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London, United Kingdom
Sunday, 9 September 1888

Dreadful Mutilation of a Woman.

Another murder of a character even more diabolical than that perpetrated in Buck's-row, Whitechapel, on Friday week, was discovered on Saturday morning in the same neighbourhood. At about four o'clock a woman was found lying in a back yard at the foot of a passage leading to a lodging-house in Old Brown's-lane, Spitalfields. The house is occupied by a Mrs. Emilia Richardson, who lets it out to various lodgers, and it seems that the door which admits into this passage, at the foot at which lies the yard where the body was found, is always open for the convenience of the lodgers. A Mr. and Mrs. Davis occupy the upper storey (the house consisting of three storeys). As Mr. Davis was going down to work at the time mentioned, he found a woman lying on her back close to the flight of steps leading into the yard. Her throat was cut open in a fearful manner. So deep, in fact, was the gash, that the murderer evidently thinking he had severed the head from the body, had tied a handkerchief round it. Upon further examination it was found that the woman's body had been completely ripped open and the heart and other organs placed on the pavement at her side. The fiendish work had been completed by the murderer tying portions of the entrails round the victim's neck. The ground round where the woman lay was covered with clots of thick blood, and the spectacle presented was altogether a sickening one. By those who know the place well it is believed that the woman was murdered in the street and afterwards carried into the passage. This view is, to a certain extent, borne out by traces of blood, which reach to the street. There is, moreover, nothing in the appearance of the ground to indicate a struggle. Davis, the man who found the body, at once communicated with the police at Commercial-street Station, and Inspector Chandler and several constables arrived on the scene shortly afterwards, when they found the woman in the condition described. Even at this early hour the news spread quickly, and great excitement prevailed among the occupants of the adjacent houses. An exciting crowd gathered in front of Mr. Richardson's house, and also round the mortuary in Old Montague-street, whither the body was quickly conveyed. As the corpse lies in the rough coffin in which it has been placed in the mortuary - the same coffin in which the unfortunate Mrs. Nicholls was first placed - it represents a fearful sight. The body is that of a woman evidently about 45 years of age. The height is exactly five feet. The complexion is fair, with wavy dark brown hair; the eyes are blue, and two lower teeth have been knocked out. The nose is rather large and prominent. The third finger of the left hand bears signs of rings having been wrenched off it, and the hands and arms are considerably bruised. The deceased had on laced-up boots and striped stockings. She had on two cotton petticoats and was otherwise respectably dressed. Nothing was found in her pockets but a handkerchief and two small combs. The excitement in the vicinity is intense, and many are the rumours that are flying about. One report is that a leather apron and a long knife have been found near the place where the body lay, and that these belong to the man known in the neighbourhood as "Leather Apron," and after whom the police have been hunting for the past few days, in connection with last week's tragedy in Buck's-row. Several persons staying at the lodging-house were taken to the Commercial-street Police Station and closely questioned, but the police authorities are extremely reticent as to what has transpired. It is, however, believed to be almost beyond doubt that this murder is but one of a series of fiendish atrocities on women which have been going on within the past few months and apparently have been committed by the same hand. Many people hold the view that the woman was murdered outside or in a neighbouring house, where the murderer evidently thought it was safe from discovery for some time. The police, fortunately, have more facts and evidence to go on with then they had in connection with the Buck's-row tragedy, and they are sanguine that the murderer will soon be brought to justice. Looking at the corpse no one could think otherwise than that the murder had been committed by a maniac or wretch of the lowest type of humanity, indeed, one would have to go to the wilds of Hungary or search the records of French lower peasant life before a more sickening and revolting tragedy could be told.

Another Account

Another report states that the discovery of the crime was not made until six o'clock, and that the murdered woman was seen drinking as late as five o'clock in the morning. The circumstances connected with the tragedy lead the police to believe that the murder has been committed by the same persons who murdered Mary Ann Nicholls. The matter, however, is surrounded with mystery, and the police have had but little time to make inquiries. The authorities at Commercial-street Station are in charge of the inquiry, but a large body of detective are scouring the district. It may be imagined that the discovery has created intense excitement in the neighbourhood. The statement that a knife and a leather apron had been found near the body requires confirmation. The victim has been identified as a woman named Ellen Clarke, with whom some men say they were drinking on Friday night.

