10 November 1888
Another fearful murder was committed in Whitechapel yesterday morning. At 10:30 a woman, named Mary Jane Kelly, was found dead in her house in a court off Dorset-street, her body having been mutilated in a horrible manner. The deceased woman was seen alive at 8:30, and she was subsequently heard singing in her room. On Thursday night she was seen in conversation with a man of rather respectable appearance, and it is believed that he spent the night in her house. The murderer made his escape apparently without exciting any attention. The bloodhounds were not brought into requisition, as it is said they are not now in the possession of the police. A man was arrested on suspicion late last night.
The seventh murder of the Whitechapel series lends a ghastly air of authenticity to the letter received some time ago by the police authorities over the signature of "Jack the Ripper," in which the writer announced that his mission would be completed when he had accomplished the slaughter of twelve women. In the same communication it was stated that the object of the mission was to put down vice of a certain kind by terrorizing its female instruments, but that good women had nothing to fear from his destructive energy. Conjecture will be excited to fresh activity by the hideous tragedy of yesterday morning, and the variety of theories may very well include the supposition that some wretch possessed with what may be called a moral monomania is the author of these terrible deeds. At any rate, those who hold this view may point to the fact that the victim of yesterday's crime was of the same class and character as her unfortunate predecessors. The details of the murder are far too revolting to form the subject of comment. It is enough to say that life in this latest case was taken in a fashion of fiendish barbarity which transcends even the horrors of those previous atrocities which have made the people of London familiar with a novel and terrible form of crime. The murder of MARY JANE KELLY differs in some important circumstances from the enormities of which it seems to keep up the succession. The unknown victim of the Osborne-street tragedy perpetrated nearly a year ago, like the five other poor creatures who met their fate within a period of two months, were all killed, so far as the skilled evidence can establish the fact, during the small hours of the night. JANE KELLY, it is believed, was killed between eight and half-past ten o'clock yesterday morning. There is some conflict of testimony on this head, but it would appear that in this interval the woman was seen alive, and, according to one statement, KELLY must have been abroad in the streets in company with a man with whom she returned to her lodging only a few minutes before her mutilated body was found. At present, however, the tragedy is enveloped by the same mystery which has so far kept the murder of the women EDDOWES, STRIDE, CHAPMAN, NICHOLLS, and their hapless sisters in the category of undetected and unpunished crime. Again, while these poor creatures were, with one exception, butchered in open places, such as yards, dark alleys, and an unfrequented square, KELLY was murdered in her own room under the roof of the house in which she lodged and which was occupied by others at the time. The fact is, perhaps important only as showing how wide are the chances of impunity upon which a criminal may count. And, for that matter, the conditions were as favourable to the crime in such a dwelling as KELLY tenanted as they would be in the streets and byways. One gash of the knife, and the victim was powerless for defense or outcry. Her assassin might complete his bloody work behind a closed door, and all that then remained was to make his way from the scene without being observed. Naturally the public attention, stirred to fresh panic by this repetition of previous horrors, turns upon the police, who, so far, appear to be as helpless as before. It would be unfair to criticise too harshly their failure. The murderer evidently had method in his madness - assuming that his acts are the outcome of an insane inspiration - he chose for his latest exploit a date and occasion when the vigilance of the police and the watchfulness of the public, possibly both somewhat allayed during his interval of inactivity, would be distracted to other things. It is on record that a Jacobite rising in London was planned for Lord Mayor's Day, "Either about noon, when all would be by the riverside, or at night, when all would be drunk;" and the murderer of MARY KELLY no doubt perceived his opportunity in the circumstances of the civic pageant. It is nonsense to blame the police for their inability to lay hands upon a miscreant who seems to combine extraordinary calculation and cunning with an unparalleled ferocity. As well blame the residents of the neighborhood who failed to see him coming out of the dwelling he converted into a slaughter-house, or who, having seen him, had not the intelligence to recognise in him a murderer red-handed from his act. At the same time, it is a very serious and most uncomfortable consideration that such deeds can be done in our midst, and done with impunity. Six undiscovered murders within a period of twice as many weeks an a grim comment upon the efficacy of those forces of civilisation upon which the greatest and most advanced community in the world relies for its safety and protection. And, undoubtedly, this new crime inflames the question, already burning, how far the existing organisation of our police system is adequate to the demands made upon it by events of so exceptional and dreadful a nature.
