16 October 1888
A very funny story, which shows the activity of the police in following up any suggestion which might assist in elucidating the mystery of the Whitechapel murders, is being told in the Government offices. A gentleman, believing that he was giving an important hint, wrote to Scotland yard suggesting that, as there had been much dissatisfaction of late in some of the departments, and, naming one in particular, possibly the murderer was a discontented servant of the State who had taken this - certainly indirect - manner of manifesting his anger. To this missive he added his name, private address, and official capacity.
He had not finished his breakfast when a detective arrived, and asked him for further information on the subject of his letter. He replied that he had absolutely none to give; it was merely a surmise. At his office he received a second visit from the police, this time asking him for "a statement." Again he answered he had none to make. But the unfortunate man's troubles were not over, for at lunchtime came two detectives, and sinister rumours of his own arrest ran among unsympathetic juniors.
The story shows two things: the supreme folly of the official who wrote the letter - and he is only one out of scores of such fools who write letters to news agencies and to papers - and the equally idiotic editors or sub editors who notice them; and it also shows the activity of the police.
A propos of the Whitechapel murders and the first outcry against the Jews, it is recalled that Lord Beaconsfield once made the remark that no Jew had ever justly suffered on the scaffold for a capital offence. We presume he referred to England only, otherwise he would be confronted with the penitent thief who said, "We, indeed, justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds."
We are likely to have crops of literature on the Whitechapel murders. Two brochures, very different in quality and aim, have come to hand today. One is the report of a sermon by Dr. Newman Hall, with the heading, "The Sure Detection." The other is a satire by "Marcus." No one doubts others will follow. What is most wanted is not lectures or sermons or satires, but deeds. Will "Marcus," who impugns other people, set an example by doing something if he has done nothing, or more if he has done something?
EXPLAINING A PROBABLE "CLUE."
The information from a person at Llanelly, South Wales, to the effect that on the Saturday before the discovery at Whitehall he saw a man climb the railings, other men with a truck on which there was a bag, being in waiting, has been investigated by the detective officers who have the case in hand. The result is that the incident has been ascertained to have no connection with the placing of the trunk in the vault. A workman got over the railings in Cannon row to open a door which was fastened from the inside, so as to enable another man to carry in a bag of sand which was on the truck. Inspector Marshall and Sergeant Rose this morning were pursuing their inquiries in the neighbourhood of Pimlico.
FOLLOWING UP "CLUES."
In reply to inquiries made at the East end police stations this morning a reporter was informed that no arrests had been made during the night. The search is still being rigorously prosecuted by the vigilants as well as by the police. Evidence of this is afforded by the fact that during the night the detectives were kept busy following up clues communicated to the authorities. In every case, however, the suspected persons were able to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and were not formally arrested.
A "MYSTERIOUS LODGER."
Tom Conway has been found, or, rather, he has discovered himself. Conway is the man who lived with Catherine Eddowes, the woman murdered in Mitre square. Up to yesterday, the efforts of the detectives had been at fault, owing, as was suggested by the City Solicitor at the inquest, to the fact that Conway has drawn his pension from the 18th Royal Irish Regiment under a false name, that of Thomas Quinn. Apparently he has not read the papers, for he was ignorant till the last few days that he was being sought for. Then, however, he learned that the City detectives were inquiring after him, and yesterday afternoon he and his two sons went to the detective office of the City Police in Old Jewry, and explained who they were. Conway was at once taken to see Mrs. Annie Phillips, Eddowes's daughter, who recognised him as her father. He states that he left Eddowes in 1880, in consequence of her intemperate habits, which prevented them from living comfortably together. He knew that she had since been living with Kelly, and had once or twice seen her in the streets but has, as far as possible, kept out of her way, as he did not wish to have any further communication with her. Conway had followed the occupation of a hawker. the police describe him as evidently of very exemplary character. He alluded to his wife's misconduct before their separation with evident pain.
On making inquiries of the City Police, this morning a reporter found that the investigations made by Superintendent farmer, of the River Tyne Police, respecting a man who sailed for a French port, and whose description is stated to have corresponded with that of the Whitechapel murderer, have not resulted in any satisfactory communication to them. The matter may accordingly be dismissed as of no importance.
A strange and suspicious incident in connection with the Whitechapel murders has just been explained by the arrest, late on Saturday, of a German whom the police had every reason to suspect as being connected with the murder of Elizabeth Stride, at Berner street. The affair has until now been kept a profound secret; but the matter was, it is asserted, regarded at first as of such importance that Inspector Reid, Inspector Abberline, and the other officers engaged in the case, believed that a clue of a highly important character had been obtained. It appears that Detective Sergeants W. Thicke and S. White, of the Criminal Investigation Department, made a house to house inquiry in the locality of the Berner street murder. They then discovered that on the day after that crime a German left a bloodstained shirt with a laundress at 22 Batley (sic) street - a few yards from the seat of the tragedy - and remarking, "I shall call in two or three days," departed in a hurried manner. His conduct was deemed highly suspicious. Detectives Thicke and White, who probably know more of the East end criminals than any other officers, arrested the man suspected on Saturday night. He was conveyed to Leman street Station, and inquiries were immediately set on foot. These resulted in the man's release this morning. Our representative made an inquiry respecting the above incident this afternoon, and ascertained that the shirt had a quantity of blood on the front and on both sleeves.
This is, of course, the sequel to the exciting story concerning the bloodstained shirt which was current yesterday.
The Whitechapel tradesmen are by no means satisfied with the assurances of the Home Secretary. They know that winter is coming, and they fear the danger which may then exist in their insufficiently protected district. They, to the number of 209, have thus signed a petition to Mr. Matthews asking him for additional constables. This petition will be presented by Mr. S. Montagu, M.P.
A man named Birchin, who lives at Portsmouth, has exhibited a most extraordinary ferocity since the occurrence of the Whitechapel murders. He has frequently rushed about the house with a knife in his hand, declaring that he would repeat the Whitechapel atrocities upon his wife and three daughters. He was kneeling upon his wife on Sunday, and flourishing the knife over hear head, when seized by the neighbours. Yesterday, at the Portsmouth Police court, he was sentenced to three months' hard labour.