Hargrave Lee Adam
Published in 1914 by the well-known true-crime author Hargrave Lee Adam, Police Work From Within contains a complete chapter concerning the Whitechapel murders. Within these nineteen pages, he recounts the murders of Tabram (Turner), Nichols, Chapman, Stride, Eddowes, Kelly, and McKenzie. He also touches upon the 'Dear Boss' letter, 'Saucy Jacky' postcard, and the 'From Hell' parcel sent to George Lusk. Finally, he discusses the dissenting opinions of both Sir Robert Anderson and Major Henry Smith.
Among Adam's other publications are The Police Encyclopedia and The Trial of George Chapman, both of which are reprinted in The First Fifty Years of Jack the Ripper, Volume I.
THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS.
LET us now consider the notorious "Ripper" murders.
Fastened against the wall near the entrance to the Black Museum is a postcard which recalls a series of murders which at the time, of their perpetration sent a thrill through the whole of England. A few words written in red ink convey a message of bravado, are signed, and purport to come from "Jack the Ripper." There is also a smear of ink on the card, which is evidently intended to represent blood. The card was sent to the police shortly after one of the murders in question had been committed. It is, however, not at all clear to me that this card is genuine; that is to say, that it did in fact emanate from the notorious murderer himself. It may have been sent by one of those peculiar idiots who seem to think it either funny or clever to perpetrate "jokes " of this kind. There is nothing about the card that contradicts this supposition. However, as the police preserve it very jealously among their" exhibits," it is apparent that they at least regard it as of importance.
These horrible murders, which some years ago were committed in the East End of London, must have made an indelible impression on all who read about them. They extended, it will be remembered, over a considerable period, and the miscreant who committed them, it will also be remembered, was never arrested. As to who he really was has since remained a mystery. At the time of the murders the police were subjected to a good deal of abuse because they did not succeed in catching the elusive assassin, but such abuse was by no means deserved by them. There arose many amateur detectives who went forth vowing they would do that which the police themselves had failed to accomplish, but no success attended their efforts. This hunt for "Jack the Ripper" became quite a mania with a certain class of busybodies. I remember a barber, who had patrolled the streets of the East End within the "murder area" during the nocturnal hours, hung the mud-stained boots which he wore on those nights upon a peg in his shop, and would point proudly to them as he told his customers "Those were the boots I wore when I tried to find `Jack the Ripper.'" He would also give you to understand that he "very nearly caught him" on one or two occasions, but was just too late or just too early. Doubtless this enthusiasm was laudable; also it was amusing.
Let me now briefly recall the particulars of the crimes.
Early on the morning of August 31, 1888, a man in the employment of Pickford's, the carriers, was proceeding to his work through Buck's Row, a narrow passage running out of Thomas Street, Whitechapel, when he noticed what he thought was a tarpaulin sheet against a gateway in the thoroughfare. Upon going into the middle of the road, however, he found that the object was the body of a woman. He was shortly afterwards joined by another man. The time was 4.15. Then P.C. John Neil arrived upon the scene. On making a cursory examination of the body Neil found that the throat had been cut from ear to ear. Subsequently the body was removed to the mortuary, where it was seen that the lower part of it had been shockingly mutilated.
The body appeared to be that of a woman about forty years of age. The injuries had evidently been inflicted with a very sharp instrument, which must have been used with great ferocity. There were bruises about the hands and face, which indicated that a severe struggle had taken place. There was no clue whatever as to who was the perpetrator of the terrible murder. Some spots and splashes of blood in a neighbouring thoroughfare seemed to indicate that the murder had been committed elsewhere and the body afterwards carried to the spot where it was found. Soon afterwards the body was identified as that of Mary Ann Nicholls, who had been living in a common lodging-house in Thrawl Street, Spitalfields. She was known as " Polly " Nicholls, and was-an "unfortunate."
Mention should here be made of another murder which took place on the night of the previous August Bank Holiday, when a woman named Turner was found dead in George Yard, Whitechapel, the body having no fewer than thirty stabs on it. Nobody was arrested in connection with it. There was some doubt as to which of these murders was the first of the " Ripper " series, but the police themselves included the George Yard crime in the series. The injuries, however, in this case were, it will be seen, quite different in character to those in all the other cases, and murders of extreme violence were by no means rare at the time in those " mean streets." However, it is a mere detail, and does not affect the matter generally.
