WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1888
Another clue, although it must be admitted a very slight one, has just been brought to light in connection with the Hanbury-street murder. On the day of the crime - Saturday, the 8th inst. - a man entered the lavatory of the City News Rooms, Ludgate-circus-buildings, and changed his clothes. He departed hurriedly, leaving behind him a pair of trousers, a shirt, and a pair of socks. Mr. Walker, the proprietor of the rooms, did not hear of the occurrence till late in the afternoon, and he did not then, nor does he now, attach any importance to the fact. No suspicious marks or stains were noticed on the clothes, which were thrown into the dustbox and placed outside, being carted away in the City Sewers' cart on the Monday. On the following Tuesday, however, Mr. Walker received a visit from a man who represented himself to be a police-officer, and who asked for the clothes which had been left there on the Saturday. Mr. Walker replied that if he wanted them he would have to go to the Commissioners of the City Sewers, telling him at the same time what he had done with them. Two detectives called on Thursday last, and had an interview with Mr. Walker. They succeeded in finding a man who saw the stranger changing his clothes in the lavatory, and he has given the police a description of him. He is described as a man of respectable appearance, about 30 years of age, and wearing a dark moustache; but the police are very reticent about the matter, and decline to give any information on the subject. They evidently attach more importance to the affair than does Mr. Walker himself, who again received a visit from two detectives on Monday morning. The police are now trying to trace the clothes.
At the Thames Police-court, yesterday, Charles Ludwig, 40, a decently-attired German, who professed not to understand English, and giving an address at the Minories, was charged with being drunk threatening to stab Alexander Finlay, of 51, Leman-street, Whitechapel. - Prosecutor said that at three o'clock on Monday morning he was standing at a coffee-stall in the Whitechapel-road, when Ludwig came up in a state of intoxication. The person in charge of the coffee-stall refused to serve him. Ludwig seemed much annoyed, and said to witness, "What are you looking at?" He then pulled out a long-bladed knife, and threatened to stab witness with it. Ludwig followed him round the stall, and made several attempts to stab him, until witness threatened to knock a dish on his head. A constable came up, and he was then given into custody. - Constable 221 H said when he was called to take the prisoner into custody he found him in a very excited condition. Witness had previously received information that Ludwig was wanted in the City jurisdiction for attempting to cut a woman's throat with a razor. On the way to the station the prisoner dropped a long-bladed knife, which was open, and when he was searched a razor and a long-bladed pair of scissors were found on him. - Constable John Johnson, 866 City, deposed that early on Tuesday morning he was on duty in the Minories, when he heard loud screams of "Murder!" proceeding from a dark court. The court in question leads to some railway arches, and is a well-known dangerous locality. Witness went down the court, and found the prisoner with a prostitute. The prisoner appeared to be under the influence of drink. Witness asked what he was doing there, and he replied, "Nothing." The woman, who appeared to be in a very agitated and frightened condition, said, "Oh, police-man, do take me out of this." The woman was so frightened that she could then make no further explanation. Witness got her and the accused out of the court, and sent the latter off. He walked with the woman to the end of his beat, when she said, "Dear me! he frightened me very much when he pulled a big knife out!" Witness said, "Why didn't you tell me that at the time?" and she replied, "I was too much frightened." He then went and looked for the prisoner, but could not find him, and therefore warned several other constables of what he had seen, and also gave a description of the prisoner. Witness had been out all the morning trying to find the woman, but up to the present time had not been able to do so. He should know her again. He believed the prisoner worked in the neighbourhood. - Mr. Saunders said it was clear the prisoner was a dangerous man, and ordered him to be remanded for a week.
