11 September 1888
Mr. S. Montagu, M.P., has assumed the functions of the Home Office. He has offered a reward of £100 for the capture of the murderer of Annie Chapman. It is well, however, to remember that Mr. Montagu represents the Whitechapel Division in Parliament.
The HUNT for "LEATHER APRON"
HIS HABITS--HIS EXPLOITS.
EXCITEMENT IN HANBURY-STREET.
CROWD'S THREATENING DEMEANOUR.
VIGILANCE COMMITTEES FORMED.
On Whitechapel the eyes of Londoners centre. And Whitechapel itself reflected in a very extreme degree this interest. From morning till night crowds of people were yesterday lounging about the police office in Commercial-street, in Hanbury-street, and in Buck's-row. The crowd was swelled as the day progressed by the innumerable loungers to whom Monday is a holiday, and by inquisitive scores from more civilized portions of the Metropolis--two well-known Peers being amongst this number. These were not deterred by the evil reputation of Buck's-row from penetrating the inmost recesses of that dismal rancid region.
Buck's-row was all excitement. Slatternly woman, hulking, ruffianly men, crowds of better-dressed observers flocked to the scene. Hanbury-street was however, the more popular resort of the town. In front of the fatal house, No. 29, a great crowd stood all day, it extending a considerable way up and down the street. Nearly one-half of the persons in it were women, most of the bareheaded and unwashed, and a great many with children in their arms. From the window of upper storeys on both sides of Hanbury-street other women leant out, their elbows or outstretch palms resting on the window-sills. Not a man could be seen in any of those windows, only women, grown-up girls, and children. They had the air of people who their quarter of the world invested with a new importance.
"Leather Apron" was the hero of yesterday. "'Leather Apron' ketched," was the cry of the newsboys, and their shouts and bills were the cause of the most intense feeling. The report was premature. By common consent--at least, on the part of the women of the locality-"Leather Apron" is believed to be guilty of at least two of the four murders which here recently happened in Whitechapel. He has been repeatedly described by women who have asserted that they have been accosted by him ; but is by no means certain that all the complainants refer to the same individual. So much has been talked about "Leather Apron" in the neighbourhood, that many persons who had never previously heard of his doings appear to have accustomed themselves to the idea that they had actually seen him. It is not unreasonable to suppose that in a district where cabinet and shoe makers constantly wear such aprons more than one man may have been called by the name which has lately produced so much terror in and around Spitalfields.
It was stated yesterday that the police had certain information about a man known to them as "Leather Apron" which it was not politic to divulge. The appearance, [illegible] of life, and characteristics of the person in question, were familiar to one of the local officers, who recollected him as having been a denizen of Whitechapel for many years. Some details of the man's past history, according to many householders, do not bear description. One gentleman yesterday stated that he had had reason to thrash "Leather Apron" some four years since, and several stories were told attributing to him shameful conduct: but those people who had most reason to rejoice that a "pestilent fellow," as they depicted him, had been apprehended, were careful to add that in no case of annoyance to women had he been detected in offering violence to them such as had been attributed to the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders.
Further, those who were more or less familiar with his way of life inclined to the opinion that he was of too weak a frame, and too cowardly a nature to commit such aggravated assaults as those which had been perpetrated upon the bodies of Mary Nicholls and Annie Chapman. The police authorities, however, determined that a "Leather Apron" should be apprehended, and it was left in the hands of Detective Thicke to carry out the order. This officer has the reputation of being a highly intelligent member of the force, and one well acquainted with the East-end. These advantages, however, for several days served him in but little stead. "Leather Apron" has disappeared from his old haunts and he is reported to have been seen south of London-bridge and also in Leather-lane, and other parts of the Metropolis with which he was familiar.
Early yesterday morning information was received which gave a clue to the supposed offender's whereabouts. Accordingly at a quarter to nine Sergeant Thicke proceeded to Mulberry-street, Commercial-road East, which is a quarter principally occupied of foreign workers in tailoring, bootmaking and slipper making. Large numbers of [illegible] stage shoes worn in Continental as well as London theaters are made here. The two storey houses of brick are let out to many persons, but there is an air of industry about the place, and the residents appear to be earning fairly good wages.
At No. 22, Mulberry-street, lives a Mrs. Piser, an old woman of 70. She is stepmother to John Piser, the man who was at first believed to be "Leather Apron," and his married brother Gabriel, who lives at the house. It is stated that John Piser did not reside at his stepmother's, although he frequented the street. He appears to have slept at common lodging-houses, and picked up a living at the slipper trade, at which he was an adept. He was not in regular employment but two men who have occasionally give him work testify to his good character as a workman. One of these, a Mr. Cohen, says that Piser put in an appearance in Mulberry-street on Thursday last, and remained there without showing any signs of uneasiness. He reads the papers closely, for he was an active politician. Piser, some of his friend say, was aware he was supposed--rightly or wrongly--to be "Leather Apron," and that there was a strong feeling growing up against him. On Friday night, at ten o'clock, he was seen in the street, and Mr. Cohen again met him on Saturday morning, when his appearance betrayed nothing of a suspicious nature.