The police were inclined to believe that the murders were being committed by a number of men constituting what they called a " High Rip " gang. This theory, however, was later abandoned, when it became clear that the murders were the work of but one sanguinary hand.
In due course a coroner's inquest was held on Nicholls, when a man named Walker came forward and stated that the deceased was his daughter. She was married, but for years had been living apart from her husband. Henry Llewellyn, police surgeon, deposed that he found deceased lying flat on her back with her legs extended. This was important, because it afterwards became clear that the miscreant first got his victims into such a position as placed them at his mercy before despatching them. The witness further stated that the deceased's lower extremities were cold and that she had been dead about half-an-hour. There were several cuts in the abdomen, running from left to right, which might have been inflicted by a left-handed person. Not a sound had been heard by any of the inmates in the surrounding houses. This is accounted for by the fact that the terrible wound in the throat must have been first and swiftly inflicted, thus preventing any possibility of the woman raising a cry. This method the assassin adopted in nearly all the murders he committed, to which display of caution and cunning may safely be attributed his immunity from discovery-that, coupled with his elusiveness and adroitness.
The result of the inquest was a verdict of wilful murder against " some person or persons unknown."
At 6 a.m. on the following September 8, while a man was passing through Hanbury Street on his way to work, he came upon the body of a woman whose throat had been severely cut. He at once reported the matter to the Commercial Street Police Station, and the police were soon on the spot. Hanbury Street is but a short distance from Buck's Row. The body was that of a woman of about forty-five years of age, five feet tall, well formed, and with good looks. In addition to the throat being cut, the body was also mutilated in a shocking manner, being literally disembowelled. It was clear the murderer must have had blood upon him, No weapon was found, and the only clue forthcoming, if, indeed, it could be called such, was of the slenderest description. It consisted of the statement of a man who, at 5.25, while passing through the street, overheard two persons talking on the other side of some palings near the spot where the body was found, one of whom he heard say " No."
The victim in this case turned out to be a woman named Annie Chapman, also of the " unfortunate " class. Many persons were afterwards apprehended in connection with the crime, but all were able to render a satisfactory account of themselves, and all were therefore released. There was a great deal of talk about a man known as " Leather Apron," but he also was able to clear himself. So once more the police arrived at a cul-de-sac in their investigations. Sir Charles Warren, who was then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, became very busy in the matter, but was unable to throw any light on the mystery of the identity of the assassin. A reward of £100 was offered, and produced many so-called "clues," which arose nobody knew how and led to nobody knew where.
An inquest was duly held, which served mainly to reveal the painful nature of the lives led by the class to which the victim belonged. The details of the mutilations were simply revolting, Portions of some of the internal organs were missing. The coroner endeavoured to obtain a clue through the medium of the nature of the weapon which was probably used, as indicated by the character of the injuries. For this purpose he questioned the surgeon, Could the injuries, he asked, have been inflicted by a military man with a bayonet ? Or by a medical man with a weapon used for postmortems ? Or a weapon used by a slaughterer, or one used by a man in the leather trade ? In reply the witness favoured most the theory of a weapon used by a medical man. But unfortunately that did not help matters very much.
Naturally the alarm in the district was very great. The result of the coroner's inquiry was the same as in the previous case. It could be nothing else.
We now come to the morning of September 30 ensuing. About five minutes to one on that, a Sunday, morning, a man named Lewis Deimshitz was driving in a trap to the premises of the International Workmen's Club, Berners Street, Whitechapel, when his horse shied at something against the wall. It may be explained that Deimshitz was steward at the club aforesaid, in addition to which he was also a traveller in jewellery, having just returned from the Westow Hill Market,. near the Crystal Palace. When his horse shied Deimshitz looked down at the object against the wall, but could make nothing of it, He then prodded it with his whip-handle, but still could make nothing of it. He then jumped out of the trap and struck a match, the light from which revealed to him a sight that caused him to fall back with fright.
The object turned out to be the dead body of a woman whose throat had been terribly cut. A stream of blood was running down from the body into the gutter. The scene of the crime was not far from that where the Lipski murder was committed, a case which I have already dealt with, Deimshitz at once summoned P.C. Lamb, who made a cursory examination of the body, which was lying on the left side, the feet towards the street and the face to the wall. In one hand were some grapes and in the other some sweetmeats.
