11 September 1889
WHO IS THIS MAN THAT CALLED AT
THE "HERALD" OFFICE SUNDAY.
He was positive a Murder Had Been Committed at Twenty Minutes Past Eleven o'clock on Saturday Night, on the Spot Where the Dead and Mutilated Body of a Woman was Found Yesterday - Mystery of Mysteries.
London in general, and Whitechapel in particular, were thrown into a feverish state of excitement yesterday morning by the news that "Jack the Ripper" had murdered and mutilated his ninth victim. Both the murder and the mutilation were reported to be, and indeed proved to be, more horrible than in any one of the eight cases preceding. The quick and close review of the facts by the police department led to the conclusion late yesterday afternoon that the remains found did not represent "Jack the Ripper's" handiwork, and this may or may not be true.
There is a very extraordinary feature, however, in this case, which has been lacking in all the others. That it is extraordinary no one will doubt who reads the brief story of last Saturday night as detailed below. If the woman found in archway was a victim of "Jack the Ripper," it is positively sure either that the murderer has been seen by many people, or that another man who knew of the murder and all the circumstances so long ago as last Saturday night is abroad, and can be found, if the police are clever enough. On the other hand, last Saturday night's events indicate to some extent that the body found yesterday, be it that of a murdered woman or a body from a dissecting room, was in the hands of more than one man who knew all about it, because on last Saturday night a man betrayed the whole affair. The circumstances are as follows, and will be verified in every particular by affidavit, should the police department desire.
Last Sunday morning at five minutes past one o'clock a young man called at the HERALD office and reported that there was another "Jack the Ripper" murder. He was sent up to the editorial rooms and interviewed by the night editor. He said that a mutilated body had been found in Backchurch-lane, in Whitechapel. He said that it had been found by a policeman at twenty minutes past eleven o'clock. The map of London was immediately studied by two reporters in order to locate Backchurch-lane, while the editor cross-questioned the man. He said it had been told to him by an acquaintance of his, a police inspector whom he had met in Whitechapel High-street. He said there was no doubt about it, and that he had hurried to the HERALD office understanding that he would be rewarded for the news. He said his name was John Cleary, and that he lived at 21, White Horse-yard, Drury-lane. He was asked to write down his name and address; and he did so, the writing being preserved. His information was explicit and seemingly authentic, and two reporters were detailed to take the man with them, and go and get the story.
The two reporters went out, and one of them stopped on the landing of the stairway in going down, and asked the man some more questions. Under this examination he varied slightly, saying that the man who had told him was not a police inspector, but an ex-member of the police force. This statement has, perhaps, some significance to all who have been following the murders closely. He then went down to the street with the reporters. They called a hansom and told the man to get in with them; but he first hesitated, and then refused. His excuse was that it was too far from his home. They urged him to go, but he was firm. One of them proposed to take him back upstairs, in order to have him near at hand if necessary; but the necessity of immediate departure compelled them to start and leave the man to go his own way. He was assured that if the news proved authentic he would be handsomely rewarded, and he went away apparently contented with the arrangement.
The two reporters drove rapidly to Backchurch-lane, and found it without difficulty. They made a thorough search of the neighbourhood. They went down as far as the archway where the body was found yesterday morning, but found all quiet and no trace of any murder. They met two police officers, one an inspector, and the other a constable. They questioned both, and told them the report they had heard, and these two officers can verify the enquiry. They had heard nothing, however. The reporters again went over the ground, but found nothing. They then returned and reported. In fact, it is a certainty that on Sunday morning a murdered and mutilated body was reported as having been found in Backchurchlane, and that exactly such a body was found yesterday morning.
The matter was passed over as unimportant on Sunday and Monday. The moment that the body was found yesterday, however, the events of Sunday morning loomed up with a significance rather colossal, and a hunt began for John Cleary, of 21, White Horseyard, Drury-lane. Mr. John Cleary, however, was not known at No. 21, or anywhere else in White Horse-yard, Drury-lane. The house is a four-storey one. The street floor is vacant, the first and second floors are occupied by families, and the top floor by a widow woman with two children. The widow woman was confident that no young man by the name of John Cleary either lived in the house or had ever lived there.' The people in every house in White Horseyard were questioned under circumstances which disposed them to tell all they knew, but nobody had ever heard the name of John Cleary, and everybody said that no man of that name could have lived there without their knowing it, which was quite true. It became evident, therefore, that the man had given a false address, and in all probability a false name, as such a precaution in the matter of residence would scarcely have been taken, and the precaution as to name neglected.
