Thursday, 22 November 1888
Great excitement was caused in the East-end and throughout the metropolis generally to-day by the attempted murder of a woman in the district of the recent tragedies. The crime was committed within three minutes walk of Dorset street, the scene of the last murder, and by a coincidence the victim of the George yard murder lodged at the same house, and the woman murdered in Osborne street lived next door. The circumstances, therefore, gave colour to the theory that the man was the individual known as Jack the Ripper. The woman who was the victim of to-day's outrage was named Annie Farmer. She is stated to be a married woman of good appearance and about 34 years of age. A woman who stated she had some knowledge of the circumstance, said the injured woman, who is also known as Matilda, has been in the habit of lodging in common lodginghouses in the locality, and had known the man who attacked her for about twelve months. About 7 o'clock this morning she met him near Spitalfields Church, and she stated that she was not able to pay for a bed. The man thereupon accompanied her to 19 George street, running from Flower and Dean street to Thrawl street.
About half-past 9 the man hurriedly left the house, and almost immediately the woman came down stairs with her throat out and bleeding profusely. It appears that when the man attempted to cut her throat a struggle ensued and she was able to give the alarm. Her assailant then fled, and was observed to leave the house hurriedly, but the man who saw him attached no importance to the circumstance. Others, however, who heard the alarm, followed, but lost him in the direction of Heneage street. The woman says she can identify him, and the police have issued the following description:-
"Wanted, for the attempted murder on the 21st inst., a man, aged 36 years; height 5 feet 6 inches; complexion dark; no whiskers; dark moustache; dress - black jacket, vest, and trousers; round lack felt hat; respectable appearance; can be identified."
Farmer was taken away by the police to the police station on a stretcher, and that gave rise to the statement that she had been murdered, but it appears that the wound, although it bled freely, is only superficial, and no danger is apprehended.
A large force of detectives were immediately drafted to the district, and have been prosecuting inquiries throughout the day, but up to 6 o'clock this evening the man had not been arrested, although from the accurate description which is in the possession of the police it is thought that his apprehension will not be long delayed.
Several statements have been made to the authorities, but they do not accord with the description of the man who is supposed to have committed the series of murders, and the general opinion, as well as that of the police, is that the author of to-day's outrage is not the murderer in the previous cases. Great excitement, however, still prevails in the locality, although, apparently, the outrage was the result of a common quarrel.
The woman Farmer was removed from Commercial street Police Station this afternoon to Whitechapel Infirmary. She was taken in a cab and left the station by the back entrance, so that the public were unaware of the circumstance. Farmer has been in custody at Commercial street on a great many occasions, and is described as a drunken and abandoned woman. The medical officer in charge at the infirmary has received a request from the police not to allow the woman to see any visitors. Dr. Larder said she was able to converse very well, and would probably be discharged from the institution in a fortnight. The public excitement to-night in the locality showed no sing of diminution, and George street was all but impassable in consequence of the crowd which had been attracted to the spot.
Another account states that on arriving at the police station Farmer was placed in a warm comfortable room and interrogated. She was suffering, however, from the effects of drink, and was in such a stupid condition that neither a coherent narrative nor a satisfactory description of her assailant could be extracted from her. It was not indeed until the evening that the woman had sufficiently recovered from her debauch to answer the questions with anything like clearness, and the description which she ultimately gave of the attempt on her life and the appearance of the would-be murderer was somewhat confusing. It seems certain, however, that the man was not a stranger to Farmer, and that she had known him as a casual acquaintance for about twelve months. This, together with the evidence of some of the men who pursued the fugitive, has furnished the police with a clue which it is hoped they will follow to a successful issue.
Esther Hall, who lives in the house in George street, Spitalfields, where the attempted murder was committed, states that this morning about half-past 9 or a quarter to 10 o'clock a cry of "murder" was raised. I went up to the room where the murder was attempted. The woman was lying on the bed, and blood was flowing from the two wounds in her throat. I went up to her and asked her if she was able to get up. She said yes, and I asked her shall I help you to dress? She said yes, please, and I placed her clothes round her and wrapped a sheet round her throat. I asked her how it happened, and she said she was just dropping off to sleep when she felt her throat was being cut. She called out, "Oh, my throat," and the man bolted. The woman was able to walk down stairs, and got into the stretcher, and was taken to the police station, where she was attended to. She had two wounds in her throat, one across the throat and one underneath it, which was straight down and met the other.
A man was arrested between 1 and 2 o'clock this morning on suspicion of being the asailant of the woman Farmer. A woman was heard calling "murder" at the corner of Brick lane, Spitalfields, and immediately afterwards a man was seen making off rapidly. He was pursued by the police and detectives, and was captured near Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton's Brewery. He is reported to have drawn a knife and made a desperate resistance, but was eventually overpowered and conveyed to Commercial street Police Station.
The new Commissioner of Police has not yet been appointed, and the matter will not be finally decided for a few days. All the statements as to Sir Charles Warren's successor which have appeared in the newspapers have been not only unauthorised but inaccurate, and of all the names mentioned not one has been under the consideration oft eh Government.