Friday, 5 October 1888
Yesterday morning Mr. S. F. Langham, the City Coroner, opened the inquest at the mortuary in Golden-lane respecting the death of Catherine Eddows [Eddowes], otherwise Conway or Kelly, who was found murdered in Mitre-square, City, last Sunday morning.
Dr. Sedgwick Saunders, medical officer of health for the City; Mr. Crawford, the City Solicitor; Mr. M'William, the Inspector of the City Detective Department; and Mr. Superintendent Foster were present during the inquiry.
Mr. Crawford at the opening of the proceedings, stated that he was present as representing the City police, for the purpose of rendering the Coroner and the jury every possible assistance. If, when the witnesses were giving evidence, he thought it desirable to put any question, probably he would have the Coroner's permission to do so.
THE CORONER. - By all means.
Eliza Gold was the first witness. She stated that she lived at No. 6 Thrawl-street, Spitalfields, and was a widow. She recognized the deceased as her sister, whose name was Catherine Eddows [sic]. She was not married, but was living with a man named Kelly. Her sister had not been married. Her age last birthday was 43, as well as witness could remember. She had been living for some years with Kelly. Witness last saw her alive four or five months ago. She used to get her living by going out hawking. She was a woman of sober habits. Before she went to live with Kelly she had lived with a man named Conway for some years. She had had two children by him, who were married. Witness could not say whether Conway was still living; she had not seen him. Conway was a pensioner in the Army, who used to go out hawking things. Witness could not say whether her sister and Conway had parted on good or bad terms; nor could she say whether her sister had seen Conway since they parted. Witness was quite certain that the deceased was her sister.
By Mr. Crawford. - She had not seen Conway for seven or eight years, and she could not say on what terms her sister had lived with Kelly. She had not seen them together for three or four weeks. They were then living together quite happily. Witness could not exactly fix the time when she saw them. They were living at the time at 55, Flower and Dean-street, a common lodging-house kept by a man named Smith. The last time she saw her sister alive was when the latter visited witness, who was ill at the time.
A discrepancy in her evidence was pointed out to the witness, who had stated in one part that the last time she saw her sister alive was four or five months ago, whilst in another portion of her evidence she had stated that it was three or four weeks ago. The witness said it must have been three or four weeks ago.
John Kelly was the next witness called. He stated that he lived at 55, Flower & Dean-street, Spitalfields. He was a labourer and jobbed about the markets. He had seen and recognized the body of the deceased as Catherine Conway. Witness had known her seven years, and had lived with her the whole of that time. She used to sell things in the streets, and had lived with witness at the lodging-house in Flower and Dean-street. Witness was last with the deceased at 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon in Houndsditch. They parted there on very good terms. She said she was going to see if she could find her daughter Annie in Bermondsey. He believed Annie was a daughter the deceased had had by Conway. She promised to be back at 4 o'clock and no later. She did not return, but witness heard that she was locked up on Saturday night at Bishopsgate. He was told by a woman that she had seen deceased in Houndsditch with two policemen. He could not say what time it was when he heard that statement. He did not make inquiries about her, feeling sure that she would return on Sunday morning. He heard that she had been locked up because she had had "a drop to drink." He did not know that she ever went out for immoral purposes; he had never allowed her to do so. She was not in the habit of drinking to excess, but occasionally she did so. She had no money about her when witness parted from her. Her object in going to Bermondsey was to see if she could find her daughter and get a little money from her, so that she did not need to walk the streets.
Mr. Crawford. - You were asked before if she walked the streets, and you said she did not. - Sometimes we were without money to pay for our lodging, and we were at the time I speak of. Witness did not know of anyone with whom the deceased was at variance, or who would be likely to do her an injury. He did not know whether the deceased had seen Conway of late; he had never seen Conway himself. He did not know when the deceased was discharged from custody.
By a Juryman. - She was in the habit of returning to her lodging at 8 or 9 o'clock. He had not inquired about her because he had felt sure that she would return on Sunday morning.