"Cleary's" description, however, had been carefully taken. He was a young man, apparently between twenty-five and twenty-eight years of age. He was short, his height being about 5 ft. 4in. He was of medium build, and weighed about 140 lb. He was light-complexioned, had a small fair moustache and blue eyes. On his left cheek was an inflamed spot, which looked as if a boil had lately been there and was healing. He wore a dark coat and waistcoat. His shirt was not seen, the space at the throat being covered by a dirty white handkerchief tied about his neck. His trousers were dark velveteen, so soiled at the knees as to indicate that he blacked shoes. His hat was a round, black, stiff felt. He walked with a shuffle and spoke in the usual fashion of the developing citizens of Whitechapel, whom, in all respects, he resembled.
It is thus certain that there was an intention on the part of the party or parties who had the body in keeping to place it in Backchurch-lane Saturday night, where it was found yesterday. If coincidences be of any value, it may be noted that this was the anniversary of the Hanbury-street murder. It is beyond doubt that "Cleary" got wind of the scheme, if he was not one of the principals. That the original intention was not carried out would indicate that he was an outsider acquainted with the project, who hoped to profit by it. There seems to be no reason to doubt that the body was not found by the police until yesterday morning, and that it was placed there a short time before seems reasonably sure. Nevertheless, "John Cleary," whoever he may be, must know all about the mystery, and is certainly the most valuable man in the purview of the police at the present time.
The mutilated body of "Jack the Ripper's" latest victim, if such it is, was discovered about half-past five o'clock yesterday morning beneath a railway arch on the south side of Pinchin-street, which runs eastward from Backchurch-lane, a narrow thoroughfare connecting Commercial-road with Cable-street. The locality is about half a mile southward from the limited district which has been the centre of "the Ripper's" murders. It is, however, not more distant than was the Buck's-row crime, which was the third, and the point is less than three minutes from the scene of the fifth murder, the one in Berner-street. It is about the same distance from the Lemanstreet police-station. The south side of Pinchin-street is skirted by a long series of high brick arches, supporting the roadway of the London, Tilbury, and Great Eastern Railway. The arch beneath which the body was found is the only one which is open, the others being boarded up, or filled with huge doors, and used for storage and like purposes. This particular arch had been boarded up, as the joists stretching across it indicated, but the boards had been torn off and carried away for firewood by the people in the vicinity, a patrolman said. Anyone passing along Pinchin-street can easily see within these arches. Both officer Pennett and another patrolman say that they passed by the spot between half-past four and five o'clock, and saw nothing out of the common.
The discovery was made by Officer Pennett at half-past five o'clock. In passing along his beat, he flashed his bull's-eye into the dark arch and noticed a bundle which excited his curiosity, as it had not been there half an hour before. He went in and inspected it, and was startled to find it the trunk of a naked woman.
The remains were lying face downward. The head and legs had been removed, and the sight was so grotesque and horrible that the constable was some seconds in making out what it really was. The horrible mass was partly covered by a blood-stained chemise, much disarranged. Officer Pennett immediately whistled for assistance, and was quickly joined by several patrolmen. Word was sent to headquarters, and in a short time a group of inspectors and officials stood around the remains. When examined it appeared that the head and legs had been very neatly disjointed, and a search of the whole vicinity revealed no trace of them. There was one long cut down the centre of the body. The remains, so far as could be told by the examination, were those of a woman between thirty-five and forty years of age, rather short, and of a dark complexion. It was evident from the doctor's examination that she had never had a child. There was a mark about the waist such as would have been left by an encircling rope. There was no clothing except the chemise, which was an ordinary cotton one. There was no blood upon the ground, and all the bloodstains were dry, showing that the murder, if it had been a murder, had taken place some days before. It was evident that the body had been brought there in the condition in which it had been found. There is ample evidence that it was brought there at some time during the night. From the way in which it lay, it appeared to have been hurriedly drafted there and to have been untouched afterwards by the person who brought it. The body was discoloured in several places, and decomposition was setting in at the edge of the cuts. Everything indicated that death had taken place four or five days previously.