MULITATION OF THE VICTIM.
Yesterday forenoon the inhabitants of the East-end of London were thrown into a state of consternation by the discovery in Whitechapel of another atrocious crime, even more revolting than any of the previous six murders which have recently been committed in the same district. The victim is a woman of the "unfortunate" class, and the murder was committed under her own roof in broad daylight, but notwithstanding the publicity of the movements of the murderer, no reliable clue has been discovered as to the perpetrator of the crime.
Dorset-street, Spitalfields, is a notorious neighborhood. It is filled with lodging-houses, tenanted chiefly by the lowest classes, amongst them some of the most degraded thieves and women of the streets. It was here that Annie Chapman, who was murdered in Hanbury-street on the 8th of September, lived, and the scene of the present crime is a court directly opposite the house to which that unfortunate woman was in the habit of resorting. Close by is Mitre-square, the scene of one of the murders of September 30, and Hanbury-street is scarcely a stone's throw distant. The victim of the crime of yesterday is a young woman, named Mary Jane Kelly, aged 26. Up to a recent date she lived with a man called Barnet, who was known also as Danny, and who worked sometimes at Billingsgate as a porter, and sometimes as a drover, or a hawker of oranges in the streets. She resided in Miller-court, Dorset-street, a turning out of Commercial-street, Spitalfields. There are eight or ten small houses in the court, which is entered by a low archway and a narrow passage from Dorset-street, and forms a cul de sac. At the corner of Dorset-street there is a small general shop, which is tenanted by Mrs. M'Carthy, who also owns the houses in the court. Kelly appears to have tenanted a top room in one of Mrs. M'Carthy's houses. She had a little boy, aged about six or seven years, living with her, and latterly she had been in great poverty, so much so that she is reported to have stated to a companion that she would make away with herself, as she could not bear to see her boy starving. There are conflicting statements as to when the woman was last seen alive, but that upon which most reliance appears to be placed is the statement of a young woman, an associate of the deceased, who says that at about half-past ten o'clock on Thursday night she met the murdered woman at the corner of Dorset-street, and that Kelly said to her that she had no money, and if she could not get any she would never go out any more, but would commit suicide. Soon after they parted, and a man, who is described as respectably dressed, came up and spoke to the murdered woman Kelly, and offered her some money. The man then accompanied the woman home to her lodgings, which are on the second floor, and the little boy was removed from the room, and taken to a neighbour's house. Nothing more was seen of the woman until yesterday morning, when it is stated that the little boy was sent back into the house, and the report goes that he was sent out subsequently on an errand by the man who was in the house with his mother. There is no direct confirmation of this statement, but a tailor named Lewis says he saw Kelly come out about eight o'clock yesterday morning and go back again to the house. Another statement is to the effect that Kelly was seen in a public-house known as "Ringers," at the corner of Dorset-street and Commercial-street at about ten o'clock yesterday morning, and that she there met Barnet and had a glass of beer with him. This statement is not substantiated. It seems clear, however, that the woman was alive at eight o'clock yesterday morning, that she went out for something, and returned to the house. The murder must have been committed between that hour and eleven. At the latter hour Mrs. M'Carthy, with her son, went to Kelly's house to collect the day's rent. Young M'Carthy appears to have first sent a man named Bower to the house, which, though entered from the court, is really a part of No. 26, Dorset-street. Bower failed to obtain an answer to his knocking, and, looking through the window, he saw to his horror the woman lying on the bed, horribly mutilated, and stark naked. He called M'Carthy, who also looked through the window, and, seeing that the body was cut up almost beyond recognition, he turned away, and he and Bower ran to Commercial-street police-station, where they informed the police of the discovery. Inspector Beck and Sergeant Betham, 31 H, who were in charge of about 40 constables in readiness for duties attending the Lord Mayor's Show, at once proceeded to the scene, running as fast as they could. The news had spread so rapidly that more than a thousand persons were gathered in the street, and these were rapidly cleared away from the court and the side of Dorset-street adjoining while the inspector entered the house.
