An Evening Newspaper and Review.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1888.
SOMETHING like a panic will be occasioned in London to-day by the announcement that another horrible murder has taken place in densely populated Whitechapel. This makes the fourth murder of the same kind, the perpetrator of which has succeeded in escaping the vigilance of the police. The triumphant success with which the metropolitan police have suppressed all political meetings in Trafalgar-square contrasts strangely with their absolute failure to prevent the most brutal kind of murder in Whitechapel. The Criminal Investigation Department under Mr. MONRO was so pre-occupied in tracking out the men suspected of meditating political crimes that the ordinary vulgar assassin has a free field in which to indulge his propensities. Whether or not this is the true explanation of the immunity which the Whitechapel murderer enjoys, the fact of that immunity is undoubted. Four poor women, miserable and wretched, have been murdered in the heart of a densely-populated quarter, and not only murdered but mutilated in a peculiarly brutal fashion, and so far the police do not seem to have discovered a single clue to the perpetrator of the crimes.
There is some reason to hope that the latest in this grim and gory series of outrages will supply some evidence as to the identity of the murderer. The knife with which he disembowelled his unfortunate victim and a leathern apron were, it is said, found by the corpse. If so, these are the only traces left by this mysterious criminal. Dr. ANDERSON, the new chief of the Detective Department, will now have an admirable opportunity of showing that wits sharpened by reflections upon the deeper problems of "Human Destiny" and the millennium are quite capable of grappling with the mundane problems of the detection of crime. The fact that the police have been freely talking for a week past about a man nicknamed Leather Apron may have led the criminal to leave a leather apron near his victim in order to mislead. He certainly seems to have been capable of such an act of deliberate preparation. The murder perpetrated this morning shows no indication of hurry or of alarm. He seems to have first killed the woman by cutting her throat so deeply as almost to sever her head from her shoulders, then to have disembowelled her, and then to have disposed of the viscera in a fashion recalling stories of Red Indian savagery. A man who was cool enough to do this, and who had time enough to do it, was not likely to leave his leather apron behind him and his knife apparently for no purpose but to serve as a clue. But be this as it may, if the police know of a ruffian who wears a leather apron in Whitechapel whom they have suspected of previous crimes, no time should be lost in ascertaining whether this leather apron, if it really exists, can be identified as his.
This renewed reminder of the potentialities of revolting barbarity which lie latent in man will administer a salutary shock to the complacent optimism which assumes that the progress of civilisation has rendered unnecessary the bolts and bars, social, moral, and legal, which keep the Mr. Hyde of humanity from assuming visible shape among us. There certainly seems to be a tolerably realistic impersonification of Mr. Hyde at large in Whitechapel. The Savage of Civilisation whom we are raising by the hundred thousand in our slums is quite as capable of bathing his hands in blood as any Sioux who ever scalped a foe. But we should not be surprised if the murderer in the present case should not turn out to be slum bred. The nature of the outrages and the calling of the victims suggests that we have to look out for a man who is animated by that mania of bloodthirsty cruelty which sometimes springs from the unbridled indulgence of the worst passions. We may have a plebeian Marquis DE SADE at large in Whitechapel. If so, and if he is not promptly apprehended, we shall not have long to wait for another addition to the ghastly catalogue of murder.
There is some reason to hope that the sentiment of horror which the peculiar atrocity of the present crime excites even in the most callous will spur the police into a display of vigorous and intelligent activity. At present the disaffection in the force is so widespread that, unless we are strangely misinformed, the police are thinking more of the possibility of striking against a system which has become intolerable than of overexerting themselves in the detection of crime. As for the community at large, the panic will probably be confined to the area within which this midnight murderer confines his operations. If, however, a similar crime were now to be committed in the West-end, there would be a panic, the like of which we have not seen in our time. From that, however, we shall probably be spared; but the public will be more or less uneasy as long as the Whitechapel murderer is left at large.
