12 September 1888
The terrible Whitechapel mystery remains still unsolved. All the resources of Scotland Yard have been devoted for some days pas to the investigation of the crime and the tracking of the criminal, but so far without apparently successful result. What now is transpiring under the eyes of the public savours of a shutting of the stable door after the horse is gone. The moral disease of the district had been for some time known. This was not the first, but the fourth grave crime committed within the limits of a modern Alsatia, the history of which accords in no degree with what ought to be the experiences of modern civilisation and of the special appliances with which it is armed. No wonder that the whole district should be plunged into panic when it thus is proven that police vigilance is so grossly at fault. It is not now for the first time that the locality has been spoken of as the plague-spot of London. It has been a disgrace and a reproach for a long time past, and the marvel is that so feeble an attempt should have been made to extinguish its bad criminal pre-eminence. It remains under such circumstances to be seen whether the citizens of the great metropolis will continue to tolerate so melancholy an exhibition of incapacity as has been made evident. As regards the series of awful crimes, there is good prima facie reason to trace them to one hand, and that of a homicidal maniac. It is a terrifying reflection that such a person should still be at large. The madman of the class is endued with a cunning that is almost supernatural, and it is a matter of common criminal experience that a person of the kind longest evades detection. It would appear that arrests have been made on the slightest foundation of suspicion, but there is good reason to think that the real criminal has not yet been caught. In the meantime, the public who read with attention the reports appearing in the daily journals cannot refrain from the conclusion that the protection enjoyed by the community from the fell enterprises of crime might be extended and rendered more practical. The Whitechapel murders outstrip in their horror the worst narrations to be found in the Newgate Calendar, and indicate the existence of an evil that the police department are bound to watch with a closer scrutiny than yet has been displayed. Murder will out, and no doubt the criminal in the long run will be discovered. But that after such signal warnings he should still have escaped detection is a fact that does not redound to the credit of the special department charged with the burdens of finding the enemy of society, and of pursuing him to the punishment that his evil enterprise merits.
SUPPOSED MURDER AND MUTILATION
The Star, in a late edition, publishes the following account of a supposed murder and mutilation. - "A discovery, which is held to afford incontestable proof of a murder and mutilation, was made in Pimlico to-day. In the canal near Ebury Bridge and Grosvenor road a policeman's attention was attracted to something at which a number of boys were pelting stones. He had the object of the boys amusement extricated from the planks of timber amongst which it was entangled, and on examination he found it to be a woman's arm. He had it at once removed to the station where it was inspected by Dr. Neville, of Pimlico road, the Police Surgeon. The arm had been removed from the shoulder, and had evidently been done by an unskilful person. It must have been removed from the body of a person murdered but a day or two ago, as when touched the blood began to trickle freshly from it. The instrument must have been exceedingly sharp, the joint being cut into and the limb removed at the shoulder socket. There was a cord tied round the arm above the elbow. The person murdered must have been a very fine young woman, as the arm was fully as long as that of a man of 5 ft. 10 in. or 5 ft. 11 in. There were a few abrasions on portions of the skin, but these might be caused by knocking against timber in the water. The police deny all knowledge of the subject.
A profound sensation was created late this afternoon by the publication of a report that another fiendish murder has been committed, this time in the Western part of London. There is, unfortunately, too much reason to believe that the report will prove to be absolutely correct, and already the police are pursuing inquiries based upon this assumption. About twenty minutes to 1 o'clock this afternoon, a man named Frederick Moore, employed at Messrs Ward's timber yard, Grosvenor road, had his attention drawn to a curious looking object lying on the mud on the banks of the Thames, immediately opposite where he was working. Moore procured a ladder and descended to the bank below the wharf. On approaching the object he was startled to find that it was a human arm. It was partly wedged between some timber in the wood dock belonging to Messrs Chapple. Moore's first thought was to secure the ghostly object, so that it might not be carried away by the tide or current, and this object he assured by tying it to a baulk of timber with some string which he had in his pocket. He then carefully examined the immediate vicinity, but failing to find any more human remains he took up the arm, carried it to the embankment, and there handed it over to the care of Police Constable James, who obtained a newspaper from a neighbouring publichouse, and wrapped up the arm, which had already attracted the morbid curiosity of a rapidly gathering crowd, and conveyed it to the Gerald row Police Station. Inspector Adams, of the B Division, at once took charge of the case, and his first care after communicating the discovery to Scotland Yard was to send for Dr Neville of Pimlico road and Sloane street, the nearest medical man, who soon arrived at the police station and made a most careful examination of the remains. He had no difficulty in deciding that the arm was that of a well formed, tall and well-nourished young woman, probably about twenty-five years of age. It had been cut off at the shoulder with some sharp instrument, and the question at once naturally suggested itself, "is this the work of a professional anatomist or of a murderer?" Dr. Neville did not feel called upon to express a positive opinion either way, but he could not deny that the work had been neatly done. Some skill too, had been shown in the manner in which the limb had been removed from the trunk, but the handiwork was scarcely good enough for a person acquainted with the principles of anatomy. The flesh was comparatively fresh, and was quite free from blood, but it had been in the water at least two or three days. The arm had removed been from the trunk of the corpse after death, and it bore no bruise or signs of violent usage. As soon as the medical examination had been concluded, Inspector Adams had the arm removed to the mortuary in Millbank street, and ten proceeded with his investigation. His first care was to have the whole of the river in the immediate neighbourhood thoroughly dragged. The work was continued until a late hour in the evening, but according to the police, no more human remains were found.