The house in which the murder was committed is entered by two doors situate on the right hand side of the passage, and has several rooms. The first door up the court from the street leads to the upper rooms, but the second door opens only into one room, which is situated on the ground floor. It was in this room that the murder was committed. A terrible sight presented itself to the police officers when they entered the house. The body of the woman, perfectly naked, was stretched out on the little bedstead, the clothing of which was saturated with her blood. The unfortunate woman had been cut and mangled in a manner which was revolting beyond description. The head of the victim had been severed from the body, both ears and nose had been cut off, and the flesh of the cheeks and forehead peeled off. The breasts were cut off, evidently with a sharp knife, and placed on the table near the bed. The abdomen had been ripped up and disemboweled, portions of the entrails lying about the bed, the liver being placed between the legs. Both thighs had been denuded of flesh - the thigh bones being laid bare - and the excised portions laid on the table. As in the case of three of the previous crimes the womb had been taken away, together with other parts of the intestines and organs. One arm was almost severed from the trunk, and one hand was thrust inside the empty cavity of the abdomen. Medical assistance was immediately sent for, and a description of the discovery telegraphed to all the metropolitan police-stations in the terse sentence, "The woman is simply cut to pieces." Within a very short time half a dozen cabs arrived in Dorset-street from Whitehall, conveying detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department, among them being Inspector Abberline and Reid. Never before had so many men been dispatched to the scene of a murder from Whitehall. The scene in the narrow court way leading to the house was one of extraordinary excitement. The whole space was closely packed with detective officers, and quite a small army of plain-clothes constables were within an astonishingly short space of time stationed in Dorset-street. Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon of police, soon arrived, and was followed by Dr. Bond, of Westminster, divisional surgeon of the A division, Dr. J. R. Gabe, of Mecklenburgh-square, and two or three other surgeons. They made a preliminary examination of the body and sent for a photographer, who made several photographs of the remains. While all this was going on inside the house, the excitement in the neighbourhood was spreading, and among the dwellers in the immediate locality amounted to a perfect frenzy. Women rushed about the streets telling their neighbours the news, and shouting in angry voices their rage and indignation. Notwithstanding the reticence of the police, the main facts of the crime soon became known, and a great concourse of people assembled on the scene. Great efforts were made at first to keep the side of Dorset-street clear in the vicinity of Miller-court, in the expectation that bloodhounds might have to be employed, but though it is understood that a telegram asking for them was sent to Sir Charles Warren, they were not sent. Barnet, the paramour of the murdered woman, was sent for, and he at once identified the body as that of Kelly, or "Ginger," as she was called, owing to the colour of her hair. Barnet made a statement to the police, the purport of which did not transpire. Sir Charles Warren did not visit the scene of the murder, but in the afternoon Colonel Monsell, chief constable of the district, and Chief Constables Howard and Roberts went down and inspected the interior of the house. All the constables and detectives available were distributed throughout the district, and a house-to-house visitation was commenced, and all who knew the deceased woman were interrogated as to the persons last seen in her company. But, as has been said, no clue was discovered.
At four o'clock yesterday afternoon the body was removed from Dorset-street to Shoreditch mortuary, which stands at the back of Shoreditch Church. The mutilated remains were placed in a coarse coffin, which had apparently been used on many previous occasions for the conveyance of the dead, and which was partially covered with a coarse canvas cloth. The straps of the coffin were sealed. The coffin was conveyed in a one-horse ordinary furniture-van, and was escorted by several police-constables, under Sergeant Betham. A large mob followed the van to the mortuary, where a crowd was waiting to see the coffin transferred to the building. The photographer who had been called in to photograph the room and the body removed his camera from the premises at half-past four, and shortly afterwards a detective officer carried from the house a pail with which he left in a four-wheel cab. The pail was covered with a newspaper, and it was stated that it contained portions of the woman's body. It was taken to the house of Dr. Phillips, 2 Spital-square. The windows of the room in which the crime was committed were boarded up, and a padlock was put on the door. The streets were patrolled by the police all the evening, and no one was allowed to loiter near the place.
