29 September 1888
The able Coroner for Southeast Middlesex, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, last Saturday brought to a close the inquiry into the death of Mary Ann Nichols, the discovery of whose dead body in a Whitechapel street was depicted in The Penny Illustrated Paper of Sept. 8. Coming to a consideration of the perpetrator of the murder, the shrewd Coroner said:
It seems astonishing at first thought that the culprit should have escaped detection, for there must surely have been marks of blood about his person. If, however, blood was principally on his hands, the presence of so many slaughterhouses in the neighbourhood would make the frequenters of the spot familiar with bloodstained clothes and hands, and his appearance might in that way have failed to attract attention while he passed from Buck's row in the twilight into Whitechapel road, and was lost from sight in the morning's market traffic. We cannot altogether leave unnoticed the fact that the death that you have been investigating is one of four presenting many points of similarity, all of which occurred within the space of about five months, and all within a very short distance of the place where we are sitting.
All four victims were women of middle age, all were married, and had lived apart from their husbands in consequence of intemperate habits, and were at the time of their death leading an irregular life, and eking out a miserable and precarious existence in common lodging houses. In each case there were abdominal as well as other injuries. In each case the injuries were inflicted after midnight, and in places of public resort, where it would appear impossible but that almost immediate detection should follow the crime; and in each case the inhuman and dastardly criminals are at large in society.
Emma Elizabeth Smith, who received her injuries in Osborn street on the early morning of Easter Tuesday, April 3, survived in the London Hospital for upwards of twenty four hours, and was able to state that she had been followed by some men, robbed and mutilated, and even to describe imperfectly one of them.
Martha Tabram was found at three a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, on the first floor landing of George yard buildings, Wentworth street, with thirty nine punctured wounds on her body. In addition to these, and the case under your consideration, there is the case of Annie Chapman, still in the hands of another jury. the instruments used in the two earlier cases were dissimilar. In the first it was a blunt instrument, such as a walking stick; in the second, some of the wounds were thought to have been made by a dagger; but in the two recent cases the instruments suggested by the medical witnesses are not so different. Dr. Llewellyn says the injuries of Nichols could have been produced by a strong bladed instrument, moderately sharp. Dr. Phillips is of opinion that those on Chapman were by a very sharp knife, probably with a thin, narrow blade, at least six to eight inches in length, probably longer. The similarity of the injuries in the two cases is considerable. There are bruises about the face in both cases; the head is nearly severed from the body in both cases; there are other dreadful injuries in both cases; and those injuries, again, have in each case been performed with anatomical knowledge. Dr. Llewellyn seems to incline to the opinion that the abdominal injuries were first, and caused instantaneous death; but, if so, it seems difficult to understand the object of such desperate injuries to the throat, or how it comes about that there was so little bleeding from the several arteries that the clothing on the upper surface was not stained, and, indeed very much less bleeding from the abdomen than from the neck. Surely it may well be that, as in the case of Chapman, the dreadful wounds to the throat were inflicted first and the others afterwards. This is a matter of some importance when we come to consider what possible motive there can be for all this ferocity. Robbery is out of the question; and there is nothing to suggest jealousy; there could not have been any quarrel, or it would have been heard. I suggest to you as a possibility that these two women may have been murdered by the same man with the same object, and that in the case of Nichols the wretch was disturbed before he had accomplished his object; and having failed in the open street he tries again, within a week of his failure, in a more secluded place. If this should be correct, the audacity and daring are equal to its maniacal fanaticism and abhorrent wickedness. But this surmise may or may not be correct, the suggested motive may be the wrong one; but one thing is very clear - that a murder of a most atrocious character has been committed.
The jury, after a short consultation, returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown in the case of Mary Ann Nichols. A rider was added expressing the full confidence of the jury with some remarks made by the Coroner as to the need of a mortuary for Whitechapel.