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Woodford Times (Essex)
Friday, 12 October 1888

[Editoral comment.]

POLICE attention has been so centred on East London ever since the last horrible tragedies there, that danger has existed that other portions of the vast capital would suffer. Both in the City and Metropolitan districts the night constables have been reduced considerably in number and given beats of greater than ordinary extent so that the force in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel might be augmented, and the efforts to hunt out the murderer have been herculean in extent, but day after day of excitement has resulted, up to the writing of this, in disheartening non-success; and Time, the blunter of even the sharpest sensation is letting the unparalleled horrors of East London fade away towards the region of the comparatively forgotten. Folk have begun to fear that the villain who did his dreadful butchery and left no clue behind will escape the consequences of his terrible crime.

We do not identify ourselves with our Correspondent's opinions.

The dead set that continues to be made against the Home Secretary is not in accord with the opinions or wishes of the general public, and the honesty of the attack is very much suspected. As to Sir Charles Warren, there is more of a desire to make him a victim, but that is unjust too. At this crisis, when the failure of the police to lay hands upon the wild beast loose in Whitechapel makes them the talk of the town, the annual Police Report is an opportune publication. More police are asked for, and the chances are that as soon as the House meets more will be given, and probably in somewhat of a spirit of panic. The question is whether there are not too many of our London police told off to make things easy for theatres, music-halls, public meetings, Salvation Army disturbances, and even private houses. It is understood that the Government are not inclined to heed the clamour for the removal of the Home Secretary or the Police Commissioner. Sir Charles Warren, however, may soon be better provided for, and in that case rumour points to Mr. Malcolm Wood, the Chief Constable of Manchester, as his successor. This gentleman, at the last appointment of Chief Commissioner, was second on the list, and since then he has increased his reputation by his management of affairs during the Queen's visit to Manchester. The Government are not likely to try a military man again.


The New York correspondent of the Daily News states that not a great many months ago a series of remarkably brutal murders of women occurred in Texas. The matter caused great local excitement, but aroused less interest than would otherwise have been the case because the victims were chiefly negro women. The crimes were characterised by the same brutal methods as those of the Whitechapel murders. The theory has been suggested that the perpetrator of the latter may be the Texas criminal, who was never discovered. The Atlanta Constitution, a leading Southern newspaper, thus puts the argument: "In our recent annals of crime there has been no other man capable of committing such deeds. The mysterious crimes in Texas have ceased. They have just commenced in London. Is the man from Texas at the bottom of them all? If he is the monster or lunatic, he may be expected to appear anywhere. The fact that he is no longer at work in Texas argues his presence somewhere else. His peculiar line of work was executed in precisely the same manner as is now going on in London. Why should he not be there? The more one thinks of it the more irresistible becomes the conviction that it is the man from Texas. In these days of steam and cheap travel distance is nothing. The man who would kill a dozen women in Texas would not mind the inconvenience of a trip across the water, and once there he would not have any scruples about killing more women." The Superintendent of the New York police admits the possibility of this theory being correct, but he does not think it probable. "There is," he says, "the same brutality and mutilation, the same suspicion that the criminal is a monster or lunatic who has declared war literally to the knife against all womenkind, but I hardly believe it is the same individual."


In Vienna attention is being called to a crime of an exactly similar kind which preoccupied the public mind in Austria for nearly three years. A Galician Jew named Ritter was accused in 1884 of having murdered and mutilated a Christian woman in a village near Cracow. The mutilation was like that perpetrated on the body of the woman Chapman, and at the trial numbers of witnesses deposed that among certain fanatical Jews there existed a superstition to the effect that if a Jew became intimate with a Christian woman he would atone for his offence by slaying and mutilating the object of his passion. Sundry passages of the Talmud were quoted which, according to the witnesses, expressly sanctioned this form of atonement. The trial caused an immense sensation, and Ritter, being found guilty, was sentenced to death. The judges of the Court of Appeal, however, feeling that the man was the victim of popular error and anti-Semitic prejudice, ordered a new trial upon some technicality. Again a jury pronounced against Ritter, and once more the Court of Appeal found a flaw in the proceedings. A third trial took place, and for the third time Ritter was condemned to be hanged, but upon this the Court of Appeal quashed the sentence altogether, and Ritter was released, after having been in prison 37 months. There is no doubt that the man was innocent.


In the reign of James I. of Scotland, there was born in East Lothia, a village a few miles from Edinburgh, Sawney Beane, the son of poor, but hard working people. Evincing from boyhood a hatred of all labour, and displaying every kind of vicious quality, he at an early age abandoned his home and fled to Galloway. He was accompanied by a fit companion for his crimes in the person of a young woman a native of the same village. The home of this pair was in a cave of about a mile in length and of considerable breadth, the mouth of which was washed by the sea, the tide sometimes penetrating the cave a distance of 200 yards. The victims were waylaid under cover of night on their way from country fairs, or, in the case of isolated travellers across the country, were openly attacked in daylight. The same soul-sickening mutilation was inflicted in each case; the abdomen was cut open, and the entrails dragged out, and the body carried to the cave. To prevent detection they murdered every traveller they robbed, and for years they continued their horrible calling. In this manner, the chronicler tells us, they lived until they had eight sons and six daughters, 18 grandsons, and 14 granddaughters-all the offspring of immorality. After a long career of murder the gang were captured by King James, who, roused to action by the long immunity of the criminals from detection, headed a body of troops, and succeeded with bloodhounds in unearthing from the cave the whole vile tribe, to whom was meted out a death agreeable with the life they had led. The men, says the historian, had their entrails thrown into the fire, their hands and legs were severed from their bodies, and they were permitted to bleed to death. The mother of the whole crew, the daughters, and grandchildren, after being spectators of the death of the men, were cast into three separate fires and consumed to ashes.


