The Times (London).
Saturday, 14 February 1891.
SHOCKING MURDER IN WHITECHAPEL.
Another murder, although not so fiendish in all its details as those which were enacted within a comparatively short period of one another in Whitechapel in 1888 and 1889, has been committed in the same district, and the many similar circumstances surrounding this latest mysterious crime seem to point to its being the work of the same person. The place, the time, the character of the victim, and other points of resemblance, recall in the most obvious way the series of crimes associated in the popular mind with the so-called "Jack the Ripper."
The locality in which this latest crime was committed was probably well chosen by the murderer as a likely place in which to carry out his horrible deed with the least chance of detection; and, as with his previous crimes, the murder shows an amount of cunning and precaution on his part that is really startling. The precise place in which the unfortunate woman was found is in the centre of a narrow thoroughfare running under a railway arch belonging to the Great Eastern Railway Company and leading from Swallow-gardens and Orman-street to Royal Mint-street. The archway, which is some 50 yards in length, is lighted at each end by lamps, and consequently, at those spots, is fairly well lighted, while the central part is totally dark. It was in this part that the murder was committed. Owing to the dark and secluded character of the place, it is a regular resort of the lowest class of women of ill-fame, and during the last few hours before midnight the police experience considerable difficulty in keeping the archway clear of them. The majority of the buildings in the immediate neighbourhood of the archway are used as warehouses, although there are a considerable number of dwelling-houses. Although the thoroughfare in question is not traversed by a large number of pedestrians, still persons are passing through it at all hours of the day and night on their way to or back from the three large railway goods depots which almost adjoin, and which are situated in Royal Mint-street, Whitechapel.
The victim of yesterday morning’s murder is a young woman, between 25 and 30 years of age, and in this respect differs somewhat from the other victims, all of whom were upwards of 40 years of age. Although her right name and antecedents have not yet been ascertained, still she has been recognized by a number of persons, including several police officers, some of whom knew her by the nick-name of "Carroty Nell," while by others she was known as Frances Hawkins, or Coleman. She was in the habit of sleeping in some of the many common lodging-houses which abound in this district. The police attached to the Leman-street police-station have for a considerable time past noticed her loitering about Tower-hill and Leman-street, and there is no doubt she was a woman of bad character and of the very poorest class. The whole of the clothing she was wearing at the time she was found was of the commonest and shabbiest description, while the heels had been almost entirely worn off her boots.
At 20 minutes past 2 yesterday morning Police-constable Thompson, 240 H, who, by the way, was having his first experience of night duty, went along Chamber-street, intending to go through the archway as far as the opening which leads into Royal Mint-street, which was the end of his beat. On entering the arch he did not hear anything unusual, but on reaching the centre he could distinguish the form of a woman lying in the middle of the roadway, which is only wide enough to permit of the passing of one vehicle at a time. He could make out that she was lying on her back with the legs crossed at the feet; and the officer at first was under the impression she had fallen down while in a state of intoxication and had gone off into a drunken sleep. On turning on his "bulls-eye" he saw a terrible spectacle. The throat of the unfortunate woman was severed to the spinal column, and blood was flowing freely from the gaping wound. The poor woman opened her eyes, proving that at the time life was not extinct and that the crime had only been committed, at the most, a few seconds before. It was at this moment Constable Thompson distinctly heard the sounds of retreating footsteps. Evidently, the murderer had a very narrow escape. Had the officer at once and speedily taken up the pursuit he would, in all probability, have effected the capture of the man who had committed this crime: or, at least, he might have had a good view of him, and so have been able to furnish particulars which might have led to his ultimate capture. The constable, it should be mentioned, is a young man of little experience in police work, having been in the force only six weeks, and previous to that was engaged in one of the mines in the north. A more experienced officer would, probably, have taken up the chase, with the result that the author of the deed would doubtless have been caught, and so have put an end to these series of crimes in Whitechapel.
Thompson, as soon as he saw the condition in which the woman was, sounded his whistle for assistance, and this was quickly answered by the appearance of Constable Scott, 355 H, who had only parted from the first-named officer a few minutes before. The body was then quite still, although Scott could feel that the pulse of the woman was faintly beating, and blood was still running from the wound in the throat. This wound ran from right to left, the commencement being upwards of an inch above the ear; while at one point it was three inches in depth. The gash appeared to be somewhat jagged in character, but the great depth clearly showed the amount of physical force that must have been used in inflicting it. The whole of the arteries and tissues were severed, while the spinal column was also injured.
At once acting on the orders issued after the commission of the first of the "Jack the Ripper" murders in the district, the police on duty in the immediate neighbourhood of the railway arch, blocked all the thoroughfares and approaches leading to it; but, although the murderer could have had but a very short start, it was quite long enough to enable him to make good his escape.
Superintendent Arnold and Detective Inspector Reid, H Division, were quickly on the spot, and issued the necessary instructions to have the nearest lodginghouses searched; and a telegram was despatched to Scotland-yard, informing the authorities there of what had happened. Dr. Oxley, assistant to Dr. Allen, of Dock-street, next arrived, and he was quickly followed by Dr. G. B. Phillips, divisional surgeon, who drove up in a cab. The last-named gentleman having ascertained that life was extinct, made a minute examination of the body and the position in which it was lying. The woman was bareheaded, and her hair was disarranged, indicating that she had been engaged in some sort of struggle. One arm was stretched by her side, while the other was bent towards the breast. Close by the side of the dead woman was her hat, which was formed of very old crape. The deceased was then searched, when, to the surprise of the spectators, another hat was found in the folds of her dress. This article may, hereafter, have an important bearing on the case. In the pocket was found an old comb and a few pieces of cloth or rags, but no money. The latter fact caused the police to make a careful search round the place, with the result that a 2s. piece was found. This probably shows the cause for which the victim was enticed to the spot where she met her end. The body was afterwards placed on an ambulance, and conveyed to the Leman-street police-station, and afterwards to the Whitechapel mortuary.
