17 November 1888
Dorset street, lying almost under the shadow of Spitalfields Church, is a short street, composed largely of common lodging houses, in one of which Annie Chapman, a previous victim, used sometimes to lodge. About half way down this street on the right hand side is Miller's court, the entrance to which is a narrow arched passage, and within a few yards of which, by the way, there loomed grimly through the murky air a partly torn down bill announcing a reward of £100 for the discovery of the murderer on the last occasion. There are six two roomed houses in Miller's court, all of them owned by a grocer, whose shop in Dorset street forms one corner of the entrance to the court. The houses are let out in separate rooms "furnished" - that is to say, there are in each of them a bed and a table, and, perhaps, one or two odds and ends. For these rooms rents are supposed to be paid daily, but of course they will sometimes get a good deal in arrear. This was the case with one of the tenants, who had occupied a ground floor room on the right hand side of the court for about twelve months. This was the poor young woman, Mary Kelly, the victim of the murderer familiarly called "Jack the Ripper."
It appears that by the ninth of November, Mary Kelly, described as a comely, fair young woman, of the "unfortunate" class, was as much as fourteen shillings in arrear with her rent, and the landlord sent one of his men about eleven o'clock to see what he could get. The door was fastened, not that it had been locked from the inside, but having a catch lock the person who had gone out last had merely slammed the door behind him and it had thus become fastened. The man, failing to get any answer knocking, went to the window, which had been broken and patched by rags for some time past, and on pushing the rags aside was startled by the sight of blood.
The man Bowyer (who is sketched by one of our Artists) ran back in some alarm to the shop, and told Mr. M'Carthy, his employer, what he had seen, and the two returned. It soon became evident to them that another murder had been committed, and they instantly ran for the police. Officers were at once on the spot, and a communication was made to Dr. Phillips, of Spital square, the divisional surgeon, who arrived within ten minutes or so of the discovery of the affair - at about a quarter past eleven, that is to say. It is understood that one of the first steps taken was to dispatch a telegram to Scotland yard giving information of the occurrence, and intimating that everything had been left absolutely untouched, in order to facilitate the employment of bloodhounds if it were thought expedient to try them. For some reason the hounds were not employed. Dr. Phillips had by this time been joined by other medical gentlemen, including Dr. Dukes and Dr. Bond, of Westminster Hospital. The spectacle that was presented on the door being thrown open was ghastly in the extreme. The body of Mary Kelly was so horribly hacked and gashed that, but for the long hair, it was scarcely possible to say with any certainty that it was the body of a woman lying entirely naked on the wretched bed, with legs outspread and drawn up to the trunk. The ears and nose had been slashed off, the flesh cut from one cheek, and the throat cut through to the bone. In addition to this, one breast had been removed, the flesh roughly torn from the thigh, and the abdomen ripped as in previous cases, several of the organs having been removed from the trunk and laid on the table beside the bed. In addition to the various mutilations thus described there were miscellaneous cuts and slashed about the person of the unfortunate young woman, as though her fiendish assailant, having exhausted his ingenuity in systematic destruction, had given a few random parting strokes before pocketing his weapon and going out into the night. The police safeguarded Miller's court. Two men were stationed at the head of the court to keep out all persons, but in the road - in Dorset street, that is - for some days there was a shifting throng of people largely composed of the roughest of women and labouring men.
Mrs. Paumier, who sells roasted chestnuts, as limned, at th corner of Widegate street, a thoroughfare about two minutes' walk from the scene of the murder, stated that about twelve o'clock that (Friday) 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, another narrow thoroughfare which cuts across Widegate street. When he had got some way off, however, he looked back, as if to see whether she was watching him, and then vanished. Mrs. Paumier said the man had a black moustache, was about 5ft 6in 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 young girls whom she knows on the previous night, and they chaffed him, and asked him what he had in the bag, and he replied, "Something the ladies don't like!"
Mother Ringer's, at the corner of Dorset street, is a public house owned by "Mother Ringer," who is said to do a great deal of good in the neighbourhood. This is one of the houses where Mary Kelly was seen drinking in company with a man shortly before the murder is supposed to have been committed. The poor woman's landlord, Mr. M'Carthy, is reported to have said that at eleven o'clock on the Thursday night she was seen in the Britannia public house, at the corner of this thoroughfare, with a young man with a dark moustache. She was then intoxicated. The young man appeared to be very respectable and well dressed.
A sadly chequered career was that of poor Mary Jeanette Kelly; and its tragic termination gives forcible significance to the Scriptural adage. "The wages of sin are Death." Joseph Barnett, the man who lived for some months with Mary Kelly as her husband, says:-
"I first met the deceased last Easter twelve month, and lived with her from that time until last Tuesday fortnight. I was in decent work in Billingsgate Market when I first met her, and we lived along together quite comfortably. She was twenty two years of age, fresh looking, and well behaved, though she had been walking the streets some three years previously. She told me that her maiden name was Marie Jeanette Kelly, and that she was born in Limerick. Her parents, who were fairly well off, removed when she was a child to Wales and they lived in Carmarthenshire. When she was but little over sixteen years of age she married a collier, but I do not remember his name. He was killed in an explosion in the mine, and then Marie went to Cardiff with her cousin, living an immoral life. Thence she went to France, but remained only a short time. Afterwards she lived in a fashionable house of ill fame in the West End of London, but drifted from the West End to the East End, where she took lodgings in Pennington street.
