Saturday, 10 November 1888
DECAPITATION AND MUTILATION OF THE VICTIM
This morning, in the midst of the popular demonstration connected with the Lord Mayor's Show, the tens of thousands of persons who had assembled along the line of route from the City to the West End to watch the civic pageant pass were startled and horrified by the hoarse cries of the street newspaper hawkers announcing the perpetration of another terrible murder in Whitechapel. The news received speedy confirmation, and even the meagre particulars immediately obtainable left no doubt that this, the latest of the series of crimes which has for months past kept the East of London in a state of fear almost amounting to panic, exceeded in its cold-blooded fiendish atrocity any that have preceded it. In the details of the murder itself there is unhappily little that can be described as novel - the same mournful story of want, immorality, and inhuman crime, but in one most important circumstance the murder differs in a startling manner from all that have gone before it. It was committed not in the open air, but in a house, into which the murderer had been taken by his too willing victim. The scene of the murder is Miller court, Dorset street, Commercial street, a district composed of big warehouses, squalid streets, and in a striking degree of registered lodging-houses.
Dorset street is a fairly wide thoroughfare, and at night, owing to the lamps in the windows and over the doors of the numerous lodging-houses, it may be described as well-lighted. Miller court is approached by an arched passage not more than three feet wide, which is unlighted, and from this passage open two doors leading into the houses on each side. The house on the left hand side is kept as a chandler's shop by a respectable man named M'Carthy, to whom also belongs the house in the court in which the crime was committed. The court is a very small one, about 30 feet long by 10 broad. On both sides are three or four small houses, cleanly whitewashed up to the first floor windows. The ground floor of the house to the right of this court is used as a store, with a gate entrance, and the upper floors are let off in tenements, as is the case also with M'Carthy's house. Opposite the court is a very large lodging-house, of a somewhat inferior character. This house is well lighted and people hang about it nearly all night. There is another well frequented lodging-house next door to M'Carthy's, and within a yard or two to the entrance to the court is a wall lamp, the light from which is thrown nearly on to the passage. But perhaps the most curious item in the entire surrounding is a large placard posted on the wall of the next house but one from the right hand side, offering, in the name of an illustrated weekly paper, a reward of one hundred pounds for the discovery of the man who murdered the woman Nicholls in Hanbury street.
The murder was committed at No 2 Miller court, some time after midnight. The murdered woman is not particularly well known even to her neighbours. As is customary among people of her class, she had several nicknames, including "Mary Jane," and "Fair Emma," but the name by which she was known to her landlord, and which has proved to be correct, was Mary Jane Kelly. She had been married for some years, or at any rate had lived regularly with a man named Kelly. But it is known that she went on the streets irregularly at first; but after separating from her husband, chiefly on account of her drunken habits and quarrelsome disposition, she took to prostitution as a regular means of living. Almost the only friend she is known to have had was a woman named Harvey, who used to sleep with her occasionally.
Kelly went out as usual last evening, and was seen in the neighbourhood about 10 o'clock, in company with a man, of whom, however, no description can be obtained. She was last seen, as far as can be ascertained, in Commercial street about half-past 11. She was then alone and was probably making her way home. It is supposed that she met the murderer in Commercial street, and he probably induced her to take him home without indulging in more drink; at any rate, nothing was seen of the couple in the neighbouring public-houses, nor in the beerhouse at the corner of Dorset street. The pair reached Miller court about midnight, but they were not seen to enter the house. The street door was closed, but the woman had a latchkey, and as she must have been fairly sober, she and her companion would have been obliged to enter the house and reach the woman's room without making a noise. A light was seen shining through the window of the room for some time after the couple must have entered it, and one person asserts positively that the woman was heard singing the refrain of a popular song as late as one o'clock this morning. But here again there is a conflict of testimony which the police are even now engaged in endeavouring to reconcile. That which follows is beyond doubt.
