Saturday, 6 October 1888
Two more cases of murder and mutilation of women are reported from London. About half-past one o'clock on Sunday morning the dead body of a woman was discovered by a city policeman in Mitre-square, Aldgate, near the junction of Leadenhall-street and Fenchurch-street. She was apparently between 35 and 40 years of age, and was lying in a corner of the square. Her clothes were thrown over her head and the body was completely disembowelled. There was a gash extending right up the body to the breast, besides injuries to the face and head.
Another horrible murder in Whitechapel was found to have been committed about half an hour earlier. The body was found in the back yard of no. 40. Berner-street, Commercial-street [sic], E., not many minutes walk from Hanbury-street. The premises were occupied by the International Working Men's Club, the steward of which made the discovery. In this case the woman's throat was cut, but there was no mutilation. It was thought that the murderer may have been interrupted. The medical belief is that both murders were committed by the same man, and that he is a maniac.
Crowds of persons on Sunday visited the localities where the murders were committed. The entrances to Mitre-square were, however, closed by order of the police authorities, and a large body of constables, under Inspector Izzard, were kept on the spot to preserve order.
Late on Sunday night the woman murdered in Berner-street was identified by a sister as Elizabeth Stride, who, it seems, was resided latterly at Flower and Dean-street. A correspondent, when he was showed the body of the deceased, recognised her by the name of Annie Fitzgerald, as having been charged and convicted a great number of times at the Thames Police Court of drunkenness. Whenever so charged, she always denied having been drunk, and gave as an excuse that she suffered from fits. This statement, although not strictly true in connection with her special visits to the Thames Police Court, was partially correct, for while evidence was being adduced against her, she had fallen to the floor of the dock in a fit and had to be carried from the court to a cell in an insensible condition. When the body was found it presented no marks of a struggle having taken place.
A description has been issued by the police of a man said to have been seen on Saturday night in the company of Elizabeth Stride, the victim of the Berner-street murder. He was about 28 years of age, dark complexioned, and wore dark clothes and a stained felt hat. The two men detained at Leman-street were released on Tuesday afternoon.
The Central News says:- On Thursday last the following letter bearing the E.C. postmark, and directed in red ink, was directed to this agency:
25th September 1888.
Dear Boss, - I keep on hearing that 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 ------, and I shan't quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job. 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, and I can't use it. Red ink is fit enough, I hope, ha, ha! The next job I do I shall clip the ladies' ears off and send them to the police officers, just for folly, 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 get a chance. Good luck. - Yours truly,
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 am a doctor. Ha! ha!
The whole of this extraordinary epistle is written in red ink in a free bold clerky hand. It was of course treated as the work of a practical joker, but it is singular to note that the latest murders have been committed within a few days of the receipt of the letter, that apparently in the case of his last victim the murderer made an attempt to cut off the ears, and that he did actually mutilate the face in a manner which he had never before attempted. The letter is now in the hands of the Scotland Yard authorities.
The Central News says:- A post-card bearing the stamp "London E., October 1," was received on Tuesday morning, addressed to the Central News Office; the address and subject matter being written in red and undoubtedly by the same person from whom the sensational letter, given above, was received. It runs as follows:-
I was not codding, dear old boss, when I gave you the tip. You'll hear about Saucy Jack's work tomorrow. 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.
The card is smeared on both sides with blood, which has evidently been impressed thereon by the thumb or finger of the writer, the corrugated surface of the skin being plainly shown upon the back of the card. Some words are nearly obliterated by a bloody smear. It is not necessarily assumed that this has been the work of the murderer, the idea that naturally occurs being that the whole thing is a practical joke. At the same time the writing of the previous letter immediately before the commission of the murders of Sunday was so singular a coincidence that it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the cool, calculating villain who is responsible for the crimes has chosen to make the post a medium through which to convey to the press his grimly diabolical humour.