John M'Carthy, a provision dealer, residing at 27, Dorset-street, who is the landlord of No. 26 in the same thoroughfare as the house in which the murder was committed, last night made a statement to our representative to the following effect:
"Mary Jane Kelly, the murdered woman, was a person about 25 years of age. She was an unfortunate. The last that was heard of her was at one o'clock this morning, when she was singing in her room, and appeared to be very happy. At eleven o'clock last night she was seen in the 'Britannia,' at the corner of this thoroughfare, with a young man with a dark moustache. The young man appeared to be very respectable and well dressed. About half-past ten this morning I told a man named Henry Bower to go to Mary Jane Kelly and ask for the rent she owed me. Bower went to the house, but failed to get any answer to his knocks. He then peered through one of the windows and saw the woman lying cut up on the bed. The bed was saturated with blood. Bower came and called me, telling me what he had seen, and we went and looked through the window. I cannot fully describe her injuries, for the sight was too much for me. She was quite naked. I noticed that both breasts were cut off and that she was ripped up. The intestines were laid on the table, both ears were cut off, as was also the nose. The legs were cut to such an extent that the bones could be seen. Her face was one mass of cuts. We ran to the Commercial-street police-station and gave information." In answer to questions as to whether the woman was married, M'Carthy said the deceased's husband was a fish porter, employed in Billingsgate, but in consequence of a quarrel between them four nights ago the man was now lodging at Mr. Butler's boarding house in Bishopsgate-street.
There are several statements as to the woman's movements when last seen alive.
Morris Lewis, a tailor, states he was playing pitch-and-toss in the court at nine o'clock yesterday morning, and an hour before that he saw the woman leave the house and return with some milk.
An important fact transpired last evening. It appears that the cattle boats bringing live freight to London arrive in the Thames on Thursdays or Fridays and leave again for the Continent on Sundays or Mondays. It has already been a matter of comment that the recent revolting crimes have been committed at the end of the week, and the opinion has been formed among some of the detectives that the murderer is a drover or butcher employed on one of these boats, of which there are many, and that he periodically appears and disappears with one of the steamers. This theory is held to be of much importance by those engaged in this investigation, and for some time inquiries have been prosecuted with the view of following it up.
Up to nine o'clock last night there had been no arrests, and the police appeared to be without a tangible clue. They have been much hampered by the lack of information from the inhabitants of the locality, whose statements are most contradictory.
The non-appearance of the bloodhounds yesterday is accounted for by the fact that during recent trials in Surrey the animals bolted, and it is understood that they have not been recovered. The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, who have recently relaxed their efforts to find the murderer, have called a meeting for Tuesday evening next at the "Paul's Head" Tavern, Crispin-street, Spitalfields, to consider what steps they can take to assist the police in this latter matter.
A Mrs. Paumier, a young woman who sells roasted chestnuts at the corner of Widegate-street, about two minutes' walk from the scene of the murder, told our reporter yesterday afternoon that at about twelve o'clock that morning a man dressed like a gentleman came to her and said, "I suppose you have heard about the murder in Dorset-street." She replied that she had, whereupon the man grinned and said, "I know more about it than you." He then stared into her face, and went down Sandy's-row, a narrow thoroughfare which cuts across Widegate-street. When he got some way off, however, he looked back as if to see whether she was watching him. Mrs. Paumier said the man had a black moustache, was about five feet six inches high, and wore a black silk hat, a black coat, and speckled trousers. He also carried a black shiny bag, about a foot in depth and a foot and a half in length. Mrs. Paumier stated further that the same man accosted three women whom she knows on Thursday night, and that they chaffed him and asked what he had in the bag, and he replied, "Something that the ladies don't like." Mrs. Paumier told her story with every appearance of truthfulness. One of the three young women she named, Sarah Roney, a girl about 20 years of age, corroborates her statement.
