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Daily News
United Kingdom
22 November 1888

Considerable excitement was caused at the East end yesterday by a report that another woman had been murdered. It was found on inquiry that a woman named Farmer had gone with a man to a common lodging house in George street, Spitalfields, and that at about nine in the morning she rushed out of a room with blood trickling from her throat, declaring that he had tried to murder her. Meanwhile the man made his escape through a kitchen in which were several persons. A hue and cry was raised, but the man escaped, and had not down to a late hour last night been captured. The woman's injuries were very slight.


It has become an article of faith throughout the whole of the East of London that the exploits of the murderer who has so long managed to preserve the mystery in which he is enshrouded will go on until some false stroke, some momentary failure or unavoidable accident, his victim shall be enabled to raise an alarm before she dies, and the assassin shall be taken red handed. The rumour yesterday morning was that this had actually taken place, excepting only that the criminal had, after an exciting chase, managed to distance his pursuers. The story, which spread with inconceivable rapidity all over London, was that Jack the Ripper had made an attempt on another woman, that he had failed to give the first fatal gash, that his intended victim had struggled with him, and that he had fled, hotly pursued. In this case, of course, there could have been little doubt as to the chief personal characteristic of the man, and his capture would probably have been only a matter of a few hours. It will be easily understood that this rumour created the profoundest sensation.

It would be rash to say quite positively that the story was entirely untrue. As yet it is difficult to judge positively of the significance of the few facts that are actually known. It appears that between six and seven o'clock yesterday morning a woman named Farmer, about 39 years of age, went in company with a man to a common lodging house, in George street, Spitalfields, and engaged a double bed. About nine o'clock she rushed down into the common kitchen of the house, with blood trickling from her throat, and declaring that the man she had been with had tried to murder her. There were eight or nine men in the kitchen at the time, and of course they all thought instantly of "Jack the Ripper," but the man, whoever he was, had apparently by this time made his escape, though in order to do so he must have gone through the kitchen. The lodging house is just in the centre of the district in which all the other outrages have occurred, and it is not improbable that the eight or nine men in the kitchen had no very great ambition to be the first to grapple with the desperado who they all believed had just run out into the street. But some sort of a pursuit seems to have been set up, one man, it is said, managing to gain ground upon the fugitive until he got close upon his heels, when the fellow turned, dealt his pursuer a blow in the face, and continued his flight. The police themselves assert that there certainly was a chase, but for a very short distance. How it could happen that even for a short distance in that neighbourhood a hue and cry could be raised against a fugitive from an attempted murder, and no police should happen to be at hand to prevent his escape, we are at a loss to understand. He certainly did escape, and nothing very definite is publicly known about him. He is variously described, but we have reason to believe that he was a short, fair complexioned man, with a light moustache, and an abscess on the side of his neck. A crowd, of course, rapidly gathered round the lodging house, and for a time the sensation was intense. The divisional surgeon was soon on the spot, and the woman's injuries were examined. They were found to be nothing very serious, but it was thought expedient to convey the woman to the police station in an ambulance. This was done, no doubt, to get her there as quickly and as privately as possible, but it naturally tended to give a somewhat exaggerated idea of her injuries, and for a time it was generally believed that she was all but mortally wounded. What her statements were at the police station was not allowed to transpire, but we learn that she first declared she knew the man and subsequently contradicted herself and said he was an entire stranger. The police seemed dubious as to what reliance should be placed either upon her original statement or her contradiction. She was kept at the police station in Commercial street till three or four o'clock in the afternoon, and was then taken to Whitechapel Infirmary in Baker street, where her injuries were regarded as very slight, and where, in answer to inquiries, she merely asserted that she felt sure she should know the man again. Farmer, it is stated, is a married woman separated from her husband. Notwithstanding some coincidences, the probability is that this case will be found to have no connection with the long series of outrages that have so long baffled all attempts to dispel the mystery in which they are enshrouded. The police do not speak very positively either way, but they are evidently inclined to regard it as a lodging house squabble.