The police records of missing persons were also carefully searched, but they yielded nothing that could be described as a clue. On the 24th of last month a man who was sweeping the railway station at Guildford came across a parcel containing a human foot and leg, which he at once handed over to the local police. The parcel had apparently been thrown either from a passing train or from the bridge which passed over the railway, close to where it was found. But it is not probable that the arm found to-day had anything to do with the Guildford remains, inasmuch as the latter were boiled, so much that some of the flesh and the toenails had entirely disappeared from the bone. As already stated, the limb found to-day was comparatively fresh - at any rate, it formed part of a living body not more than four days ago. Within the last week there has been reported to the police an average number of mysterious disappearances of women, but as far as can be ascertained not one of them can be connected with the present case. It is possible, but not at all probable that the mysterious arm may have been cut from the body of the young married woman who left her home at Lewisham on the 20th ult., and has not since been heard of. She was 23 years of age and tall, but she had threatened to commit suicide, and it is more likely that she carried out her threat than that she was the victim of a murder. Coming nearer to date, the body of a woman apparently between 40 and 50 years of age was found floating off Lambeth yesterday morning, and it has not yet been identified, but the corpse was that of a spare woman about four feet three inches high.
It is possible that the arm may have been placed where found by some medical student or other practical joker, but this view is not shared by the authorities. Inquiries are, however, being made at the various hospitals and private medical schools, the result of which can scarcely be made known until to-morrow.
Frederick Moore, of 86 Great Peter street, Westminster, informed a reporter that he is a deal porter, and works at Mr Ward's timber yard at Grosvenor road, Westminster. He gives the following account of the discovery - In the dinner hour to-day, about twenty minutes to one, I was standing outside the yard gates talking to one of the clerks when my attention was drawn by one of my fellow-workmen to something lying on the mud inside the floating timber belonging to Messrs Chappell. I went over and looked at it, and then said "Oh that is nothing." I then went away and was crossing the road when I was called back and asked to fetch a hitcher, a kind of hook for hauling about the timber. Not being able to find a hitcher in the yard, I took a twenty-foot rod, but being unable to reach the object with this rod, another man went and got a ladder. We hosted the ladder over the embankment onto the floating timber. There was a short ladder lying upon the timber, and I pushed this ladder out over the mud until I was able to reach the object, which I then saw was an arm, and called out to the people on the embankment, "it is an arm." It had a flat piece of string or tape round the upper part, over the muscle, and the knuckle-bone of the shoulder was protruding from the flesh about an inch or so. It had been cut off just below the shoulder, and from the appearance I could not tell whether it belonged to a man or a woman. Taking a piece of string from my pocket, I tied it round the upper part of the arm and, laying it on the timber, went back to see if there was any other portion of the body in the water, but could not see anything else. I then took the arm up the ladder and walked along the embankment to the steps leading down to the river opposite the William the Fourth Publichouse. Here I gave it to two constables. A sheet of newspaper was given to me from the William the Fourth and I wrapped up the arm in it. After giving my name and address to the policemen I returned to my work. When I first saw the arm it was lying on the mud with the fingers pointing out to the river. Just about the place there is a sluice coming out from the wall of the embankment, from which comes a stream of water from the distillery in the Grosvenor road. I know nothing about any boys pelting the object with stones when it lay on the mud. One of the men did throw a stone at it to see what it really was. While I was wrapping it in the paper I noticed that some blood oozed out from it near the shoulder bone. It was a right arm, and I did not notice any scars or bruises upon it. The fingers seemed to be drawn up and pinched, and the colour was a creamy white. About two or three months ago I picked up the dead body of a child near the place where I picked up the arm today."
