Wednesday, 25 September 1889
Yesterday Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, resumed his adjourned inquiry at the Vestry Hall, Cable-street, St. George's-in-the East, respecting the finding of the body of a woman, unknown, under a railway arch in Pinchin-street, St. George's, on the 10th inst.
Superintendent T. Arnold and Detective-inspectors Moore and E. Reid watched the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Mr. J. Clarke, surgeon, said - I am assistant to the divisional surgeon. A little before 6 a.m. on the 10th inst. I was called by the police to Pinchin-street. Under a railway arch there, about 8 ft. from the road and about 1 ft. from the right wall of the arch, I saw the trunk of a woman, minus the head and legs. It was lying on its anterior surface, with the right arm doubled under the abdomen. The left arm was lying under the left side. The arms were not severed from the body. There was no pool of blood, and there were no signs of any struggle having taken place there. On moving the body I found that there was a little blood underneath where the neck had lain. It was small in quantity and not clotted. The blood had oozed from the cut surface of the neck. Over the surface of the neck and the right shoulder were the remnants of what had been a chemise. It was of common length and such a size as would be worn by a woman of similar build to the trunk found. It had been torn down the front, and had been cut from the front of the armholes on each side. The cuts had apparently been made with a knife. The chemise was bloodstained nearly all over, from being wrapped over the back surface of the neck. There was no clotted blood on it. I could find no distinguishing mark on the chemise. Rigor mortis was not present. Decomposition was just commencing. The body was lifted, in my presence, on to the ambulance and taken to the St. George's mortuary by constables. On re-examining it there I found the body appeared to be that of a woman of stoutish build, dark complexion, about 5ft. 3in. in height, and between 30 and 40 years of age. I should think the body had been dead at least 24 hours. Besides the wounds caused by the severance of the head and legs, there was a wound 15ins. long through the external coat of the abdomen. The body was not bloodstained, except where the chemise had rested upon it. The body had not the appearance of having been recently washed. On the back there were four bruises, all caused before death. There was one over the spine, on a level with the lower part of the shoulder blade. It was about the size of a shilling. An inch lower down there was a similar bruise, about the middle of the back, also on the spine, and that was a bruise about the size of a half-a-crown. On the level of the top of the hip bone was a bruise 2 ½ins. in diameter. It was such a bruise as would be caused by a fall or a kick. None of the bruises were of old standing. Round the waist was a pale mark and indentation, such as would be caused by clothing during life. On the right arm there were eight distinct bruises and seven on the left, all of them caused before death and of recent date. The back of both forearms and hands were much bruised. On the outer side of the left forearm, about 3in. above the wrist, was a cut about 2in. in length, and half an inch lower down was another cut. These were caused after death. The bruises on the right arm were such as would be caused by the arms having been tightly grasped. The hands and nails were pallid. The hands did not exhibit any particular kind of work.
Dr. George Bagster Phillips said, - I live at 2, Spital-square, and am divisional surgeon. I first examined the body at 6 o'clock on the day the remains were found. I confirm, so far as I have observed, the evidence given by my colleague, Mr. Clarke, who was present when I first examined the body. The next morning at 10 o'clock, in the presence of Dr. Gordon Brown and Mr. Hibberd, I further examined the body. Having described the nature of the cuts by which the head and limbs had been separated, witness continued:- The marks on the fingers had fairly healed, and had evidently been in a process of healing for some time previous to death. The pallor of the hands and nails is an important element in enabling me to draw a conclusion as to the cause of death. I agree with the remarks of Mr. Clarke as regards the marks on the arms. I found the length of the trunk to be 2ft. 2in., and the measurement round the nipple 34in., and below the breast 31 3/4in. The length of hand was 6 ½in. The weight of the body, taken with a balance which was not exactly accurate, was 67lb. There was throughout the body an absence of blood in the vessels. The right lung was adherent, except at the base; the left lung free, and, taking them both together, fairly competent. All the other organs, except the spleen and the liver, were fairly healthy. The live weighed 50oz. In my opinion it was diseased and fatty before death.
The CORONER. - Did the stomach show any irritation? - It did not strike one with any particular disease, or the presence of any poison. I believe that death arose from loss of blood. I believe the mutilation to have been subsequent to death, that the mutilations were effected by some one accustomed to cut up animals or to see them cut up, and that the incisions were effected by a strong knife 8in. or more long.
The CORONER. - Is there anything to show where the loss of blood occurred? - Not in the remains; but the supposition that presents itself to my mind is that there was a former incision of the neck, which had disappeared with the subsequent separation of the head.
The CORONER. - The loss of blood could not have come from either the lungs of the stomach? -Certainly not the stomach, and I could not trace any sign of its coming from the lungs. I have a strong opinion that it did not.
The woman did not die of phthisis? - There was no tubercle, but the top part of the lung was diseased.
