East End News
Friday, July 19, 1889.
There is apparently reason to believe that the murder committed shortly before one o'clock on Wednesday morning in Castle-alley, Whitechapel, is the work of the same hand that has already slain seven women in the locality. The recent crime indeed possesses nearly all the features of those that have gone before. The weapon has been handled with the same dexterity and muscular force; again a woman has fallen the victim, and again apparently the deed has been perpetrated in profound silence, and the murderer vanished as if miraculously. Only a short time before the crime was committed a policeman stood eating his supper on the very spot where the victim was afterwards found. At all surrounding points during the night constables had been passing to and fro at brief intervals. In a room overlooking the scene of the crime several persons were assembled at the time it is known that the assassin must have been at work. They are positive that they would have heard any noise in the road-way; and yet, as a matter of fact, they heard nothing.
Walking down Whitechapel High-street, which forms a portion of the broad high road traversing the East-end, one finds on the left hand side, a short distance from Aldgate (East) Railway Station, the opening of a passage underneath a clothier's shop. It is a narrow passage, even for the East-end, and two persons traversing it in opposite directions cannot pass one another without shifting their positions to do so. The passage is about twenty yards in length and opens into a roadway of more ample dimensions. To the left a few houses are in the course of demolition, and beyond them is a row of buildings, which includes several workshops tenanted by wheel-wrights and builders, and the rear portion of the Whitechapel Baths and Washhouses. On the right hand side, the narrow pavement is bordered by a high hoarding, behind which, as one can only see by getting well into the roadway, are the backs of a row of low houses. Proceeding further down the thoroughfare, which is known as Castle-alley, one passes the openings of several narrow courts on the right hand side. Castle-alley finally emerges into Wentworth-street, which, pursued to the right, leads into Commercial-street. The murder took place about half way down Castle-alley, under a lamp-post and close to the Bath and Washhouses; and it would thus seem, on a first inspection, that the murderer would have been able to leave the thoroughfare either by way of its two extremities or by way of one of the several courts to the right hand side. On exploring these courts, however, a strange fact is brought to light. They practically do not lead anywhere. Two of them lead straight into a narrow thoroughfare running parallel with Castle-alley, and known as New Castle-street. This, by a circuitous route, leads into a third thoroughfare known as New Castle-place, which also runs parallel with Castle-alley. This thoroughfare, though the fact is not obvious until one has traversed its entire length, is "blind" at both extremities. Thus it is obvious that the courts opening into Castle-alley lead into what may be regarded as a trap. Had the assassin proceeded down one of them (and this would have been the shortest means of leaving behind him the scene of the crime), he would have been forced to retrace his steps and thus lose much time.
The immediately neighbourhood of Castle-alley is typical of all that is bad in the condition of the East End. The streets are narrow and dirty, reeking with noxious smells, and peopled by the ragged, destitute and criminal classes. Common lodging- houses, which, as is frequently asserted, and apparently with truth, are the resorts of the worst and most dangerous characters, are to be met in every street. The majority of the persons one encounters are of the Jewish persuasion. Peeping in at the windows of the houses, one sees women and men busily plying the needle, and surrounded by a litter of clothing.
When found, the body of the unfortunate woman did not present the revolting appearance exhibited by the victims in the previous tragedies. The clothes had been thrown up and a gash inflicted on the trunk. It was, however, not a deep gash, and no attempt had been made to remove the intestines. It is presumed that the murderer had intended to mutilate his victim in as revolting a fashion as on previous occasions, and that while his task was still incomplete he heard the sound of approaching footsteps, which caused him to at once make good his escape. The throat was cut in a manner that would have been sufficient to cause instant death. During the day the deceased woman was identified as Alice Mackenzie, who has been living in a common lodging-house in Gunn-street, [sic] Spitalfields. She is described as a woman of about 40, and it is asserted that she was by occupation a charwoman and washerwoman. The instant the body was discovered measures were taken by the police to effect the capture of the assassin. Certain constables were stationed at the outlets of Castle-alley, while others searched the ins and outs of the thoroughfare. Other constables were told off to institute inquiries at the neighbouring lodging-houses, coffee-houses, and other buildings in which it was thought likely that the murderer might have sought refuge. What further measures with a view to effect his capture have since been taken by Scotland-yard it would be undesirable to particularise. Suffice it is to say that, under the personal supervision of Mr. Monro, who was one of the first on Wednesday morning to reach the scene of the outrage, very resolute action has been resorted to, a large number of constables in uniform and plain clothes being told off for the duty. Several arrests were made on Wednesday, though it would not seem that they were productive of any good results. It was thought that a small clay pipe found near the scene of the murder might have belonged to the murderer, and give some clue to his identity. From facts that have since come to the knowledge of the police, however, it would seem to be certain that the pipe was in possession of his victim, who is known to have been an inveterate smoker. Throughout the whole of Wednesday, Castle-alley was visited by a large number of persons anxious to obtain a glimpse of the spot on which the body of the murdered woman was discovered. They expressed the liveliest indignation and consternation at what had occurred.
Some four hours after the murder a man was arrested in the district and taken to the Commercial-street station, on suspicion of being the murderer. On being searched, a butcher's knife, amongst other things, was found in his possession. When questioned, he without hesitation referred the police to the keeper of the Victoria, a lodging-house in the neighbourhood. This person was accordingly sent for, and identified the prisoner as a man he had known for some years. Other statements made by the man having been ascertained to be correct, he was at once discharged.
A woman named Margaret Franklin on Wednesday made a statement to a representative of the Press. She stated that she had known the deceased for many years. She had always been known to her by the name of Alice Bryant, and she believed that she lived with a man of that name. On that point, however, she was not quite positive. On the previous night she was sitting with two other women, named Catherine Hughes and Sarah Mahoney, on some steps in front of a barber's shop at the Brick-lane end of Flower and Dean-street, about half-past eleven o'clock, when the murdered woman passed by. As she passed by, walking hurriedly, witness shouted out, "Hulloa, Alice!" to which the deceased replied, "I can't stop." Deceased was by herself, and was going then in the direction of Whitechapel. She stopped, although she had said she was in a hurry, and exchanged a few words with them. She then left them and walked on.
It is stated that the police have recently received certain letters signed "Jack the Ripper," and notifying that another murder in Whitechapel was about to take place. The statement must be received with caution.
Shortly before midnight a man, who was noticed to solicit several unfortunates with considerable persistency, was arrested in Commercial-street, on suspicion of being the murderer of Alice Mackenzie; but little importance is attached to the circumstance, and he is only detained pending enquiries. The police authorities at the Commercial-road station complain bitterly that during the day they have been inundated by people who volunteer statements which, though taken down in writing as a matter of form and precaution, do not throw the slightest light on the case. In all the East-end thoroughfares the streets last night presented their usual crowded aspect, and the main topic of conversation was the Castle-alley murder. Those responsible for the conduct of the public-house adjoining the Cambridge Music Hall and the Commercial Inn, close by, have taken every means to ascertain if a woman accompanied by a man and a blind boy was seen in either establishment on Tuesday night, but without eliciting the slightest information. The secretary of the London Evangelization Society and Common Lodging House Mission has arranged to bear the funeral expenses of the murdered woman, on behalf of the association. - Daily News.