"Her father came from Wales and tried to find her there, but, hearing from her companions that he was looking for her, Marie kept out of the way. A brother in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards came to see her once, but beyond that she saw none of her relations, nor did she correspond with them. When she was in Pennington street a man named Morganstone lived with her, and a man named Fleming passed as her husband. She lived with me, first of all, in George street, then in Paternoster court, Dorset street; but we were ejected from our lodgings there because we went on a 'drunk,' and did not pay our rent. We took lodgings afterwards in Brick lane; and, finally, about four months ago, in Miller's court, where the murder occurred. We lived comfortably until Marie allowed a prostitute named Julia to sleep in the same room. I objected; and as Mrs. Harvey afterwards came and stayed there, I left her, and took lodgings elsewhere. I told her that I would come back if she would go and live somewhere else. I used to call there nearly every day, and if I had any money I used to give her some.
"I last saw her alive at 7.30 on Thursday night (last week). I stopped about a quarter of an hour, and told her I had no money. Next day I heard there had been a murder in Miller's court, and on my way there I met my sister's brother in law, and he told me it was Marie. I went to the court, and there saw the police inspector, and told him who I was, and where I had been the previous night. They kept me about four hours, examined my clothes for bloodstains, and finally, finding the account of myself to be correct, let me go free. Marie never went on the streets when she lived with me. She would never have gone wrong again, and I should never have left if it had not been for the prostitutes stopping in the house. She only let them in the house because she was good hearted, and did not like to refuse them shelter on cold, bitter nights."
>From another source it appears that the collier whom deceased married was named Davies.
Lizzie Albrook, a young woman of twenty, who resides in Miller's court, and works at a lodging house in Dorset street, also made the following statement:
I knew Mary Jane Kelly very well, as we were near neighbours. The last time I saw her was Thursday night, about eight o'clock, when I left her in her room with Joe Barnett, who had been living with her. About the last thing she said was, "Whatever you do don't you do wrong and turn out as I have." She had often spoken to me in this way, and warned me against going on the streets as she had done. She told me, too, she was heartily sick of the life she was leading, and wished she had enough money to go back to Ireland, where her people lived. I don't believe she would have gone out as she did if she had not been obliged to do so in order to keep herself from starvation.
Dr. Macdonald, Coroner for North East Middlesex, opened an inquest at Shoreditch last Monday on the body of Mary Kelly. Joseph Barnet (sic), fish porter, identified the deceased, and gave an account of the life which she had led, in accordance with the foregoing narrative of her career. Bowyer repeated the evidence we have also summarised as to his discovery of the murder, and was corroborated by Mr. M'Carthy, Mary Kelly's landlord.
Mary Anne Cox gave evidence which was in certain particulars rather touching:-
Mary Anne Cox: I live at No. 5 room in Miller's court. I am a widow, and get my living on the streets or as best I can. I have known the deceased for about eight months as "Mary Jane." I last saw her alive on Thursday night at about midnight in Dorset street. She was very much intoxicated. She was in the court in company with a short, stout man, shabbily dressed. He had on a long dark coat, and carried a pot of ale in his hand. He wore a black billycock hat, had a blotchy face, and a full carroty moustache. His chin was shaven. I saw them both go into the house, and Mary Jane banged the door. I said "Good night" to her, and she turned round to me and said "Good night, I am going to have a song." I went into my room, and as I did so I heard her singing "A violet I plucked from my mother's grave when a boy." I remained a quarter of an hour in my room, and then went out and returned about one o'clock. The deceased was singing then. I came in to warm my hands, as it was raining heavily, and went out again. I returned for the second time about three, and then all was quiet. I heard nothing during the night. In the morning about a quarter past six I heard a man go out of the court, but I do not know who he was. I should think the age of the man I saw with the deceased was about five or six and thirty. He made no noise as he walked up the court, perhaps because his boots were so dilapidated. By the Jury - I should know the man again if I saw him. There was no noise during the night, and if there had been a cry of "Murder" I should certainly have heard it.
Another neighbour, Elizabeth Prater, deposed to hearing a suppressed cry of "Oh, murder!" about half past three or a quarter to four on the Friday morning, but, this being no unusual exclamation in that region, she did not take particular notice. Caroline Maxwell, on the other hand, swore that she twice saw the deceased between eight and nine on the Friday morning, on the last occasion talking with a man. Sarah Lewis said she was dozing at a friend's house in Miller's court, when, about four o'clock on the Friday morning, she heard a female loudly calling "Murder!" but as there was only one scream she took no notice. After other evidence, including that of the divisional surgeon, the jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."
On Monday evening the police received an important piece of information. A man, apparently of the labouring class, with a military appearance, who knew the deceased, stated that on the morning of the 9th inst. he saw her in Commercial street, Spitalfields (near where the murder was committed) in company with a man of respectable appearance. He was about 5ft 6in in height, about thirty four or thirty five years of age, with dark complexion and dark moustache turned up at the ends. He was wearing a long, dark coat, trimmed with astrachan, a white collar with black necktie, in which was affixed a horseshoe pin. He wore a pair of dark gaiters with light buttons, over button boots, and displayed from his waistcoat a massive gold chain. His appearance contrasted so markedly with that of the woman that few people could have failed to remark them at that hour of the morning. The description is confirmed by a man named George Hutchinson, who knew Mary Kelly, and who saw her enter Miller's court with this well dressed man between two and three a.m. on Nov.9.