About 5 o’clock Chief Inspector A. Swanson, who was accompanied by Inspector Moore, arrived, and took charge of the case. Having examined the spot where the body was found, Inspector Swanson gave orders that a portion of the blood should be saved for the purpose of analysis, while the remainder was afterwards washed away. Later on the Chief Constable of the East-end district, Mr. M’Naghten, Mr. Anderson, and other leading police officials arrived, and, by their advice, aided in the investigations. In fact, in a very short space of time the entire district was covered by the police, all of whom had specially appointed work to perform in connexion with the case.
About 10 o’clock yesterday morning the body of the woman was again examined, after which the following description was noted by the police:- Age, about 25; length, 5 ft.; eyes and hair, brown; complexion, pale. Dress - A black diagonal jacket; dress black, satin bodice; white underlinen, buttoned boots, black ribbon round neck, black vulcanite earrings, and black earring in pocket; black crape hat. The lobe of the ear had been torn away, but that had evidently been done a considerable time previously.
From inquiries the police made it was ascertained that a man employed at the goods depot saw a woman talking to a man, in the railway arch, about half-past 1 yesterday morning. From his description of the woman the police are confident it is the one whose body was discovered by Constable Thompson. The man is also able to furnish a description of the person to whom the woman was talking. He described him as being above the middle height, and having the appearance of a foreigner, after the style of a ship’s fireman. In consequence of this statement Detective Inspector Regan, of the Thames Division, was instructed to detail those under him to search all vessels lying in the docks and river, and that was done, but without any clue being obtained as to the author of the crime.
Throughout the whole of yesterday great excitement prevailed in the district; and the reign of terror which existed there two years since is again expected. Large crowds assembled at the scene of the murder, and also at the mortuary in which the body is lying.
Dr. Phillips yesterday afternoon made a further examination of the body, and came to the conclusion that the cut was inflicted by a left-handed person, as in each of the previous murders. He has deferred making a post-mortem examination until this morning, after which it is expected that Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner, will open his inquiry.
This makes the ninth murder of this character which has been committed in Whitechapel since August, 1888.
The following is the list:-
1. A woman found on the stairs of an industrial dwellings house, with 39 stabs in her body.
2. Emma Elizabeth Smith, 45, found stabbed in the breast in Osborn-street.
3. Martha Tabram, found with a large number of wounds, in George-yard-buildings, Commercial-street.
4. Mary Ann Nicholls, found in Buck’s-row with her throat cut and body mutilated.
5. Annie Chapman, found in the back yard of a house in Hanbury-street, with throat cut, body mutilated, and a portion missing.
6. Elizabeth Stride, found with throat cut in Berner-street.
7. Catherine Eddowes, found in Mitre-square, with throat cut, and disembowelled, and other mutilations.
8. Mary Jane Kelly, found in Dorset-street with throat cut, legs and both ears cut off, besides other horrible cuts.
A woman named Ellen Callaran has stated that she was in the company of the deceased as late as 2 o’clock on Friday morning. She says:-
"Last night we were walking up Commercial-street about half-past 12, having come out of the White Heart, George-yard, when we met a man dressed in a sailor suit, with pea-jacket and cheesecutter hat. He accosted me, but I did not like his looks. He caught hold of me, tore my jacket, and struck me in the face, giving me a black eye. He made an offer to Frances, and I left, after advising her not to go with him. I saw them walk down Commercial-street in the direction of Leman-street. The next thing I heard was this morning, at 5 o’clock, when someone told me that a woman had been murdered near Leman-street. I said at once, ‘I believe that’s Frances.’ After that I went to the police, and they took me to the mortuary where I identified her at once as Frances."
A news agency says that a man is in custody on suspicion, but no importance is attached to his arrest.
THE MURDER SPOTS OF LONDON.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Sir, - The places selected by murderers in London for some recent crimes will serve to call attention to what is in reality a public scandal - I mean the existence of so many of such secret and unlighted and, it would appear, unguarded spots as those which are made by the railway arches that run in numerous directions through the metropolis. Under a great number of these arches public thoroughfares run, and here it is the obvious duty of the local authorities to provide a sufficiency of gaslight to prevent the hideous obscurity which positively offers temptation to those who are murderously inclined.
The spot where the horrible murder discovered in the early hours of this morning was committed is close to two stations (bonded vaults), which, amongst a number of others in the same and in an adjoining neighbourhood, I have, as a surveyor of Her Majesty’s Customs, to visit during the day; and this morning my route took me through the narrow passage (under an arch of the Great Eastern Railway) where the poor "unfortunate" was found murdered.
Even on dull days the middle of the passage is gloomy, but at night it is opaquely dark. I believe it is within the parish of St. George’s-in-the-East, and I am informed is under the jurisdiction of this parish. In any case it is a crying scandal that such places should be unlighted at night.
I am, Sir, yours very faithfully,
FRANCIS GEORGE HEATH.
London, Feb. 13.