Every one has been asking what the Mr. Robert Anderson, LL.D., is who has been appointed to succeed Mr. Monro at Scotland-yard. In one respect he must be a man after Sir Charles Warren's own heart, for he is a writer of religious books. In Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton's list I find the following entries:-
"The Coming Prince: The Last Monarch of Christendom." By R. Anderson, LL.D., Author of "The Gospel and its Ministry."
By the same Author. "Human Destiny."
THE HORRORS OF THE EAST END.
ANOTHER FIENDISH CRIME TO-DAY.
A WOMAN MURDERED AND MUTILATED.
A painful sensation was created all over London to-day when it was known that early this morning another shocking murder, with even more horrible details than those which characterized others reported recently in the same quarter, was perpetrated in Spitalfields. Again the victim is a woman, again there has been a fearful mutilation of the body; and this is the fourth tragedy of the kind in the East-end within a very short period. The first occurred some months ago; the others quite recently. The second case was that in which the body of an "unfortunate" was found in a lodging-house at George-yard-buildings, Whitechapel, covered with wounds inflicted with a knife. Then came the brutal murder and mutilation of a Mrs. Nichols, in Buck's-row, Whitechapel - in the early morning of Friday last; and now there is the fourth case which although as stated in the report below, perpetrated in Spitalfields, is nevertheless within a few hundred yards of Buck's-row, Whitechapel. This neighbourhood is to-day in a state of wild excitement, bordering on panic, for the other cases are fresh in everybody's memory, and nobody has been brought to justice for any one of the crimes. The victim is again a woman of the "unfortunate" class, but the circumstances are so atrocious and revolting as to render it difficult to state the facts.
The victim was found in the back yard at No. 29, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields (close to the spot where the other unfortunate women have been found), by a Mr. Davis, who lodges in the house. As Mr. Davis, who is a market porter, was going to work at about six o'clock, he happened to go into the back yard, which is a piece of ground flagged with stones about thirty feet long, and immediately behind the door, in the left hand corner, close to a brick wall, he found the woman lying, horribly mutilated, in a pool of blood. Her head was facing the door, the throat was cut and the body ripped. A large knife stained with blood and a leathern apron, it was at first reported, were discovered near the body; but this is not so. There was, it is true, an apron, but that belonged to a young man who lives in the house, and uses it in his work. There were blood stains on the wall, and there is no doubt that the murder was committed where the deceased was found, although no one - and there were four families in the house at the time - heard the least sound. The house is occupied by a Mrs. Emilia Richardson, who lets it out to various lodgers, and it seems that the door which admits into the passage, at the foot of which lies the yard where the body was found, is always open for the convenience of the lodgers - a fact, no doubt, known to the perpetrators of the crime.
A Mr. and Mrs. Davis occupy the upper story (the house consisting of two stories). When Mr. Davis found the woman she was lying on her back close up to the flight of steps leading into the yard. The throat was cut open in a fearful manner - so deep, in fact, that the murderer, evidently thinking that he had severed the head from the body, tied a handkerchief round it so as to keep it on. It was also found that the body had been ripped open and disembowelled, the heart and abdominal viscera lying by the side. The fiendish work was completed by the murderer tying part of the entrails round the victim's neck. There was no blood on the clothes.
Hanbury-street is a long street which runs from Baker's-row to Commercial-street. It consists partly of shops and partly of private houses. In the house in question, in the front room, on the ground floor, Mr. Harderman carries on the business of a seller of catsmeat. At the back of the premises are Mrs. Richardson's, who is a packing-case maker. The other occupants of the house are lodgers. One of the lodgers, named Robert Thompson, who is a carman, went out of the house at half-past three in the morning, but he heard no noise. Two unmarried girls, who also live in the house, were talking in the passage until half-past twelve with young men, and it is believed that they were the last occupants of the house to retire to rest.
