London, United Kingdom
Sunday, 19 August 1888
The Victim Identified: Supposed Clue.
Up to the present all attempts on the part of the police to dispel the mystery surrounding the death of the woman Turner, who was found in George Yard, Whitechapel, under circumstances previously reported, have failed. Inquiries have brought to light the fact that on the night preceding the murder the deceased and a woman giving the name of Connolly were in company with two soldiers, and that something was said as to the deceased accompanying one of the men to George Yard. As hearing on this incident, the statement of Police-constable Barrett, 226 H, is important. The officer was on duty in the neighbourhood of George Yard about two o'clock on the morning of the tragedy, and noticed a soldier loitering. Barrett remarked that it was quite time he was in barracks, and the soldier replied that he was waiting for a comrade who had accompanied a woman to one of the buildings close at hand. At a parade of soldiers which took place at the Tower, Barrett identified the man whom he had accosted as described, but the soldier refused to give any account of himself. The police state that the mortal wound which the woman received in the left breast presented the appearance of having been inflicted by a bayonet, whereas the other wounds were knife wounds. The deceased, who had been known as Martha Turner, is said to have lived apart from her husband for some years, and to have latterly got her living as a hawker. The police have received from a man at Guildford a letter of inquiry. The man gave the name of Thomas Hunt and states that illness had prevented him his coming to ascertain if the woman Turner was his wife.
Inspector Reid accompanied by a woman known as "Pearly Poll," who was in the company of the murdered woman, went to the Tower, where she was confronted with every non-commissioned officer and private who had leave of absence at the time of the outrage. They were paraded at the back of the Tower, unseen by the public - of whom there was a large number frequenting the historic structure - and "Pearly Poll" was asked, "Can you see either of the men you saw with the woman now dead?" "Pearly Poll," in no way embarrassed, placed her arms akimbo, glanced at the men with the air of an inspecting officer, and shook her head. This indication of a negative was not sufficient. "Can you identify any one?" she was asked. "Pearly Poll" exclaimed, with a good deal of feminine emphasis, "He ain't here." The woman was very decided on this point, and the men were then dismissed, while the two men upon whom a faint shadow of suspicion had rested, were considerably relieved at their innocence being declared. As soon as the murder was known the suspected corporal was interviewed by the police and questioned. He had his bayonet with him when on leave at the time of the outrage, but this he at once produced, and no trace of blood was discovered upon it. His clothing, too, was also examined, and upon it there was no incriminating blood-stain.
There was a parade of Coldstream and Grenadier Guards at the Wellington Barracks, Pimlico, on Wednesday. It seems that soon after eleven o'clock - Inspector Reid and Detective-sergeant Caunter - arrived with Mary Ann Connolly (otherwise "Pearly Poll") and requested permission to make certain inquiries in regard to the murder of Martha Turner at Whitechapel on the night of bank holiday. The "assembly" call was at once sounded, and the men were drawn up in quarter-column, after which they filed through a passage, where Inspector Reid, Sergeant Caunter, and another police officer were stationed with "Pearly Poll." The woman was asked to scrutinise the faces of the soldiers as they passed, for the purpose of seeing if she could pick out either of the men who were with her and the deceased on the night on which the murder was committed. After a small number had passed, "Pearly Poll" picked out a man wearing stripes, and taken by her to be a corporal, as the one who went away with the deceased woman. "That's him," exclaimed she; "I'm positive." The suspect was temporarily detained, and the filing of the others continued. When a few more had passed, the woman scanning the features of every one intently, pointed to a private as being the second man. She positively declared that he accompanied her to a house in the district where the murder took place. "Are you positive?" was asked, and "Pearly Poll" nodded and replied, "Certain." The military authorities immediately placed all the books showing the time at which the suspected men and returned to the barracks on the night mentioned, at the disposal of Inspector Reid and Sergeant Caunter. It was pointed out that the "corporal" was but a private, with good-conduct stripes, a man of exemplary character, who was in the barracks by ten o'clock on bank holiday night. Other evidence as to his innocence, and also respecting the private's movements on the night of the crime, was also forthcoming. The former man was at once exonerated while the second, also a man of exceptionally good character, was formerly told that no stain rested upon him, as it was clearly a case of mistaken identity. It is asserted that as "Pearly Poll" has "identified" two innocent men, who could not have been in Whitechapel at the time she says, the police will not further seek her aid in elucidating the mystery. Neither of the men wore side- arms when they left the barracks on bank holiday, and could possibly have been in each other's company. The authorities say they must now look elsewhere for a clue. This clue cannot, they assert, be given by one whom they first considered the most reliable witness.
John Reeves and his wife, who occupy the top room at the end of George Yard Buildings, from the balcony outside their rooms pointed out on Wednesday night the exact places whence, on the night of the murder, terrible shrieks proceeded. Their balcony overlooks part of Wentworth-street and George-street. Some of these places are the haunts of low characters, who are a terror to the district. Mrs. Reeves says that it was after eleven o'clock when the first row and calls for help began. She and her husband could see the crowd close by the iron gates in George-street. About twenty minutes past twelve they were disturbed again, and as there was some terrible screaming they went onto the balcony to look. The row was then going on in Wentworth-street, which runs at right angles with George-street. Shortly before one o'clock there were again dreadful shrieks and cries of murder, and she and her husband went out again to see what it was. This time there were two rows going on, one in Wentworth-street and the other in George-street. The row in George-street this time was not many doors from the house where the murdered woman and her companion "Pearly Poll" lodged. About two o'clock in the morning they heard more screams and another quarrel.