It is needless to say that the most intense excitement has prevailed throughout the week, and that numerous arrests have been made, but up to the time of writing the hell-hound was still at large. Our daily contemporaries teem with all sorts of theories and suggestions, and the police are being keenly criticised for their inability to track the murderer, while the Home Secretary has been soundly rated for not offering a Government reward. On the latter point the Morning Post says: "It seems to be generally assumed that the responsibility for discontinuing the system of Government awards for the detection of criminals rests with the present Home Secretary, and among the numerous complaints against Mr. Matthews, it is asserted that his police force is incompetent, but that he rejects the most simple and obvious way of helping them out of their difficulty. As a matter of fact it was Sir William Harcourt who did away with the old system about four years ago; and the chief ground upon which he proceeded was that experience had shown that if there is a market price for the detection of crime, crime will be manufactured. If, for instance, the sum of £100 is to be gained for supplying a clue to the perpetrator of a murderer or dynamite explosion, there are plenty of scoundrels in the world who are quite capable of committing the crime and taking measures to cast overwhelming suspicion on some innocent person. When an attempt was made to blow up London bridge in 1884 the Court of Common Council proposed to offer a reward £5,000 for the capture of the miscreants concerned. Sir William Harcourt informed the court that such a course was not calculated to assist in securing the right criminals, and moreover, that it was likely to embarrass the police. He pointed out that in the case of the Phoenix Park assassinations, although a reward of £10,000 had been advertised, it had nothing to do with the discovery of the authorship of the crime, and all the best authorities had come to the conclusion that while the system was in many respects objectionable, it had rarely led to the apprehension of any prisoners who would otherwise have escaped. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Sir William Harcourt must have found in the records of Scotland Yard some strong cases of evidence concocted against innocent men in order to secure "blood money," and even, as we have said, of crime committed by A. for the express purpose of profiting by the conviction of B. The experience of the French Police is to the same effect. They too, have abandoned the system long ago, and were exceedingly reluctant even to allow a reward to be offered by private individuals on the occasion of the murder of the Sportsman correspondent at Boulogne. It is not impossible that to satisfy popular clamour, Mr. Matthews may, in the instance of the Whitechapel atrocities, eventually consent to make an exception to the rule laid down by Sir William Harcourt and maintained by Sir Richard Cross and Mr. Childers. But we cannot conceive that his doing so will be of the least use. There was never a case in which the criminal was less likely to have accomplices."
The Lord Mayor of London has offered £500, and the proprietors of the Financial News have written to the Home Secretary, offering a donation, which however, has not been accepted. The Vigilance Committee, formed in Whitechapel after the murder of Annie Chapman in Hanbury-street, have also raised £300 to stimulate the search for the murders. Altogether, a total of not less than £2,000 has been guaranteed.
At the inquest on the woman known as Elizabeth Stride, Mary Malcolm, Eagle-street, Holborn, wife of a tailor, said she recognised deceased as her sister Elizabeth Watts. She last saw her alive on Thursday evening at witness's house, when the witness gave her a jacket and 1s. Deceased never told her where she was living. Witness believed the deceased's husband had gone to America, on account of the disgrace his wife had brought upon him eight years ago. Deceased had subsequently lived with a man who went to sea and who was drowned two or three years ago. Witness knew she was called "Long Liz". She had never missed meeting witness on a Saturday for three years till last Saturday. Witness felt a presentiment from a dream she had had that here sister was dead, and subsequently proceeded to the mortuary and recognised her body. One proof of identity was a mark on the leg caused by the bite of an adder when she was a child.
The Times says no means of detection should be left untried, and suggests that a bloodhound might be tried, as in the case of the Blackburn murder, 12 years ago. As the matter stands, the police are at fault, and must apparently await helplessly the perpetration of some fresh outrage to give them a renewed chance of getting on the right track.
The Daily Telegraph says:- "Justice, personified, unhappily, just now in the helpless, heedless, useless figure of the Right Hon. Henry Matthews, ought at length to arouse herself and scour the capital, obliterate the slums, search between the very bricks and mortar in order to unearth this unspeakable villain, whose deeds appal a whole kingdom.