The draining of the blood from the body was such that it must have been a main artery that was severed? - Undoubtedly; and was almost as thorough as it could be although not so great as I have seen in some cases of cut throats.
By the Jury. - What I found in the stomach was fresh plums. I have no reason for thinking that the person who cut up the body had any anatomical knowledge.
Michael Keating said, - I live at 1, Osborn-street, Brick-lane, and am a licensed shoeblack. On the night of the 9th inst. between 11 and 12 o'clock, I went to sleep in the railway arch in Pinchin-street. I went there because I had not the price of my lodgings. When I went there I did not see any one, and neither did I see anything under the arch. I was not sober. I do not remember noticing anybody in particular, but there were some people about Pinchin-street when I went in. I soon fell asleep, and was not awoke during the night. The police woke me up, and when I came out of the arch I noticed the trunk of a body in the next arch. An inspector was in the act of covering it up with a sack in which I kept my blacking-box. I could not say if I was sober enough to have noticed the body if it had been there when I went in. I did not go into the railway arch in which it was found. I do not remember any one else coming into the arch in which I was, but when I woke I saw two more men coming out of the other side. I had never slept there before. I happened to be passing by, and, finding the arch open and thinking it was a quiet place, I went in to have a sleep.
Richard Hawke stated, - I am a seaman, and live at St. Ives, in Cornwall. I was paid off in London some seven or eight weeks ago, and have since been in Greenwich Hospital. I came out of the hospital last Monday fortnight, and at the time had no money. I walked up to London, and knocked about the streets until 20 minutes past 4 the next morning. I then went to have a rest under the railway arch. At that time I did not know the name of the street. It was very dark at the time. I was not exactly sober. I had about three pints of beer about shutting-up time. I know the time because a policeman who was close by told me. When I entered the arch I did not see anything. I think I lay down on the right-hand side of the arch in which I slept. There was another man with me when I went in, and he was in just about the same condition. To get to the arch in which we slept we had to go through the one in which the body was found, and did not see anything there at that time. The other man with me was a seaman, and I picked him up in a publichouse somewhere near the Sailor's Home. During the night I did not see or hear any one, and I was awoke by the police.
Jeremiah Hurley deposed, - I live at 10 Annibal-place, Annibal-street, and am a carman, and am in the employ of John Smithers, of Well-street. A policeman called me at 5 o'clock, and I am always called in that manner. When there is a change of policemen they continue to call me. I have to be at work at half-past 5. On the morning of the 10th inst. I left home at 25 minutes to 6. As I was coming round Phillip-street into Pinchin-street I saw a man, who had the appearance of a tailor, standing at the corner of Pinchin-street. The man appeared as though he was waiting to go to work. I saw no one else until I got to the arch where the body was lying. I there saw an inspector and an officer in plain clothes. At that time the body had been found.
Detective-Inspector Henry Moore said, - I have charge of this case under the direction of Superintendent Arnold. I produce a plan of Pinchin-street and surrounding neighbourhood, and it is an accurate one. The red cross on the plan denotes the position in which the body was found. Every effort had been made to identify the body, but without success. There was nothing to show how the body came there or who placed it in the position in which it was found. I have had the chemise that was found on the body cleansed, and I now produce it. (The chemise was 37in. in length, common material, and stitched, but certainly not by an experienced needlewoman. It had evidently been home-made by a poor person.)
The CORONER here read a statement taken down by the police from the man who was sleeping with Hurley, and it simply corroborated the latter's evidence.
The CORONER. - I should like to ask Dr. Phillips whether there is any similarity in the cutting off of the legs in this case and the one that was severed from the woman in Dorset-street?
Dr. Phillips. - I have not noticed any sufficient similarity to convince me it was the person who committed both mutilations, but the division of the neck and attempt to disarticulate the bones of the spine are very similar to that which was effected in this case. The savagery shown by the mutilated remains in the Dorset-street case far exceeded that shown in this case. The mutilations in the Dorset-street case were most wanton, whereas in this case it strikes me that they were made for the purpose of disposing of the body. I wish to say that these are mere points that strike me without any comparative study of the other case, except those afforded by partial notes that I have with me. I think in this case there has been greater knowledge shown in regard to the construction of the parts composing the spine, and on the whole there has been a greater knowledge shown of how to separate a joint.
The CORONER, in summing up, observed that they had not been able to produce any evidence as to the identity of the deceased, but the evidence of both medical gentlemen engaged in the case clearly showed that the unfortunate woman had died a violent death. It was a matter of congratulation that the present case did not appear to have any connexion with the previous murders that had taken place in the district, and the body might have, for ought they knew to the contrary, been brought from the West-end and deposited where it was found.
The jury at once returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."
Nothing fresh has occurred to throw any light on the above mystery, and the police are now hopeless as to any chance of discovering the head, which they believe is buried or burnt so as to entirely do away with all evidence as to identification. They place no reliance on the many suppositions and theories that have been lately put before them, although careful inquiry is made into every suggestion offered.