10 November 1888
As reported with copious details in our later editions yesterday, a horrible murder was discovered in Dorset street, off Commercial street, Spitalfields, yesterday morning. It is the sixth of a series of tragedies that has bee enacted in the same neighbourhood during the past three months; but it exceeds in atrocity and fiendishness any of those which have preceded it.
As in the previous cases, the victim was a woman of the lowest class, who has been identified as Mary Jane Kelly, alias Ginger. She occupied a furnished room in a house in Dorset street, the entrance to which is from a passage leading into Miller's court. The house in which she had her room is leased by John M'Carthy, who keeps a small provision and chandler's shop on the opposite side of the passage; and it was a pensioned soldier named John Bowyer, in M'Carthy's service, who discovered the murder. Kelly being in arrear with her rent, Bowyer called yesterday morning for the money due. He knocked at the door, but receiving no answer, and failing to open the door, he passed round the angle of the house and pulled the blind of the window aside - one of the panes being broken - and then found that Kelly had been murdered and most horribly mutilated. He informed M'Carthy of the discovery, and the police in Leman street and Commercial street, both stations being within five minutes' walk, were instantly communicated with. Superintendent Arnold, on arriving at the scene, ordered the door to be forced open, the room, which is about 12 ft. square, was poorly furnished, there being only an old bedstead, two old tables, and a chair in it. The bedclothes had been turned down, and this was probably done by the murderer after he had cut his victim's throat. There was no appearance of a struggle having taken place; and, although a careful search of the room was made, no knife or instrument of any kind was found. Dr. Phillips, on his arrival, carefully examined the body of the dead woman, and later on made a second examination in company with Dr. Bond, from Westminster; Dr. Gordon Brown, from the City; Dr. Duke, from Spitalfields; and Dr. Phillips's assistant. Mr. Anderson, a new Commissioner of Police; Detective Inspectors Reid and Abberline (Scotland yard); Chief Inspector West, H Division; and other officers were quickly on the spot. After the examination of the body it was placed in a shell, which was put into a van and conveyed to the Shoreditch Mortuary to await an inquest.
Mr. John M'Carthy, the owner of the houses in Miller's court, who keeps a provision shop in Dorset street, and from whom the murdered woman rented her room, has made the following statement:-
The victim of this terrible murder was about twenty three or twenty four years of age, and lived with a coal porter named Kelly, passing as his wife. They, however, quarrelled some time back and separated. A woman named Harvey slept with her several nights since Kelly separated from her, but she was not with her last night. The deceased's Christian name was Mary Jane, and since her murder I have discovered that she walked the streets in the neighbourhood of Aldgate. Her habits were irregular, and she often came home at night the worse for drink. Her mother lives in Ireland, but in what county I do not know. Deceased used to receive letters from her occasionally. The unfortunate woman had not paid her rent for several weeks; in fact she owed me 30s. altogether, so this morning about eleven o'clock I sent my man to ask her if she could pay the money. He knocked at the door, but received no answer. Thinking this very strange he looked in at the window and to his horror he saw the body of Kelly lying on the bed covered with blood. He immediately came back to me, and told me what he had seen. I was, of course, as horrified as he was, and I went with him to the house and looked in at the window. The sight I saw was more ghastly even than I had prepared myself for. On the bed lay the body as my man had told me. I said to my man, "Go at once to the police station and fetch some one here." He went off at once and brought back Inspector Back, he looked through the window as we had one. He then despatched a telegram to Superintendent Arnold; but before Superintendent Arnold arrived Inspector Abberline came and gave orders that no one should be allowed to enter or leave the court. The inspector waited a little while and then sent a telegram to Sir Charles Warren to bring the bloodhounds, so as to trace the murderer if possible. So soon as Superintendent Arnold arrived he gave instructions for the door to be burst open. I at once forced the door with a pickaxe, and we entered the room. The sight we saw I cannot drive away from my mind, It looked more like the work of a devil than of a man. The poor woman's body was lying on the bed, undressed. She had been completely disembowelled. (Here Mr. M'Carthy described the mutilation of the body, but the details are too revolting to be reproduced.) It is most extraordinary that nothing should have been heard by the neighbours, as there are people passing backwards and forwards at all hours of the night; but no one heard as much as a scream. A woman heard Kelly singing "Sweet Violets" at one o'clock this morning. So up to that time, at all events, she was alive and well. So far as I can ascertain, no one saw here take a man into the house with her last night.
A representative of the Press Association has interviewed a woman named Kennedy. who was on the night of the murder staying with her parents at a house in the court immediately opposite the room in which the body of Mary Kelly was found. This woman's statement, if true - and there is very little reason for doubting its veracity - establishes the time at which the murder was committed. Her statement is as follows:-
About three o'clock on Friday morning she entered Dorset street on her way to her parents' house, which is situated immediately opposite that in which the murder was committed. She noticed three persons at the corner of the street near the Britannia public house. There was a young man, respectably dressed, and with a dark moustache, talking to a woman whom she did not know, and also a woman poorly clad, without any headgear......