By Mr. Crawford. - He did not know with whom the deceased had been drinking on Saturday afternoon. She had not on any recent occasion absented herself at night time. Some time ago - a few months or weeks - she left witness; he supposed it was in consequence of their having had a few words, but she returned to him a few hours afterwards. He had had no angry words with the deceased on the Saturday afternoon. She had told him that her daughter lived in King-street, Bermondsey. They had been living together for seven years in Flower and Dean-street. On Friday night she did not sleep with witness. She had no money and went to the casual ward at Mile-end. He slept that night at the lodging-house mentioned. On the previous Monday night they slept in Kent, where they were hopping. They came up from Kent on Thursday, he believed. They had no money and they went to the casual ward in Shoe-lane. They were together all Friday until the afternoon, when he earned 6d. She said to him, "You take 4d and go to the lodging-house, and give me 2d and I will go to the casual ward." He wanted to spend the money in food and he told her that, "Fred" - the deputy of the lodging-house - would not turn them away if they had no money. She said she would go to the casual ward at Mile-end, and would see him the following morning, when he met her accidentally. She left him at 4 o'clock on Friday afternoon to go to Mile-end for a lodging. He saw her the next morning about 8 o'clock, as well as he could remember, and was surprised to see her so soon. The tea and sugar found on her had been bought out of the 2s. 6d. for which he had pawned his boots. When she left witness she was, he was sure, quite sober. They had spent the greater part of the 2s. 6d. in food and drink. They parted on good terms. He could not say why she separated from Conway. She had lived with witness for seven years. When he saw her so early on the Saturday morning she told him that there had been some bother at the casual ward, and that that was why she had been turned out so soon. He did not know the regulations of the casual ward at Mile-end, and whether she could discharge herself when she liked.
By Mr. Crawford. - The boots were pawned on Friday or Saturday by the deceased. Witness remained outside the shop. He slept at the lodging-house in Flower and Dean-street on Saturday night.
Mr. Crawford produced the pawn ticket, and stated that the boots were pledged last Friday.
Frederick William Wilkinson, living in Brick-lane, Spitalfields, was next examined. He said he was deputy of the lodginghouse in Flower and Dean-street. He had known Kelly and the deceased for the last seven or eight years, and they passed as man and wife. They lived on very good terms, but they had a few words occasionally when "Kate was in drink". Witness believed that deceased obtained her living by hawking things in the streets, and by charring. Whenever she and Kelly were at the lodginghouse they were pretty regular in paying. She was not often in drink, and was "a very jolly woman," often singing. Witness had never seen Kelly in drink since he had known him. He saw the deceased on her return from hopping at the lodginghouse on Friday afternoon, but he did not see Kelly at the time. She went out on Friday night, and witness saw her on the following morning between 10 and 11 o'clock with Kelly. Witness did not see her again until he saw her in the mortuary. To witness' knowledge the deceased had not been in the habit of walking the streets. When she and Kelly stopped at the lodginghouse they came in generally between 9 and 10. He had never known or heard of her being intimate with anyone but Kelly. She used to say that her name was Kate Conway, and that it had been "bought and paid for," meaning that she was married to Conway. So far as witness knew she was not at variance with any one. She was quite sober when he saw her with Kelly on Saturday morning between 10 and 11. He asked Kelly when the latter came to pay for his lodging on Saturday where "Kate" was, and Kelly replied that he had heard that she had been locked up. Kelly called between 7:30 and 8 on Saturday night and took a single bed. A single bed was 4d. and a double bed was 8d.
A juryman. - Do you not take the names of those who sleep at the lodginghouse? - No.