At about 10 o'clock this morning Mr M'Carthy set a man who works for him to the house with orders to see Kelly and obtain from her some money on account of the rent of which she was largely in arrear. The man went and knocked at the door, but received no answer. He had assumed the woman would be up, because not infrequently she would make purchases in M'Carthy's shop before that hour. He listened, but heard no sound, and then becoming alarmed, tried the door. It was quite fast, and seemed to have been locked from the outside. Determined to find out what was wrong, the man went to the window commanding a view of the whole room, with the intention of entering if necessary. One glance in the room, however, was sufficient. He saw on the bed the body of a woman dead, and mutilated in such a ghastly manner that the observer nearly fainted from horror. He rushed affrighted out of the court and into M'Carthy's shop, begging him for God's sake to come and look. M'Carthy, hardly less horrified, returned to the house with his man, and both looked into the room. The place looked like a shambles. Blood was everywhere, and pieces of flesh were scattered about the floor, while on the little table, in full view of the window, was a hideous lump.
M'Carthy sent his man for the police, and Inspector Buck, of Commercial road Station, and Inspector Abberline, of the Criminal Investigation Department, stationed at Leman street, arrived within ten minutes. A strong squad of police were also despatched from Commercial street Station to assist the regular patrol men in maintaining order. A large crowd had already assembled, and Inspector Buck's first care was to clear Dorset street of idlers, to close the entrance to the court with two policemen, and then to draw a cordon across each end of Dorset street. From that time forward only authorised persons were permitted in Dorset street. The constables in charge of the entrance to Miller court allowed no one to pass in or out, not even the inhabitants of the place.
Meanwhile no attempt had been made to force an entrance to the room. The two inspectors had looked through the window, and had seen sufficient to prove that a most murderous crime had been committed, but neither officer seemed to care to undertake responsibility, and it was not until some twenty minutes after the first alarm had been given that Superintendent Arnold, the officer in charge of the division, arrived on the scene, and at once took over charge. By his direction M'Carthy obtained a pickaxe, and the door was forced open, and the police officers entered the room. They did not care to remain longer than was necessary to note accurately the position of the body, the general appearance of the apartment, and the character of the principal mutilations. The sight was enough to unnerve strong men, even so experienced an officer as Inspector Abberline, who had immediate charge of the inquiries connected with most of the recent murders. The throat had been cut with such ferocious and appalling thoroughness that the head was almost severed from the trunk. The body, which was almost naked, had been ripped up and literally disembowelled. The chief organs had been entirely removed. Some were thrown upon the floor, and others placed on the table.
Dr. Duke, the police surgeon of the H Division, was the first medical man to arrive on the spot, and he at once undertook a preliminary examination. Half an hour later he was joined by Dr. Bond, the chief surgeon of the metropolitan police, and together they commenced a post-mortem examination on the spot as soon as the requisite authority had been obtained. Sir Charles Warren arrived at Miller court at a quarter to 2 o'clock, having driven from Scotland Yard in a hansom. He viewed the room, and received from Superintendent Arnold a report of what had been done. The Commissioner remained on the spot until the completion of the post-mortem examination at a quarter to 4, and then returned to Scotland Yard, taking Dr Bond with him.
Previous to the post-mortem examination, a photographer, who was brought on the scene only after considerable difficulty and delay, was set to work, with a view to obtaining permanent evidence as to the state of the room, the condition of the body, and other points, trivial perhaps, but possibly important, which have heretofore been too much neglected in the investigation of the series of crimes of which to-day's horror is surely the climax. The state of the atmosphere was unfortunately not favourable to good results. A slight drizzling rain was falling, the air was dusky, even in the open thoroughfare, and in the little court it was at times almost dark, especially inside the miserable houses. The photographer, however, did his best, and succeeded in securing several negatives, which he hopes will be useful. The post-mortem examination lasted just two hours, and was of the most thorough character. Every indication as to the manner in which the murderer conducted his awful work was carefully noted, as well as the position of every organ and the larger pieces of flesh. The surgeon's report will, in consequence, be of an unusually exhaustive character, but it will not be made public until the surgeons give their evidence at the coroner's inquest. Sufficient is known to place the crime beyond doubt in the same category as those perpetrated in George Yard, Buck's row, Berner street, Hanbury street and Mitre square.
At ten minutes to four o'clock a one-horse carrier's cart, with the ordinary tarpauline cover, was driven into Dorset street, and stopped opposite Miller court. From the cart was taken a long shell or coffin, dirty and scratched, with constant use. This was taken into the chamber, and there the remains were temporarily coffined. The news that the body was about to be removed caused a great rush of people from the courts running out of Dorset street, and there was a determined effort to break the police cordon at the Commercial street end. The crowd which pressed round the van was of the very humblest class, but the demeanour of the poor people was all that could be desired. Ragged caps were doffed, and slatternly-looking women shed tears as the shell covered with a ragged-looking cloth was placed in the van. The remains were taken to the Shoreditch Mortuary, where they will remain till they have been viewed by the coroner's jury. The inquest will open on Monday morning.