A Correspondent writes:-

"As an old stager who has been in the thick of many excitements in London and knows his metropolis pretty well east and west, north and south, I started yesterday morning on receipt of intelligence that another horrible murder had been committed in Whitechapel. It so happened that I had seen nothing of the sanguinary horrors of previous occasions, and therefore carried a fresh mind with me down to Whitechapel and the thoroughfares around it. To say that on the tops of the omnibuses, at the street corners, outside the public houses, and wherever groups had formed, the people were painfully excited, is nor sufficient. Many of them, especially the wretchedly clad and unwholesome looking women who were so evident on every pavement, were simply frantic. They gesticulated wildly, used the most awful language, and threatened miscellaneous violence against the unknown murderer. If ever they had any mental balance they have lost it. They were, poor creatures, ripe for any panic, and, I should say, keep up their courage by constant visits to the hateful ginshops. Women of this description, of various ages, in the course of a couple of hours I saw, not in twos and threes, but in scores. Their opinions could be elicited without eavesdropping. The shrill voices of the viragoes were as proclamations of terror and disgust. The men had less to say; but they, too, were full of the subject, and looked at every stranger with a suspicion that boded ill for any one who they would conclude was Jack the Ripper. Amongst the obvious waifs and strays, the evil livers, the vicious by stress of necessity or the prompting of a crooked moral nature, were numbers of the struggling poor who have retained their self respect, if they have not yet proved that to be virtuous is to be happy. Like the rest, they were terribly agitated and appalled. The seamy side of the seamy East end was, in short, turned out to the cold winds this blustering November day, discussing, inquiring, fearing, hoping - hoping strongly that this time the criminal would be brought to justice. But as the afternoon wore on it was clear that something like the real facts of the case were being understood, and the newsboys no longer dared flaunt the placards which described the event as a murder. They displayed their sensational catchlines as ling as they dared, and were only driven to unfold the more truthful contents bills of later editions by oaths, cuffs, and kicks. The thing that impressed me most during my rambles was the likelihood of some innocent person being some day lynched. The people are at heart panic stricken, and ready, on what they might deem to be reasonable grounds, to take the law into their own hands. This would have happened long ago, I am convinced, if there had been any general agreement as to the appearance of the murderer. The most widespread impression is that he always carries a black bag, but otherwise few men and women can agree upon a pattern. With regard to this last criminal of the George street lodging house, one person assured me that he was a man with a fair moustache; another that he was black bearded. Towards evening you might hear pretty strong opinions expressed that there was no man in the case at all, and that the woman's wounds were self inflicted.


The Press Association says:- A man was arrested in the East end early this morning under very suspicious circumstances. Between one and two o'clock a woman, who was in company with a man in a narrow thoroughfare near Brick lane, was heard to call "Murder!" and "Police!" loudly. At the same moment the man was seen making off at a rapid pace. He was pursued with several streets by the police and detectives who have lately been concentrated in considerable numbers in the neighbourhood, and was captured near Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton's brewery. The man is reported to have drawn a knife and made a desperate resistance, but he was eventually overpowered and conveyed to Commercial street station.


The Ostroff correspondent of the Warsaw Dnevnsk reports another instance of the savage vengeance occasionally wreaked upon an apostate co-religionist by the orthodox Polish Jews. Franz Platkowski abandoned Judaism for the Greek Church, some fifteen years ago, and believed that he had lived down the vindictive opposition of his friends and relatives. Platkowski, who was resident in the village of Dlugosselo, near Ostroff, latterly lived on ostensibly good terms with his neighbouring relatives. He received a visit from one of these a few days ago, who invited him to return with him to Brok, another village in the same district, where the relative alleged some property had been left to Platkowski. He unsuspiciously went with his relative. In passing through a wood he was suddenly attacked by his two brothers and uncle, who dragged him into a tarantass they had waiting. After being severely beaten the victim was thrown on his back by one of his brothers, who knelt on his chest and pinioned his arms, whilst the other, with the uncle's assistance, forced open and poured into his mouth a quantity of vitriol, splashing the burning liquid also over his face and head. Believing their victim to be dead his relatives threw his body out of the car and left him. He was discovered next morning, and removed to the military hospital at Ostroff. Platkowski was scarcely recognisable by his friends. Both eyes, the tongue, and one ear were destroyed, and the head and face horribly burnt. The victim, who was able to make his deposition, is not expected to recover.

Another Sensation in Whitechapel

We have heard of newspaper made generals; after the strange experience of yesterday it will be hard to deny that there are newspaper made murderers. For an hour or two London was encouraged to believe that the Whitechapel miscreant had added one more to his long list of victims. For an hour or two more they were told that he had failed in the fatal stroke by a hair's breadth, but that the woman he had assaulted lay at the point of death. Then slowly they were allowed, as best they could, to obtain possession of the plain fact that a man and woman had wrangled in a common lodging house, and that the man had inflicted some slight injury on the woman's throat. The woman raised an alarm, and the man was pursued, but he contrived to escape, though the whole affair happened between 7 and 9 in the morning in one of the most densely populated districts of London, and though there was a kind of hue and cry at his heels. We may all be thankful that it was no worse; but we have at the same time to reflect on how very bad it would have been if it had been worse. For a time every one believed that a murderer had at last been caught in the act. For all that the supposed miscreant got clear away. The scene of the adventure was George street, Spitalfields, and this is in the heart of a neighbourhood which we have all understood to be under patrol night and day by Vigilance Committees and by representatives of law and order, who in their collective capacity never sleep. The supposed murderer left an upper room in a common lodging house, passed through a kitchen full of lodgers, most or all of them men, ran into the street with some of the men after him, and was so little pressed for time that he was able to turn and strike one of his pursuers on the face before he finally vanished. Nothing happened to him; no indignant citizen tripped him up, no policeman barred his way. It is idle to say that he was not the man whom everybody wants to catch; he was believed to be, and he would have enjoyed the same immunity if he had been that ruffian himself. At this rate of progress in police precaution shall we ever catch the real man?

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