knowledge on the subject.
The resumed inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Annie Chapman, who was murdered in the yard at the rear of 29 Hanbury street, was held yesterday at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel road, by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for East Middlesex.
In reply to the coroner, Inspector Chandler said he had no further evidence to produce.
The Coroner, in summing up the facts to the jury, said -
Gentlemen of the jury, I congratulate you that your labours are now nearly completed. Although up to the present they have not resulted in the detection of the criminal, I have no doubt that, if the perpetrator of this foul murder is eventually discovered, our efforts will not have been useless. The evidence given is now on the records of this court, and can be used even of the witnesses are not forthcoming; while the publicity given has already elicited further information, which I shall presently have to mention, and which I hope I am not too sanguine in believing may perhaps be of the utmost importance. We shall do well to recall the important facts. The deceased was a widow, 47 years of age, named Annie Chapman. Her husband was a coachman living at Windsor. For three or four years before his death she had lived apart from her husband, who allowed her 10s a week until his death at Christmas, 1886. She had evidently lived an immoral life for some time, and her habits and surroundings had become worse since her means had failed. She no longer visited her relations, and her brother had not seen her for five months, when she borrowed a small sum from him. She lived principally in the common lodging houses in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields, where such as her herd like cattle. She showed signs of great deprivation, as if she had been badly fed. The glimpses of life in those dens which the evidence in this case discloses is sufficient to make us feel that there is much in the 19th century civilisation of which we have small reason to be proud; but you who are constantly called together to hear the sad tale of starvation, or semi starvation, of misery, immorality, and wickedness which some of the occupants of the 5,000 beds in this district have every week to relate to coroner's inquests, do not require to be reminded of what life in a Spitalfields lodging house means. It was in one of these that the older bruises found on the temple and in front of the chest of the deceased were received, in a trumpery quarrel, a week before her death. It was in one of these that she was seen a few hours before her mangled remains were discovered. On the afternoon and evening of Friday, the 7th of September she divided her time partly in such a place at 35 Dorset street, and partly in the "Ringers" public house - where she spent whatever money she had; so that between one and two on the morning of Saturday, when the money for her bed is demanded, she is obliged to admit that she is without means, and at once turns out into the street to find it. She leaves there about 1.45 a.m. She is seen off the premises by the night watchman, and is observed to turn down Little Paternoster row into Brushfield street, and not in the more direct direction of Hanbury street. On her wedding finger she was wearing two or three rings, which appear to have been palpably of base metal, as the witnesses are all clear about their material and value. We now lose sight of her for about four hours, but at half past five Mrs. Long is in Hanbury street, on her way from home in Church street, Whitechapel, to Spitalfields market. She walked on the northern side of the road, going westward, and remembers having seen a man and woman standing a few yards from the place where the deceased is afterwards found. And, although she did not known Annie Chapman, she is positive that the woman was the deceased. The two were talking loudly, but not sufficiently so as to arouse her suspicions that there was anything wrong. The words she overheard were not calculated to do so. The laconic inquiry of the man, "Will you?" and the simple assent of the woman, viewed in the light of subsequent events, can easily be translated and explained. Mrs. Long passed on her way and neither saw nor heard anything more of her, and this is the last time she is known to have been alive. There is some conflict in the evidence about the time at which the deceased was despatched. It is not unusual to fins inaccuracy in such details, but this variation is not very great or very important. She was found dead about six o'clock. She was not in the yard when Richardson was there at 4.50 a.m. She was talking outside the house at half past five when Mrs. Long passed them. Cadosh says it was about 5.20 when he was in the back yard of the adjoining house, and heard a voice say "No," and three or four minutes afterwards a fall against the fence; but if he is out of his reckoning but a quarter of an hour, the discrepancy in the evidence of fact vanishes, and he may be mistaken, for he admits that he did not get up till a quarter past five, and that it was after the half hour when he passed Spitalfields clock. It is true that Dr. Phillips thinks that when he saw the body at 6.30 the deceased had been dead at least two hours, but he admits that the coldness of the morning and the great loss of blood may affect his opinion; and if the evidence of the other witnesses be correct Dr. Phillips has miscalculated the effect of those forces. But many minutes after Mrs. Long passed them cannot have elapsed before the deceased became a mutilated corpse on the yard of 29 Hanbury street, close by where she was last seen by any witness. This place is a fair sample of a large number of houses in the neighbourhood. It was built, like hundreds of others, for the Spitalfields weavers, and when handlooms were driven out by steam and power, these were converted into dwellings for the poor. Its size is about such as a superior artisan would occupy in the country, but its condition is such as would to a certainty leave it without a tenant. In this place seventeen persons were living, from a woman and her son sleeping in a cat's meat shop on the ground floor to Davis and his wife and their three grown up sons, all sleeping together in an attic. The street door and the yard door appear to have been constantly used by people who had no legitimate business there. There is little doubt that the deceased knew the place, for it was only 300 or 400 yards from where she lodged. If so, it is quite unnecessary to assume that her companion had any knowledge - in fact, it is easier to believe that he was ignorant both of the nest of living beings by whom he was surrounded, and of their occupations and habits. Some were on the move late at night, some were up long before the sun. A carman named Thompson left the house for his work as early as 3.50 a.m.; an hour later John Richardson was paying the house a visit of inspection; shortly after 5.15 Cadosh, who lived in the next house, was in the adjoining yard twice. Davis, the carman, who occupied the third floor front, heard the church clock strike a quarter to six, got up, had a cup of tea, and went into the back yard, and was horrified to find the mangled body of the deceased. It was then a little after 6 a.m., a very little, for at ten minutes past the hour Inspector Chandler had been informed of the discovery while on duty in Commercial street. There is nothing to suggest that the deceased was not fully conscious of what she was doing. It is true that she had passed through some stages of intoxication, for