Considerable excitement prevailed in the neighbourhood owing to the report that the prisoner was connected with the recent murders in Whitechapel, and that some important discoveries would result from his capture. Detective-inspector Helson, J Division, after the prisoner was remanded, had an interview with him in his cell; but, owing to the prisoner professing not to understand the English language, no information could be got out of him. From outside inquiries, however, it has been gathered that Ludwig came to this country from Hamburg about fifteen months ago, and is a hairdresser by trade. He entered the employment of Mr. C. A. Partridge, hairdresser, the Minories, a fortnight ago last Saturday. Mr. Partridge met him at a German club in Houndsditch, which is a house of call for German hairdressers. After he had been in his new employment a week he asked to be allowed to sleep in the house, and to this Mr. Partridge consented. The reason he gave was that at the house at which he was staying there was a man lying dead, and he did not like to stop there. He made another move on Sunday night, and went to stay with a German tailor, named Johannes, in Church-street, Minories, leaving his scanty stock of worldly belongings at his employer's. Johannes, however, found that Ludwig would be an unwelcome visitor on account of his dirty habits, and he was told on Monday morning that he must not come back again. This, in a measure, accounts for his wandering about during the night. The things he has left at his employer's include two or three shirts and barbers' aprons, but no blood marks can be found upon them. Mr. Partridge says he is a good workman, but rather fond of drink. He ridicules the idea that Ludwig is in any way connected with the recent tragedies in the district, saying he is too much of a coward. As, however, this opinion is mainly based upon the fact that in a quarrel the other day between them, Partridge hit his assistant on the nose, and the latter did not retaliate, it does not go for much. Mr. Richter, the manager of the German club, says he has known prisoner for a little over a year. He was not a member of the club, but was allowed to call there when out of work, so as to obtain another engagement. Many barbers are given employment for Saturday and Sunday only, and employers, when they want extra hands, call at the club and engage men. It was in this way that the prisoner obtained work with Mr. Partridge. He is of a quarrelsome disposition, and entered the club on Monday night about ten. He was then the worse for drink, and the manageress would not allow him to stop, but had him turned out. The court into which he took the woman, as related by Constable Johnson, is called Three Kings'-court, and is situated in the Minories, but a few yards from Mr. Partridge's establishment. It is a court only in name, as the houses have all been pulled down to make room for the railway, and all that is left is an alley of about 12 yards long, leading to a small walled-in space about 40 ft. square. On one side of the alley leading to this cul de sac is an empty house, and on the other side is a baker's shop. There is no light in either the alley or the yard. The woman who complained that the prisoner had threatened her has not been found, but there should be little difficulty in discovering her whereabouts, as she has only one arm. The knife which prisoner dropped on the way to the station was an ordinary clasp knife.
Alexander Finlay, the prosecutor in the Thames-street case, is eighteen years of age, and lives with his mother at 51, Leman-street. He is employed at the ice cream works of Mr. Assenheim in Petticoat-lane. Finlay is able to throw rather more light on the case than appeared at the court, but whether the additional facts which he discloses will identify the prisoner with the perpetrator of the East-end murders is questionable. He says that the first he saw of Ludwig was about a quarter to four o'clock. Prisoner was then at the top of Commercial-street in company with a woman, whom he was conducting in the direction of the Minories. "I took no notice of this at the time," added Finlay, "except to remark to the coffee stall-keeper, 'there goes a swell with a racketty one.' I alluded to the appearance of the two people, for whereas the woman was evidently not of very good character, the man was well dressed; he had on a frock coat and tall hat, and altogether looked what I should call 'a broken down masher.' I about a quarter of an hour, however, the woman ran back in a state of fright, as it seemed. At any rate she was screaming, and exclaiming, 'You can't do that to me.' Again I thought little of it, as I only fancied she had had some drink, but within five minutes the prisoner came up and asked for a cup of coffee at the stall where I was standing. He, at all events, was drunk, and would only produce a halfpenny in payment for the coffee which was given him. I suppose he noticed me looking at him, for he suddenly turned round and asked in broken English, "What you looking at?" I replied that I was doing no harm, but he said, "Oh, you want something," and pulled out a long penknife, with which he made a dash at me. I eluded him, and snatched from the stall a dish which I was prepared to throw at his head; but, as he retreated after making the first dash, I only called to a policeman who was near by and had him arrested. He is slightly built, and perhaps about 5 ft. 6 in. in height, dark-complexioned, and having a grizzled beard and moustache. I should think he is about forty years of age. There is something the matter with one of his legs, and he walks stiffly. I heard that at the police-court this morning he pretended not to understand English, but his English when he addressed me was plain enough, though broken; and, besides, when the officer who had him in charge told me on the way to Leman-street to see that he did not throw anything away, he at once dropped the penknife - which had till then been in his possession - as if the idea of getting rid of it had only just occurred to him. I have never seen him before."
Inspectors Abberline and Helson and Detective-Sergeant Thicke were engaged yesterday afternoon in making inquiries into the prisoner's antecedents and the probabilities of his connection with the East-end tragedies, but they decline to state whether they have formed any theories as to his guilt. The general opinion in the East-end, however, is that the right man has not yet been got hold of, and that the prisoner was labouring under the effects of excitement and drink combined.
