A CAST OF THOUSANDS
BY CHRISTOPHER SCOTT
Alice McKenzie was found dead in Castle Alley in the early hours of the morning of 17th July 1889. Her body, with the throat cut and superficial wounds on the trunk, was found by PC Walter Andrews. At the time the Castle Alley killing raised new fears in the press regarding a resurgence of the Whitechapel murders but few modern researchers, in my experience and opinion, would accept McKenzie as a victim of the same hand who killed the five central Whitechapel victims, if, indeed, they all died by the same hand.
McKenzie's body was found by PC Andrews just after 12.50 a.m., and he reported Jacobs' arrival on the scene soon after finding the body. Jacobs was off to get some supper and Andrews is quoted as saying:
"After I saw the body lying on the pavement I heard a footstep coming from Old castle place, and I saw a young man named Isaac Lewis Jacobs. I said, "Where are you going?" He said, "I am going to Wentworth Street to fetch something for my supper."
But in Jacobs' own testimony later in the same press account his own version of his destination is very different.
"Isaac Lewis Jacobs said - I live at 12 Newcastle place, and am a bootmaker. About ten minutes to 1 this morning I left home to buy some supper in M'Carthy's, in Dorset street."
This M'Carthy (or McCarthy) in Dorset Street is John McCarthy, the landlord of Mary Kelly, last of the five main Ripper victims who was murdered on 9th November 1888. His shop at 27 Dorset Street was actually a chandler's shop but it was not unknown for such premises to offer food for sale even into the early hours of the morning.
Andrews describes Jacobs as a "young man". In fact he would have been 20 at the time of the McKenzie murder. He was a Russian born Jew listed in 1891 as a boot finisher, aged 23 and living at 28 Queen Street, Spitalfields. He was by that time already married, his wife in 1891 listed as Leah Jacobs aged 20, also born in Russia. He and his wife had two Russian born boarders at the time of the census, Jacob Lieve aged 25, a laster, and Lewis Ishkovitch, aged 21, a boot knifer.
Jacobs' full testimony as reported reads:
Isaac Lewis Jacobs said - I live at 12 Newcastle place, and am a bootmaker. About ten minutes to 1 this morning I left home to buy some supper in M'Carthy's, in Dorset street. I had occasion to pass Newcastle place into Old Castle Street. When I got to Cocoanut place a constable ran up to me; I stopped. He said, "Where have you been?" I replied, "I have been nowhere, I am just going on an errand and have just left my home." The constable then said, "Come with me; there has been a murder committed." I went with him and when we got to Old Castle Street he blew his whistle. I believe a sergeant then came up. We then hurried down to the lamppost in Castle alley. I saw a woman lying there in a pool of blood, with a wound in the throat, and another wound in the side. I waited there until another police constable came, and afterwards saw the body removed. Then I went home.
By the 1901 Isaac and his family were living at 37 Grey Eagle Street, Spitalfields:
Isaac Jacobs aged 35 born Russia - Boot finisher
Leah Jacobs aged 30 born Russia
Annie aged 10
Rachel aged 7
Fanny aged 5
Eve aged 5
Morris aged 3 months