although she appeared perfectly sober to her friend who met her in Dorset street at five o'clock the previous evening, she had been drinking afterwards; and when she left the lodging house shortly before two o'clock, the night watchman noticed that she was the worse for drink, but not badly so, while the deputy asserts that though she had evidently been drinking, she could walk straight, and it was probably only malt liquor that she had taken, and its effects would pass off quicker than if she had taken spirits. Consequently, it is not surprising to find that Mrs. Long saw nothing to make her think that the deceased was the worse for drink. Moreover, it is unlikely that she could have had the opportunity of getting intoxicants. Again, the post mortem examination shows that while the stomach contained a meal of food, there was no sign of fluid and no appearance of her having taken alcohol, and Dr. Phillips is convinced that she had not taken any alcohol for some time. The deceased, therefore, entered the house in full possession of her faculties; although with a very different object to her companion. From the evidence which the condition of the yard affords and the medical examination discloses, it appears that after the two had passed through the passage and open the swing door at the end, they descended the three steps into the yard. On their left hand side there was recess between the steps and the palings. Here a few feet from the house and a less distance from the paling they must have stood. They wretch must then have seized the deceased, perhaps with Judas like approaches. He seized her by the chin. He pressed her throat, and while thus preventing the slightest cry, he at the same time produced insensibility and suffocation. There is no evidence of any struggle. The clothes are not torn. Even in these preliminaries the wretch seems to have known how to carry out efficiently his nefarious work. The deceased was then lowered to the ground, and laid on her back; and although in doing so she may have fallen slightly against the fence, this movement was probably effected with care. Her throat was then cut in two places with savage determination, and the injuries to the abdomen commenced. All was done with cool impudence and reckless daring; but, perhaps, nothing is more noticeable than the emptying of her pockets, and the arrangement of their contents with businesslike precision in order near her feet. The murder seems, like the Buck's row case, to have been carried out without any cry. Sixteen people were in the house. The partitions of the different rooms are of wood. Davis was not asleep after three a.m., except for three quarters of an hour, or less, between 5 and 5.45. Mrs. Richardson only dozed after three a.m., and heard no noise during the night. Mrs. Hardman (sic). who occupied the front ground floor room, did not awake until the noise succeeding the finding of the body had commenced, and none of the occupants of the houses by which the yard is surrounded heard anything suspicious. The brute who committed the offence did not even take the trouble to cover up his ghastly work, but left the body exposed to the view of the first comer. This accords but little with the trouble taken with the rings, and suggests either that he had at length been disturbed, or that as daylight broke, a sudden fear suggested the danger of detection that he was running. There are two things missing. Her rings had been wrenched from her fingers and have not been found, and the uterus had been taken from the abdomen. The body had not been dissected, but the injuries had been made by someone who had considerable anatomical skill and knowledge. There are no meaningless cuts. The organ has been taken 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 conclusion that the desire to possess the missing abdominal organ seems overwhelming. If the object were robbery, the injuries to the viscera were meaningless, for death had previously resulted from the loss of blood at the neck. Moreover, when we find an easily accomplished theft of some paltry brass rings and an internal organ taken, after, at least, a quarter of an hour's work, and taken by a skilled person, we are driven to the deduction that the abstraction of the missing portion of abdominal viscera was the object, and the theft of the rings was only a thin veiled blind, an attempt to prevent the real intention being discovered. The missing parts are small, and had not the medical examination been of a thorough and searching character it might easily have been left unnoticed that there was any portion of the body which had been taken. The difficulty in believing that the purpose of the murderer was the possession of the uterus is natural. It is 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 the 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 a report of the medical evidence given at the last sitting of the court I received a communication from an officer of one of our great medical schools that they had information which might or might not have a distinct bearing on 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 a piece for each specimen. He stated that 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 reported to another institution of a similar character. Now is it not possible that the knowledge of this demand may have incited some abandoned wretch to possess himself of a specimen? It seems beyond belief that such inhuman wickedness could enter into the mind of any man, but, unfortunately, our criminal annals prove that every crime is possible. I need hardly say I at once communicated the information to the Detective Department at Scotland yard. Of course I do not know what use has been made of it, but I believe that publicity may possible 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. Gentlemen, I have endeavoured to suggest to you the object with which this crime was committed, and the class of person who must have 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 Martha Tabram were murdered suggested the possibility of such horrid crimes as those which you and another jury have recently been considering. It is, therefore, a great misfortune that nearly three weeks have elapsed without the chief actor in this awful tragedy having been discovered. Surely it is not too much even yet to hope that the ingenuity of our detective force will succeed in unearthing this monster. 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 a common criminal, 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 search must be made, although a large one, is limited. Moreover, it must have been a man who was from home, if not all night, at least during the early hours of Sept. 8. His hands were undoubtedly bloodstained, 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 very much doubt) the class is till further limited; while if Mrs. Long's memory does not fail, and the 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. In addition to his former description we should know that 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. If your views accord with mine, you will be of opinion that we are confronted with a murder of no ordinary character, committed not from jealousy, revenge, or robbery, but from motives less adequate than the many which still disgrace our civilisation, mar our progress, and blot the pages of our Christianity. I cannot conclude my remarks, gentlemen, without thanking you for the attention you have given to the case, and the assistance you have rendered me in our efforts to elucidate the truth of this horrible tragedy.