The remains were removed to St. George's mortuary, and were there viewed by a HERALD reporter. The body, lying on the slab in the centre of the mean little room, was a piteous and revolting spectacle. The severance of the head and legs seemed to have taken from it the fashion of humanity, and it needed a second glance to recognise the true character of the mass of inert flesh. The body there appeared to be that of a young and well-formed woman, well nourished and perfectly healthy. Except the mutilations already spoken of the only marks of violence it bore were the dark blue traces of finger marks about and below the elbow of the left arm and a shapeless bruise on the right wrist. The singularity of the mutilations was that the cuts were made with perfect cleanness and decision. There was no mangling of the flesh. The operation had been performed as neatly as if it had been done by a practical surgeon in the quiet of a dissecting-room, rather than by a brutal miscreant in the confusion and terror of committing a hideous crime. A singular circumstance, irreconcileable with the marks of putrefaction on other parts of the body, borne out also by the stench of decay, is that the flesh of the stump of the right thigh was bright and red as with a recent effusion of blood. The flesh of the other stump and of the neck was dry and caked, as were the lips of the gaping cut extending from the breastbone to the root of the thigh, exposing the intestines, which, however, have been left intact, contrary to the practice of the Whitechapel fiend, to whom so many attribute the crime. The decapitation and the cutting off of the limbs are also opposed to his practice, and help to cast doubt on that theory, and to suggest that the crime much more nearly resembles those recently committed at Rainham and Battersea. Beside the body lay the torn and bloodstained rags of the chemise, which had been flung over the body, the only scrap of material, except the body itself, yet found which may possibly assist the police in the task of identification.
Scotland Yard was early astir. Before six o'clock a message was received there from Leman-street. It was only "Whitechapel again," but it sufficed to put things instantly into a ferment. Word was at once sent to Commissioner Monro and the Assistant Commissioners, and they immediately responded. Two fresh detectives were placed on the case, Inspector Abberline, who has been following it, being out of town. The hunt for clues and for information began vigorously. The first bit of evidence was a bloodstained undergarment found at half-past seven in a vacant yard in Hooper-street, 500 yards away. It had been thrust through a hole in the fence, and it was turned over to the police. The stains on this, as on the chemise, were old and dried. Then came the story of a man who said he had seen another man with a heavy bag of something on his back, about four o'clock. He was questioned, but his information was not important, the police feeling confident that the body was brought nearly to the spot in a vehicle of some kind. Chief Commissioner Monro and Colonel Monsell, Chief Constable, went all over the ground, and visited the mortuary. Three arrests were made in the shape of two sailors and a shoeblack found sleeping in an adjacent archway, but after being examined at the Lemon-street Station they were released, it being evident that they knew nothing of the matter. It shortly appeared that there was no more of a clue in the case than there had been in the preceding ones. Mr. Williamson, of the Criminal Investigation Department, admitted this when questioned as to whether the police had as yet formed any theory regarding the case. He replied:- "There is not evidence enough yet on which to base any theory. As a matter of fact, the police are not nearly so fond of rushing into theorising as some of you gentlemen of the Press seem to think. One fact is worth half a dozen theories, and in this case we have to bend our energies to the discovery of facts. This case promises to be one of peculiar difficulty. The others were mysterious enough, but here the mystery is complete; the head being gone, the chances of identification are so very slight. People who are inclined to be impatient with the police should remember how enormous the difficulties of such a case as this are. Do I think it is "Jack the Ripper" again? As I said, I have no theories. I wait for facts."
The remains lay all day at the Morgue, but were not identified. Identification will, in fact, be difficult, if not impossible. The only assisting fact was one revealed by Secretary Bartlett to a HERALD reporter at the Old Jewry in the afternoon. He said that a week ago a woman's hand had been picked up in Shoreditch, and all efforts to trace its owner and origin had thus far failed.
The River Police were put on the alert within twenty minutes after the finding of the body. The despatch sent to them and to all the other Metropolitan stations was as follows:
At twenty minutes to six a.m. trunk of a woman found under the arches in Pinchin-street, E. Age about forty. Height 5 ft 3 in. Hair dark brown. No clothing except chemise, very much torn and bloodstained. Both elbows discoloured as if from habitual leaning on them. Post mortem. Marks around waist, apparently caused by a rope.
Immediately upon the circulation of this telegram, the Thames Police, under Detective-inspector Regan and Chief-inspector Moore, assisted by Sergeants Moore, Francis, Howard, Davis, and Scott, at once got their various craft on the river, and boarded all the vessels at the mouth of the Thames and in the docks. Attention was particularly directed to the cattle boats and those from Spain and America. Among those boarded in the London Docks were the City of Cork, the Cadiz, the Malaga, and the Gallicia, and the Lydian Monarch in the Millwall Docks. The operation of searching these vessels had not concluded until a late hour in the evening, and so far as the investigation had gone the captains of the various vessels were able to give satisfactory accounts as to their crews.
