1 September 1888
A shocking murder was discovered in Whitechapel yesterday morning. Shortly before four o'clock Police constable Neil found a woman lying in Buck's row, Thomas street, with her throat cut from ear to ear. The body, which was immediately removed to a mortuary, was also fearfully mutilated. The deceased has been identified as Mary Ann Nicholls, thirty six years of age, who was recently an inmate of Lambeth Workhouse. No clue to the murderer has, however, yet been obtained.
A murder of the most brutal kind was committed in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel in the early hours of yesterday morning, but by whom and with what motive is at present a complete mystery. At a quarter to four o'clock Police constable Neill, 97 J, when in Buck's row, Whitechapel, came upon the body of a woman lying on a part of the footway, and on stooping to raise her up, in the belief that she was intoxicated, he discovered that her throat was cut almost from ear to ear. Assistance was procured, a messenger being sent at once to the station and for a doctor. Dr. Llewellyn, of Whitechapel road, whose surgery is not more than 300 yards from the spot where the woman lay, was aroused, and proceeded at once to the scene. He hastily inspected the body where it lay and pronounced the woman dead. The police ambulance from the Bethnal green station having arrived, the body was removed there. A further examination showed the horrible nature of the crime, for the lower part of the woman's body was found to have been horrible mutilated by three or four deep gashes. Any one of the wounds was sufficient to cause death. After the body was removed to the mortuary of the parish in Old Montague street, Whitechapel, steps were taken to secure, if possible, identification, but at first with little prospect of success. The clothing on the body was of a common description. It was discovered that the skirt of one petticoat and the band of another article bore the stencil stamp of Lambeth Workhouse. The only articles in the pockets were a comb and a piece of looking glass. The latter led the police to conclude that the murdered was an inhabitant of one of the numerous lodging houses in the neighbourhood. As the news of the murder spread one woman and then another came forward to view the body, and at length it was found that a woman answering the description of the deceased had lived in a common lodging house in Thrawl street, Spitalfields. Women from that place were fetched, and they identified the deceased as "Polly" who had shared a room with three other women in the place on the usual terms of such houses - nightly payment of 4d each, each woman having a separate bed. She had frequented the place for about three weeks past. When she presented herself for her lodging on Thursday night she was turned away because she had not the money. She was then the worse for liquor. A woman of the neighbourhood saw her later, she told the police - even as late as 2.30 on Friday morning - in Whitechapel road, opposite the Church, and at the corner of Osborn street, and at a quarter to four she was found within 500 yards of the spot murdered. At about half past seven last evening a woman named Mary Anne Monk, at present an inmate of Lambeth Workhouse, was taken to the mortuary, and identified the body as that of Mary Ann Nicholls. She was with her in the Lambeth Workhouse in April and May last. On the 12th of May Nicholls left the workhouse to take a situation as servant at Wandsworth common. Her stay there, however, was short. From that time she had been wandering about. She was a married woman, but had been living apart from her husband for some years. Her age was 36, and had been an inmate of Lambeth Workhouse off and on for the past seven years. She was first admitted to the workhouse seven years ago, and from this point seems to have entered upon a downward career.
The matter is being investigated by Detective Inspector Abberline, of Scotland yard, and Inspector Helson, J Division. The latter states that he walked carefully over the ground soon after 8 o'clock in the morning, and beyond the discolourations ordinarily found on pavements, there was no sign of stains. Viewing the spot where the body was found, however, it seems difficult to believe that the woman received her death wounds there. The body must have been nearly drained of blood, but that found in Buck's row was small indeed. The police have no theory with respect to the matter, except that a sort of "High Rip" gang exists in the neighbourhood which, "blackmailing" women who frequent the streets, takes vengeance on those who do not find money for them. They base that surmise on the fact that within twelve months two other women have been murdered in the district by almost similar means - one as recently as the 6th of August last - and left in the gutter of the street in the early hours of the morning. The other theory is that the woman whilst undressed was murdered in a house near, her clothes being then huddled on the body, which was afterwards conveyed out to be deposited in the street. Colour is lent to this by the small quantity, comparatively, of blood found on the clothes, and by the fact that the clothes are not cut. If the woman was murdered on the spot where the body was found, it is almost impossible to believe that she would not have aroused the neighbourhood by her screams, Buck's row being a street tenanted all down one side by a respectable class of people superior to many of the surrounding streets, the other side being a blank wall bounding a warehouse.
Dr. Llewellyn yesterday made the following statement:- I was called to Buck's row about five minutes to four this morning by Police constable Thane (sic), who said a woman had been murdered. I went to the place at once, and found deceased lying on the ground in front of the stableyard door. She was lying on her back with her legs out straight, as though she had been laid down. Police constable Neil told me that the body had not been touched. The throat was cut from ear to ear, and the woman was quite dead. On feeling the extremities of the body, I found that they were still warm, showing that death had not long ensued. A crowd was now gathering, and as it was undesirable to make a further examination in the street, I ordered the removal of the body to the mortuary, telling the police to send for me again if anything of importance transpired. There was a very small pool of blood in the pathway which had trickled from the wound in the throat, not more than would fill two wine glasses, or half a pint at the outside. This fact, and the way which the deceased was lying, made me think at the time that it was probable that the murder was committed elsewhere, and the body conveyed to Buck's row. At the time I had no idea of the fearful abdominal wounds which had been inflicted upon the body. At half past five I was summoned to the mortuary by the police, and was astonished at finding the other wounds. I have seen many horrible cases, but never such a brutal affair as this. From the nature of the cuts on the throat it is probable that they were inflicted with the left hand. There is mark at the point of the jaw on the right side of the deceased's face as though made by a person's thumb, and a similar bruise on the left side, as if the woman's head had been pushed back and her throat then cut. There is a gash under the left ear reaching nearly to the centre of the throat, and another cut apparently starting from the right ear. The neck is severed back to the vertebrae, which is also slightly injured. The abdominal wound are extraordinary for their length and the severity with which they have been inflicted. Deceased's clothes were loose, and the wounds could have been inflicted while she was dressed." The inquest will be held by Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the coroner for the district, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, at one o'clock today.