Monday, 12 November 1888
It is amazing how comparatively slight the effect on the public of the latest Whitechapel murder has been. People have supped so full with this class of horror that it has palled upon their faculty for sensation, and no more interest is now shown in these familiar butcheries than in ordinary crime. It is an instructive fact that so far as the large force of police on detective and usual duty in the East End have observed the class to which the latest victim, like her six unfortunate sisters, belonged appear to have grown callous to peril, and are not terrified by the latest warning of their possible fate.
AN ALL-NIGHT INVESTIGATION
THE SUPPOSED MURDERER DESCRIBED
COMMUNICATION FROM SIR CHARLES WARREN
A representative of the Press who has since last night been investigating the circumstances of the murder of Mary Jane Kelly, in Dorset street, Spitalfields, states that the excitement has in some degree subsided. Between 1 and 4 o'clock this morning numbers of unfortunate women frequented the thoroughfares in the neighbourhood with an unconcern which must be deemed remarkable. The strong detachment of additional detectives who have been requisitioned, as well as the volunteer watchers performed their unenviable duties in the regulation manner, but otherwise there was nothing in the aspect of affairs to excite the attention of a passer-by. Many persons state that the unfortunate woman never left the house 26 Dorset street after she entered it at midnight on Thursday; others who were companions of the deceased state that she came out of her house at 8 o'clock on Friday morning for provisions, and that they were drinking with her in the Brittania Tavern at 10 o'clock, an hour before her mutilated body was found. The hour at wich the murder was committed is thus a matter of the first importance. A woman named Kennedy, who was staying with her parents at a house in the court immediately opposite the room in which the body was found, makes a statement which, if trustworthy, there seems little reason to doubt fixes conclusively the time of the murder. She says that about 3 o'clock on Friday morning she entered her parents' house, which is just opposite, and noticed three persons on the corner of the street near the Brittania publichouse. There was a young man respectably dressed, with a dark moustache, talking to a woman whom she did not know. There was also another woman poorly clad without any headwear. The man and woman appeared to be the wrose for liquor, and she heard the man ask, "Are you coming?" Whereupon the woman turned in an opposite direction than that in which the man wished her to go. She did not return. Kennedy remained at her parents house for some time, and about half-past 3 she heard a cry of "murder" from the direction of Kelly's room. The cry was not repeated, and she took no further notice until she heard of the murder. She has since stated as follows:- "On Wednesday evening I and my sister were in the neighbourhood of Bethnal Green road, when we were accosted by a suspicious-looking man, about forty years old, 5 feet 8 inches high, who wore a short jacket, over which he had a long top-coat, and a billycock hat. He had a black moustache. He wanted us to accompany him to a lonely spot, as he said he was known about here, and that there was a policeman looking at him." She asserted no policeman was in sight. He made several strange remarks, and was very white in the face, which he endeavoured to conceal. He carried a black bag, and he led the way to a dark thoroughfare at the back of the workhouse, and they followed him. He pushed open a small door in a pair of large gates, and asked one of them to follow him, saying "I only want one." They became alarmed and escaped, raising a cry of "Jack the Ripper." A gentleman who was passing is said to have intercepted the man, while the woman made their escape. The man, Mrs Kennedy states, whom she saw on Friday closely resembles the one who alarmed her on Thursday evening. She could recognise him again. Her description tallies with that already in possession of the police as that of the supposed murderer. There is every probability therefore that the murderer entered the unhappy woman's house early on Friday morning.
The following official communication from Sir Charles Warren has been issued:-
"Whereas on November 8th or 9th, in Miller court, Dorset street, Spitalfields, Mary Jane Kelly was murdered by some person or persons unknown, the Secretary of State will advise the grant of her Majesty's gracious pardon to any accomplice not being a person who contrived or actually committed the murder who shall give such information and evidence as shall lead to the discovery and conviction of the person or persons who committed the murder.
"CHARLES WARREN, the Commissioner of
Police of the Metropolis, Metropolitan Police,
4 Whitechapel place
"10th November, 1888."
If the following statement can be confirmed, it has a very important bearing on the question, who is the murderer? because it fixed approximately the time at which the murder was committed. But so many stories have been invented for the sake of gain by people who live in the locality since these murders became the sensation of the newspapers that it is difficult to ascertain at once whether they are accurate or otherwise.
Mrs Maxwell, the wife of the deputy of a lodging-house in Dorset street, situate just opposite the court where Mary Kelly lived, said to a Central News reporter:- I assist my husband in his duties, but we live next door, at No 26 Dorset street. We stay up all night, and yesterday morning, as I was going home, carrying my laundry and other things with me, I saw the woman Kelly standing at the entrance of the court. It was then about half-past 8, and as it was unusual for her to be seen about at that hour I said to her, "Hallo, what are you doing up so early?" She said, "Oh, I'm very bad this morning. I have got the horrors. I have been drinking so much lately." I said to her, "Why don't you go and have half a pint of beer? It will put you right." She replied, "I've just had one, but I am so bad I couldn't keep it down." I didn't know then that she had separated from the man she had been living with, and I thought he had been "paying."