An Arrest

The terror and excitement were somewhat abating when at about 11.51. the people who had congregated in Commercial-street were thrown into a fresh state of alarm. It was rumoured that about a quarter of an hour previously the man who was supposed to be the murderer, or connected with the murder, had been seen in the locality, but this statement, owing to the want of previous success in detecting the perpetrators of the other murders was received with incredulity. A short time afterwards, however, a young man, apparently about 25 years of age, was seen running down Commercial-street at full speed, followed by a large body of policemen with drawn batons, and a large crowd of persons. The man was gradually gaining on his pursuers, but owing to the cries of the policemen a large body of men and women blocked the street. The man at once grasped the situation, and rushed down a side street. The excitement at this time became intense, as it was thought that the man, who was supposed to be the murderer, would escape. After an interval of about two minutes, however, a cheer was raised, and shortly afterwards the man was seen between five and six policemen. It would be almost impossible to describe his appearance; he was the picture of terror, the colour of his face being between a ghastly white and yellow. He is about the medium height and was fairly dressed. When the police arrived in Commercial-street, the people crowded round, in order to look at the captured man, but they were kept at a distance by a body of policemen. The man was taken to Commercial-street Police Station. It is thought that in consequence of this arrest a clue will be obtained as to the perpetrators of the dastardly crimes which have thrown the inhabitants of the district into the greatest state of alarm during the last few weeks.

Latest Details

A later report says that the statement that a leather apron was found by the side of the murdered woman is an error. Colonel Maunsell, chief constable of the district, visited the locality early on Saturday, and subsequently inspected the body of the victim in the presence of the local police officers and the divisional surgeon. The only foundation for the story of the leather apron is that an apron of this character was hanging on a nail in the passage leading to the yard. The landlady of the house has two sons, who are employed as cabinet makers, and use heavy leather aprons in the exercise of their trade. The police have no doubt that one man is responsible for all the recent murders of women in the district, and they are convinced that the horrible crimes are the work of a madman.

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Another Whitechapel Mystery.
The Adjourned Inquest.

At the adjourned inquiry, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, into the circumstances attending the death of Mary Ann Nicholls, aged42, whose body, terribly mutilated, was found in Buck's-row, Whitechapel, Inspectors Helson and Abberline attended for the police, and Detective-sergeant Enright of Scotland Yard, was also present - Inspector Spratling, of the J Division, deposed that at about four o'clock on Friday morning, the 31st ult., while in Hackney-road, he received information as to the finding of the body of the deceased. Before he reached the spot the body had been removed to the mortuary. While he was taking a description there he discovered the injuries to the abdomen, and at once sent for Dr. Llewellyn. While describing the clothes, which were on the body, the witness said the corsets had no cuts on them. - The Coroner: Were they fastened when you saw them? - Yes, they were fastened at the back - Were they fastened at the front? This is a most important point. - Witness: I did not remove them from the body, so could not say. - Well, who can give us this information, or shall we have to examine them for ourselves? - Inspector Helson can tell you more about it. The witness added that he had examined Buck's-row and Green-street, but found no blood stains in either. He subsequently examined the East London District Railway embankment and the Great Eastern Railway yard for blood stains and weapons, but found none. - By the Jury: It occurred to him that the woman had been murdered with her clothes on; but he could not say whether the clothes bore cuts corresponding with those on the body. - The Coroner; I have avoided asking the witness questions on the point because he admitted that he did not examine the clothing. - H. Tomkins, of No. 12, Coventry-street, Bethnal Green, said he was at work in the slaughter-house in Winthorp-street about nine o'clock on the previous night, and left of work at about four o'clock on Friday morning. He did not go straight home, as was his usual custom, but went to Buck's-row, as a police-constable passed the slaughter-house and stated that there had been a murder there. The gates of the slaughter-house were open all night, so that any one could walk into the place. None of the men employed there left the building between the hours of one and four o'clock, and none of them heard any unusual noise.

"Murdered in her Clothes."

