12 October 1888
To the Editor of "THE EVENING NEWS."
Sir- With regard to a paragraph contained in your issue of the 8th inst., allow me to state that I am not, nor ever have been , connected with the International Club in any proprietary capacity. - I am &c., M. VON ZEDLITZ October 16.
THE LIFE AND TRIAL OF PHILIPPE, THE WAREHOUSE PORTER.
On the morning of January 9, 1866, the inhabitants of the French capital were thrown into a state of consternation by the report of a crime, which was the tenth of its kind committed within the space of the previous three years. The murder of Marie Bodeux, closing the series of ten, had been perpetrated with a boldness that became appalling. The public for the last few days have been under the impression that the challenge flung by the so-called "Jack the Ripper" to the London police in the shape of postcards and letters is the ne plus ultra of contemptuous sarcasm. The slayer of Marie Bodeux had gone much further. He had selected a victim in the very premises the ground-floor of which was occupied by the police-station, and this, notwithstanding his knowledge of the police being in possession of a detailed description of his appearance, which had been furnished more than eighteen months before by a girl who, by a singular instance of presence of mind, had escaped his clutches. Nor was his appearance such as to pass unnoticed in a crowd. Without laying much stress on the thick black hair and beard- the later of which he might have shaved if he had wished- Joseph Philippe, as he turned out to be, was deeply pitted with smallpox, and had in addition a tattoo mark on the right arm, impossible to be effaced. Nevertheless, he had managed to baffle the police for three years during which at least ten human beings had been done to death by him; for, as the judge presiding at the trial remarked, "We can only proceed upon the evidence of the bodies found, though I am not exceeding the prerogatives of my office in considering these but a part of the slaughter committed by the prisoner in the dock." The president of the Court was alluding to a number of mutilated and truncated corpses found during that time in various out-of-the-way places of the metropolis. For unlike "Jack the Ripper," Philippe neither confined himself to one particular neighbourhood, nor to one particular mode of procedure. His lust for blood was induced by what has already been termed "erotic catalepsy" and complicated by cupidity, though the latter was merely a means to an end; in other words, to obtain the wherewithal to indulge in his debauches and in his craving for intoxicants. There is, however, no doubt that the height of his fiendish lasciviousness was the agony of his victims as they weltered in their blood. Consequently he did not disdain to track his prey among the better class of "unfortunates," but, to use a vulgar expression, "everything was fish that came to his net." Home or no home to which to take him was a matter of indifference as long as he saw his way to accomplish his all-pervading idea, murder under the pretext of caressing. As such the terror inspired by him was not confined to the poorer category of "girls" only. None felt safe but the very "tip-top" ones, and the newspapers of the time had to record a panic throughout the whole of Paris similar to that which I have already mentioned as prevailing in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel.
No wonder, then, that Paris was awe-stricken at the latest exploit, which, I repeat, surpassed in daring all that had gone before, not only because it occurred in the very house tenanted by the police, but on account of other circumstances connected with it. Marie Bodeux was on most intimate terms with an old man of 73, living on the floor above her. The later never failed to wish her good-night when coming home. On the night of January 8, after having spent part of it with his relations, he found the outer door of Marie Bodeux's apartment open, and, when getting as far as her bedroom, perceived, by the flickering light of a candle, a stranger arranging his necktie and brushing his hair before the looking-glass. Of course, the old man discreetly retired, with the intention of returning in a few minutes, seeing that the stranger was preparing to depart. When he did return the stranger brushed past him in the room, muttering a hurried good night. It was the old man who gave the first alarm to the police. The latter had no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that they were once more in the presence of a victim of the mysterious demon that had slain the girl Robert, the woman Mage, and her baby son, eighteen months ago, who had murdered so many others, who had planned the destruction of the girll Foucher. It was she who had supplied the police with the description on the morning of the assassination of Julie Mage and her child. It was she who had related her providential escape when by a ruse she had inveigled him into the street again after he was closeted with her that same night. It was she who had given the particulars of the tattoo-mark on his right arm: "I am born under an unlucky star," the last word of the sentence being replaced by a coarsely-executed drawing of the thing itself. It was that which roused her suspicions, besides his sinister figure. She thought him a convict escaped from the hulks. "Jack the Ripper" being frustrated in Berner-street in the complete execution of his hellish design, loses no time in tracking another quarry. His French predecessor being frustrated by the girl Foucher, loses no time in accosting Julie Mage. He does not even take the trouble of putting some distance between his intended victim and the one that succumbs. They both live in the same street, the Rue St. Marguerite, which is famed in modern history as having witnessed the death of Baudoir on the second morning after the coup d' etat , which is notorious as the headquarters of the intra-mural Paris ragpickers. The girl Foucher watches him from behind her door entering the house where Julie Mage lives, next morning, when the crime is discovered, she tenders her evidence at once.