Sir James Ridson Bennet, the eminent physician, informs the Central News that he has no doubt whatever that the East End murders have been the work of a homicidal maniac suffering probably from erratic delusion. His mania must be so acute as to assuredly be noticeable to persons with whom he casually associates. Sir James is confirmed in his opinion that the theory of the murders being committed for physiological purposes is utterly untenable.
Six women have now been murdered in the East End under mysterious circumstances, five of them within a period of eight weeks. The following are the dates of the crimes and names of the victims so far as known:-
1. Last Christmas week. - An unknown woman found murdered near Osborne and Wentworth-streets, Whitechapel.
2. August 7. - Martha Turner, found stabbed in 39 places, on a landing in model dwellings, known as George-yard Buildings, Commercial-street, Spitalfields.
3. August 31. - Mrs. Nicholls, murdered and mutilated in Bucks-row, Whitechapel.
4. September 7. - Mrs. Chapman, murdered and mutilated in Hanbury-street, Whitechapel.
5. September 30. - Elizabeth Stride, found with her throat cut in Berners-street, Whitechapel.
6. September 30. - Woman unknown, murdered and mutilated in Mitre-square, Aldgate.
The lengthy catalogue of London horrors has received another addition, a mutilated body having been discovered on Tuesday near the Houses of Parliament. A carpenter named Frederick Wildborn, while at work at the new police headquarters on the Thames Embankment, came across a paper parcel in one of the cellars. Upon being opened the parcel was found to contain the trunk of a woman, the head, arms and legs being missing. The body was wrapped in an old black petticoat. Dr. Bond was called, and has examined the trunk, which is supposed to be that of a woman whose arms had been found in Pimlico and Lambeth.
Practically nothing of any moment transpired yesterday in connection with the recent murders. As was generally assumed, the confession of William Ball [Bull], who has been detained by the city police since Tuesday last, came to nothing, and he was discharged yesterday after being severely censured for the silly practical joke he had played upon the police. Early in the morning the police posted up at all the stations facsimile copies of the post card and letter which pretend to be written by the murderer, and these bills were eagerly read and discussed by large crowds. At the time of telegraphing, the police admit they have practically no clue, but the activity at the headquarters betoken that the authorities are fully alive to the responsibility resting on them. The proceeding at the inquest yesterday on the body of the Berner-street victim has again thrown some doubt on the identity of the person murdered. Indeed the mystery seems to deepen as time goes on. The deputy of the lodging house where the deceased was said to live, as well as the man Kidney, who said he lived for three years with the deceased, were both positive that the body was that of Elizabeth Strides [sic], and gave what was considered to be conclusive evidence on the point. It was evident at the time that the doctors were startled by the statement, and have since, as the result of another examination of the body, totally disproved the evidence of the witnesses mentioned. The doctors yesterday stated that they could find no trace of any injury to the palate indicated, and it certainly seems very strange that the man Kidney could by any possible means have been mistaken, especially as the clerk of the Swedish Church in the East End, swore that he had known her for seventeen years as Elizabeth Stride, and produced the marriage register. Another significant circumstance is that the jury yesterday were sworn to enquire into the death of a "Person-unknown," while at previous hearings they were sworn to enquire into the death of Elizabeth Stride.
Mr. Wynne Baxter yesterday afternoon resumed the inquest on Elizabeth Stride, who was murdered in Berners-street on Sunday morning last. Dr. Phillips, divisional police surgeon, recalled, said since last sitting, he had, as requested, examined the body, along with Dr. Gordon Brown and Dr. Blackwell, and they agreed with him that the knife produced, though it might have inflicted the injuries was an unlikely instrument to have been used. - William Marshall, 64, Berner-street, warehouse labourer, said he saw deceased about a quarter to twelve talking to a man in Berner-street. He was of middling height, with a black coat and light trousers. He wore a cap with a small peak. He was more like a clerk, than a sailor or a butcher. Deceased walked away with the stranger. - James Brown, of Fairclough-street, said about a quarter to one he saw a man and woman at the corner of Berner-street. After he got home he heard cries of murder. That was 20 minutes later. - After further evidence the inquest was adjourned till October 23rd.