I then went out in the direction of Bishopsgate to do some errands, and on my return I saw Mary standing outside the publichouse talking to a man. That was the last I saw of her.
Mrs Paumier, a young woman who sells roasted chestnuts at the corner of Widegate street, a narrow thoroughfare about two minutes walk from the scene of the murder, told a reporter on Friday afternoon a story which appears to afford a clue to the murderer. She says that about 12 o'clock that morning a man dressed like a gentleman came to her and said, "I suppose you have heard about the murder in Dorset street?" She replied that she had, whereupon the man grinned and said, "I know more about it than you." He then stared into her face and ran down Sandy's row, another narrow thoroughfare which cuts across Widegate street. When he had got some way off, however, he turned back as if to see whether she was watching him, and then vanished. Mrs Paumier said the man had a black moustache, was about 5 ft 6 in high, and wore a black silk hat, a black coat, and speckled trousers. He also carried a black shiny bag about a foot in depth and a foot and a half in length. Mrs Paumier stated further that the same man accosted three young women, whom she knew, on Thursday night, and they chaffed him and asked him what he had in the bag, and he replied, "Something that the ladies don't like." One of the three women she named, Sarah Roney, a girl about twenty, states that she was with two other girls on Thursday night in Brushfield street, which is near Dorset street, when a man wearing a tall hat and a black coat, and carrying a black bag, came up to her and said, "Will you come with me?" She told him she would not, and asked him what he had in the bag, and he said, "Something the ladies don't like." He then walked away.
Public excitement created by the latest tragedy has not abated to any appreciable extent, and Dorset street was this afternoon and evening in a crowded condition, and throngs which extended even into Commercial street rendered locomotion all but impossible.
Jostling the assembled people were vendors of pamphlets fresh from the press describing the Whitechapel crimes, and other itinerant vendors were doing a thriving trade. Two police constables guarded the entrance of Miller's court and the adjacent shop of the landlord of the house where the body of the murdered woman was found was besieged. A short distance away a street preacher sought to improve the occasion. The onlookers within and about Dorset street comprised men and women of nearly every class, and now and then a vehicle would be driven up containing a load of persons impelled by curiosity to visit the locality. Public excitement was for a time intensified by a report which spread like lightning that a woman had been found murdered in Jubilee street. The rumour was at once accepted as true, thus denoting that the public entertain little doubt that, if so disposed, the murderer might almost with impunity add to his catalogue of atrocities. Jubilee street is off Commercial road, and thither people at once proceeded from various directions, but inquiries elicited that the rumour had arisen from an accident to a woman necessitating her removal to hospital.
The further post-mortem examination on the body of the deceased woman Kelly has led the medical gentlemen to the conclusion that she had been murdered some hours before the discovery of the crime. This conclusion, however, conflicts with the statements made to a reporter by people in the neighbourhood. It is asserted Kelly was seen alive as late as 8 o'clock on Friday morning. She was observed about that time standing at the entrance to Miller's court, and one informant stated that the woman was seen to purchase milk for her breakfast.
A young woman who goes by the name of Margaret says:- I saw Kelly on Thursday night in Dorset street. She told me she had no money, and intended to make away with herself. Shortly after that a man of shabby appearance came up, and Kelly walked away with him.
Some statements have appeared respecting deceased's antecedents, and as to her having formerly lived for some time in a fashionable house of resort in the West End. There is reason to believe that not only are these statements well founded, but that she maintained some sort of connection with the companions of her more prosperous days.
While the police have been working zealously in the hope of making some discovery of value the public themselves appear to feel that responsibility was shared by them. This was seen by the incident which occurred to-day, and resulted in the arrest and detention of a strange man at Bishopsgate street Police Station. Some men were drinking at a beerhouse in Fish street Hill. One of them began conversing about the Whitechapel murder, and a man named Brown, living in Dorset street, thought he detected blood marks on the coat of a stranger. On the latters attention being called to it, he said it was merely paint, but Brown said it was blood. The coat being loose, similar stains were seen on the man's shirt, and he then admitted that they were blood stains. Brown followed him from the house, and when opposite Bishopsgate Police Station gave him into custody. The prisoner gave the name of George Compton. On being brought before the inspector on duty he excitedly protested against being arrested in the street, alleging that in the present state of public feeling he might have been lynched. The same man had been arrested at Shadwell on Saturday by a police constable, who considered his behaviour suspicious, but he had been discharged. It transpired that before he left Fish street Hill beerhouse he had, so Brown alleged, made contradictory statements respecting his place of residence and the locality in which he worked. Compton does not bear any personal resemblance to the published description of the man who is supposed to be the murderer.
