1 October 1888
MUTILATION OF ONE OF THE BODIES
The East end of London was yesterday again much excited by the discovery of two more revolting murders. About one o'clock in the morning, the body of a woman, with her throat cut, was found in a yard belonging to a workmen's club, in Berner street, and an hour later another woman was found murdered in a corner of Mitre square, Aldgate. In the latter case the body was also mutilated, and as this was not the case with the woman found in Berner street, it is supposed that the murderer was disturbed before completing his dreadful work, and then he then proceeded towards the City and committed the second crime. The following are some particulars of the murders:-
The first of the two murders in point of time took place in Berner street, a narrow, badly lighted, but tolerably respectable street, turning out of the Commercial road, a short distance down on the right hand side going from Aldgate. It is a street mainly consisting of small houses, but which has lately been brightened and embellished by one of the new buildings of the London School Board. Just opposite this is an "International and Educational Club" domiciled in a private house, standing at the corner of a gateway leading into yard, in which are small manufacturing premises and four small houses occupied by Jewish families. The yard gates are usually closed at night, a wicket affording admission to the lodgers and others residing in the houses. Friday or Saturday, however, brought round the close of the Jewish holiday season, and down in this part of London, where the people are largely composed of foreign Jews, some departure from regular habits was more or less general. The International and Educational Club was on Saturday evening winding up the holidays by a lecture on "Judaism and Socialism." A discussion followed, which carried on proceedings to about half past twelve, and then followed a sing song and a general jollification, accompanied, as the neighbours say, by a noise that would effectually have prevented any cries for help by those around. The hilarious mirth, however, was brought to a sudden and dreadful stop. The steward of the club who lives in one of the small houses in the yard, and had been out with some sort of market cart, returned home just before one. He turned into the gateway, when he observed some object lying in his way under the wall of the club, and without getting down first prodded it with his whip. Unable to see clearly what it was, he struck a match and found it was a woman. He thought at first she was drunk, and went into the club. Some of the members went out with him and struck another light, and were horrified to find the woman's head nearly severed from her body and blood streaming down into the gutter. The body when found was quite warm. In one hand was clutched a box of sweets, and at her breast were pinned two dahlias. At once a messenger was despatched to the police station in Leman street, and some constables quickly arrived on the scene with an ambulance, the superintendent and an inspector of the H Division speedily following. The first precaution taken was to close the doors of the yard and the entrance of the club, the members of which were informed that they could not leave until each individual had been searched and his belongings examined - a process which occupied until nearly five o'clock in the morning, when the men were told they were free to depart, no clue to the murder having been obtained. Meanwhile Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon, was fetched from his residence in Spital square, and shortly after two o'clock that gentleman came upon the scene, accompanied by Drs. Bleckwell (sic) and Kaye. It was then found that the jugular vein and the windpipe had been severed; that the wound which was nearly three inches long and ran from left to right, had been caused by a very sharp instrument; and that death must have been instantaneous. Eventually the corpse was conveyed on an ambulance to the parish mortuary of St. George in the East, where it remained in charge of the police. No ring or jewellery of any sort was on the deceased.
Intelligence of the murder was telegraphed early to Scotland Yard. and the case was placed in the hands of Chief Inspector Swanson and Inspector Abberline, the latter having been formerly stationed in the H Division. Later on Sir Charles Warren, Chief Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, visited the scene of the murder.
At a late hour yesterday the deceased was identified as a woman who had been living in a common lodging house in Flower and Dean street, and had been in the habit of frequenting this neighbourhood, where it appears she was known familiarly as Long Lizzie. It subsequently became known that her name was Elizabeth Stride. She has a sister living somewhere in Holborn, and her husband, from whom she has been separated some years, is said to be living in Bath.
In an interview Dr. Blackwell made a statement, in which he said that about ten minutes past one he was called by a policeman to 40 Berner street, where he found the corpse of the murdered woman. The body was perfectly warm, and life could not have been extinct for more than twenty minutes. He had no doubt that the same man committed both this murder and the one in the City. In his opinion the criminal is a maniac, and accustomed to using a heavy knife.
A description has been issued by the police of a man who was seen in the company of the deceased about midnight on Saturday.