[MICROFILM MISSING SECTION] .....
that they were companions of the deceased and knew her well, state that she came out of her house at eight o'clock on Friday morning for provisions; and furthermore, that they were drinking with her in the Britannia, a local tavern, at ten o'clock on the same morning as her mutilated body was found at eleven.
Mrs. Kennedy has been questioned by the police as to what she had heard during the night, and she has repeated substantially the above statement. She has since supplemented that statement as follows:-
On Wednesday evening about eight o'clock she and her sister were in the neighbourhood pf Bethnal Green road when we were accosted by a very suspicious looking man about forty years of age. He wore a short jacket, over which he had a long top coat. He had a black moustache, and wore a billycock hat. He invited us to accompany him into a lonely spot, "As he was known about here, and there was a policeman looking at him." She asserts that no policeman was in sight. He made several strange remarks and appeared to be agitated. He was very white in the face and made every endeavour to prevent them "looking him straight in the face." He carried a black bag. He avoided walking with them and led the way into a very dark thoroughfare "at the back of the workhouse," inviting them to follow which they did. He then pushed open a small door in a pair of large gates and requested one of them to follow him remarking, "I only want one of you;" whereupon the women became suspicious. He acted in a very strange and suspicious manner, and refused to leave his bag in the possession of one of the females. Both women became alarmed at his actions and escaped, at the same time raising an alarm of "Jack the Ripper." A gentleman who was passing is stated to have intercepted the man while the women made their escape. Mrs. Kennedy asserts that the man whom she saw on Friday morning with the woman at the corner of Dorset street resembled very closely the individual who caused such alarm on the night in question, and that she would recognize him again if confronted with him. This description of the man suspected of the murder tallies exactly with that in the possession of the police, and there is very little doubt that the murderer entered Kelly's house late on Thursday night or early on Friday morning.
A Mrs. Paumier, a young woman who sells roasted chestnuts at the corner of Widegate street, a narrow thoroughfare about two minutes' walk from the scene of the murder, told a reporter yesterday afternoon a story which appears to afford a clue to the murderer. She said that about twelve o'clock that morning a man dressed like a gentleman came to her and said, "I suppose you have heard about the murder in Dorset street?" She replied that she had, whereupon the man grinned and said, "I know more about it than you." He then stared into her face and went down Sandy's row, another narrow thoroughfare which cuts across Widegate street. When he had gone some way off, he looked back as if to see whether she was watching him, and then vanished.
Mrs. Paumier said the man had a black moustache, was about 5ft 6in in height, and wore a black silk hat, a black coat, and speckled trousers. He also carried a black shiny bag about a foot in depth and a foot and a half in length. Mrs. Paumier stated further that the same man accosted three young women, whom she knows, on Thursday night, and they chafed him and asked him what he had in the bag, and he replied, "Something that the ladies don't like." One of the three young women she named.
Sarah Roney, a girl about twenty years of age, states that she was with the other two girls on Thursday night in Brushfield street, which is near Dorset street, when a man wearing a tall hat and a black coat, and carrying a black bag, came up to her and said, "Will you come with me?" She told him she would not, and asked him what he had in the bag, and he said, "Something the ladies don't like." He then walked away.
The young woman Harvey, who had slept with the deceased on several occasion has made a statement to the effect that she had been on good terms with the deceased, whose education was much superior to that of most persons in her position of life. Harvey, however, took a room in New court, on the same street, but remained friendly with the unfortunate woman, who visited her in New court on Thursday night. After drinking together they parted at half past seven o'clock, Kelly going off in the direction of Leman street, which she was in the habit of frequenting. She was perfectly sober at the time. Harvey never saw her alive afterwards.
Joseph Barnett, alias Kelly, an Irishman, at present residing in a common lodging house in New street, Bishopsgate, informed a reporter last evening that he had occupied his present lodgings since Tuesday week. Previously to that he had lived in Miller's court, Dorset street, for eight or nine months with the murdered woman, Mary Jane Kelly. They were very happy and comfortable together until another woman came to sleep in their room, to which he strongly objected. Finally, after the woman had been there two or three nights he quarrelled with the woman whom he called his wife, and left her. The next day, however, he returned and gave Kelly money. He called several other days and gave her money when he had it. On Thursday night he visited her between half past seven and eight and told her he was sorry that he had no money to give her. He saw nothing more of her. She used occasionally to go to the Elephant and Castle district to visit a friend who was in the same position of life as herself.
A somewhat important fact has been pointed out, which puts a fresh complexion on the theory of the murders. It appears that the cattle boats bringing live freight to London are in the habit of coming into the Thames on Thursday or Fridays, and leave again for the Continent on Sundays or Mondays. It has already been a matter of comment that the recent revolting crimes have been committed at the week's end, and an opinion has been formed among some of the detectives that the murderer is a drover or butcher employed on one of these boats - of which there are many - and that he periodically appears and disappears with one of the steamers. This theory is held to be of much importance by those involved in the investigation, who believes that the murderer does not reside either in the locality or even in this country at all. It is though that he may be either a person employed on one of these boats or one who is allowed to travel by them, and inquiries have for some time been directed to following up the theory. It is pointed out that at the inquests on the previous victims the coroners had expressed the opinion that the knowledge of anatomy possessed by a butcher would have been sufficient to enable him to find and cut out the parts of the body which in several cases were abstracted.