Piser himself opened the door when Detective Thicke knocked, and it is said that he turned very pale when he recognized the officer, who he had encountered on a previous occasion and that he exclaimed, "Mother, he has got me," or used words to that effect. The detective told him for what purpose he came, but put no questions, and Piser offered no explanation, and made no resistance. He was led to Lemon-street Police-station unperceived until close to the door of the station, when the cry was raised, "Leather Apron!" and, as usual, there was a hostile demonstration. When interrogated the police admitted they had arrested him, but the day passed without the prisoner having been charged. It was reported on some show of authority that the man had been confronted with witnesses who failed to recognize him as the character they had known, and it was rumoured that he had been released, much to the satisfaction of his co-religionists, who refuse to believe that a man of Piser's intelligence could be guilt of such ferocity.
PISER IN CUSTODY TO-DAY.
PIGGOTT CLOSELY WATCHED.
IS HE A LUNATIC?
Piser, who has been associated by suspicion with the now notorious "Leather Apron," was still in a cell at Leman-street Police-station this morning, though, pending inquiries to-day no formal charge had been entered against him. It is believed, however, that there is no actual ground for linking him with the atrocious crimes which have made Whitechapel notorious. Piggott, the lunatic, captured at Gravesend, has not yet recovered from the effects of delirium tremens to which his temporary aberration of mind was due ; and at the infirmary where he is now located, he is closely but secretly watched, in order to see if he exhibits any malingering symptoms.
Some of the officers engaged in the case express an opinion that Piggott's mind is not so seriously deranged as a medical expert asserts, but that his strangeness of manner is an indication of convenient nervousness than disease. The fact that he was admittedly in Whitechapel on the morning of the murder, coupled with the evidence of blood upon him, calls for further inquiries, which are being made to-day with reference to his antecedents.
In other quarters it is asserted that neither Piser nor Piggott is the real criminal, nor is it yet a matter of certainty that both the murders were committed by the same hand. Annie Chapman had weddings rings on her fingers when last seen alive. This jewellery has not yet been traced.
At a later hour this morning the police expressed an opinion that Piggott, the supposed lunatic, could give them information, if he wished, as to the crime committed at 29, Hanbury-street. His statement that he was bitten on the finger by a women who he discovered in a fit is discredited, and no satisfactory explanation of the bloodstains on his shirt and boots has yet been given. His appearance and demeanour, it is stated, inconsistent with any symptoms generally exhibited be a [illegible]
It is stated that] the many absurd rumours [illegible] to the man "Leather Apron" have been [illegible] and found to be utterly devoid of truth. A high authority at Scotland-yard asked what truth there is in the [illegible] account of the [illegible] "as much as there is in [illegible] I prefer [illegible]'s literary style." The [illegible[-rightly or wrongly- of [illegible] person of weak physique [illegible] who underwent a very painful operation, when a large carbuncle was extracted from the back of his neck. Since [Illegible] until within quite recently, he has been an inmate of a convalescent home [illegible] and at the present time his physical [illegible] than those of any woman.
Mr. J. [illegible] of Mile-end-road is busy today organizing a Vigilance Committee for the protection of the citizens of Whitechapel from any possible future crime of the nature recently perpetrated, and this morning the following notice was publicly issued : - "Finding that, in spite of murders being committed in our midst, our police force is inadequate to discover the author or authors of the late atrocities, we, the undersigned, have formed ourselves into a committee, and intend offering a substantial reward to anyone, citizens or otherwise, who shall give such information as will be the means of bringing the murder or murderers to justice." Then [illegible] names of several prominent East-end tradesmen who have come forward [illegible] support to the movement.
A [illegible] shoemaker lives in a house opposite [illegible]. He says he has employed [illegible] to do work for him during the past two or three years. "He was [illegible] in this street," continued the shoemaker [illegible] with a strong Jewish accent, [illegible]a porter. "I believe he [illegible] a very good character. I don't think [illegible] and I have always found him an excellent [illegible]." Piser's stepmother, an old woman of 70 years of age, has been in great [illegible] in consequence of her stepson's [illegible]. She, however, has asserted [illegible] he is quite innocent.
Piser is evidently in a weak state of health and is very dejected. Detective-sergeant Thicke is continuing to make inquiries, [illegible] Piser to the Leman-street Police-station [illegible] afternoon, when it will be [illegible] as to whether [illegible] charge shall be [illegible] or not. At present, however, [illegible] police entertain [illegible] with the murders.