He is stated to have been about twenty eight years of age, 5ft 8in in height, of dark complexion, but having no whiskers. He was attired in a black diagonal coat, and had on a hard felt hat and a collar and tie. He was of respectable appearance and carried a newspaper parcel.
The scene of the Mitre square murder is within an area over which the City police exercise authority. Between Aldgate Pump and Houndsditch two narrow streets run out of the main thoroughfare, in a northerly direction. One of these is Mitre street, and the other Duke street. About a hundred yards up the former thoroughfare a line of houses is broken, and turning to the right one immediately enters an open space. This is Mitre square. Crossing one finds at the right hand corner a narrow passage leading into Duke street; while at the left hand corner is the entrance to a passage leading into St. James' place, familiarly known as the Orange Market. The square has thus three approaches. One of the surrounding buildings facing on to the square is said to be occupied by a police constable; but the remainder of the buildings are large warehouses. Mitre court, as a whole, is well lighted at night, receiving the rays from as many as five street lamps; but there is one corner - that immediately on the right of a person walking from Mitre street - which is but poorly illuminated. It was this corner that the murderer selected for his purpose. A police constable, passing through the square on his beat, came into collision with the body of a woman that lay upon the pavement. The poor creature had been subjected to the same usage as the women Nicholls and Chapman, though in her case some additional mutilations and been effected. The face was slashed with a knife, the left ear and the nose being almost cut off. It is stated that some anatomical skill seems to have been displayed in the way in which the lower part of the body was mutilated, but the ghastly work appears to have been done more rapidly and roughly than in the cases of the women Nicholls and Chapman. The news of the policeman's discovery brought a number quickly upon the scene, and the body was removed to the City mortuary. Early in the day the police took possession of the square for the purpose of searching for possible clues and making a plan of the surrounding locality for the use of the coroner. Later, however, the cordon of constables withdrew, and the hundreds of persons collected in the neighbourhood were enabled to get a nearer view of the spot where the tragedy was enacted.
Inquiries in the neighbourhood have elicited the fact that, although several persons were awake in the houses within the square, no one heard any indications of what was going on. A man residing in Duke street states that between twelve and two he was seated at an open window waiting for a friend's arrival, but he heard no cried and saw no suspicious characters about, a night watchman employed in one of the warehouses in the square also states that he heard no noise. As the mutilations of the woman's face are held to indicate that a struggle took place between her and her assassin, the absence of noise is the more remarkable. When police constable Watkins found the body he at once sent for Dr. Sequira, surgeon, of 34 Jury street, who made an examination of the mutilations. An examination of the body was made during the afternoon, and the greatest curiosity existed in the public mind as to whether any portion was found to be missing; but nothing definite has yet been stated on this subject.
The official description of the body is as follows:
"Age forty; length, 5ft.; dark auburn hair; hazel eyes; dressed in a black jacket, with imitation fur collar and three large metal buttons; brown bodice; dark green chintz skirt, of Michaelmas and Gordon lily pattern, and with three flounces; thin white vest, light drab lindsey skirt, dark green alpaca petticoat, white chemise; brown ribbed stockings, mended at foot with piece of white stocking; black straw bonnet, trimmed with black beads and green and black velvet; large white handkerchief round neck. She wore a pair of men's old lace-up boots, and a piece of coarse white apron. The letters "T.C." were tattooed on the left forearm in blue ink."
Six women have now been murdered in the East end under mysterious circumstances, five of them within a period of eight weeks.
The following are the dates of the crimes and the names of the victims so far as known:-
1 - Last Christmas week - An unknown woman found murdered near Osborne and Wentworth streets, Whitechapel.
2 - August 9 - Martha Turner found stabbed in thirty nine places on a landing in model dwellings known as George yard buildings, Commercial street, Spitalfields.
3 - August 31 - Mrs. Nicholls, murder and mutilated in Buck's row, Whitechapel.
4 - September 7 - Mrs. Chapman, murdered and mutilated in Hanbury street, Whitechapel.
5 - September 30 - Elizabeth Stride, found with her throat cut in Berner street, Whitechapel.
6 - September 30 - Woman unknown murdered and mutilated in Mitre square, Aldgate.