Charles Ludwig, a German hairdresser, was charged at the Thames Police-court yesterday with threatening to stab Alexander Finlay early the same morning. Prior to his arrest for this offence a City constable had seen the prisoner in a dark court in company with a woman, who afterwards complained that he had frightened her by pulling a big knife out. As he was being conveyed to the station Ludwig dropped a long-bladed knife, and a razor and a pair of scissors were subsequently found upon him. The accused was remanded for a week, and the police are meanwhile investigating his antecedents to ascertain if he is in any way connected with the Whitechapel outrages.
An absolutely deplorable and at the same time exasperating spectacle of general incapacity and imbecility on the part of officials from whom the public have a right to expect the display of some reasonable amount of energy, vigilance, and foresight, was presented in the evidence given at the adjourned inquest on the remains of MARY ANN NICHOLLS, the victim of the last but one horrible murder and mutilation, in Buck's-row, Whitechapel. No doubt the testimony given by witnesses belonging to what may be called the outside public was candid enough, but it had little, if anything, to do with the matter immediately in hand. The poor woman NICHOLLS was assassinated on the 31st ultimo, but a railway signalman was allowed to depose that on the morning of the 8th instant, which was the day not of the Buck's-row but of the Hanbury-street murder, "he saw a man with a knife." According to this railway signalman the man seemed to have a wooden arm, and when he put his hand in his trousers pocket the witness saw about four inches of a knife. Perceiving that he was followed the suspected individual quickened his pace, although in addition to a wooden arm he seemed to have a stiff knee, and the witness lost sight of him. The man who vanished was to all outward appearance a mechanic. He did not seem to be muscular; he had "a fearful look" about the eyes; and the police have not been able to find him. Then came a night-watchman in Winthorp-street, who said that he had not heard cries or any other noise; but, in answer to further questions, this worthy admitted that he sometimes dozed, pleading, however, that his drowsiness was natural, inasmuch as he was thirteen hours on duty, and "had to find his own coke." Not much more to the purpose could be elicited from the police; they knew little, and had found out nothing since the occurrence of the crime, while their relations with the people at the workhouse mortuary seemed to have been of the most blundering and slovenly kind. This immense city of ours is destitute of a morgue or morgues, for the reason, we suppose, that the establishment of such public dead-houses on the admirable Parisian plan would encourage, forsooth, "morbid sensationalism" among the public. Consequently the London so-called mortuaries are disgraceful hole-and-corner hovels, sometimes workhouse sheds and sometimes crazy outhouses, where medical men are constrained to make post-mortem examinations with the most incomplete appliances for carrying out their delicate and difficult duty. At five o'clock in the morning the police brought the corpse of the murdered woman to the workhouse mortuary, and left it there, without giving any instructions to the receiver of the body not to touch it, save in the presence of the authorities, The mortuary-keeper is a pauper; he locked up the dead-house, and when he had had his breakfast returned, and, with the assistance of another pauper, he undressed the corpse. Let it be observed, and observed with indignant horror, that the persons who stripped this dead woman were men. The police-officer was present; and the two paupers seriously injured the chain of evidence by absolutely cutting and tearing the garments off the body. They wanted to "make it ready for the doctor," they said.
The utterly muddled and bemused condition of the pauper mortuary keeper was sufficiently illustrated by the fact that in the first instance he said that the woman wore no stays, but subsequently he owned that in the afternoon he had tried the stays on the body and remarked how short they were. As to the evidence of the police, it was eminently of a negative character. One inspector had not been able to find a man who passed down Buck's-row when the doctor was examining the body, another inspector said that he had called at one house in Buck's-row, but had left the others unexamined; though it is but fair to this witness to take note of his declaration that when at the mortuary he had given instructions that the body was not to be touched. No other official knew anything, and it appears that the authorities do not intend to offer any reward for the discovery of the murderer, on the absurd plea that such gratuities have been known to get into wrong hands. Therefore, the inquiry being adjourned till Saturday, the entire Metropolis is left in a dire condition of anxiety, apprehension, and perplexity; while at the East-end perturbation has been aggravated to the proportions of positive panic. Is it any cause of wonder such a state of public feeling should exist, with every likelihood that it will increase rather than diminish? We are in the presence of four most foul and unnatural deeds of blood; either a horrible maniac or a monster of villany is stalking in our midst; at any moment we may have to shudder at the revelation of another ghastly tale of murder and mutilation. And what, it must be sternly asked, and asked again and again, are the resources which we have brought or which we can bring to bear on the hunting down of the miscreant or miscreants who have perpetrated those unutterable atrocities? Where is the sagacity, where are the keenness and astuteness, the inventiveness, the knowledge of the world, the fertility of expedients which should be shown by those who ought to be the ubiquitous eyes and ears of the