Friday, 28 September 1888
A man, giving the name of John Fitzgerald, gave himself up at Wandsworth Police-station on Wednesday night and made a statement to the inspector on duty to the effect that he committed the murder in Hanbury-street. He was conveyed to Leman-street Police station, where he is now detained. The officers engaged in the case were yesterday tracing his movements about the time of the murder, but their inquiries are not yet complete. It is believed that the man had been drinking to excess for some days past.
Sir, - The statement made by the coroner to the jury in the inquest on the death of the woman Chapman and your comments thereon induce me, in the interests of humanity as well as of justice, to request your serious attention to the injurious influence which the theory referred to in your article of this morning is calculated to exert on the public mind.
I will, for the sake of argument, assume that the information given to the coroner by the officer of one of the medical schools is correct, and that Dr. Phillips is right in considering that the character of the mutilation in question justifies the assumption that the perpetrator was probably one who possessed some knowledge of anatomy.
But that the inference which has been deduced is warranted, any one who is the least acquainted with medical science and practice will unhesitatingly deny and indignantly repudiate. That a lunatic may have desired to obtain possession of certain organs for some insane purpose is very possible, and the theory of the murdering fiend being a madman only derives confirmation from the information obtained by the coroner. But that the parts of the body carried off were wanted for any quasi-scientific publication or any other more or less legitimate purpose no one having any knowledge of medical science will for a moment believe. To say nothing of the utterly absurd notion of the part, or organ, being preserved in a particular way to accompany each copy of an intended publication, the facilities for obtaining such objects for any purpose of legitimate research, in any number, either here or in America, without having recourse to crime of any kind are such as to render the suggestion made utterly untenable. There can be no analogy whatever with the atrocious crimes of Burke and Hare, the merest insinuation of which is a gross and unjustifiable calumny on the medical profession and is calculated both to exert an injurious influence on the public mind and defeat the ends of justice.
If I have expressed myself strongly you will, I trust, ascribe it to my anxiety that neither you nor the officers of justice should be misled, and not to any mere feeling that discredit has unjustly been thrown on the medical profession.Your obedient servant,
JAS. RISDON BENNETT.
22, Cavendish-square, Sept 27.