The first step taken by the police was to search every member found in the International Workmen's Club, a proceeding which lasted till five o'clock, but which led to no discovery. The woman's throat had been cut from left to right, severing the jugular vein and the windpipe. The weapon employed must have been a very sharp one. The woman's age appeared to be between thirty-five and forty. (It is worthy of note that most of the " Ripper's " victims were about the same age.) Rain had fallen, and the clothes were saturated. The body was conveyed to the mortuary of St. George's-in-the-East. Subsequently the woman was identified as one Elizabeth Stride, who had been lodging in Flower-and-Dean Street, and was of the " unfortunate" class, In this case the body had not been mutilated, a fact which may be attributed to the assassin having been disturbed before he could finish his work.
Upon this night two victims fell to the " Ripper's " knife, the other murder taking place in Mitre Square, Aldgate, about ten minutes' walk from Berners Street.
At 1.30 P.C. Watkins went round the square but saw nothing unusual. At 1.45 a man at the southwest corner of the square, about twenty-five yards from the nearest light, saw the body of a woman whose throat had been cut. The body was also horribly mutilated, being literally disembowelled. The body was removed to the mortuary. Inasmuch as the police about this part were at the time very closely watching women with male companions, but saw no such couples shortly prior to the commission of the murder, it was conjectured that the " Ripper " must have made an appointment with his victim in the square, to which the two must have gone separately-a fact which illustrates the extraordinary cunning, foresight, and elusiveness of this amazing homicide. The woman was subsequently identified as Catherine Eddowes, or Conway, or Kelly, who had been living with a man in Flower-and-Dean Street-one of the worst thoroughfares in the East End of London, a very pit of moral degradation.
This double murder in one night created a perfect reign of terror in the neighbourhood, and rewards amounting to nearly £1,000 were offered for the apprehension of the wholesale murderer. Private citizens assumed the role of amateur detectives and patrolled the district during the nocturnal hours. It would have been a bad thing for the " Ripper " had he fallen into the hands of these amateur detectives.
Shortly after this, about one o'clock in the afternoon, the mutilated body of a woman was found done up in a bundle or parcel near the new police buildings on the Embankment. This was attributed to the hand of the " Ripper," but I very much question if this was so. I merely mention the incident, as a great deal was made of it at the time, a fact which may be accounted for by the condition of alarm and excitement the people were in at the time over the series of East End murders.
A few days after the commission of the double murder described, the Central News received a letter and postcard, both of which were signed Jack the Ripper." I think this was the origin of the name by which the assassin has since been known. The letter was worded as follows
"DEAR Boss, I keep on hearing the police have caught me, but they won't fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. The joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores, and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled.
Grand work, the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now ? I love my work, and want to start again. You will soon hear of me and my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger-beer bottle over the last job, to write with, but it went thick like glue, and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough, I hope. Ha ! Ha ! The next job I do I shall clip the lady's ears off, and send to the police-officers, just for jolly, wouldn't you ? Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp, I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good luck-Yours truly, JACK THE RIPPER. Don't mind me giving the trade name. Wasn't good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands : curse it. No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now. Ha ! Ha!"
The card bore the post-mark, " London, E., Oct. 1," and ran as follows
" I was not codding, dear old Boss, when I gave you the tip. You'll hear about Saucy Jacky's work to-morrow. Double event this time. Number one squealed a bit ; couldn't finish straight off. Had not time to get ears for police. Thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.-JACK THE RIPPER."
The letter and card were sent to the police, who, although they professed not to regard them as of any importance, had facsimiles distributed among the newspapers for reproduction. It was thought the handwriting might form a clue. However, nothing came of it. Were it not for several peculiarities in the documents they might very well be regarded as the work of some feeble-minded and indecent practical joker. But it is a fact that a portion of an ear of one of the victims in the double murder was cutoff. The dates, too, on the documents, and the time they were received, are significant facts. Also the wording might very well emanate from a homicidal lunatic, which it seems certain the murderer must have been. The free use of " Americanisms " might indicate that the writer was an American, or a man who had mixed a good deal with Americans, and thus acquired their peculiarities of speech. Or it might just as well be that the writer merely adopted these expressions as a form of disguise. The card was smeared with blood, and was not the one which I have referred to as being in the Black Museum, which was written and smeared with red ink only. The latter must have been received subsequently.