police? and, especially, where are the superior officials, the men of exceptional intelligence and experience, who should act at the head of the Detective Department in Scotland-yard? We have no doubt that the local inspectors and their subordinate sergeants and constables in the districts where these appalling deeds have been committed are stalwart, conscientious, and ordinarily efficient officers, who can be reckoned upon with full confidence to do their duty when dealing with street roughs or quelling midnight affrays. As readily are we willing to grant that the divisional detectives are expert enough as thief-catchers; they know the resorts frequented by commonplace malefactors, the public-houses and beershops which they "use"; the common lodging-houses to which they skulk at night; the receivers to whom they sell their booty; but these Whitechapel murders have scarcely any analogy with a "put up" burglary, or even an ordinary act of homicide arising from a drunken brawl or from a lawless league among a gang of ruffians. In deeds of blood so hideous and so monstrous as those to which we are adverting, it is scarcely feasible that the assassin could have had any accomplices. It is as unlikely that a wretch guilty of such an abominable act as that of the wanton murder and mutilation of a woman would seek the society of any of his kind or expose himself to the risk of detection by mixing in the miscellaneous company that he would meet in a common lodging-house. The human wild beast is in all probability a solitary criminal; he must have some lair in which he hides, and where he can cleanse himself from the gore in which he is steeped, or where he can lie till the shades of night enable him to prowl out again on his awful mission of slaughter and outrage. We expect no preternatural exercise of skill and sagacity on the part of the police in finding and in following the sanguinary clue that must exist somewhere; we only ask whether the local constabulary in the murder-haunted region are sharp enough and energetic enough to light upon the clue, and whether at Scotland-yard there is a single head clear enough, a single hand strong enough, to direct the persistent, unrelaxing, inexorable inquiry which should be made in every court and alley, not only in Whitechapel but in maritime London, among the waterside characters and on board every vessel in the docks, till some light breaks forth in which this horrible series of bloodguiltiness shall stand thoroughly exposed.
If we look to Scotland-yard for the thoroughly capable and efficient Detective Department which should exist there, what do we find but a muddle-headed chaos. Over and over again we have said that we have no fault to find with the Chief Commissioner of Police as an able and gallant commandant of an undeniably well-organised and well-disciplined force; but the conduct and direction of criminal investigation is entirely foreign to the attributes of Sir CHARLES WARREN, and the Government from which he derives his authority must be told that it is not enough that we should have in Scotland-yard a courageous and experienced chief of gendarmerie, who can be fully trusted to preserve discipline in the very fine force of which he is the head, and to put down with the strong hand even the most formidable street disturbances. We also need an official to whom may be entrusted the management of a department the aim and duty of which should be the detection of crime. When Parliament meets again it is impossible that this most vital question should not attract the immediate and the serious attention of our legislators. We have had enough of Mr. Home Secretary MATTHEWS, who knows nothing, has heard nothing, and does not intend to do anything in matters concerning which he ought to be fully informed, and prepared to act with energy and despatch. It is high time that this helpless Minister should be promoted out of the way of some more competent man; then, with a clear field before us and a new Home Secretary appointed who knew something about the business which he was paid to know, we should be in a position to reorganise, or rather to create organisation where none at present exists in the Detective Department at Scotland-yard. We have the highest respect for the pluck and integrity of retired military officers; but the public does not want any more colonels or captains in the Metropolitan Police. A civilian Commissioner is required, with powers co-ordinate with those of the gentleman who administers the force as a semi-military body. London needs a chief of the detective force who cannot be snubbed by any colleague, and who should have a judicial status equal to that of a French juge d'instruction. He should be, in short, a stipendiary magistrate, sitting in private and not in public; he should be able, by touching a button or ringing a bell, to set in motion a whole army of detectives, who should obey his orders implicitly. The formation of such a department, the appointment of such a chief, are urgent and imperative necessities, the cry for which must be reiterated until the measure of social security for which we call is granted. No paltering, no milk-and-water compromises, no patching and tinkering up, no half-hearted appointments of officials with insufficient powers and divided responsibilities will satisfy the public. It is clear that the Detective Department at Scotland-yard is in an utterly hopeless and worthless condition; that were there a capable Director of criminal investigations the scandalous exhibition of stupidity and ineptitude revealed at the East-end inquests, and the immunity enjoyed by criminals, murder after murder, would not have angered and disgusted the public feeling as it has undoubtedly done. For ourselves, we do not intend to hold our hand till a clean sweep of impotence and red-tapeism is made at Scotland-yard, and intelligence and astuteness take the place of self-sufficiency and demonstrated incapacity.