After a few minutes' deliberation, the Foreman of the Jury said - The jury are of opinion that there is but one verdict they can return, and that is a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown." That verdict, we think, will meet the case without anything further. We did wish to add a rider about the lack of mortuary accommodation in the district, but that has been done in the case of the Buck's row tragedy, and we think that will serve the same purpose. There is one request which I am asked by the jury to make. We have sat here upon this inquiry for five days, and we hope you will excuse us from serving again for at least two years.
The Coroner - I will endeavour to comply with your wish, but unfortunately, as you know, owing to the limited number of constant residents in Whitechapel, the jurors have to called upon to serve much more frequently than in some other districts.
The Foreman - I have three addresses, and some of the other jurors have two, and we therefore are called upon to serve as jurors very frequently.
The Coroner - I will endeavour to meet with your wishes.
The proceedings then terminated.
Dr. Phillips attended the inquest for the purpose of answering any further questions which might be put ot him with the view of elucidating the mystery, but he arrived while the coroner was summing up, and thus had no opportunity. When apprised 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 he felt strongly the advisability of following the information up, as a probable clue. With reference to the murder and mutilation in 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.
The jury yesterday returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown" in the case of Annie Chapman, who met her death under very horrible circumstances at the rear of 29 Hanbury street, Whitechapel, on the 8th instant. In the course of his summing up, the coroner said he had received information from one of the great medical schools that some months ago an American had called and offered £20 a piece for specimens of the abdominal organ which had been removed form the deceased woman's body.
The verdict of the jury at the inquest on the body of Annie Chapman, the unfortunate who was murdered on the morning of the 8th inst. in the back yard of a house in Spitalfields, was the only possible verdict. The inquiry has elicited a set of facts unique in the annals of crime. In the grey light of that Saturday morning the wretched outcast wandered about Spitalfields market, under the shadow of the noble edifice of St. Stephen's Church. At half past five she was standing on the pavement of Hanbury street, talking to a man. Through the silent street of sleepers a woman passed on her way to the market. As she went by the couple she caught sight of the outcast's face, and received the impression that her companion was a man of about forty years of age, dark complexioned, with a dark coat on his back, and wearing a brown deerstalker hat. She heard the words "Will you?" in a man's voice, and then the affirmative "Yes," in a woman's tones. The clock of a neighbouring brewery chimed the half hour, and she hurried on to the already busy market. That a man and woman should have been standing on the pavement talking at that early hour had nothing of strangeness to her. The couple she had noticed disappeared through the half open door of a house close to which they were standing, and stole through the creaking passage into a yard.
Through that yard a lodger had passed but a short time before when he left the house to go to work. In an adjoining yard at that very time a man was for a few minutes staying. He heard a voice say "No," and then a dull thud against the fence. He, too, with instincts deadened by East end life, went into his house unthinkingly. Before the clock struck six another lodger went into the yard and there lay the lifeless body of the woman - disembowelled, and half decapitated. The murderer had fled, carrying with him an organ of the woman's body. The story is fearfully dramatic. It is awful to realise. We do not care to dwell upon it. We tell it only to bring home to society the terrible condition of things which have made the crime possible. The horror does not end here. The medical evidence - evidence given under strong protest, but justly, as we think, insisted upon by the coroner - proves incontestably that the object of the crime was the abstraction of the organ the murderer possibly still possesses. In this connexion the coroner tells an extraordinary story of an American going, some months ago, to one of our great medical schools, and asking to be supplied with specimens of the organ missing in Chapman's remains. What relationship this fact may have to the Hanbury street murder is for the police to show. At present we can but conjecture. But it is impossible for anyone who reads the coroner's narrative to resist the surmise he makes. This is scarcely the place to discuss such a matter. The whole facts summarised amount to this - that the murderer was no ordinary criminal; that, on the contrary, he was a man of considerable anatomical attainments; that he had a definite object in view, and was not, probably, indulging a mere lust for blood; and that he is a man who could only have obtained the knowledge his cruel work showed he possessed from assisting at post mortems. These facts narrow the class which the police have to sift in their search for the monster. We look to the police to succeed, no matter how great the chances against them. Their reputation is at stake.