By Mr. Crawford. - He believed the last time the deceased and Kelly slept together at the lodginghouse was five or six weeks ago; before they went hopping. Kelly was there on Friday and Saturday nights. Deceased was not there on Friday or Saturday. He did not ask Kelly where she was on the Friday, and the reason why he asked the question on the Saturday night was because he had seen them together on that morning. Kelly went to bed at 10 o'clock on Saturday night, and witness was quite positive that he did not go out again. He could not say at what hour Kelly went out on Saturday, but he saw him at the lodginghouse at dinner-time. So far as he was aware, Kelly had had no quarrel with any man about the deceased. He believed she was wearing an apron on Saturday morning.
Mr. Crawford. - Did anyone come to your lodginghouse on the Sunday morning between 1 and 2 o'clock and take a bed; a stranger? Witness. - I had no stranger there between 1 and 2. Mr. Crawford. - Can you tell me who entered your lodginghouse on Sunday morning between 1 and 2? Witness. - Two detectives came and asked if I had any female out.
Mr. Crawford. - Did any one come in before that, between 1 and 2 whom you did not recognize, and take a bed? Witness. - I cannot remember. I can refer to my book and tell you whether any stranger was there.
By the jury. - I saw the deceased and Kelly together on Saturday morning between 10 and 11 at breakfast.
The examination of the witness was then adjourned to enable him to obtain the book referred to from the lodginghouse.
Edward Watkins, City Police-constable 881, was the next witness, and, in answer to Mr. Crawford, he stated that he had been in the City Police force for 17 years. On the night of Saturday, September 29, he went on duty at a quarter to 10 - on his regular beat. His beat extended from Duke-street, Aldgate, through Heneage-lane, a portion of Bury-street, through Cree Church-lane, into Leadenhall Street, along Leadenhall-street eastward into Mitre-street, into Mitre-square, round the square, and again into Mitre-street, then into and along King-street to St. James'-place, round St. James'-place and thence into Duke-street, the starting point. The beat took 12 or 14 minutes. He had been continually patrolling that beat from 10 o'clock on Saturday night until 1:30 on Sunday morning without anything exciting his attention. He had passed through Mitre-square at about 1:30 on Sunday morning. He had his lantern fixed in his belt, and in accordance with his usual practice, he looked into the different corners, passages and warehouses. Nothing excited his attention at 1:30 nor did he see any one about. No one could have been in any portion of the square at that hour without the cognizance of the witness. He next came into Mitre-square about 1:44. He fixed the time by reference to his watch after he had called the watchman. He entered the square from the right, near the corner, where something attracted his attention. [ Plans of the square made by Mr. F. W. Foster, of Old Jewry, were at this point handed in and referred to by Mr. Crawford in his examination.] About 1:44 witness came into the square, at the right, and he then saw the body of the woman lying there. She was lying on her back, with her feet facing the square. He did not touch the body. The first thing he did was to go across to Messrs. Kearley and Tonge's warehouse. The door was ajar. He pushed it open and called to the watchman Morris. Morris came out, and witness sent him for assistance. Witness remained by the side of the body till the arrival of Police-constable Holland. No one was there with witness till Holland arrived, and he was followed by Dr. Sequeira. Inspector Collard arrived about 2, and Dr. Gordon Brown, surgeon to the City police force, followed. When witness entered the square at 1:44 he heard nothing - no sound as of the footsteps of some one running away; and to the best of his belief no one was there but the murdered woman.
By the CORONER. - The door of the warehouse of Messrs. Kearley and Tonge was open, as the watchman was working inside. It was not an unusual thing for the warehouse door to be open at that time.
By the Jury. - He did not sound a whistle, because they did not carry whistles. The watchman did whistle. Witness's beat was a single beat; no other policeman entered Mitre-square.
Frederick William Foster, of 26, Old Jewry, stated that he was an architect and surveyor, and he had made the plans (produced) according to scale. He had them in three scales - one 8 ft. to an inch, another 200 ft. to an inch, from an Ordnance map of the City; and he had marked on an Ordnance map of the same scale round from Berner-street to Mitre-street. That would be a distance of about three-quarters of a mile; and it would take from 12 to 15 minutes to walk it.