The body is that of a woman evidently of about forty-five years of age. The height is five feet exactly. The complexion is fair, with wavy dark brown hair. The eyes are blue, and two teeth have been knocked out in the lower jaw. The nose is rather large and prominent. The third finger of the left hand bore signs of rings having been wrenched off it, and the hands and arms were considerably bruised. Deceased wore laced-up boots and striped stockings. She wore two cotton petticoats, and was otherwise respectably, though poorly, dressed. Nothing was found in her pockets but a handkerchief and two small combs, besides an envelope bearing the seal of the Sussex regiment.
The excitement in the vicinity is intense, and unfounded rumours are flying about. One report has it that the leathern apron found near the place where the body lay, belonged to a man whose name is unknown, but who is nicknamed "Leather Apron," and evidently known in the district. A further report stated that another woman was nearly murdered early in the morning, and was taken to the hospital in a dying condition. Several persons who were lodging in the house, and who were found in the vicinity where the body was found, were taken to the Commercial-street station, and are now being closely examined, especially the women who were last with deceased. Looking at the corpse no one could think otherwise than that the murder had been committed by a maniac or wretch of the lowest type of humanity. Indeed, we should have to go to the wilds of Hungary or search the records of French lower peasant life before a more sickening and revolting tragedy could be told. A grave responsibility rests with the police in the district.
The woman is believed to be Annie Siffey. She is described as about forty-five years of age, with dark, wavy hair, and rather stout. She was known as one of the unfortunates, and has been in the habit of living in a common lodging-house at 35, Dorset-street. One of the women who also lives there recognizes her from the description given. The deceased was, it is said, seen in Spitalfields Market this morning at two o'clock, and therefore the murder must have been committed between that hour and six.
Reference is made in the above report to a mysterious being bearing the name of "Leather Apron," concerning whom a number of stories have for a week or more been current in Whitechapel. A reporter of the Star, who has been making some inquiries among a number of polyandrous women in the East-end, gives the following description of the man:-
He is five feet four or five inches in height, and wears a dark close-fitting cap. He is thickset, and has an unusually thick neck. His hair is black, and closely clipped, his age being about thirty-eight or forty. He has a small black moustache. The distinguishing feature of costume is a leather apron, which he always wears, and from which he gets his nickname. His expression is sinister, and seems to be full of terror for the women who describe it. His eyes are small and glittering. His lips are usually parted in a grin which is not only not reassuring, but excessively repellent. He is a slipper-maker by trade, but does not work. His business is blackmailing women late at night. A number of men in Whitechapel follow this interesting profession. He has never cut anybody, so far as is known, but always carries a leather knife, presumably as sharp as leather knives are wont to be. This knife a number of the women have seen. His name nobody knows, but all are united in the belief that he is a Jew or of Jewish parentage, his face being of a marked Hebrew type. But the most singular characteristic of the man is the universal statement that in moving about he never makes any noise. What he wears on his feet the women do not know, but they agree that he moves noiselessly. His uncanny peculiarity to them is that they never see him or know of his presence until he is close by them. . . . "Leather Apron" never by any chance attacks a man. He runs away on the slightest appearance of rescue. One woman whom he assailed some time ago boldly prosecuted him for it, and he was sent up for seven days. He has no settled place of residence, but has slept oftenest in a fourpenny lodging-house of the lowest kind in a disreputable lane leading from Brick-lane. The people at this lodging-house denied that he had been there, and appeared disposed to shield him. "Leather Apron's" pal, "Mickeldy Joe," was in the house at the time, and his presence doubtless had something to do with the unwillingness to give information. "Leather Apron" was last at this house some weeks ago, though this account may be untrue. He ranges all over London, and rarely assails the same woman twice. He has lately been seen in Leather-lane, which is in the Holborn district.
An inquest on the body of a baby named Mecklenburgh was held at Spitalfields yesterday. In the course of the evidence it transpired that the parents and seven children lived together in one room, about 12 ft. square, for which they paid 4s. 6d. a week rent. The doctor said the child had been suffocated, most probably by overlaying. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death; adding that they thought the sanitary authorities were most lax in their duties to allow a family of nine persons to live and sleep in so small a room.
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