Sir Charles Warren, the Chief Commissioner of Police, has, it is officially stated, made arrangements for the employment of bloodhounds to track the murderer in the event of any further crimes being perpetrated under circumstances similar to those which have recently occurred in Whitechapel. An instruction has been issued to the police that they are not to remove the body of the victim, but to send notice immediately to a veterinary surgeon in the South West district, who holds several trained bloodhounds in readiness to be taken to the spot where the body may be found, and to be at once put on the scent. No details as to the plan which will be followed are given. The plan of operations will to a great extent depend upon the circumstances of any particular case in which the aid of the bloodhounds may be called into requisition. A startling fact has just come to light in reference to the recent Whitechapel murders, which goes somewhat towards clearing up the mystery with which the crimes have been surrounded. After killing Katherine Eddowes in Mitre-square, the murderer, it is now known, walked to Goulstone-street, where he threw away the piece of the deceased's woman's apron, upon which he had wiped his bloody hands and knife. Within a few feet of this spot he had written upon the wall, "the Jews shall not be blamed for nothing." One of the police officers gave orders for this writing to be immediately sponged out, probably with a view of stifling the morbid curiosity which it would certainly have aroused. But in doing so a very important link was destroyed, for had the writing been photographed a certain clue would have been in the hands of the authorities. The witnesses who saw the writing, however, state that it was similar in character to the letters signed "Jack the Ripper;" and though it would have been far better to have clearly demonstrated this by photography, there is now every reason to believe that the writer of the letters (facsimiles of which are now to be seen outside every police-station) is the actual murderer. The police consequently are very anxious that any citizen who can identify the handwriting should without delay communicate with the authorities. The Central News, since the original letter and postcard of "Jack the Ripper" were published, has received from 30 to 40 communications daily signed "Jack the Ripper," evidently the concoctions of silly notoriety hunters. A third communication, however, has been received from the writer of the original "Jack the Ripper" letter and postcard, which, acting upon official advice, it has been deemed prudent to withhold for the present. It may be stated, however, that, although the miscreant avows his intention of committing further crimes shortly, it is only against prostitutes that his threats are directed, his desire being to respect and protect honest women.


Hundreds of persons assembled outside the City mortuary in Golden-lane at one o'clock on the 8th inst. to witness the removal of the body of Catherine Eddowes to Ilford for interment. The departure of the funeral cortège was fixed for a half-past one o'clock, and at that hour the road was practically blocked. The coffin was of polished elm, with oak mouldings and black furniture. It was conveyed in an open glass car, drawn by a pair of horses, and was followed by a mourning-coach, in which were John Kelly, four of the dead woman's sisters - Mrs. Eliza Gold, Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher, Mrs. Harriet Jones, and Mrs. Emma Jones - with Mrs. Mary Eddowes and her two daughters. The procession started punctually, but along Old-street and Great Eastern-street it was only able to progress at a very slow rate in consequence of the crowd, although the City police in the first instance, and subsequently the metropolitan constables preserved order admirably. All along Old-street the crowd was specially dense and at the top of Commercial-street and the end of Whitechapel-road knots of people had congregated; but after leaving Great Eastern-street the hearse and coach quickened their pace, and the spectators were soon left behind. At Ilford Cemetery, nearly 500 people had assembled to witness the interment. The service both in the chapel and at the grave was conducted by the Rev. T. Dunscombe, the cemetery chaplain, who made no special reference to the murder. Elizabeth Stride was buried on the 6th inst., in the quietest possible manner, and at the expense of the parish.


On Thursday the City Coroner concluded the inquest touching the death of Catherine Eddowes, who was found murdered and mutilated in Mitre-square on Sunday morning, the 30th ult. Two witnesses stated that at half-past one in the morning - within a quarter of an hour of the murder - they saw a woman, whom they believed to be the deceased, talking with a man. They gave a partial description of him. A constable of the Metropolitan Police deposed to finding in Goulston-street a portion of an apron corresponding with the fragment of the same garment found upon the body. Upon a wall close by were written in chalk the words, "The Jews are the men that will not be blamed for nothing." Detective-officer Halse, of the City Police, said he saw the writing on the wall, and instructions were given to have it photographed; but before that could be done an order was given by the Metropolitan Police - this being on their ground - that it should be rubbed out, lest it should cause an outbreak against the Jews. He protested, but it was rubbed out notwithstanding. Finally the jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person unknown."