Eighteen months have elapsed since then, and notwithstanding the very valuable clue thus provided, notwithstanding the presence at their head of one of the cleaverest detectives of modern times, "monsieur Claude," the police are as puzzled as ever. They have no doubt as to the identity of the murderer of Marie Bodeux with the murderer of so many other "unfortunates," but at the same time they despair of capturing him. The blood-stained water on the washing stand tells them that he has taken his precautions as before. True, the razor with which he has committed the deed has by an oversight been left behind, but it bears not the maker's name, nothing but an English trade-mark, which may or may not be forged. Marie Bodeux's purse, containing all the money she possessed, is gone, her wardrobe has been searched, but as it held no valuables, nothing has been abstracted. The purse has been given her by the old acquaintance already mentioned. Even "monsieur Claude" shakes his head in despair. It is no good use trying the lodging-houses, high or low, the thing has been tried before; the murderer evidently occupies rooms furnished by himself, and thus avoids registration at the Prefecture of Police. They have a very elaborate description, but at a time when vaccination was still not so much practiced as now pockmarked people were too numerous to be all tracked. "Monsieur Claude" opines that, barring an accident, they will be as unsuccessful now as they have been hitherto.
That accident is provided by the murderer himself on the third morning after his crime in the Rue Ville-Levèque. Emboldened by his success he flies at higher game than the ordinary street-walker- whether rich or poor. During his five years stay in Paris he has been employed by a carver, gilder, and frame maker in the Faubourg St. Germain, one of whose customers is a Madame Midy, an artist, living in the Rue d'Erfurth. On January 11, he presents himself at the lady's apartment to inquire for a tool he pretends to have left the last time he was at work there. When the lady replies that she has seen no such tool, he draws from beneath his blouse a pillow case, asking whether she can identify this as her property. The lady, wearied of his importunities, turns her head, and the intruder flings the pillow case over it, intending to set to work in his usual manner- namely, to strangle her partially before cutting her throat. (Note: In view of the reiterated testimony of witnesses at the various inquests as to the absence of cries on the part of "Jack the Ripper's" victims, the coincidence is worthy of consideration.)
In her desperate efforts to free herself from her assailant's grip, Madame Midy firmly sets her teeth in the hand which was endeavouring to stifle her cries. Fortunately her studio is only divided by a thin partition from another one, and the neighbour hearing the noise of struggle rushes to the rescue. He knocks at the door, and receiving no answer, flings open the window on the landing overlooking the courtyard and shouts for the concierge, after which he knocks again. This time the door is opened by an individual who in the coolest way imaginable tells him : "Madame Midy has suddenly taken ill; I am going for the doctor; I don't think it is much." With apparent calmness he proceeds down stairs, until he hears the cries of Madame Midy, "Stop him, stop him," as he is crossing the courtyard. Then he takes to his heels; but in vain, because before he has reached the Rue Jacob he is arrested. A tremendously long-bladed knife is found upon him, and the search in his room reveals, besides many bloodstained garments, the purse of Marie Bodeux and the empty razor case. The rest is plain sailing. Not only the girl Foucher, but the girl Helenè Meurand identify him, the first as the man who accosted Julie Mage on the night she (Foucher) managed to give him the slip, the second as the man who tried to strangle her while he was in her room nearly two years ago. She warned several acquaintances to this effect. In addition, another unfortunate, Alice Cirot, comes forward and swears to Joseph Philippe having said in her presence in a wine shop on the Place de la Bourse, "I am very fond of women, and I accommodate them in my own way. I first strangle them, then I cut their throats."
