15 September 1888
The public, the atrocious murder of Mary Ann Nichols still in its mind, with its preceding crimes of the same terrible nature, the abominable slaughter of another woman in Whitechapel, in the small hours of Saturday morning last, would have been sufficient to arouse our horror and indignation. The populous East End of London was again thrown into a state of intense excitement by the discovery early on Saturday morning of the body of a woman who had been murdered in a similar way to Mary Ann Nicholls at Buck's row, on Friday fortnight. The scene of the murder, which makes the fourth in the same neighbourhood within the past few weeks, is at the back of the house, 29 Hanbury street, Spitalfields. This street runs from Commercial street to baker's row, the end of which is close to Buck's row. The house, which is rented by a Mrs. Emilia Richardson, is let out to various lodgers, all of the poorer class. In consequence, the front door is open both day and night, so that no difficulty would be experienced by anyone in gaining admission to the back portion of the premises. The front parlour is in the occupation of a Mrs. Hardiman, who used it as a shop for the sale of cats' meat. She and her son also sleep in the room. The back parlour is a sort of sitting room for the landlady and her family, and looks out upon a yard, at the further side of which stands a shed where the packing case work is done. The passage of the house leads directly to the yard, passing the door of the front parlour. The yard is about four feet below the level of the passage, and is reached by two stone steps. The position of the steps creates a recess on their left, the fence between the yard and the next house being about three feet from the steps. Shortly before six o'clock on Saturday morning, John Davis, who lives with his wife at the top portion of No. 29, and is a porter engaged in Spitalfields Market, went down into the back yard, where a horrible sight presented itself to him. Lying close up against the wall (in the corner shown by our Artist) was the body of a woman.
Davis could see that her throat was severed in a terrible manner, and that she had other wounds of a nature too shocking to be described. The deceased was lying flat on her back, with her clothes disarranged. Without nearer approaching the body, but telling his wife what he had seen, Davis ran to the Commercial street Police Station, which is only a short distance away, and gave information to Inspector Chandler, H Division, who was in charge of the station at the rime. That officer, having dispatched a constable for Dr. Baxter Phillips, Spital square, the divisional surgeon, repaired to the house, accompanied by several other policemen. The body was still in the same position, and there were large clots of blood all round it. It is evident that the murderer thought that he had completely cut the head off, as a handkerchief was found wrapped round the neck, as though to hold it together. There were spots and stains of blood on the wall. One or more rings seem to have been torn from the middle finger of the left hand. After being inspected by Dr. Baxter Phillips and his assistant, the remains were removed, on an ambulance, to the mortuary in Old Montague street. By this time the news had quickly spread that another diabolical murder had been committed, and when the police came out of the house with the body, a large crowd, consisting of some hundreds of persons, had assembled. The excitement became very great, and loud were the expressions of terror heard on all sides. At the mortuary the doctors made a more minute examination of the body, after which the clothes were taken off. The deceased was laid in the same shell in which Mary Ann Nicholls was placed. Detective Sergeant Thicke, Sergeant Leach, and other detective officers were soon on the spot, while a telegram was sent to Inspector Abberline at Scotland yard, apprising him of what had happened. It will be recollected that this officer assisted in the inquiry concerning the murder in Buck's row. A minute search being made of the yard, a portion of an envelope, stained with blood, was found. It had the crest of the Sussex Regiment on it, and the date "London, August 20"; but the address portion, with the exception of one letter, "M," was torn off. In addition, two pills were also picked up. Inquiries were quickly set on foot with a view to having the woman identified, and persons of both sexes were taken out of the neighbouring common lodging houses, which abound in this district, to the mortuary. One of these, Timothy Donovan, the deputy of a common lodging house, 35 Dorset street, recognised the body as that of a woman whom he knew by the name of Annie Siffey. He had seen her in the kitchen of the lodging house as late as half past one or two o'clock that morning. He knew her as an unfortunate, and that she generally frequented Stratford for a living. He asked her for her lodging money, when she said, "I have not got it. I am weak and ill, and have been in the infirmary."
Donovan told her she knew the rules, when she went out to get some money. At that time she was wearing three brass rings. Other inquiries soon established that the woman's real name was Annie Chapman, and that she was known by the nickname of "Dark Annie." She was the widow of a pensioner, and had formerly lived at Windsor. Some few years since she separated from her husband, who made her a weekly allowance of ten shillings. At his death, she had to do the best she could for a living. There were two children - a boy and a girl - of the marriage. the former, who is deformed, is, at the present time, an inmate of the Cripples' Home, while the girl is away in some institution in France. For some months past the deceased had been living in common lodging houses in Spitalfields. It is also known that formerly she lived with a sievemaker in the neighbourhood, and, on account of that, for the nickname of "Siffey."
Only on Monday week she had a quarrel with another woman of her acquaintance, and during a fight and struggle got severely mauled and kicked; being so seriously injured that she had to be taken to the workhouse hospital.