After the removal of the remains to the mortuary. Mr. Clarke, Dr. Gordon Brown (the City Police-surgeon), and two other medical gentlemen who have had experience in previous cases of this nature, shortly after made a more careful examination of the remains. It was noticed that the trunk displayed green patches; the flesh otherwise was white. The doctors, from their investigations, concluded that the cuts had been inflicted in a left-hand manner - that is to say, the cut in the throat was evidently commenced on the left side and carried to the right with a clean sweep. The same peculiarity was observed in the other wounds, and in separating the legs more flesh had been cut from the trunk on the left side than on the other. In more than one of the previous crimes this peculiarity has been observed and commented upon. The legs are taken out clearly from the loin, showing no signs of a separating instrument. Nothing whatever was found to be missing except these members and the head. The cut severing the head from the body was skilfully done, there being no hacking or clumsy dissection noticeable. Furthermore, a saw had been used to sever the bones in such a way as to leave no doubt that the person responsible for the dismemberment possessed a good knowledge of anatomy. There were no signs about the hands which would indicate that the woman had been used to hard work, and so far as could be seen there had been no attempt to obliterate a mark on one of the fingers, apparently caused by a ring.
The body was well nourished and cared for. One of the several doctors who viewed the remains expressed the opinion that had he been asked to dissect the body in the manner in which he saw it he could not have done it more neatly and skilfully. In consequence of the similarity in the mode of dismemberment pursued in this case and those of the recent Battersea and Rainham mysteries, the officers engaged in those cases were consulted, and their general opinion is that the resemblance in all cases are so remarkable as to give grounds for the belief that the present crime is one with a different origin to that of the previous Whitechapel atrocities.
A conference to which it is believed considerable importance is attached took place last evening at the Leman-street Police-station. When Dr. Phillips was telegraphed for to Bournemouth he replied that he would return to town at once; but asked the authorities to adjourn the post-mortem in the meantime. He arrived in London about five p.m. last evening, and after making some preliminary investigations attended at Leman-street Police-station soon after six o'clock. He was closeted with the Chief Constable Colonel Monsell, Mr. Arnold, and the officers from Scotland Yard. At seven p.m., Mr. Monro, the Chief Commissioner, arrived at the station in his private carriage, and joined in the deliberations which continued until nearly half-past eight o'clock. The surgeons and physicians who have examined the corpse agree that it was a living body not more than three or four days ago, the slight decomposition being due to the sudden heat of the weather. The manner in which the limbs had been severed, and the cut in the abdomen, seemed to point to the murderer or mutilator as a left-handed man, but upon this point there was some difference of opinion. The woman must have been of dark complexion, and about 35 years of age.
The inquest will open in the Vestry Hall, Cable-street, at 10 o'clock today.
Up till a late hour last evening no further arrests had been made in connection with the murder, and the police were absolutely without a clue of any kind. A circumstantial story to the effect that a suspicious-looking man was seen last night carrying a sack near where the body was found proved on investigation to be evidently valueless. As a matter of fact, no sack was found under the arch or elsewhere, and it was quite as likely as not that the murderer carried the corpse in a portmanteau or in a brown-paper parcel. In either case, unless the murderer was very impudent or unusually peculiar in appearance, he would not attract particular attention. Had there been anything suspicious in his demeanour, he could scarcely have passed through the streets of the East-end without being challenged by beat policemen or detectives, of whom the number in the district is at the present unusually large, owing to the precautions maintained by Commissioner Monro since the last murder, and to the local excitement arising out of the great strike. Special measures have been in operation for months past to maintain the vigilance and efficiency of the police at the highest point, in view of another murder by the Whitechapel fiend, the probability of which has never been questioned by the authorities. It is difficult, therefore, to see in what manner the police are to blame, or to say whence or how a clue is to be obtained.
A reperusal of the circumstances of former atrocities of this nature only serves to confuse the reader's mind as to the possible origin of this last crime. It differs from the Whitechapel series in the facts that the head and lower limbs were amputated, and in the other fact that the hands were left undisturbed; but it resembles them in the infliction of the deep longitudinal cut along the lower half of the trunk. It will be remembered that last year, while the Whitechapel miscreant was in the full living of unchecked crime, a horribly mutilated human body was discovered in the basement storey of the building on the Embankment once intended for a national opera house. Here, too, the head and legs were missing, as in the case of the unfortunate woman found yesterday morning, but in this case the incomplete mutilation of the trunk had been completed in a fashion absolutely similar to that which marked the bodies of the Whitechapel victims. Nearly a month previously the right arm of a woman had been found floating in the Thames near Bridge, and several indications justified the belief that it formed part of the body found later on in the basement of the opera house. The case of the girl whose mutilated remains were enveloped in a fragment of under garment marked in black ink in a clear and clerkly hand with the name "L.E. Fisher," equally fails to offer any analogy to the other cases, as Dr. Bond, chief surgeon of the Metropolitan Police, declared death to have resulted from an operation intended to procure abortion; a motive which could not have determined any of the Whitechapel series, and certainly did not exist in the present instance, as the medical testimony declares this last victim never to have been pregnant.