But this was not the last of the series of murders, for the following November found the " Ripper " busy again.
On the morning of November 9, 1888, the landlord of a house in Miller Court, Dorset Street, Spitalfields, who kept a chandler's shop near by, sent his man to collect the rent of the occupant of one of the rooms, a woman named Mary Jane Kelly. The woman paid 4s. a week for the room, and was at the time 29s. in arrears. The man, whose name was McCarthy, knocked at the door but received no reply.
He then went round to the front of the house and looked through the window of Kelly's room, which was on the ground floor. The window was broken and there was blood on the glass. There was a blind to the window, but McCarthy was able to push this on one side by thrusting his hand through the hole in the glass. Peering into the room he saw the bloodstained body of Kelly on the bed. He saw that it was mutilated in a terrible manner.
He raised an alarm, and soon Inspector Beck and other officers were on the scene. The door was locked and the key missing. The former was therefore burst open. The sight that met their gaze upon entering the room was simply horrifying. The throat had been cut in the usual manner, but in addition to this the flesh had been cut from the body in strips. Also portions of some of the organs were missing. Dr. J. R. Gabe, who subsequently viewed the body and who had had a good deal of experience in dissecting-rooms, confessed that he had never witnessed such a horrible sight before.
Kelly had been an " unfortunate." The man she had been living with till recently was found, but he was able to give a satisfactory account of himself. The woman was last heard by somebody in the house the previous night singing " Sweet Violets." Apparently, therefore, she must have gone out and encountered the sanguinary " Ripper" and brought him to her room.
Immediately after this terrible murder the police issued the following proclamation
" MURDER-PARDON. Whereas on November 8 or 9, in Miller Court, Dorset Street, Spitalfields, Mary Jane Kelly was murdered by some person or persons unknown, the Secretary of State will advise the grant of her Majesty's pardon to any accomplice not being a person who contrived or actually committed the murder who shall give such information and evidence as shall lead to the discovery and conviction of the person or persons who committed the murder-(Signed) CHARLES WARREN, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Metropolitan Police Office, 4, Whitehall, November 10, 1888."
Many arrests were subsequently made, but all the men were afterwards released. A description of a man with whom the deceased was seen early on the morning of the 9th was given by a man who knew Kelly well. The description was as follows " Respectable appearance. Height 5 ft. 6 in., age between thirty-four and thirty-five, dark complexion and moustache curled at ends ; wearing dark coat with astrachan trimmings, black necktie, horseshoe pin, dark gaiters, light buttons on boots ; massive gold chain."
This crime was followed by many rumours as to the movements of the supposed " Ripper," who, among other things, was said to be a sailor. On January 9, 1889, he was reported in the Times to have been caught at Tunis, but the report was subsequently contradicted. In fact, nothing more was heard of the " Ripper " until the following July, when he once more sent a shudder through London by perpetrating yet another of his " exploits." The following are the particulars of this murder
At 12.15 on the night of July 17, 1889, or the morning of the 18th, P.C. Kelly entered Castle Alley, Whitechapel, and stopped under a lamp to eat his supper. He left the alley at 12.25 and spoke to P.C. Andrews, who was on the same beat. At that hour neither constable saw anything to arouse his suspicions. At 12.50 P.C. Kelly returned to the alley and saw the body of a woman under the lamp beneath which he had shortly before eaten his supper. The throat was cut and the body mutilated. Upon this occasion the weapon employed would appear to have been not so sharp as heretofore, for the wounds had a jagged appearance. It was found that the woman's- clothes were wet, although the ground beneath the body was dry. At 12.40 there was a shower of rain, so that the murder must have been committed between 12.25, when Kelly left the alley, and 12.40, when the rain fell-an interesting detail, but unfortunately it did nothing to assist the apprehension of the murderer.
The Commissioner, Mr. Monro (Sir Charles Warren had retired), was soon upon the scene, Dr. Anderson (now Sir Robert Anderson), the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, being away on leave. A painstaking search on the spot revealed nothing in the shape of a clue. As in the cases of the previous murders, nobody living or being in the vicinity of the scene of the crime heard anything. In this case the "Ripper" had employed his customary adroitness and lightning speed. Many arrests were made, but nothing came of them.