[Illegible] at Leman-street Police station shortly before three o'clock, [illegible] of the Exchange Telegraph Company that there was no [illegible] on which evidence could be [illegible], or upon which he could [illegible] the Magistrates.
[Illegible] Hardeman and Charles Cooksley, aged respectively [illegible] and 14 years, were the [illegible] to sleep, as was their custom, in the back room, on the ground floor, at No. 29 Hanbury-street, on Friday night. The distance from the head of the bedstead to the spot where the deceased was murdered was only twelve feet. Almost at the last moment Cooksley declined to sleep there, and went to bed upstairs. Had he slept in his accustomed place, he must, he said this morning, have heard the slightest unusual sound. The boy stated that his cloth apron and a box of nails, which lay in the yard a short distance from the body, were seized by the police and are still retained by them. The lad Hardeman slept in a room adjoining the cat's-meat shop. This sleeping-place is only separated by a wainscot partition from the passage through which the murderer and his victim must have passed into the yard. Yet the boy heard no sound during the night.
One of the most perplexing features in the case, from a police point of view, is the conflicting statement as to the time "Dark Annie" met her death. Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon, who arrived a few minutes after six o'clock, gave it as his opinion that death had taken place some hours before-at about three o'clock. But John Richardson, a married man, whose house is but a few paces from 29, Hanbury-street (where his mother lives) assured the police that at five o'clock on the morning of the murder he went to the yard there, sat down on the stone steps, and cut a small piece of leather from his boot. "There was no dead woman there then, that I can swear," said Richardson.
A reward of £100 has been offered by Mr. S. Montagu, M.P., for the capture of the murderer.
In expectation that Piser would return to Mulberry-street a mob not altogether friendly gathered to give him a reception last night, but they waited for his appearance in vain, for Piser remained at Leman-street Police-station at the hour when it was published abroad that he had been discharged. Upon searching his effects five knives were found, and of these the police took possession, but they were of the pattern used by boot finishers, and are without handles, consisting of curved blades of steel, eight inches long, sharpened on one end, but not to a keen edge. A man of Piser's class usually owns five or six of these tools. A "clicker" is also furnished with a much more formidable instrument, having a hafted blade about five inches long and half an inch broad, curved like a foreign dagger, with a sharp saw-like edge, but apparently not much stronger than an ordinary pocket-knife. Piser would not have possessed one of these weapons.
Another man on whom a good deal of interested centered was arrested at Gravesend. Piggott, the man in question, was said to be covered with blood ; he admitted having been in Brick-lane, where he had a struggle with a woman, who bit his hand ; and the police thought it well to detain him. He, however, in no way answered the description of the man wanted, as published by the police. That description applies, as well as can be gathered, to the man who gave the woman Emily Walton two brass medals, or bright farthings, as half-sovereigns in a yard of one of the houses in Hanbury-street at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and who then began to ill-use the woman. The police attach importance to finding the man, but is not true that two farthings were found in the dress pocket of the murdered woman, which would haven an important corroboration of Walton's story.
Up to a late hour last evening Piggott, the man brought from Gravesend, was detained at Commercial-street. The police surgeon then pronounced him insane, and he was removed to the infirmary. Before this occurred he was seen by Mrs. Fiddymont, and other witnesses who had noticed the mysterious customer at the Prince Albert Tavern were called in. Not one of the witnesses was about to identify Piggott as the man wanted.
Piggott is now in the Whitechapel Infirmary, where several police offers have him under observation. Under the Lunacy Laws it is necessary to charge a man supposed to be a wandering lunatic within three days ; therefore unless the man recovers, he will have to be brought before a Magistrate. The divisional surgeon has intimated that if, at the expiration of forty-eight hours, Piggott exhibits no signs of recovery, he shall be charged. In the meantime investigations concerning him are being actively pursued, but at midnight nothing had been discovered, nor had any of his friends or relatives been found. Dr. Phillips will, pending expiration of the allotted time for Piggott's detention, analyze the bloodstains, which are so profusely displayed about his garments, with a view of ascertaining whether they are stains of human blood or not. The police, right or wrongly, still attach importance to his arrest.
This, however, by no means exhausts the list of arrests. To the others, however, but little importance attaches. Most of the arrests made yesterday have been connected presumably with the police theory that the murder and the agitated man with bloodstained fingers and matted hair who entered the Prince Albert Tavern shortly before six o'clock on the morning of the murder are one and the same person. Mrs. Fiddlymont, who served this man with refreshments and took particular notice of him, is confident that she would recognize him, even in a crowd, and some persons who were drinking in the tavern at that time are equally confident. It appears that a man answering the description of "Leather Apron" was recently an in-patient of the Jewish Convalescent Home in Norwood, recovering from a very severe carbuncle in the neck. The man stated that he had been previously treated at the Paddington Infirmary.