It is stated, on what is described as indisputable authority, that no portion of the murdered woman's body was taken away by the murderer. The post mortem examination was of the most exhaustive character, and the surgeons did not quit their work until every organ had been accounted for and placed as closely as possible in its natural position.
A man's pilot coat has been found in the murdered woman's room, but whether it belonged to one of her paramours or to the murderer has not been ascertained.
The police have made two arrests in connection with the murder. One man was accused by a woman late last night of being the murderer; but he was released after a short detention, his statements being satisfactorily verified. The second arrest was made in the small hours of the morning, when a man, apparently a foreigner, was brought to Commercial street on suspicion. He also has been released, and at half past nine this morning the police had no one in custody. They, however, continue to receive statements from persons who believe they can throw light upon the mysterious side of the murder, but investigations have proved them valueless.
The date of the inquest had not been fixed up to ten o'clock this morning.
Last night there was found in the pillar box at the corner of Northumberland street and Marylebone road a letter directed to the police, and its contents was as follows:-
"Dear Boss, - I shall be busy tomorrow night in Marylebone. I have two booked for blood and _____.
Yours, Jack the Ripper.
Look out about ten o'clock Marylebone road."
The London public has supped so full of horrors lately that we are not surprised to learn that the seventh Whitechapel outrage has been received with less excitement and astonishment than those which preceded it. We have had such a supply of these unspeakable atrocities of late that indignation and alarm have nearly surfeited themselves, and are almost swallowed in the sentiment of blank unqualified amazement. The strangeness of the affair approaches the miraculous. In a more superstitious age they would have said that Jack the Ripper was the Devil; probably they do say that in parts of the East end at the present time. Here is a small district almost every yard of which is watched and patrolled nightly and daily, and in which every human being might be supposed to be on the alert, after the appalling warnings of the past three months. If ever a population had reason to be on guard, it is that of the courts and slums of Spitalfields and the Whitechapel road. Yet time after time, in backyards, in the street, at open windows, women are butchered and mutilated. No cry is heard, no sign is seen, no clue is left. The murderer coolly walks away, and may have got safe into hiding or outside the district, even in the few minutes which elapse before his crime is discovered. No wonder that critics are reduced to the pessimistic comment, that what has happened may happen again, and that the assassin who has perpetrated these seven murders with impunity may quite possibly do an eighth. There ism unhappily, no more reason why he should be caught this time than there was last time of the time before.
It is human nature that ignorant men, in the nervous terror which these dreadful acts inspire them, should seek for some object on which to vent their feelings. The most convenient object at the moment is Sir Charles Warren and the force he commands; and naturally there is tendency to fall foul of them. It is a pity that persons, presumably of superior intelligence to the gossips of the Spitalfields public houses, should foment the absurd attack. Mr. Conybeare in the House of Commons yesterday took the opportunity of further imperilling his reputation for sanity by inquiring whether Sir Charles Warren had resigned in consequence of yesterday's calamity. The Daily Telegraph takes up its parable again, and gives us to understand that the murder happened because Sir Charles Warren is a soldier and Mr. Matthews a lawyer. Now it would be instructive for those who blame the Commissioner to tell us what was left undone to prevent the crime. The neighbourhood was quartered by the police so thoroughly that not a street is left unwatched for ten minutes at a time; but it hardly takes the Whitechapel murderer ten minutes to do his work. Rewards have been offered, every house in the vicinity has been searched, every lurking place examined, swarms of detectives, public and private, have been in the streets. A Vigilance Committee has been aiding the constables. What more can be done in the way of prevention? It is really difficult to say. More constables will be poured into the locality, the Vigilance Committees will go to work again, the private detectives will send down their agents to pry into nooks and corners, and further rewards will perhaps be offered. But the old baffling difficulty remains - the fact that the murderer evidently works without assistants or confederate, and that his victim is an accomplice beforehand to her own destruction.
The simple truth is, that as long as this murderer, whether he be maniac or not, is cool enough to leave no clue behind him; and as long as he confines his operations to women who make themselves accessories to his escape, his crimes may continue. Unless there were a policeman, not merely in every street, but in every house in Whitechapel, it is impossible to secure the safety against the "monster" of such women as yesterday's victim. The best hope would be that the scare should at length have gone far enough to prevent these poor creatures taking unknown strangers into dark corners or empty rooms. Then the criminal, rendered desperate by his thirst for blood, may do something which will secure his detection. But as long as these Whitechapel women offer themselves to the slaughterer, and the slaughterer does not lose his head, it is unjust to blame the police for failing to protect them.