Thursday, 22 November 1888
Considerable excitement was caused throughout the East-end yesterday morning by a report that another woman had been brutally murdered and mutilated in a common lodging-house in George-street, Spitalfields, and in consequence of the reticence of the police authorities all sorts of rumours prevailed. Although it was soon ascertained that there had been no murder, it was said that an attempt had been made to murder a woman, of the class to which the other unfortunate creatures belonged, by cutting her throat, and the excitement in the neighbourhood for some time was intense. Whether the woman's assailant is the man wanted for the seven recent murders committed in the district of Whitechapel is, of course, not known, although his description tallies somewhat with that given by one of the witnesses at the last inquest; but, should he be, the police are sanguine of his speedy capture, as a good and accurate description of him is now obtained, and if arrested he could be identified by more than one person. The victim of this last occurrence, fortunately, is but slightly injured, and was at once able to furnish the detectives with a full description of her assailant. Her name is Annie Farmer, and she is a woman about 40 years of age, who lately resided with her husband, a tradesman, in Featherstone-street, City-road, but, on account of her dissolute habits, was separated from him. On Monday night the woman had no money, and, being unable to obtain any, walked the streets until about half-past 7 yesterday morning. At that time she got into conversation, in Commercial-street, with a man, whom she describes as about 36 years of age, about 5ft. 6in. in height, with a dark moustache, and wearing a shabby black diagonal suit and hard felt hat. He treated her to several drinks until she became partially intoxicated. At his suggestion they went to the common lodging-house, 19, George-street, and paid the deputy 8d. for a bed. That was about 8 o'clock, and nothing was heard to cause alarm or suspicion until half-past 9, when screams were heard proceeding from the room occupied by the man and Farmer. Some men who were in the kitchen of the house at the time rushed upstairs and met the woman coming down. She was partially undressed, and was bleeding profusely from a wound in the throat. She was asked what was the matter, and simply said "He's done it," at the same time pointing to the door leading into the street. The men rushed outside, but saw no one, except a man in charge of a horse and cart. He was asked if he had noticed any person running away, and said he had seen a man, who he thought had a scar at the back of the neck, run down George-street and turn into Thrawl-street, but, not thinking much of the occurrence, had not taken particular notice of the man and had made no attempt to detain him. By this time a considerable number of people had assembled, and these ran into Thrawl-street and searched the courts leading out of that thoroughfare, but without any success. While this was being done the police were communicated with and quickly arrived on the scene. In the meantime the deputy of the lodging-house had wrapped a piece of rag over the woman's wound, and, seeing that it did not appear to be a dangerous cut, got her to dress herself. Dr. George Bagster Phillips, divisional surgeon of the H Division, together with his assistant, quickly arrived, and the former gentleman stitched up the wound. Seeing that it was not a dangerous one, and in order to get the woman away from the crowd of inmates, who pressed round, he suggested that she should be removed to the Commercial-street Police-station, and that was quickly done on the ambulance. Although none but police officers were allowed to interview her with regard to the attack, and consequently nothing definite is known as to the cause, it has transpired that she had previously met her assailant some 12 months since, and owing to this fact the officers are doubtful whether the man had anything to do with the murders. Owing to the excellent description given they are sanguine of securing the man's arrest within a very short space of time. Superintendent T. Arnold, who was quickly apprised of what had happened, at once ordered Detective-officers Thicke, New, M'Guire, and others to endeavour to capture the man, and by about 10:30 a full description of him was telegraphed to all the police-stations throughout the metropolitan police district. It is stated that Farmer is able to converse freely, and that lodgings will be found for her by the police until the person who attacked her is captured. Directly the police arrived at the house in George-street a constable was stationed at the door, and no person was allowed to leave until his or her statement and full particulars concerning each one had been written down. During the whole of the day a crowd collected in front of 19, George-street, apparently drawn thither merely out of curiosity to view the house, but none not belonging to it were allowed to enter.
It is reported that a man was arrested in the East end early this morning under very suspicious circumstances. Between 1 and 2 o'clock a woman, who was in company with a man in a narrow thoroughfare near Brick lane, was heard to call "Murder" and "Police" loudly. At the same moment the man was seen making off at a rapid pace. He was pursued through several streets by the police and detectives who have lately been concentrated in considerable numbers in the neighbourhood, and was captured near Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton's Brewery. The man is reported to have drawn a knife and made a desperate resistance, but he was eventually overpowered and conveyed to Commercial street station.