13 September 1888
The coroner's inquest concerning the death of the woman Annie Chapman, who was murdered in a yard off Hanbury street, Spitalfields, will be resumed this afternoon, when Mr. G. Bagster Phillips, the surgeon who made the post mortem examination, is expected to give important evidence.
The Exchange Telegraph Company says that the police still adhere to the statement that they believe that they are on the track of the murderer, and that this individual is being carefully looked after; but that they cannot arrest him until they have more definite information to act upon. As evidence of the insecurity prevailing in certain parts of the East end, notably in Hanbury street and its vicinity, it may be mentioned that about five persons were accosted yesterday by a gang of roughs, who, amongst other misdeeds, deprived of a man aged eighty of his gold watch and chain.
A statement was published yesterday to the effect that about half past five o'clock on the morning of the murder a Mrs. Durrell saw a man and a woman conversing outside No. 29, Hanbury street, and that they disappeared very suddenly. Mrs. Durrell was taken to the mortuary yesterday, and is said to have identified the body as that of the woman whom she saw in Hanbury street.
THE INQUEST - "LEATHER APRON'S" APPEARANCE
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for South East Middlesex, assisted by his deputy, Mr. George Collier, resumed the inquiry yesterday, at the Working Lads' Institute, respecting the death of Annie Chapman, aged forty five, a widow, who was found murdered in the back yard of 29, Hanbury street, Spitalfields, early on the morning of Saturday last. Inspector Helson, of the J Division, Inspector Hanlan, H Division, and Inspector Abberline of Scotland yard, were again in attendance.
The first witness called was Mr. Fontain Smith, a printer's warehouseman, who deposed that, having seen the body in the mortuary, he recognised it as that of his eldest sister. She was the widow of John Chapman, a coachman, who previous to his death lived at Windsor, and who died in 1886. the deceased had lived apart from him for three or four years. The witness last saw her alive a fortnight ago. She asked him for 2s., which he gave her. She did not say where she was living, or what she was doing, but said she wanted the money for her lodgings. The witness knew nothing of her associates.
James Kemp, a packing case maker, living at 20a, Drew's blocks, Shadwell, deposed that he was employed by Mr. Bayley, of 23a Hanbury street, Spitalfields. He went to work usually at six o'clock. On Saturday last he arrived there at ten minutes to six, and waited outside for the hour to strike. When he was waiting an elderly man called him to No. 29. The witness and a fellow workman named James Green went to the door, and the man, whose name was Davis, said: "Go inside." They went through the passage to the top of the steps, when he saw the dead body of a woman lying in the back yard between the steps and the partition, with her clothes disarranged. None of them went to examine the body till after the police inspector came. The face and hands were smeared with blood. The body was terribly mutilated, and the sight made him ill.
James Green, the fellow workman referred to by the last witness, corroborated his evidence.
Amelia Richardson, 29 Hanbury street, Spitalfields, said she rented the lower part of that house. The cellar was used as a workshop by her son and herself. A man named Tynon also worked there, but on the morning of the murder he did not arrive till she sent for him at eight o'clock. Her son lived at John street, Spitalfields, and on Saturday morning went to the market to work. He passed through the witness's house at about five o'clock on Saturday morning to see if the workshop was all right. There was nothing noticed at that time; but at six o'clock, when her little grandson got up, he found a mob at the house and ran back and told her that a woman had been murdered. The leather apron found in the yard belonged to her son and had been hung there to dry, it having been washed on the previous day. The witness heard no noise during the night. The front and back doors were always left open. About a month ago she found a strange man on the stairs at half past three in the morning. When asked what he was doing there he said he was waiting for the market to open. If any one had gone through to the back yard on Saturday morning they must have gone very quietly.
Jane Hardiman, of the same address, deposed that she was a cat's meat dealer, and occupied the front room on the ground floor. She heard no noise on Saturday morning till the crowd forced their way along the passage after the discovery of the body.
John Richardson, 2, John street, Spitalfields, the son of the previous witness, said that on Saturday morning he was at No. 29, Hanbury street, between twenty minutes and a quarter to five. He went there to see if all was right, as a short time ago some one broke in and stole some tools out of the workshop. When he got there the front door was closed. He lifted the latch, went down the passage to the yard steps and sat down to cut a bit of loose leather off his shoe. He tied his boot up again and left the house, closing the front door after him. He was not in the house more than two or three minutes. It was getting light, and he could see all over the place, and could not have missed seeing the deceased had she lain there at that time. He subsequently saw the body when the doctor had arrived. He was positive it was not lying there when he sat on the step. He had often found men and women in the passage when he had gone to the house in the early morning. He had seen them lying on the landing, and had turned them out.
John Piser, 22, Mulberry street, Commercial road, deposed that he was known as "Leather Apron." On Friday night he was at home at Mulberry street. On Thursday night week he was in a common lodging house at Holloway, and when leaving there he saw on the placards the name of "Leather Apron". He went towards Highgate, but then turned and came Citywards, as he saw an illumination which he took to be a fire. As he passed the Round House lodging house where he had spent the night he saw two constables and the lodging house keeper talking at the door. He asked where the fire was, and the constable said: "A good way from here." The witness then went into the lodging house, where they said it was very late, it being nearly a quarter past two. He stayed up some time smoking and then went to bed. The next morning he did not get up till eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and spent the day in the kitchen. He returned home and then went to another lodging house in Little Peter street, where he stayed till Wednesday last, when he arrived at Mulberry street. He then lived at home till his arrest on Monday last.
William Thicke, detective sergeant, H Division, said that, knowing that it had been circulated that a man known as "Leather Apron" was suspected, he went to 22, Mulberry street, and arrested Piser. To the witness's knowledge, he was the man who was known as "Leather Apron." He was taken to the station; but as nothing could be proved against him he was released at half past nine last night.
The inquiry was adjourned till this afternoon.