- Inspector Helson, J Division, was next called, and said:- At 6.45 on the morning of the 31st ult. at my house I received information of the affair. I first went to the Bethnal Green Police Station and made myself acquainted with th facts, after which I went to the mortuary. The body was fully dressed, except the bonnet. The bodice of the dress was open for about four buttons from the top. They might have been undone by the doctor. The stays were shorter than usual, and did not reach the hip. There were no blood marks on either of the petticoats. The back of the dress just about the shoulders were soaked in blood, which had flowed from the wound in the neck. The Ulster was also saturated and between that and the dress the blood was clotted. The other parts of the body were clean but did not give one the impression that the body had been recently washed. The face was bruised, as if by a blow on the cheek, and the right jaw appeared to have been struck. There were no marks of any ring being torn of the fingers, and there was no appearances of any struggle having taken place. All of the injuries could have been inflicted while the woman was wearing her clothes. I have examined the spot where the body was found in Buck's-row. There were no signs of blood on the large gates were the body was laid, and, as the paint was fresh, they would, had they been there, have been easily visible. I should say that the outrage was committed on the spot.

Evidence of the Husband.

- William Nicholls said: I am a machinist and live at Coburg-road, Old Kent-road. The deceased is my wife. I separated from her on Easter Monday eight years ago. I have not seen her for over three years, not do I know what she has been doing. - By the Jury: I don't know whom she has lived with; but I do know she was given to drink, and that she left me many times. I took her back, but she would get drunk, so I had to leave her. It is not true that I took up with a nurse girl. - Ellen Holland said: I live at 18, Thrawl-street, which is a common lodging-house for single women. I have known Mary Ann Nicholls for six weeks; she slept in the same bed as I. She has not been in the house for the last eight or ten days. I saw her about half-past two on the morning she was murdered in the Whitechapel-road. I asked her where she was living, and I think she said Flower and Dean-street. I tried to persuade her to stay with me that night, but she was in drink, and refused. I don't think she was a fast woman. I have seen her the worse for drink once or twice. I never saw her have any trouble; she always kept herself to herself, as if she was melancholy. I believe that she hand been living in Boundary-since since she left my house;- Mary Ann Monk, and inmate of the Lambeth Workhouse, said: I know the deceased. I last saw her in a public-house in the New Kent-road. - The Coroner: Had you ever seen her in the workhouse? - Witness: Yes; I saw her six or seven years ago in the Lambeth Union. - The Coroner said that was the whole of the evidence the police were prepared to offer at the present time, and if they were willing it would be as well to adjourn the inquiry for a week or two, to give the police time to prosecute further inquiries. - The inquiry was then adjourned until the 17th instant.

Startling Suggestion.

There cannot be the shadow of a doubt that, had it not been for the band of the petticoat of the deceased woman bearing the Lambeth Workhouse marks, no identification of the body would have been forthcoming, and thus the chief link in a possible chain of evidence would have been missing. This want of identity was painfully apparent in the horrible murder of the woman in Whitechapel some months ago, when precisely similar injuries were inflicted as in the present case. Dr. Haslip stated to a reporter that the most fiendish brutality had been used in that case, and there seems to be very little question that both the murders were committed by the same person. In the Rainham murder last year, where a woman had been murdered and dismembered, and the different parts of the body thrown in the river and the canal, there were precisely similar injuries to the abdominal walls as in the as in the foregoing cases, and just the same evidences of a familiarity with the vital parts of the body and skill in the use of the weapon used, and this fact, taken in connection with other murders all over London, leads the police to think it highly probable that all these cases are the work of one hand practised in murder in its most horrible form.

Moans Heard by a Neighbour.

A statement that may throw some light on a point hitherto surrounded with some uncertainty - the time the crime was committed in Buck's-row, or the body deposited there - was made on Thursday afternoon by Mrs. Harriet Lilley, who lives two doors from the spot where the deceased was discovered. Mrs. Lilley said: I slept in the front of the house, and could hear everything that occurred in the street. On that Thursday night I was somehow very restless. Well, I heard something I mentioned to my husband in the morning. It was a painful moan - two or three faint gasps - and then it passed away. It was quite dark at the time, but a luggage train went by as I heard the sounds. There was, too, a sound of whispers underneath the window. I distinctly heard voices, but cannot say what was said - it was too faint. I then woke my husband, and said to him, "I don't know what possesses me, but I cannot sleep to-night." Mrs. Lilley added that as soon as she heard of the murder she came to the conclusion that the voices she heard were in some way connected with it. The cries were very different from those of an ordinary street brawl. It was been ascertained that on the morning of the date of the murder a goods train passed on the East London Railway at about half-past three - the 3.7 out from New Cross - which was probably the time when Mary Ann Nicholls was either killed or placed in Buck's-row.