In an interview with a representative of the Central News, John M'Carthy, the owner of the houses in Miller's Court, who keeps a chandler's shop in Dorset street, made the following statement as to the murdered woman:- "The victim of this terrible murder was about 23 or 24 years of age, and lived with a coal porter named Kelly, passing as his wife. They, however, quarrelled sometime back and separated. A woman named Harvey slept with her several nights since Kelly separated from her, and she was not with her last night. The deceased's Christian named was Mary Jane, and since her murder I have discovered that she was an "unfortunate," and walked the streets in the neighbourhood of Aldgate. Her habits were irregular, and she often came home at night the worse for drink. Her mother lives in Ireland, but in what county I do not know. Deceased used to receive letters from her occasionally. The unfortunate woman had not paid her rent for several weeks; in fact she owed me 30s altogether, so this morning about 11 o'clock I sent my man to ask her If she could pay the money. He knocked at the door, but received no answer. Thinking this very strange, he looked in at the window, and, to his horror, he saw the body of Kelly lying on the bed covered with blood. He immediately came back to me and told me what he had seen. I was, of course, as horrified as he was, and I went with him to the house and looked in at the window. The sight I saw was more ghastly even than I had prepared myself for. On the bed lay the body as my man had told me, while the table was covered with what seemed to me to be lumps of flesh. I said to my man "Harry go at once to the police station and fetch some one here." He went off at once and brought back Inspector Buck, who looked through the window as we had done. He then despatched a telegram to Superintendent Arnold, but before Superintendent Arnold arrived Inspector Abberline came and gave orders that no one should be allowed to enter or leave the court. The Inspector waited a little while and then sent a telegram to Sir Charles Warren to bring the bloodhounds, so as to trace the murderer if possible. As soon as Superintendent Arnold arrived he gave instructions for the door to be burst open. I at once forced the door with a pickaxe, and we entered the room. The sight we saw I cannot drive away from my mind. It looked more like the work of a devil than of a man. The poor woman's body was lying on the bed undressed. She had been completely disembowelled, and her entrails had been taken out and placed on the table. It was those that I had seen when I looked through the window. The woman's nose had been cut off and her face gashed and mutilated, so that she was quite beyond recognition. Both her breasts too had been cut clean away and placed by the side of the intestines on the table. The body was, of course, covered with blood, and so was the bed. The whole scene is more than I can describe. It is most extraordinary that nothing should have been heard by the neighbours, as there are people passing backwards and forwards at all hours of the night, but no one heard as much as a scream. A woman heard Kelly singing "Sweet Violets" at 1 o'clock this morning, so up to that time, at all events, she was alive and well. So far as I can ascertain no one saw her take a an into the house wither her last night."
Mr M'Carthy is spoken of by the police as a most respectable man, and was recently awarded a prize for collecting money for the hospitals. He is naturally much distressed at the terrible tragedy which has occurred literally at his door.
Dr. Forbes Winslow has favoured the Central News with the following opinion on this latest murder:- "That it is the work of the same homicidal lunatic who has committed the other crimes in Whitechapel. The whole harrowing details point to this conclusion. The way in which the murder was done and the strange state in which the body was left is not consistent with sanity. The theory I stated some days ago has come true to the letter. This was to the effect that the murderer was in a 'lucid interval,' and would recommence directly this state had passed away. It appears that the authorities were forgetting this theory, and that someone had been persuading them that from the fact of so long a time intervening between the murders, therefore it could not be a homicidal maniac. I desire as being originally responsible for this theory, to flatly deny this, and to state more emphatically than ever that the murderer is one and the same person, and he is a lunatic suffering from homicidal monomania, who during the lucid intervals is calm and forgetful of what he has been doing in the madness of his attack. I also say that unless those in authority take the proper steps as advised and drop the red-tapism surrounding a Government office, such crimes will continue to be perpetrated in our metropolis to the terror of London. It appears to me it is the burning question of the hour, and of much more vital importance than some now attracting the attention of our community."
