21 February 1891
The Whitechapel murder engrosses London. It was at a very early hour on Friday morning, Feb. 13, that a policeman discovered that the crime had been committed. Shortly after two o'clock Constable Thompson, 240H, while passing through an archway of the Great Eastern Railway, which leads from Swallow gardens to Orman street, observed a woman lying on her back in the centre of the thoroughfare. The woman gave no signs of life, but the body was quite warm, and the policeman felt that the pulse was beating faintly. The woman appeared to be from twenty five to twenty seven years of age, and lay in the roadway, her feet crossed one over the other, and towards the footpath. She was bareheaded, and, while one arm was stretched by her side, the other was bent towards the breast. Her hair and eyes were light brown. By her side lay a black crepe hat, and in the pocket of her dress were several pieces of black lace or crepe, and a vulcanite earring. Strange to say, a second black crepe hat lay partly hidden in the folds of her dress. An old striped stocking and a comb were also found in her pocket. By this time Dr. Phillips had reached the scene, and pronounced that the woman, although not quite dead, was expiring fast. As a matter of fact, she died before preparations could be made to move her on a stretcher, which had been brought from Leman street Police Station. When the medical man pronounced life to be extinct the body was conveyed to the Whitechapel Mortuary.
A ship's fireman, a rough looking man, named John Thomas Sadler, was promptly arrested by the police, and was on Monday charged with "wilfully causing the death of Francis Cole by cutting her throat with a knife or some sharp instrument, at Swallow gardens, on the 13th inst." The place of abode of the prisoner is described as Victoria Lodging House, Upper East Smithfield. Sadler was closely scanned as he stepped into the dock at the Thames Police Court, last Monday. He is a man of about 5ft 5in in height, thick set, and looks what he represents himself to be - a ship's fireman, but not of the better class. He had on a greasy blue serge fireman's jacket, a soiled tweed waistcoat, dirty brown, and a shabby pair of trousers of a nondescript brown. Around his neck was a grimy black and white plaid scarf. His features are strongly marked; the nose is large and prominent; the peculiar eyes are bleared, and with a habit of half closing as he listens. The man's ears stick out noticeably from the side of the head. The prisoner had a bruise under the left eye, and on the right side of the head a circular bare patch showed where the hair had been cut away.
The first witness, a fish curer, Samuel Harris, living at White's row, Spitalfields, deposed that he saw the woman Frances in the kitchen of the lodging house about 11.30 on Thursday sa'nnight. She was leaning her head on a table. The prisoner in the dock entered. He sat by the side of Frances. She said, "Have you any lodging money?" The prisoner made no reply, and the woman laid her head on the table again. The prisoner went on to say, "I have been robbed, and if I knew who did it I would do for him."
Prisoner: Be careful.
Witness (to the Magistrate): About half past twelve prisoner went out.
Alone? - Yes; the woman still remained in the kitchen.
What happened then? - Before he went out he showed me a certificate - a ship's document, showing that he had some money to take - and, thinking I was the guv'nor, asked me, "Let me go up to bed, and you keep this until tomorrow." I turned round and said to him, "I have nothing to do with letting the beds." I noticed from the document that he had to take £4.
What happened then? - Three or four minutes after I saw Frances tuck a crepe hat under her dress and go out.
The witness proceeded to say that he heard of the murder after, and went to the mortuary and identified the woman he knew as Frances.
Police sergeant Edwardes then said he saw the prisoner on the pavement near the Mint shortly before two o'clock, on the Friday morning, and he accounted for his condition by saying he had been knocked about by some men at the dock gate. William Fewell, night porter at the London Hospital, said that about five o'clock the same morning Sadler came to that institution with cuts on his head and blood on his hands. The wounds were dressed, and the accused, who was trembling very much, when asked how they were inflicted, said that a woman had done it. The prisoner was remanded till the 24th inst.
It is alleged that about seven o'clock on the Friday morning Sadler went into the Sailors' Home, Well street, Whitechapel, and spoke to another sailor, named Duncan Campbell, and an inmate of the place. He showed Campbell a peculiarly shaped knife, and offered to sell it to him for a shilling. Campbell bought the knife and afterwards noticed that the blade was stained. He washed the knife, and saw that the water had a bloodstained appearance. Campbell afterwards sold the knife to another man, who has been found by the detectives, and the weapon is now in their possession.