On Monday, June 25, 1866, Joseph Philippe is tried for the murders of the girl Robert, Julie Mage and her child, and Marie Bodeux. The prosecution confines itself to these four counts, seeing that the evidence gathered in support of them is absolutely overwhelming. According to eye-witnesses the prisoner, notwithstanding his scarred face, is by no means repulsive. His features, when unmoved by passion or drink, betray nothing of the fiendish, bloodthirsty manis that sways him at his dangerous moments. Their opinion agrees with the evidence of his former employers, all of whom testify to his invariable good temper, honesty, and activity, when not under the influence of drink. They are further borne out by the military authorities who state that until drunkenness set its seal upon him he served with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his superiors. But a year after his admission to the ranks he began to misconduct himself, was sentenced to one year's imprisonment, and after his liberation was transferred to the "punishment battalion in Algeria." He remained there until his final discharge in 1860. A twelvemonth after he came to Paris, and in a short time took to evil ways. The defence pleads "homicidal mania," the result of erotic epilepsy, the force of bad example and the consequent impulse to the imitation of two other murders of "unfortunates," who were, however, prompted by different motives, the one by greed, pure and simple, the other by a kind of revenge on the whole of the sex too horrid to be mentioned. The jury refuses to be influenced by the plea, and in giving their verdict omit any and every mention of extenuating circumstances. Joseph Philippe was but thirty-four when he was guillotined. He met his death like a man, in fact, psychologists have since declared that the reaction which set in after his capture was tantamount to the wish of having done with life as soon as possible. He knew that if even his life was spared, there would be no chance of indulging the fiendish cravings that during the latter years had been the sole incentive to live. Drink was necessary to him to drown the frightful apparitions that, according to some of his employers, haunted him already before his arrest; and he knew that drink could not be obtained. There was, it appears, nothing in his life that became him so well as the leaving of it. A.D.V.
The inquest on the body of the woman known variously as Catherine Eddowes, Catherine Conway, and Mary Ann Kelly, who was murdered in Mitre-square on the 30th ult., was concluded yesterday, the jury returning a verdict of willful murder against some person unknown. The evidence given yesterday was in many ways painful. Painful as showing the utterly crapulous atmosphere in which everybody connected with the murdered woman lived, and painful in showing a want of grasp on the part of some person in position in the Metropolitan Police Force. Catherine Conway's husband left her seven or eight years ago owing to her habits and since then she seemed to have cohabitated principally with the witness Kelly. Conway kept up communication for some time with his daughter, as also did his two sons, who are supposed to be living with him, but father and sons have disappeared and left no trace behind. The daughter, who is a respectable married woman, has no knowledge of their whereabouts, not, perhaps, that it would assist the police much to know where they are. With regard to the handwriting on the wall in Goulston-street, Police-constable Alfred Long, 254 A, who first saw it, appears to have acted with discretion. He copied the words, and, leaving a comrade on guard, reported the matter at the Commercial-road Police Station. The words, "The Jews are not the men that will be blamed for nothing," were almost certainly written by the murderer, who left at the spot the bloody portion of the woman's apron as a sort of warranty of authenticity. On Police-constable Long's report, consultation was held, and the decision taken to rub out the words. Detective Halse, of the City police, who was present, protested. A brother officer of the City had gone to make arrangements for having the words photographed, but the zeal of the Metropolitans could not rest. They feared a riot against the Jews, and out the words must come.
Halse then suggested to rub out the word "Jew" and leave the rest, but this did not correspond with Dogberry's instructions from head-quarters. Off the writing came accordingly, and the only clue to the murderer was destroyed calmly and deliberately, on the authority of those in high places who make it their business to detect criminals. We cannot blame the inferior police. They seem to have acted with caution and discretion; but the public have a right to know who gave the order to efface the murderer's traces. His proper place is not in the Criminal Inquiry Department, and to this Mr. Mathews must look if he values his portfolio.
STARTLING INCIDENT AT LIVERPOOL.