By Mr. Crawford. - The route described between Berner-street and Mitre-street was the nearest way. It was a direct line.
Mr. Crawford. - Assuming that a person was in Mitre-square, I want to know what route he would probably take, assuming that he passed by way of Goulston-street? - Witness. - There are two routes. There is only 10 ft. difference between them. One route is from Church-passage through Duke-street, crossing Houndsditch, through Gravel-lane, Stoney-lane, crossing Petticoat-lane, and through to Goulston-street. I know Flower and Dean-street.
Mr. Crawford. - Would a person, to get to the lodginghouse there from Mitre-square, go by Goulston-street? -Witness. - He might do so. It is the most direct course he could take if he knew the neighbourhood. He could do the distance in a quarter of an hour; and the distance from Berner-street to Mitre-street would be within a quarter of an hour.
Mr. Crawford, to the Coroner. - You will have evidence later on that a portion of this woman's apron was found in Goulston-street.
The witness Wilkinson was then re-called, and in answer to Mr. Crawford stated, referring to his book, that Kelly slept at the lodginghouse on Friday and Saturday night in "No. 52, single." Witness could not say at what time any stranger entered the place. He found that there were six male strangers there on the Sunday morning. He could not tell whether any of these men came in about 2 o'clock on the Sunday morning, nor could he remember any one going out of the place soon after 12 o'clock, as that was a very busy time. He took the money and allotted the beds. Nothing excited his suspicion between the hours of 12 a.m. and 2. He recollected the police calling at 3 o'clock on Sunday morning.
By a juryman. - It was usual for the place to be open at 2 o'clock in the morning. They generally closed at 2:30 or 3. He had no means of remembering any person coming in. He would recognize a regular customer. He did not book the times they came in.
By Mr. Crawford. - There was no register kept of the names of those sleeping there.
By the jury. - We take the money of those who come. No questions are asked, and they are shown their beds. I dare say I have over 100 sleeping there now of a night.
Inspector Edward Collard (City Police) was the next witness called. He stated that at five minutes before 2 o'clock on Sunday morning last he received information at Bishopsgate-street Police-station that a woman had been murdered in Mitre-square. The information was at once telegraphed to headquarters, and he dispatched a constable at once to Dr. Gordon Brown. Witness then proceeded himself to Mitre-square, arriving there at two or three minutes past 2. He there found Dr. Sequeira, several police-officers, and the deceased lying in the south-west corner of the square in the position described by Constable Watkins. The body was not touched until the arrival of Dr. Brown, who came shortly afterwards. The medical gentlemen then examined the body, and remained until the arrival of the ambulance, when the body was taken to the mortuary. No money was found on the deceased. A portion of the apron produced was found on her, and the other portion, which was picked up in Goulston-street, would also be produced. When witness arrived at the square he took immediate steps to have the neighbourhood searched for the person who had committed the murder. Mr. M'William, the chief of the detectives, on his arrival shortly afterwards with a number of detectives, sent them to make search in all directions in Spitalfields, both in the streets and the lodging-houses. Several men were stopped and searched in the streets, but without any good result. Witness had a house-to-house inquiry made in the vicinity of Mitre-square, but could find out nothing beyond what would be stated by two witnesses who would be called.
By Mr. Crawford. - There was no appearance of any struggle having taken place, and there was no blood anywhere except what had come from the deceased's neck. There was nothing whatever in the appearance of the deceased or her clothing to lead him to suppose that there had been a struggle. The blood flowing from her was in a liquid state, not congealed, and from his experience he should say that the body had not been there for more than a quarter of an hour. They endeavoured to find footmarks, but they could discover no trace whatever. A search was made at the back of the empty houses adjoining the square.
Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown, of 17, Finsbury-circus, examined, said he was surgeon of the City of London Police Force. He was called on Sunday morning shortly after 2 o'clock, and reached Mitre-square about 18 minutes after 2, when his attention was called to the body of the deceased. It was lying in the position described by Constable Watkins. The body was on its back, the head turned towards the left shoulder, and the arms were by the side of the body, as if they had fallen there. Both palms were upwards and the fingers were slightly bent. A thimble was lying on the ground near the right hand. The clothes were drawn up, the left leg was extended straight down, in a line with the body, and the right leg was bent at the thigh and knee. There was great disfigurement of the face. The throat was cut across, and below the cut was a neckerchief. The upper part of the dress had been pulled open a little way. The abdomen was all exposed; the intestines were drawn out to a large extent and placed over the right shoulder; a piece of the intestines was quite detached from the body and placed between the left arm and the body.
Mr. Crawford. - By "placed," do you mean put there by design? Witness. - Yes.
Mr. Crawford. - Would that also apply to the intestines that were over the right shoulder? Witness. - Yes.
Examination continued. - The lobe of the right ear was cut obliquely through; there was a quantity of clotted blood on the pavement, on the left side of the neck and upper part of the arm. The body was quite warm, and no death-stiffening had taken place. The body had been there only a few minutes.
By Mr. Crawford. - Certainly within 30 or 40 minutes.
Examination continued. - We looked for superficial bruises and saw none. There were no marks of blood below the middle of the body.
By Mr. Crawford. - There was no blood on the front of the clothes. Before they removed the body he suggested that Dr. Phillips should be sent for, and that gentleman, who had seen some recent cases, came to the mortuary. A post mortem examination was made at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon. The temperature of the room was 55 deg. Rigor mortis was well marked. After careful washing of the left hand a recent bruise, the size of a sixpence, was discovered on the back of the hand between the thumb and the first finger. There were a few small bruises on the right shin of older date. The hands and arms were bronzed as if by sunburning. There were no bruises on the scalp, back of the body, or elbows. The witness then described in detail the cuts on the face, which, he stated, was very much mutilated. The throat was cut across to the extent of about 6 in. or 7 in. The sterno cleido mastoid muscle was divided; the cricoid cartilage below the vocal chords was severed through the middle; the large vessels on the left side of the neck were severed to the bone, the knife marking the intervertebral cartilage. The sheath of the vessels on the right side was just open; the carotid artery had a pin-hole opening; the internal jugular vein was open to the extent of an inch and a half - not divided. All the injuries were caused by some very sharp instrument, like a knife, and pointed. The cause of death was haemorrhage from the left common carotid artery. The death was immediate. The mutilations were inflicted after death. They examined the injuries to the abdomen. The walls of the abdomen were laid open, from the breast downwards. The cut commenced opposite the ensiform cartilage, in the centre of the body. The incision went upwards, not penetrating the skin that was over the sternum; it then divided the ensiform cartilage, and being gristle they could tell how the knife had made the cut. It was held so that the point was towards the left side and the handle towards the right. The cut was made obliquely. The liver was stabbed as if by the point of a sharp knife. There was another incision in the liver, about 2 ½ in., and below, the left lobe of the liver was slit through by a vertical cut. Two cuts were shown by a jag of the skin on the left side. The abdominal walls were divided vertically in the middle line to within a quarter of an inch of the navel; the cut then took a horizontal course for 2 ½ in. to the right side; it then divided the navel on the left side - round it - and then made an incision parallel to the former horizontal incision, leaving the navel on a tongue of skin. Attached to the navel was 2 ½ in. of the lower part of the rectus muscle of the left side of the abdomen. The incision then took an oblique course to the right. There was a stab of about an inch in the left groin, penetrating the skin in superficial fashion. Below that was a cut of 3 in., going through all tissues, wounding the peritoneum to about the same extent. There had not been any appreciable bleeding from the vessels.
Mr. Crawford. - What conclusion do you draw from that? - Witness. - That the cut in the abdomen was made after death, and that there would not be much blood left to escape on the hands of the murderer. The way in which the mutilation had been effected showed that the perpetrator of the crime possessed some anatomical knowledge.