Considerable importance is attached to an arrest which was affected at an early hour this morning through the exertions of two young men living in the neighbourhood of Dorset street. Like many others in the neighbourhood they appeared to have transformed themselves into amateur detectives, and have been perambulating the streets on the look out for suspicious persons. About 3 o'clock this morning their attention was drawn to two men in Dorset street who were loitering about. The two were separated, and one of them was followed by the two youths into Houndsditch. They carefully observed his appearance, which was that of a foreigner, about five feet eight in height, and having a long pointed moustache. He was dressed in a long, black overcoat and deerstalker hat. When near Bishopsgate street the young man spoke to a policeman, who at once stopped the stranger and took him to Bishopsgate street Police Station, where he was searched, and it was found he was carrying a sort of pocket medical chest containing several small bottles of chloroform. In rather imperfect English he explained that he lived in Pimlico, where he was well known. After this preliminary examination he was taken to Commercial street Police Station, in which district the murder was committed. He was detained on suspicion, but subsequently was taken to Marlborough street Police Station for the purpose of facilitating his identification. Another man is detained at Commercial street Station on account of his suspicious movements.
A man named Peter Maguire says that about 11 o'clock on Saturday night he was drinking at a publichouse kept by Mrs Fiddymont, in Brushfields street, when he noticed a man talking very earnestly to a young woman. He asked her to accompany him but she refused and afterwards left the bar. Maguire followed the man, who, noticing this, commenced running. He ran into Spitalfields Market, Maguire following. The man there stopped, went up a court, took off a pair of gloves he was wearing, and put on another pair. By a roundabout route he arrived at Shoreditch, and got into a bus, which Maguire also followed. A policeman was asked by Maguire to stop this bus, but it is said he refused, and Maguire continued in pursuit until he met another constable, who at once stopped the vehicle. The man was inside huddled up in a corner. Maguire explained his suspicions, and the man was taken to Commercial street Police Station, where he was detained pending inquiries.
A minute search has been made by the police and medical men n the room where the crime was committed, but practically nothing in the nature of a clue has been obtained. The man's coat discovered there belonged to a Mrs Harvey, who had lived with the woman Kelly, and the ashes in the fireplace, which have been carefully sifted, reveal no traces, it is stated, of human flesh or clothing.
As mentioned above, there is a discrepancy in the time the murder was committed between the opinion of the medical men and the statements made by the residents in the neighbourhood, and there is also some doubt as to whether any portion of the body was removed. On the latter point it is expected that some important evidence will be given at the inquest, which is to be opened to-morrow forenoon by Dr. MacDonald at Shoreditch Town Hall.
Later information states that all the men who were in custody to-day have given satisfactory explanations of their movements and have been released.
The inquest has been fixed for this day (Monday) at 11 o'clock at Shoreditch Town Hall before Dr. M'Donald, M.P. Further inquiries show that the boy who stayed with Kelly was not her child, but that of a woman who had stayed with her on several occasions.
Telegraphing at 11 o'clock, a correspondent says:- Great excitement was caused shortly before 10 o'clock to-night in the East End by the arrest of a man with blackened face, who publicly proclaimed himself to be "Jack the Ripper." This was at the corner of Wentworth street, Commercial street, near the scene of the latest crime. Two young men, one a discharged soldier, seized him, and the great crowd which always on Sunday night parades this neighbourhood raised a cry of "Lynch him." Sticks were raised, and the man was furiously attacked, and but for the timely arrival of the police he would have been seriously injured. The police took him to Leman street station, when the prisoner proved to be a very remarkable person. He refused to give any name, but asserted he was a doctor at St. George's Hospital. His age is about 35, height 5ft. 7in., complexion dark, dark moustache, and he was wearing spectacles. He wore no waistcoat, but had an ordinary jersey vest. In his pocket he had a double-peaked light check cap, and at the time of arrest was bareheaded. It took four civilians to take him to the station and protect him from the infuriated crowd. He is detained in custody, and it seems the police attach importance to the arrest, as the man's appearance answers to the police description of the man wanted.
Telegraphing later, a reporter says:- Inquiries made at the London Hospital by the police have established the fact that the man arrested in George Yard is a surgeon who has been acting as an amateur detective. In order to facilitate his self imposed task, he had "got himself up" by besmearing himself and donning a jersey. He has been set at liberty, and will probably in future temper his zeal with discretion for his eccentric dress almost cost him his life.
Last night there was found in the pillar-box at the corner of Northumberland street and Marylebone a letter directed to the police, and its contents were as follows:- "Dear Boss, - I shall be busy to-morrow night in Marylebone. I have two booked for blood - Yours Jack the Ripper - Look out about ten o'clock, Marylebone road."