RELEASE OF PISER
There is little to record to-day of a sensational character in connection with the East End tragedies. The men Piggott and Piser are still in custody. With regard to the former, it is understood that he has not yet recovered from the fit of delirium from which he was suffering when examination of the stains on his clothes has proved the existence of blood. Throughout the day Detective Sergeant Thicke has been continuing his inquiries as to the movements and antecedents of Piser. This afternoon a number of men who were hanging about Leman street police station were asked to come inside, and they were glad to satisfy their curiosity by doing so. Piser was then brought from the room in which he is confined and placed among them. A man was then brought into the station yard and asked if he could identify "the man." He immediately picked out Piser, who appeared to be much dejected on being so readily selected. It is understood that this witness says he saw Piser threatening a woman in Hanbury street at an early hour on the morning of the murder.
A representative of the Press this evening interviewed a brother of Piser, who was waiting at Leman street to convey food to the prisoner, and this brother is confident that the result of the investigation will prove that Piser has no connection with the crime. He say she can prove beyond doubt that Piser was not out of his residence after Thursday night, and that he kept indoors on his (the brother's) suggestion. He denied the prisoner was in the habit of associating with loose women in the street.
The man Piser, who has been in custody since yesterday morning, on suspicion of being concerned in the Whitechapel murder, was released this evening. The police were from the first inclined to doubt the veracity of the man who professed to identify Piser as having been seen quarrelling with a woman in Hanbury street on the morning of the murder. They subjected him this afternoon to an examination lasting three hours, in the course of which he contradicted himself over and over again. This coupled with the result inquiries made by the police and with the fact that the marks on the knives found in Piser's house were simply rust, left no doubt of his innocence.
Mr S. Montagu, member for Whitechapel Division, has offered a reward of £100 for the discovery of the assassin, and a subscription is being raised among the local tradespeople for the same purpose.
An important discovery, throwing considerable light on the Whitechapel murderer's movements after the commission of the crime was made to-day. A little girl found on the wall and path in the yard behind No 25 Hanbury street, the next house but one to the scene of the murder, peculiar marks which the police, when communicated with, detected to be a bloody trail extending towards the back door of the house. Following the track, it became evident the murderer had climbed the dividing fence between No's 29 and 27, and passed into the yard of No. 25. On the wall of the last there was found a great smudge of dried blood, as if the murderer had beaten a blood-soaked coat against it. In the adjoining yard was found a crumpled paper almost saturated with blood, on which it appeared the murderer wiped his hands. No 25 is let out in tenements, the back and front doors being left wide open on the latch, the occupants of each room looking after their own safety. The general appearance of the aforesaid blood track and other indications show that he passed into Hanbury street through the passage of No 25. These discoveries point to the possession by the criminal of deep cunning.
Murder, though it hath no tongue, continues to speak with the most miraculous organ, or rather with any number of organs, for in the famine of other themes from which we suffer we maintain a multitudinous babblement over the East End tragedy. The murderer is still at large, and poor Nemesis appears to have gone off on her pedestrianism worse than ever. Meanwhile we continue to supply the police with all manner of sagacious deductions evolved more or less after the system adopted in "The Murder in the Rue Morguet" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget." But British justice, like the British farmer in the story, "don't seem to get much forrader."
(FROM THE MORNING POST OF TO-DAY)
There is an aspect of the Whitechapel tragedies which through only of the nature of a side light ought not to be disregarded. We may call it the domestic aspect. The veil has been drawn aside that covered up the hideous condition in which thousands, tens of thousands of our fellow-creatures live in this boasted nineteenth century, and in the heart of the very wealthiest, the most civilised city in the world. We have all known for many years that deplorable misery, gross crime, and unspeakable vice, mixed and matted through the industrial quarters of the metropolis. To transmute the misery of our working poor into the plenteous comfort of fruitful industry requires the combination of many separate forces, which can move successfully only within the area of economic laws, and these of necessity move but slowly. But the pressing question is how these forces may be best combined and set in motion, and in the meantime how can the prompt and good offices of true benevolence intervene to help the evils that cannot wait.