Another woman states that she knew the deceased two years ago, and that the deceased was then living at Cooley's lodging-house, in Thrall-street, Spitalfields. She was on the streets, and while living there the deceased met Barnet, and went to live with him at Dorset-street. Kelly was a Welsh woman, and could speak Welsh fluently. The woman who made this statement adds that Barnet is a very inoffensive man.
The excitement in the neighbourhood of Dorset-street is intense, and the police have great trouble to preserve order. One constable who is alleged to have struck an onlooker was so mobbed and hooted that he had to retreat to Commercial-street police-station, whither he was followed by a huge crowd, who were only kept at bay by the presence of about half a dozen stalwart constables, who stood at the door and prevented anyone from entering.
Mrs. M'Carthy, the landlady, might easily have seen the murderer as he passed out of the court, but she observes a strict reticence, having apparently been cautioned by the police.
Mrs. Caroline Maxwell, of 14, Dorset-street, the wife of a night watchman at Commercial-chambers, a common lodging-house, able to shelter 244 persons, and opposite the scene of the murder, in an interview with a reporter last night, said:
"I have known the murdered woman well for the past six months. This morning as near as possible 8.30, I saw Mary Jane (the murdered woman) standing outside the court. I said, 'What brings you out so early, Mary Jane,' and she answered, 'I feel very queer. I cannot sleep.' I said, 'Well, I pity you,' and passed on. I then went to Bishopsgate, and on my return, just after nine o'clock, I saw 'Mary Jane' talking to a man at the end of the street. Who he was I don't know. He was a short, stout man, about fifty years of age. I did not notice what he had on, but I saw that he wore a kind of plaid coat. I then went indoors to go to bed, as I had been put on duty all night. 'Mary Jane' (I only know her by that name) was a pleasant little woman, rather stout, fair complexion, and rather pale. I should say her age would be about 23. I had no idea she was an unfortunate, for I never saw her with any one, nor have I ever seen her drunk. She was a very quiet young woman, and had been in the neighbourhood about two years. She spoke with a kind of impediment. She belonged, I think, to Limerick, and had evidently been well connected."
A man was arrested last night in Whitechapel on suspicion of being concerned in the murder. He was given into custody by some women as being a man who had accosted them last night, and whose conduct was suspicious. He was taken to Commercial-street police-station, followed by an immense crowd.
Following up his futile inquiry in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr. Conybeare has handed in a notice of his intention to ask the Home Secretary whether the late head of the detective department of the metropolitan police resigned in consequence of the interference of Sir C. Warren with the execution of his special duties; whether Sir C. Warren has now practically control of the detective department; and whether, in view of the constant recurrence of atrocious murders, and the failure of Sir C. Warren, by his new organisation and methods, to detect the murderer, Mr. Matthews will consider the propriety of replacing Sir. C. Warren by some more competent and popular Chief Commissioner. Other questions are to be put on Monday as to Mr. Munro's resignation; and it is possible that debate may be raised on the whole subject.
The following are the dates of the crimes and names of the previous victims of the Whitechapel assassin, so far as is known.
1. - Last Christmas week. - An unknown woman found murdered near Osborne and Wentworth streets, Whitechapel.
2. - August 7. - Martha Turner, found stabbed in 39 places on a landing in model dwellings, known as George-yard-buildings, Commercial-street, Spitalfields.
3. - August 31. - Mrs. Nicholls, murdered and mutilated in Buck's-row, Whitechapel.
4. - September 7. - Mrs. Chapman, murdered and mutilated in Hanbury-street, Whitechapel.
5. - September 30. - Elizabeth Stride, found with her throat cut in Berner-street, Whitechapel.
6. - September 30. - Catherine Eddowes, murdered and mutilated in Mitre-square, Aldgate.