It is superfluous to insist on the of the last two murders in Whitechapel. They are in every respect similar to the four which have already been committed. There has been the same secrecy, the same impunity as yet, the same mystery as to motive and method, and in one case the same disgusting mutilations. The nature of these last is now well known and need not be dwelt upon. The practical things to consider are the attitude which ought to be taken by the public in the presence of this outbreak of crime, and the steps which are most likely to lead to the discovery of the criminal, if there is but one, or the gang, if any gang is at work.
As regards the line of conduct to be followed by the public, there ought to be no panic. There is no occasion for one. These outrages are confined to one district and to one class of women, the most difficult to control or protect of all the community. It is very natural that Whitechapel should be terrified; but even in Whitechapel people who work all day and go to their beds at night are in no greater danger than they would be elsewhere. The victims are the miserable creatures who must needs prowl about the streets in the dark. It will be a misfortune if there is one of those outbursts of popular excitement to which we have shown ourselves rather liable of late years. To say nothing of the evil effects of these fits on the sense of the community, one of them in this case would only confuse the police and aid the escape of the criminal. As for the authorities, they must, in the first place, take more of the precautions they have taken already, and make them more effective. When that is done they may profitably bethink themselves whether the case does not require the renewed use of a resource which has not been employed for some time - namely, the offer of a reward. What may be called the ordinary precautions, frequency of patrolling and closeness of watch, have been taken already. But they have manifestly not been taken effectually enough, and more are wanted. If a patrol every twelve minutes does not suffice, there must be one every five minutes. It may be somewhat humiliating to the community to be compelled to exert itself so strenuously by one villain, or at the most a very few lurking scoundrels. There is even something oppressive in the thought that a dozen such creatures working in different quarters might terrify all London. Happily criminals rarely possess the combination of qualities - the daring, rapidity, coolness, and cunning - required for the successful perpetration of crime on this scale. Even if such masters of their business were more common, it would still be necessary to take the proper measures against them, by setting more watchmen to watch and sending all available patrols into the district. When the murderers of Lord F. Cavendish and Mr. Burke were being hunted down marines in plain clothes were freely employed to drive them into a corner. The same measures might be taken again. For the rest, Whitechapel is a small place. It ought not to be impossible for the police to become acquainted with the movements of every man in it - still more of every one who can be thought likely to be guilty of these crimes. Last night we are told that a cordon was immediately drawn round the district in which the murders took place. As the most successful of the two was known probably within a few minutes after it had been committed, there ought, if the police were really prompt and vigilant, to be good reason to hope that the murderer is in the net. Certain things seem to be very clear.
The criminal must have a hiding place in Whitechapel. He can hardly be the casual resident of a lodging house. He can be no ordinary tramp. In so limited a field, and with a definite class to pick from, the police ought not to have any insuperable difficulty in running down their man.
The offer of a reward seems to us decidedly a step which ought to be taken. We have never thought that the reasons given for ceasing to work on the cupidity of the associates of criminals were sufficient. Some of them were sentimental and entitled to no respect. Others of a businesslike character never appeared us to possess the force attributed to them by the Home Office. One thing at least is very much beyond dispute. It is that since we have given up the practice of offering rewards we have not been more, but less, successful in our efforts to catch criminals. There is at this moment a very long list of crimes which have been committed with absolute impunity, and it is growing with disgraceful rapidity. We need not stop to inquire whether the detective work of the police is being done well or not. There would be a good deal to be said on that subject; but it may be left aside at present. It is enough that the detection of crime is not so well performed that we can afford to dispense with an old resource of which the validity has been well proved. In this case - to put it on the weakest footing - what harm could the offer of a reward do? There could hardly be any increase of work to the police accused by liars in search of a little money. Scotland Yard is overrun with vague suggestions as it is. If we have to deal with a solitary criminal who is not likely to betray himself, still there is no harm done. Even in that case, however, it is still possible that information of a useful character might be given by some members of his own brutal world who suspect or know something, but will not take the trouble to help the police unless they see a chance of profit. On these grounds we are of opinion that the Home Office, however naturally unwilling it may be to revoke its decision, and apparently stultify itself, should revert to the practice of offering a reward.