A "SUSPECT" AT HARPENDEN.
The usually quiet town of Harpenden was, yesterday, the scene of some excitement when it was stated that a man, who said his name was Wills or Williams, had announced himself in the district as the person who had committed the Whitechapel murders. The man had been living in the town for a few days, and had then disappeared in a very suspicious manner. The following facts were elicited in the town, last evening. On Monday afternoon the man took apartments at the house of a railway signalman in Harpenden, stating that he was a Government surveyor, and that he had been sent to Harpenden to do some surveying work in the neighbourhood, which would take himself and another surveyor fur months to complete. He stated that his companion would arrive from London on Wednesday evening with the necessary instruments. He had no boxes or extra clothes, his only belongings being an old surveyor's chain. While awaiting the arrival of his supposed assistant he took walks in the district with some young men living near. On Wednesday afternoon he was out with a youth named Lock, when he pulled from his coat-pocket a small case, containing a number of lancets, knives, scissors, and a few keys, all packed in wadding. He remarked to his companion that he would not need to buy any knives, as he had plenty.
While conversing about the Whitechapel murders the man said he had seen every one of the bodies, and if any one knew where to find the murderer it was himself. Shortly afterwards he said he had to go to Luten to draw £150 from the bank, and he went away, ostensibly for that purpose. He did not return, nor did his expected assistant arrive from London. As the man left without paying for his board and apartments, information of what had taken place was given to the police, who have obtained a description of Williams, and inquiries are being made as to his whereabouts and antecedents.
The following letter has been received by Mr. Metcalfe, the Vestry Clerk of Whitechapel, from the Home Office, in reply to a resolution of the vestry asking the Hon. Mr. Matthews to give every possible facility for the speedy arrest of the murderer:
"Whitehall, October 10, 1888"
"Sir- I am directed by the Secretary of State to acknowledge your letter of the 4th inst., forwarding a copy of a resolution passed at a vestry meeting of the parish of St. Mary's, Whitechapel, expressing sorrow at the recent murders in the East-end of London, and urging Her Majesty's Government to use their utmost endeavours to discover the criminal. I am instructed to state that Mr. Matthews shares the feeling of the vestry with regard to these murders, and that he has given directions, and that the police have instructions to exercise any and every power they possess, and even to use an amount of discretion with regard to suspected persons, in their efforts to discover the criminal. And I am further to state that the Secretary of State, after personal conference with the Commissioners of Police, at which the whole of the difficulties have been fully discussed, is satisfied that no means has been or will be spared in tracing the offender and bringing him to justice. -I am, Sir, yours obediently,
"E. LEIGH PEMBERTON.
"T. Metcalfe, Esq., Vestry Clerk, Whitechapel."
The following curious story is vouched for as being strictly correct, at least so far as the young lady referred to is concerned: On Wednesday evening a young lady was walking along Shiel-road, Liverpool, not far from Shiel Park, when she was stopped by an elderly woman, aged about 60, who in an agitated and excited manner urged her most earnestly not to go into the park. She explained that a few minutes previously she had been resting on one of the seats in the park, when she was accosted by a respectable-looking man dressed in a black coat, light trousers, and a soft felt hat, who inquired if she knew if there were any loose women about the neighbourhood, and immediately afterwards produced a knife with a along thin blade, and stated he intended to kill as many women in Liverpool as in London, adding that he would send the ears of the first victim to the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post. The old woman, who was trembling violently as she related this story, stated that she was so terribly frightened that she hardly knew how she got away from the man. She could not see either a policeman or a park keeper. In addition to warning the young lady, she appears to have mentioned the matter to some workmen whom she met afterwards in Shiel-road. - The steamers leaving Liverpool for American and other ports are now being carefully watched by the police, and the passengers are closely scrutinized by detectives, there being an idea that the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders may endeavour to make his escape via Liverpool.
The Belfast Evening Telegraph, yesterday afternoon, published the following letter which it received by that afternoon's post: "Dear Boss, - I have arrived in your city, as London is too warm for me just now, so that Belfast ------ had better look out, for I intend to commence operations on Saturday night. I have spotted some nice fat ones who will cut up well. I am longing to begin, for I love my work. - Yours, &c., JACK THE RIPPER." The communication, which is written in red ink and bears several blotches, evidently made in imitation of blood, is stamped with the Belfast post mark.