That would appear to have been the last of that particular series of the " Ripper " murders. The lapse of time-more than eight months-between that and the previous murder of Mary Kelly is a noteworthy detail.
As to what was really known of the assassin, we have two very good authorities : Sir Robert Anderson and Lieut.-Col. Sir Henry Smith. The former was at the time head of the Criminal Investigation Department, Scotland Yard, and the latter Assistant Commissioner of the City Police. The murders, which were committed during the year 1888, were, with one exception, committed outside the City Police area, the exception being the one in Mitre Square. Sir Robert Anderson has assured the writer that the assassin was well known to the police, but unfortunately, in the absence of sufficient legal evidence to justify an arrest, they were unable to take him. It was a case of moral versus legal proof. The only chance the police had, apparently, was to take the miscreant red-handed, and that Sir Henry Smith declares they, the City Police, very nearly accomplished. Jack the Ripper, however, " had all the luck," and just managed to escape. This occurred upon the night when he committed two murders, one in Berners Street, off the Commercial Road, and the other in Mitre Square. Sir Henry Smith, with several of his men, was soon at the latter place. When the body came to be examined it was discovered that one half the apron the woman was wearing at the time she was murdered was cut clean away and was missing. One of the police, a man named Halse, happened luckily to get upon the track of the murderer. He ran his best pace in the direction of Whitechapel, and when he came to Goulston Street he noticed a light at one of the doors of one of the Peabody dwellings. He pulled up, and discovered that the light was that of the lantern of a member of the Metropolitan Force, who was inspecting a piece of linen on the ground. It was bloodstained. It was the missing half of the murdered woman's apron. On the wall above, in chalk, was written : "The Jews are the men that won't be blamed for nothing."
Subsequently this inscription was wiped off by order of Sir Charles Warren, who was at Scotland Yard at the time. This Sir Henry Smith maintains was a fatal mistake, as the writing might have afforded a valuable clue. Sir Charles had it done as he feared a rising against the Jews. The assassin had wiped his hands on the missing half of the apron and, it was further discovered, had, with remarkable audacity, washed his hands at a sink up a close in Dorset Street, only a few yards from the street.
A very grim incident happened in connection with the murder in Mitre Square. A few days after a kidney was posted to the office of the Central News, accompanied with a disgusting message, which was at once sent to the headquarters of the City Police. When the body of the victim came to be examined, it was found that one of the kidneys was in fact missing. The one received by post was proved to be the missing one by the fact that both it and the one remaining in the body were in an advanced stage of Bright's Disease. It was also further proved by the fact that two inches of the renal artery was still in the corpse, and the other inch - the renal artery is three inches long - in the recovered kidney.
But the question still remains, who and what was " Jack the Ripper " ? Sir Robert Anderson states confidently that he was a low-class Jew, being shielded by his fraternity. Sir Henry Smith pooh-poohs this, declaring with equal confidence that he was a Gentile. He further states that the writing on the wall was probably a mere blind, although the writing itself might have afforded a valuable clue. One thing is certain, namely, the elusive assassin, whoever he was, possessed an anatomical knowledge. This therefore leads one pretty surely to the conclusion that he was a medical man, or one who had formerly been a medical student. The next question one has to ask oneself is, What was his motive ? There are two possible replies to this : He acted from motives of revenge, or he was a homicidal maniac. These two solutions may be taken either separately or in conjunction. Thus : He may have been slaying solely out of revenge, or he may have been a lunatic with method in his madness ; also he may have been made a lunatic through the medium of that for which he sought revenge. This is strengthened by the fact that his victims were all of the same class, those euphemistically known as " unfortunates."
This raises an interesting question. It is my personal conviction that the murderer was not known nor, at that time, did he die, but that he was answerable for several of the " brothel murders " which were subsequently committed in London. It is a remarkable fact that all these murders of " unfortunates," right along from that in Great Coram Street to the recent one at Brixton, including the " Ripper " crimes, have remained " mysteries" ; that is to say, nobody has ever been convicted of them. With but slight variation I say that between all these murders, far apart as they may be in regard to time and place, there is a connecting link, and that connecting link is " motive."
As to who the " Ripper " was, and what became of him, I do not believe anybody knows who is able and willing to come forward and say.