September 29th, 1888
The inquest on Annie Chapman's body has ended in the inevitable inconclusive suspect. The facts so far as they are known, and a theory of motive, supported by some internal probability and not unsupported by external evidence, were clearly stated in the coroner's address to the jury. His matter was less open to criticism than his manner. In dealing with a sensational subject he was not able to refrain from a certain amount of word-painting which did not very well accord with what ought to be the business-like accessories of a coroner's inquest. Nor are we quite sure that he was right in thinking that the publicity which was given to the medical evidence has been instrumental in furthering the ends of justice. To begin with, all that is now known to the public has long been known in quarters which can be trusted with confidential information. More than this, the light (if it is light) which has been thrown on the criminal's motive, though it will multiply the number of amateur detectives and assist their irresponsible efforts, may, and probably will, give the criminal a better chance of escape. He knows that the false scent which he had laid is not being followed, and that justice has found the right track.
September 29th, 1888
A young woman named Jane Beatmoor, twenty-eight years of age, was murdered at Birtley, near Gateshead, on Saturday night or on Sunday morning. Her body was found early on Sunday at the bottom of a railway embankment in a horribly mutilated condition. The medical examination which followed revealed wounds of a frightful nature. The circumstances disclosed naturally gave rise to the impression that the Whitechapel murderer had found another victim; but the local police have had their suspicions aroused with regard to an iron-worker at Birtley, who for some time had been endeavouring to force his attentions upon the deceased. He was very seldom seen in her company, and certainly no one saw him on Saturday night. He has, however, absconded, and the police in all parts of the country have been furnished with a description of him. Dr. Phillips, who made the post-mortem examination of the body of Annie Chapman, the last Whitechapel victim, and Inspector Roots, of the Criminal Investigation Department, were sent to Durham, with the object of ascertaining whether any of the facts connected with the murder on Saturday night are likely to elucidate the Whitechapel murders. The police, however, have abandoned the idea that the Birtley crime is the work of the Whitechapel murderer. Inspector Roots thinks that the Birtley affair is nothing more than a clumsy imitation of the mutilations that took place in the metropolis.
Search is still being made for the man whose mysterious disappearance since the day of the murder has naturally excited grave suspicions. A rumour reached Consett on Wednesday that a person answering the description of the missing man had been seen loitering about the remote uplands in the Satley district, and Superintendent Oliver and some constables are searching that part of the countryside. In spite of these reports, however, the prevalent opinion is that he has committed suicide. The description given of the man's habits for a short time before the murder point to a slight mental derangement on his part. To his fellow-workers he had been explaining for days the method he would adopt if he had to despatch anybody, and his reading the details in connection with the Whitechapel murders seems to have made a powerful impression upon his mind, for he was constantly talking about them.
INQUEST AND VERDICT.
On Wednesday Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the coroner for South-East Middlesex, resumed the inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Mrs. Annie Chapman, who was murdered in Spitalfields on the 8th of September. There being no further evidence forthcoming, the coroner proceeded to sum up. Having recalled the facts of the case, he continued:--
The body has not been dissected; but the injuries have been made by some one who had considerable anatomical skill and knowledge. There are no meaningless cuts. The missing organ has been taken by one who knew where to find it, what difficulties he would have to contend against, and how he should use his knife so as to abstract the organ without injury to it. It must have been some one accustomed to the post-mortem room. The conclusion that the desire to possess the missing abdominal organ seems overwhelming. It has been suggested that the criminal is a lunatic. This may or may not be the case, but the object of the murderer appears palpably shown by the facts, and it is not necessary to assume lunacy, for it is clear that there is a market for the missing organ. To show you this, I must mention a fact which at the same time proves the assistance which publicity and the newspaper press afford in the detection of crime. Within a few hours of the issue of the morning papers containing a report of the medical evidence given at the last sitting of the court, I received a communication from an officer of one of our great medical schools that they had information which might or might not have a distinct bearing on our inquiry. I attended at the first opportunity, and was informed by the subcurator of the Pathological Museum that some months ago an American had called on him and asked him to procure a number of specimens of the organ that was missing in the deceased. He stated his willingness to give £20 apiece for each specimen. He stated that his object was to issue an actual specimen with each copy of a publication on which he was then engaged. He was told that his request was impossible to be complied with, but he still urged his request. He wished them preserved, not in spirits of wine, the usual medium, but in glycerine, in order to preserve them in a flaccid condition, and he wished them sent to America direct. I at once communicated my information to the Detective Department at Scotland-yard.
The jury found "that Annie Chapman was murdered by some person or persons unknown."
A man gave himself up at Wandsworth police station on Wednesday and made a statement to the inspector on duty to the effect that he was the murderer of Annie Chapman in Hanbury-street, Whitechapel. He was afterwards conveyed to Leman-street police station, where he is now detained.