Day of inquest, Saturday, April 7, 1888
(The Times, Monday, April 9, 1888)
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the East Middlesex Coroner, held an inquiry on Saturday [7 Apr] at the London Hospital respecting the death of EMMA ELIZABETH SMITH, aged 45, a widow, lately living at 18, George-street, Spitalfields, who, it was alleged, had been murdered.
Chief Inspector West, of the H Division of Police, attended for the Commissioners of Police.
Mrs. Mary Russell, deputy keeper of a common lodging-house, stated that she had known the deceased for about two years. On the evening of Bank Holiday [2 Apr] she left home at 7 o'clock, and returned about 4 or 5 the next morning in a dreadful state. Her face and head were much injured, one of her ears being nearly torn off. She told the witness that she had been set upon and robbed of all her money. She also complained of pains in the lower part of the body. Witness took her to the hospital, and when passing along Osborne-street the deceased pointed out the spot where she was assaulted. She said there were three men, but she could not describe them.
Mr. George Haslip, house surgeon, stated that when the deceased was admitted to the hospital she had been drinking but was not intoxicated. She was bleeding from the head and ear, and had other injuries of a revolting nature. Witness found that she was suffering from rupture of the peritoneum, which had been perforated by some blunt instrument used with great force. The deceased told him that at half past 1 that morning she was passing near Whitechapel Church when she noticed some men coming towards her. She crossed the road to avoid them, but they followed, assaulted her, took all the money she had, and then committed the outrage. She was unable to say what kind of instrument was used, nor could she describe her assailants, except that she said that one was a youth of 19. Death ensued on Wednesday morning [4 Apr] through peritonitis set up by the injuries.
Margaret Hayes, living at the same address as the deceased, deposed to seeing Mrs. Smith in company with a man at the corner of Farrant-street and Burdett-road. The man was dressed in a dark suit and wore a white silk handkerchief round his neck. He was of medium height, but witness did not think she could identify him.
Chief Inspector West, H Division, stated that he had no official information on the subject, and was only aware of the case through the daily papers. He had questioned the constables on the beat, but none of them appeared to know anything about the matter.
The Coroner said
The Coroner said that from the medical evidence, which must be true, it was clear that the woman had been barbarously murdered. It was impossible to imagine a more brutal and dastardly assault, and he thought the ends of justice would be better met by the jury recording their verdict at once than by adjourning to some future date in the hope of having more evidence brought before them.
The jury returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."
The police are making every possible inquiry into the case, but up to yesterday [8 Apr] had not any clue to the persons who committed the outrage.
Only Day of inquest, Saturday, April 7, 1888
(Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, Sunday, April 8, 1888, Front Page)
Mr. Wynne Baxter held an inquiry yesterday
morning [7 Apr] at the London hospital into the terrible
circumstances attending the death of an unfortunate, named
Emma E. Smith, who was assaulted in the most brutal manner
early on Tuesday morning last [3
Apr] in the neighbourhood of
Osborn-street, Whitechapel, by several men.
Mary Russell, (The first
witness), the deputy-keeper of a lodging-house in George-street,
Spitalfields, deposed to the statement made by the deceased on
the way to the London hospital, to which she was taken between
four and five oclock on Tuesday morning [3 Apr]. The deceased told her she had
been shockingly maltreated by a number of men and robbed of all
the money she had. Her face was bleeding, and her ear was cut.
She did not describe the men, but said one was a young man of
about 19. She also pointed out where the outrage occurred, as
they passed the spot, which was near the cocoa factory
Dr. Hellier [Haslip], (The house-surgeon on duty),
described the internal injuries which had been caused, and which
must have been inflicted by a blunt instrument. It had even
penetrated the peritoneum, producing peritonitis, which was
undoubtedly the cause of death, in his opinion. The woman
appeared to know what she was about, but she had probably had
some drink. Her statement to the surgeon as to the circumstances
was similar to that already given in evidence. He had made a
post-mortem examination, and described the organs as generally
normal. He had no doubt that death was caused by the injuries to
the perinaeum, the abdomen, and the peritoneum. Great force must
have been used. The injuries had set up peritonitis, which
resulted in death on the following day after admission [4 Apr].
Another woman [Hayes] gave evidence that she had last
seen Emma Smith between 12 and one on Tuesday morning [3 Apr], talking to a man in a black
dress, wearing a white neckerchief. It was near Farrant-street,
Burdett-road. She was hurrying away from the neighbourhood, as
she had herself been struck in the mouth a few minutes before by
some young men.She did not believe that the man talking to Smith
was one of them. The quarter was a fearfully rough one. Just
before Christmas last she had been injured by men under
circumstances of a similar nature, and was a fortnight in the
Mr. Chief-inspector West,
H division, said he had made inquiries of all the constables on
duty on the night of the 2nd and 3rd April
in the Whitechapel-road, the place indicated.
The jury returned a
verdict of Wilful murder against some person or persons
Only Day of inquest, Saturday, April 7, 1888
(East London Advertiser Saturday, April 14, 1888, Page 3)
On Saturday [7
Apr] the East Middlesex coroner [Baxter] held an
inquiry at the London Hospital, Whitechapel, on the body of
Emma Elizabeth Smith, aged 45, a widow, who was brutally
assaulted when returning home along the Whitechapel-road on
Bank Holiday night.
Mary Russell, the deputy
of a common lodging-house at which the deceased had been a lodger
for some months, said that on Bank Holiday [2
Apr] the deceased left the house in the evening,
apparently in good health. She returned between 4 and 5
oclock the next morning [3 Apr],
and she had been shockingly treated by some men. Her face was
bleeding, and she said that she was also injured about the lower
part of the body. The deceased had often come home with black
eyes that men had given her.
Mr. George Haslip, house
surgeon, deposed that the deceased was admitted suffering from
severe injuries, which he thought had been caused by some blunt
instrument. She had been drinking, but was not intoxicated. She
had a ruptured pirinium of very recent date, and also some
bruises on her head. Her right ear was torn and bleeding. She
told witness that at 1.30 that morning she was going by
Whitechapel Church when she saw some men coming, and she crossed
the road to get out of their way, but they followed her. They
assaulted her and robbed her of all the money she had. She could
not describe the men, except that one looked a youth of 19. After
her admission she gradually sank, and died two days later [5 Apr]. The deceased stated that she had
not seen any of her friends for 10 years.
The Coroner said from the
medical evidence it was clear that the woman had been barbarously
murdered. Such a dastardly assault he had never heard of, and it
was impossible to imagine a more brutal case.
The jury returned a
verdict of wilful murder against some person unknown.