Friday, 16 August 1889
THE RESULT OF THE CORONER'S INQUEST.
The inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of Alice M'Kenzie, who was found dead on the pavement in Castle-alley, Whitechapel, has been resumed and concluded at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of the county of London.
Dr. G. Bagster Phillips, divisional surgeon, gave additional evidence. He said that on the occasion of his making a post-mortem examination the attendants at the mortuary, on taking off the clothing of the deceased, removed a short clay pipe, which one of them threw upon the ground, causing it to be broken. He had the broken pieces laid on the table, but the pipe had disappeared. Although inquiries had been made, it had not been found. The pipe had been used, and came out of the woman's clothing, and not out of her pocket. There were five marks on the abdomen not dealt with on the last occasion, and with the exception of one they were immediately over the middle line. The largest was the lowest, the smallest being the exceptional one mentioned, and was typical of a finger nail mark. In his opinion they were caused by the nails of a hand. The Coroner: As to the important cut, whether first or second, would that prevent the victim from crying out? Witness: Probably it would from the immediate shock. There was no mark suggestive of pressure against the windpipe. Did you detect any skill in the injuries? A knowledge of how effectually to deprive a person of life, and that speedily. Are the injuries to the abdomen similar to those you have seen in the other cases? No; nor are the injuries to the throat. In reply to further questions, the witness said it was probable the woman's assailant was on the right side of the body. The instrument used was a sharp one - with a sharp blade and pointed. By the Jury: The pipe mentioned was in addition to the pipe produced on the last occasion. It was an old short pipe, and had been well used. The coroner said they had practically come to the end of the inquiry. Opportunity had been given to ascertain if any further light could be thrown upon the unfortunate case. The first point the jury had to consider was as to the identity of the deceased, and fortunately in regard to that matter there was no question. Mr. Baxter detailed the circumstances under which the body was found, and said that if the crime was not committed by the same person that perpetrated the others, it was clearly an imitation of the other cases already investigated. Another similarity was the absence of motive. None of the evidence showed that the deceased was at enmity with anybody. There was nothing to show why the woman was murdered or by whom. He thought they would agree with him that so far as the police were concerned every care had been taken after the death to secure, if possible, the criminal. All the ability and discretion the police had shown in their investigations had been unavailing, as in the other cases. The evidence tended to show that the woman was attacked, laid on the ground, and murdered. It was to be hoped something would be done to prevent crimes of this sort, and to make such crimes impossible. It must now be patent to the whole world that in Spitalfields especially there was a class of people which he thought could not be found in such numbers, not only in any other part of this metropolis, but in any other metropolis, and the question arose, "Should this state of affairs continue to exist?" He did not say it was for them to decide. The matter was one for a higher power than themselves to suggest a remedy. But it certainly appeared to him that there were two ways in which the matter ought to be attacked. It ought to be attacked physically. The houses in the neighbourhood were, many of them, unfit for habitation; they wanted clearing away, and fresh ones built. Those were physical alterations which he maintained required to be carried out there. Beyond that there was the moral question. Here they got a population of the same character, and not varied as in a moderate-sized town or village. Here there was a population of 20,000 of the same character, not capable of elevating one another. Of course there was an opinion among the police that it was a proper thing that this seething mass should be kept together, rather than be distributed all over the Metropolis. Every effort ought to be made to elevate this class. He was constantly struck by the fact that all the efforts of charitable and religious bodies there were comparatively unavailing. It was true a great deal had been done of late years, especially to assist the moral development of the East-end, but it was perfectly inadequate to meet the necessities of the case. If no other advantage came from these mysterious murders, they would probably wake up the Church and others to the fact that it was the duty of every parish in the west to have a mission and localise work in the East-end, otherwise it would be impossible to stop these awful cases of crime. There were not only cases of murder there, but many of starvation. At least he hoped these cases would open the eyes of those who were charitable to the necessity of doing their duty by trying to elevate the lower classes.
After a short deliberation, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased was murdered by some person or persons unknown. The jury also added a rider that, "in their opinion, steps should be taken to open up Castle-alley to Whitechapel High-street as a thoroughfare." The coroner said he would communicate the resolution to the proper authorities.