a.k.a. Indian Harry, Harry Bowyer, John Bowyer
Thomas Bowyer was an Indian army pensioner and an employee of John McCarthy's. He lived at 37 Dorset Street. On the morning of 9 November, Bowyer was sent by McCarthy to collect Mary Kelly's rent, which had fallen into arrears. He knocked on the door to 13 Miller's Court but received no answer. Bowyer then peered through a window and saw the horrifying sight of Mary Kelly's mutilated body.
Bowyer described the discovery in his statement to the police, made that very day. The transcript is in Abberline's handwriting:
Statement of Thomas Bowyer 37 Dorset Street Spitalfields in the employ of John McCarthy, lodging house Keeper, Dorset Street.
Says that at 10.45am 9th instant, he was sent by his employer, to number 13 room Miller's Court, Dorset Street, for the rent, he knocked at the door, but not getting any answer he threw the blinds back and looked through the window which was broken and saw the body of deceased woman whom he knew as Mary Kane, seeing that there was a quantity of blood on her person and that she had been apparently murdered he immediately went and informed his employer, Mr. McCarthy who also looked into the room and at once despatched Bowyer to the police Station Commercial Street, and informed the Inspector on duty. (Insp Beck) who returned with him and his employer who had also followed to the Station. He knew the deceased and also a man named Joe, who had occupied the room for some months past. (MJ/SPC, NE1888, Box 3, Case Paper 19 - London Metropolitan Archives)
Bowyer testified at the inquest on 12 November 1888:
Thomas Bowyer stated: I live at 37, Dorset-street, and am employed by Mr. McCarthy. I serve in his chandler's shop, 27, Dorset-street. At a quarter to eleven a.m., on Friday morning, I was ordered by McCarthy to go to Mary Jane's room, No. 13. I did not know the deceased by the name of Kelly. I went for rent, which was in arrears. Knocking at the door, I got no answer, and I knocked again and again. Receiving no reply, I passed round the corner by the gutter spout where there is a broken window - it is the smallest window.
Charles Ledger, an inspector of police, G Division, produced a plan of the premises. Bowyer pointed out the window, which was the one nearest the entrance.
He [Bowyer] continued: There was a curtain. I put my hand through the broken pane and lifted the curtain. I saw two pieces of flesh lying on the table.
[Coroner] Where was this table ? - In front of the bed, close to it. The second time I looked I saw a body on this bed, and blood on the floor. I at once went very quietly to Mr. McCarthy. We then stood in the shop, and I told him what I had seen. We both went to the police-station, but first of all we went to the window, and McCarthy looked in to satisfy himself. We told the inspector at the police-station of what we had seen. Nobody else knew of the matter. The inspector returned with us.
[Coroner] Did you see the deceased constantly ? - I have often seen her. I knew the last witness, Barnett. I have seen the deceased drunk once.
By the Jury: When did you see her last alive ? - On Wednesday afternoon, in the court, when I spoke to her. McCarthy's shop is at the corner of Miller's-court. (Times, 13 November 1888)
Bowyer also claimed to have seen a suspicious man with Kelly on the Wednesday before she was murdered. The Western Mail carried his story on 12 November:
Harry Bowyer states that on Wednesday night he saw a man speaking to Kelly who resembled the description given by the fruiterer of the supposed Berner Street murderer. He was, perhaps, 27 or 28 and had a dark moustache and very peculiar eyes. His appearance was rather smart and attention was drawn to him by his showing very white cuffs and a rather long white collar, the ends of which came down in front over a black coat. He did not carry a bag.
Phil Sugden contends that this statement contradicts Bowyer's inquest testimony, where he said he last saw Kelly alive on Wednesday afternoon (not evening). In any event it is peculiar that Bowyer would not include this story in either his official statement or his inquest testimony.
Most sources refer to Bowyer as an "Indian army pensioner," though the East London Advertiser referred to him as a "salesman" in their coverage of 17 November 1888.Official Sources
MJ/SPC, NE1888, Box 3, Case Paper 19 - London Metropolitan Archives
Times (London) - 13 November 1888
Western Mail (Cardiff) - 12 November 1888
East London Advertiser - 17 November 1888
The Jack the Ripper A-Z (Begg, Fido and Skinner)
The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook (Evans and Skinner)