Intelligent observers who have visited the locality of the crime express the utmost astonishment that the murderer could have reached a hiding-place after committing such a crime. He must have left the yard in Hanbury-street reeking like a slaughterman, and yet, if the theory that the murder took place between five and six o'clock be accepted, he must have walked in almost broad daylight along streets comparatively well frequented, even at that early hour, without his startling appearance attracting the slightest attention. Consideration of this point has led many to the conclusion that the murderer came not from the wretched class from which the inmates of the common lodging-houses are drawn. More probably, it is argued, he is a man lodging in a comparatively decent house in the district, to which he would be able to return quickly, and in which, once reached, he would be able at his leisure to remove from his person all traces of his hideous crime. It is, at any rate, practically certain that the murderer, if in the habit of using common lodging-houses, would [sentence ends here]
The singular points of resemblance between the Whitechapel murders and those which fastened public attention upon Ratcliff-highway in the beginning of the century, are completed by this second crime. On a Saturday night, in December, 1812, John Williams, the wretch whose story fascinated De Quincey, butchered a whole family in Ratcliff Highway. Master and mistress, a young apprentice, and a baby in the cradle, were all slaughtered with evidence of a certain fiendish joyousness that finds its parallel in the details of the killing of Annie Chapman. Williams first brained his victims with a mallet, and then cut their throats. The discovery of the murder and the silent escape of the assassin filled the East-end with just such terror as now exists in Whitechapel. And, carrying out the parallel with curious detail, whilst the first murder was still being talked of, and the police were diligently in search of the murderer, there followed another crime of equal barbarity. Just twelve days later, Williams, entering another house close by the scene of his first attack, murdered the inmates, watched from an upper landing by a terror-stricken youth, who, escaping out of the window, quickly brought together an angry crowd, the mustering of which, its rage and roaring, were (suggests the London Correspondent of the Liverpool Post) probably in the memory of Charles Dickens when he described the capture of Bill Sikes.
WANTED TO SEE PIGGOTT.
Joseph Carter addressed himself to the Police-constable 171 H Division, as he stood at the entrance to the Commercial-street Police-station yesterday. "I want," said he, "to see the man charged with the Whitechapel murder." As he was not sober, would not go away, and remained outside creating a disturbance, he was locked up. To-day he appeared at Worship-street, and was award five days, in default of paying a fine of 5s.
William M'???, a fireman, obtained drink by a singular method. He went to Cable-street public houses yesterday, and demanded refreshment. He had been, he said, locked up on a charge of having committed the Whitechapel murders. When drink was refused him, he made use of filthy language. This resulted in his being arrested, and on arrest in his striking Constable 43 H R two violent blows. To-day he appeared at the Thames Court, and received seven days.
Sir, --In reference to the recent horrible atrocities committed in the Whitechapel-road, allow me (an old resident) to make a few remarks. Has it never occurred to the police to make any inquiries into the antecedents of the groups of loafers hanging about the public-house doors, day after day, and week after week, all the year round? They are never at work, but still can find money for drink and tobacco.
These wretches live by levying blackmail on the poor unfortunate women infesting the neighborhood. There is quite a colony of these vagabonds living in the slums facing the London Hospital.
The fact is, I think, the police are not half strong enough to tackle them. In such localities there ought to be twice as many police on duty as in quiet neighborhoods. I see that there has been another attempt at murder in an open market place at Spitalfields. The poor women are getting panic-stricken, and afraid to leave their homes after dark. I am sure the police will do their duty, and try all they know to bring the perpetrators of these cruel murders to justice.--I am, Sir, yours faithfully, W.J.W. Temple, Sept. 7.
Sir,--Will you kindly allow a little space in your paper to call the attention of your readers to what can only be considered a public nuisance and disgrace? I refer to several low penny shows at the corner of Thomas's-street, Whitechapel-road, nearly facing the London Hospital. These sinks of iniquity are at the present time doing a roaring trade by exhibiting horrible pictures representing the poor victims who have been so brutally murdered of late. Great crowds stand gazing at the these bloodstained pictures, blocking up the pavement. Meanwhile, the pickpockets the best use of their opportunity. Moreover, our young lads and lasses are being morally corrupted by visiting these tragic scenes. While walking along the streets it is truly painful to hear the jesting and trifling talk about things so awful. Is it not a wonder that the respectably shopkeepers (and there are many) in the road have not done something to put down these shows which must be a hindrance to their business houses? Trusting this matter may be taken up by those whose business it is to remedy such evils, I enclose my card, and beg to remain yours faithfully, AN EAST-ENDER Sept. 10.