"Leather Apron"

The officers of the Criminal Investigation Department, having received certain information with respect to a man known throughout the districts of Bethnal Green and King's Cross by the nickname of "Leather Apron," and who, it is alleged, for some time past has been threatening and ill-abusing a number of women, have been busily engaged in searching different lodging-houses and casual wards throughout the metropolis in the hope of tracing out this man, but whether he is in any way connected with the murder of the woman Mary Ann Nichols or not cannot be ascertained. The description of the man wanted is: - Aged 30 years; height, 5ft. 3in.; complexion, dark, sallow; hair and moustache black; thick set; dressed in old and dirty clothing; and is of Jewish appearance. It being stated that the murdered woman was seen in the company of this man a few hours before her body was discovered in Buck's-row, Whitechapel, he ought at least to be an important witness at the adjourned inquest.

Funeral of the Victim

The funeral of the unfortunate woman, Mary Ann Nicholls, who was murdered in Buck's-row, took place on Thursday. The arrangements were of a very simple character. The time at which the cortége was to start was kept a profound secret, and a ruse was perpetrated in order to get the body out of the mortuary where it has lain since the day of the murder. A pair-horse closed hearse was observed making it way down Hanbury-street, and the crowds, which numbered some thousands, made way for it go along Old Montagu-street, but instead of doing so it passed on into the Whitechapel-road, and, doubling back, entered the mortuary by the back gate, which is situated in Chapman's-court. Not a soul was near other than the undertaker and his men, when the remains, placed in a polished elm coffin, bearing a plate with the inscription, "Mary Ann Nicholls, aged 42; died August 31st, 1888," was removed to the hearse and driven to Hanbury-street, there to await the mourners. These were late in arriving, and the two coaches were kept waiting some time in a side street. By this time the news had spread that the body was in the hearse, and the people flocked round to see the coffin and examine the plate. In this they were, however, frustrated, for a body of police, under Inspector Allisdon, of the H Division, surrounded the hearse and prevented their approaching too near. At last the cortége started towards Ilford, where the last scene in the unfortunate drama took place. The mourners were Mr. Edward Walker, the father of the deceased, and his grandson, together with two of the deceased's children. The procession proceeded along Baker's-row and past the corner of Buck's-row into the main road, where police were stationed every few yards. The houses in the neighbourhood had the blinds drawn, and much sympathy was expressed for the relatives.


At the Worship-street Police Court on Wednesday, Henry Hummerston, 32, labourer, of Key-street, Hoxton, was charged, on remand from the previous day, with having assaulted and attempted to murder Eliza Smith. - The prosecutrix, a young woman, said to have been cohabiting with the prisoner for about two years. He had often assaulted her, and on this occasion he returned home the worse for drink, and, having a black eye, asked her who had done it. She told him she did not know, but supposed he had quarrelled with somebody when drunk. He began to abuse her, and said she had done it. He threw her down. She escaped from him, and ran downstairs. He pursued her, and she fled into the back yard, where he knocked her down and kicked her. Whilst she was down he threw himself upon her, and she saw that he had a knife in his hand, which he drew across her throat (the prosecutrix produced a table-knife with a large blade, and she showed the magistrate a slight cut passing half way round her throat on the right side), and said that he meant making a second a second "Buck's-row murder" of it. She was rescued by the neighbours, who witnessed part of the assault. - After hearing the evidence the magistrate dealt with the case as one of common assault. The prisoner was now sentenced to six months hard labour.

Sir Charles Warren is spending his vacation in the South of France.

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       Press Reports: Echo - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 5 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Echo - 6 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening News - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Evening Standard - 7 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Fort Wayne Gazette - 2 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 1 Sept... 
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 3 Sept... 
       Press Reports: Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser - 4 Sept... 
       Press Reports: Grimsby Observer - no date 
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 22 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Illustrated Police News - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Irish Times - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Lloyds Weekly News - 2 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Manchester Guardian - 5 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Morning Advertiser - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Pall Mall Gazette - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 29 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Penny Illustrated Paper - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: People - 2 September 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Budget - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: St. James Gazette - 18 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 31 August 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Star - 6 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 1 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 24 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 27 April 1866 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 3 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 4 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 8 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Weekly Herald - 7 September 1888 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 7 September 1888 
       Victims: Mary Ann 'Polly' Nichols 
       Victims: Testimonies of Charles Cross and PC John Neil 
       Victorian London: Buck's Row 
       Witnesses: Henry Tomkins, James Mumford and Charles Brittain