A Paris correspondent telegraphs: The Whitechapel murders have not only been here a newspaper sensation of the first magnitude, but have got on weak brains and set madmen and lovers of practical jokes writing to the Prefect of Police. M. Goron, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department, receives letters written from both. The following was received by him yesterday: "Sir- You must have heard of the Whitechapel murders. This is the explanation of their mysterious side. There are partners, I and another, in this business. One is in England and the other in France. I am at Brest, and am going to Paris to operate as does my London colleague in London. We are seeking in the human body that which the doctors have never found. You will try in vain to hunt us down. Our next victim will be a woman between 20 and 30. We will cut her carotid artery, disembowel her, amputate four fingers of her left hand, leaving the thumb only. Meanwhile you will hear of me, and in three weeks at most. Look out. Signed. - H.L.P.C."
The Central News learns that the police authorities attach a great deal of importance to the spelling of the word "Jews" in the writing on the wall at the spot where the Mitre-square murderer threw away a portion of the murdered woman's apron. The language of the Jews in the East-end is a hybrid dialect, known as Yiddish, and their mode of spelling the word "Jews" would be "Juwes." This the police consider a strong indication that the crime was committed by one of the numerous foreigners by whom the East-end is infested.
No further arrests have been made in connection with the recent murders at the East-end. The detective staff in the district are engaged following up the various clues afforded by suspicious cases which are daily brought to the attention of the authorities; but in the majority of such instances the presumption of guilt is found to rest upon a very shadowy basis. The night patrols in the streets and courts within a wide radius of the scenes of the recent crimes are much are much strengthened by men from the various volunteer vigilance agencies at work, and this, coupled with the small number of women now to be seen in the streets during the night, should prove an effective bar to further tragedies.
A report was current late last night that the police have good reasons to suspect a man who is at present a patient in an East-end infirmary. He was admitted since the commission of the last murder, and owning to his suspicious behaviour and other circumstances the attention of the authorities was directed to him. Detectives are making inquiries relative to his actions before being admitted to the infirmary and he is kept under constant and close surveillance.
The deputy of the Bee Hive Lodging-house, Brick-lane, last night informed the police of the peculiar behaviour of a lodger named Andrew, known about Spitalfields as Parnell. Inquiries were instituted and Parnell was requested to give account of himself. If his statements be proved correct he will probably be soon released. People at the lodging-house state he did not sleep there on the night of Hanbury-street and Mitre-square murders.
The army pensioner who was invited, this morning, to attend at Bishopgate-street Police-station, to see if he resembled the missing husband, Conway, of the murdered woman Catherine Eddowes, was taken to the Old Jewry, but as it was found that he was much younger than the woman's husband must have been the police did not think it necessary to send for Mrs. Phillips, the murdered woman's sister, to see him, so the man went away.
The particulars of a sad case of suicide which took place at No. 65, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields, a house few doors away from the spot the unfortunate woman Annie Chapman was murdered, reached Dr. Macdonald, the coroner for North-east Middlesex, this morning. It appeared that the top floor of that address is occupied by a silk weaver named Sodeaux, his wife, and a child aged eight years. For some time past Mrs. Sodeaux has been depressed, and since the perpetration of the horrible murders which have taken place in the district during the past few weeks she has been greatly agitated. On Sunday she was found to have a razor in possession, and it was taken from her, as it was thought she meditated suicide. The following day she appeared to be more cheerful, and was left alone with her child. Yesterday, however, she left her room, saying she was going on an errand, but when some time elapsed, and she did not return, her daughter went in search of her, and was horrified to find her hanging with a rope round her neck to the stair banisters. The child ran for assistance, but no one would go up to the body, and eventually the police were called in and the body cut down. Life was then extinct, but as the body was quite warm, it is believed that had assistance been rendered immediately on the discovery being made the woman's life might have been saved. The inquest on the remains will be held on Saturday morning, at 11 o'clock.