On Saturday afternoon Dr. Baxter Phillips, assisted by his assistant, made a most exhaustive post mortem examination, lasting upwards of two hours. the deceased was a little over 5ft in height, and of fair complexion, with blue eyes, and dark brown wavy hair. A singular coincidence was that there were two front teeth missing, as in the case of Mary Ann Nicholls. On the right side of the head was a large bruise, showing that the deceased woman must have been dealt a heavy blow at that spot. There were also other bruises about the face, and finger marks were discernible. The latter indicate that the murderer must first have grasped his victim by the throat, probably in order to prevent her crying out.
During the whole of last Saturday and Sunday a large crowd congregated (as delineated in our front engraving) in front of the house in Hanbury street, and the neighbours on either side did much business by making a small charge to persons who were willing to pay it to view from windows the yard in which the murder was committed. On Saturday a rumour go about that the murderer had been caught; but the only ground for such a statement was that a blind man had been arrested in Spitalfields Market on a warrant to answer a charge of stabbing. Later in the day this man was charged at the Worship street Police Court, and sentenced to three months' hard labour.
On Monday morning, Detective Sergeant Thicke, of the H Division, captured a man at first believed to be "Leather Apron." A person so called obtained an evil notoriety during the inquiries respecting this and the recent murders committed in Whitechapel, owing to the startling reports that had been freely circulated by many of the women living in the district as to outrages alleged to have been committed by him. "You are just the man I want," said Sergeant Thicke to a man named Pizer, as the latter opened the door at 22 Mulberry street. The accused man, who is a boot finisher by trade, was then handed over to other officers, and the house was searched. Thicke took possession of five sharp long bladed knives - which, however, are used by men in Pizer's trade - and also several old hats. The charge against Pizer withdrawn, he was on Tuesday released. He strongly denies that he is known by the name of "Leather Apron." The conduct of the man who professed to identify Pizer has caused much indignation, it having kept several experienced officers from prosecuting inquiries in other directions. His statement, clear enough at first, utterly failed to stand the test even of ordinary questioning.
Great excitement was caused in the neighbourhood of Commercial street Police Station during Monday afternoon on account of the arrival from Gravesend of a suspect whose appearance was alleged to resemble in some respects that of "Leather Apron." This man, whose name is William Henry Pigott, was taken into custody on Sunday night at the Pope's Head public house, Gravesend. Attention was first attracted to Pigott because he had some bloodstains on his clothes. On approaching the man, who seemed in a dazed condition, the sergeant of police saw that one of his hands bore several recently made wounds. Being interrogated as to the cause of this, Pigott made a somewhat rambling statement to the effect that while going down Brick lane, Whitechapel, at half past four on Saturday morning he saw a woman fall in a fit. He stooped to pick her up, and she bit his hand. Exasperated at this, he struck her, but seeing two policemen coming up he then ran away. Mrs. Fiddymont, who is responsible for the statement respecting a man with bloodstained hand resembling "Leather Apron" being at the Prince Albert public house, was sent for, as were also other witnesses likely to be able to identify the prisoner; but, after a very brief scrutiny, it was the unanimous opinion that Pigott was not "Leather Apron." Pigott's mind was found to be unhinged.
At the inquest on the body of the poor woman, on Monday, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the Coroner, was commendably acute. For instance, he promptly said two witnesses of importance ought to be forthcoming. These were two men who worked for Mr. Bailey, packing case maker, of Hanbury street, and who were called by John Davis to see the dead body in the back yard, and did so from the passage. Evans, night watchman at the place where Annie Chapman lodged, said a pensioner who visited the woman called last Saturday afternoon to inquire about her, and left when he heard of her death. Tim Donovan, the deputy, described the pensioner as about forty five years of age and about 5ft 8in in height. At times he had the appearance of a dock labourer and at others the appearance of something better. The inquest was resumed on Wednesday.
The police ought surely to have discovered themselves what a little girl found out on Tuesday - viz., the peculiar marks in the yard of 25 Hanbury street, two doors from the scene of the murder. These marks led to the discovery of a trail of blood from No. 23, against the wall of which a bloodstained coat had been smeared; to the finding in the yard of Mr. Bailey, the packing case maker, of some crumpled paper saturated with blood, presumably used by the murderer. On reaching the yard of No. 25 he, it is believed, made for the back door, and then, suddenly remembering his bloodstained appearance, he must have hesitated a moment, and then, catching sight of the piece of paper lying about, doubtless retraced his steps to the end of the yard, and there sought to remove the bloodstains.
The following official notice has been circulated throughout the metropolitan police district and all police stations throughout the country. "Description of a man who entered a passage of a house at which the murder was committed at two a.m. on the 8th. Age, thirty seven; height, 5ft 7in; rather dark beard and moustache. Dress - shirt, dark jacket, dark vest and trousers, black scarf, and black felt hat. Spoke with a foreign accent." >From inquiries which have been made in Windsor it seems that the deceased was the widow of a coachman in service at Clewer.