Mr. Crawford. - I think I understood you to say that in your opinion the cause of death was the cut in the throat? Witness. - Loss of blood from the throat, caused by the cut. That was the first wound inflicted.
Mr. Crawford. - Have you formed any opinion that the woman was standing when that wound was inflicted? Witness. - My opinion is that she was on the ground.
Mr. Crawford. - Does the nature of the wounds lead you to any conclusion as to the kind of instrument with which they were inflicted? Witness. - With a sharp knife, and it must have been pointed; and from the cut in the abdomen I should say the knife was at least six inches long.
Mr. Crawford. - Would you consider that the person who inflicted these wounds possessed great anatomical skill? Witness. - A good deal of knowledge as to the position of the organs in the abdominal cavity and the way of removing them.
Mr. Crawford. - Could the organs removed be used for any professional purpose? Witness. - They would be of no use for a professional purpose.
Mr. Crawford. - You have spoken of the extraction of the left kidney. Would it require great skill and knowledge to remove it? Witness. - It would require a great deal of knowledge as to its position to remove it. It is easily overlooked. It is covered by a membrane.
Mr. Crawford. - Would not such knowledge be likely to be possessed by one accustomed to cutting up animals? Witness. - Yes.
Mr. Crawford. - Have you been able to form any opinion as to whether the perpetrator of this act was disturbed when performing it? Witness. - I think he had sufficient time. My reason is that he would not have nicked the lower eyelids if he had been in a great hurry.
Mr. Crawford. - About how long do you think it would take to inflict all these wounds, and perpetrate such a deed? Witness. - At least five minutes would be required.
Mr. Crawford. - Can you as a professional man assign any reason for the removal of certain organs from the body? Witness. - I cannot.
Mr. Crawford. - Have you any doubt in your mind that there was no struggle? Witness. - I feel sure that there was no struggle.
Mr. Crawford. - Are you equally of the opinion that the act would be that of one man, one person, only? Witness. - I think so; I see no reason for any other opinion.
Mr. Crawford. - Can you as a professional man account for the fact of no noise being heard by those in the immediate neighbourhood? Witness. - The throat would be so instantaneously severed that I do not suppose there would be any time for the least sound being emitted.
Mr. Crawford. - Would you expect to find much blood on the person who inflicted the wounds? Witness. - No, I should not.
Mr. Crawford. - Could you say whether the blood spots on the piece of apron produced were of recent origin? Witness. - They are of recent origin. Dr. Phillips brought on a piece of apron which had been found by a policeman in Goulston-street.
Mr. Crawford. - Is it impossible to assert that it is human blood? Witness. - Yes; it is blood. On the piece of apron brought on there were smears of blood on one side as if a hand or a knife had been wiped on it. It fitted the piece of apron in evidence.
Mr. Crawford. - Have you formed any opinion as to the purpose for which the face was mutilated? Witness. - Simply to disfigure the corpse, I should think.
Mr. Crawford. - Not much violence was required to inflict these injuries? Witness. - A sharp knife was used, and not very much force would be required.
By a juryman. - He did not think any drug was administered to the woman, judging from the breath; but he had not yet examined the contents of the stomach.
At this point the inquiry was adjourned for a week.
Mr. Crawford said that it might be of interest for the jury to know that the Court of Common Council had unanimously adopted the suggestion of the Lord Mayor that a reward of £500 should be offered for the detection and conviction of the murderer.
The jury expressed satisfaction at the announcement.
Up to half-past 1 o'clock this morning no arrest had been reported at any of the City police-stations in connexion with the East-end murders. The American who was arrested on Wednesday evening was released yesterday.
Sir, - Perhaps you will allow me to suggest that the murderer's object may be - first, by his crimes to cause a reward to be offered, and then by the accusation of an innocent man, and by the manufacture of apparent tokens of guilt against him (as by staining his clothes with blood), to win that reward. A second Titus Oates is not impossible.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
40, Mostyn-road, Brixton, S.W., Oct. 3.