A reporter who to-night saw the room in which the murder was committed says it was a tenement by itself, having formerly been the back parlour of No 26 Dorset street. A partition had been erected cutting it off from the house, and the entrance door opened into Miller's court. The two windows also faced the court; and as the body could be seen from the court his morning, it is evident that unless the murderer perpetrated his crime with the light turned out, any person passing by could have witnessed the deed. The lock of the door was a spring one, and the murderer apparently took the key away with him when he left, as it cannot be found. The more the facts are investigated the more apparent becomes the cool daring of the murderer. There are six houses in the court besides the tenement occupied by the deceased. The door of Kelly's room is the first on the right-hand side on entering from the street, and the other houses, three on either side, are higher up the passage.
Mrs Prater, who occupies a room in 26 Dorset street above that of the deceased, stated to-night that she had a chat with Kelly yesterday morning. Kelly, who was doing some crochet work at the time, said, "I hope it will be a fine day to-morrow as I want to go to the Lord Mayor's Show." "She was a very pleasant girl," added Mrs Prater, "and seemed to be on good terms with everybody. She dressed poorly as she was, of course, badly off."
The young woman Harvey who had slept with the deceased on several occasions also made a statement. She said she had been on good terms with the deceased, whose education was much superior to that of most persons in her position. Harvey, however, took a room in New court, off the same street, but remained friendly with the unfortunate woman, who visited her in New court last night. After drinking together they parted at half-past 7 o'clock, Kelly going off in the direction of Leman street, which she was in the habit of frequenting. She was perfectly sober at the time. Harvey never saw her alive afterwards. This morning, hearing that a murder had been committed, she said "I'll go and see if it's anyone I know," and to her horror found that it was her friend.
Joseph Barnett, an Irishman, at present residing in a common lodging-house in New street, Bishopsgate, informed a reporter this evening that he had occupied his present lodgings since Tuesday week. Previous to that he had lived in Miller's court, Dorset street, for eight or nine months with the murdered woman, Mary Jane Kelly. They were comfortable together until an unfortunate came to sleep in their room to which he strongly objected. Finally, after the woman had been there two or three nights, they quarrelled and he left her. The next day, however, he returned and gave Kelly money. He called several other days, and gave her money when he had it. Last night he visited her between half-past 7 and 8,and told her he was sorry he had no money to give her. He saw nothing more of her. He was indoors this morning when he heard that a woman had been murdered in Dorset street, but he did not know at first who the victim was. He voluntarily went to the police, who, after questioning him, satisfied themselves that his statements were correct, and therefore released him. Barnett believed Kelly, who was an Irishwoman, was an unfortunate before he made her acquaintance. She used occasionally to go to the Elephant and Castle district to visit a friend.
Up to nine o'clock to-night there had been no arrests, and the police appeared to be without a tangible clue. They have been much hampered by the lack of information from the inhabitants of the locality, whose statements are most contradictory. The non-appearance of the bloodhounds to-day is accounted for by the fact that during recent trials in Surrey, the animals bolted, and it is understood have not been recovered.
The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, who have recently relaxed their efforts to find the murderer, have called a meeting for Tuesday evening net at the Paul's Head tavern, Crispin street, Spitalfields, to consider what steps they can take to assist the police in the matter.
There is a belief among some of the police that the murderer is employed on one of the Continental cattle boats which come to London on Thursdays or Fridays and leave again on Sundays or Mondays. There is intense excitement in Spitalfields to-night, and the streets are thronged with people discussing the details of the crime.
A man was arrested to-night in Whitechapel on suspicion of having committed the Dorset street crime. He was pointed out to the police by some women as a man who had accosted them last night, and whose movements excited suspicions. He was taken to Commercial street Police Station followed by an immense crowd.
It is stated upon indisputable authority that no portion of the murdered woman's body was taken away by the murderer. As already stated, the post-mortem examination was of the most exhaustive character, and the surgeons did not quit their work until every organ had been accounted for, and placed as closely as possible in its natural position.
On inquiring at Commercial street Police Station at 1 o'clock this morning, our representative was informed that a man was still detained there pending inquiries, but that nothing definite had transpired.
The police continue to preserve great reticence on the subject.