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Manchester Guardian
10 November 1888

"Terrible Mutilation of a Woman in Spitalfields -- Escape of the Murderer"


This forenoon the inhabitants of the East End of London were thrown into a state of consternation by the discovery in their midst of another revolting crime, far worse in its barbarity than any of the previous five murders which have shocked London during the past five months. The victim is again a woman of the impure class, and the murderer committed the crime under her own roof in broad daylight and easily escaped. Dorset-street, Spitalfields, is filled with lodging houses, tenanted chiefly by the lowest classes, amongst them some of the most degraded thieves and immoral women. It was here that Annie Chapman, who was murdered in Hanbury-street on the 8th of September, lived, and by a strange coincidence the scene of the present crime is a court directly opposite the house to which that unfortunate woman was in the habit of resorting. Close by is Mitre Square, the scene of one of the murders of September 30, and Hanbury-street is scarcely a stone's throw away. The victim of the crime of to-day is a young woman named Mary Jane Kelly, aged 26. She lived in Miller Court, Dorset-street, a turning out of Commercial-street, Spitalfields. There are eight or ten small houses in the court, which is entered by a low archway and a narrow passage from Dorset-street, and forms a cul-de-sac. There is a small general shop in Dorset-street adjoining the entrance to the court, tenanted by Mrs. M'Carthy, who also owns the houses in the court. Kelly appears to have tenanted a room in one of Mrs. M'Carthy's houses. She had a little boy aged about six or seven years living with her, and latterly she had been in narrow straits, so that she is reported to have stated to a companion that she would make away with herself as she could not bear to see her boy starving. There are conflicting statements as to when the woman was last seen alive, but that upon which most reliance appears to be placed is that of a young woman, an associate of the deceased, who stated that at about half-past ten o'clock on Thursday night she met the murdered woman at the corner of Dorset-street. Kelly told her that she had no money, and that if she could not get any she would never go out again, but would do away with herself. Soon after they parted, and a man who is described as respectably dressed came up, and spoke to Kelly and offered her some money. The man then accompanied the woman home to her lodgings. A tailor named Lewis says he saw Kelly come out about eight o'clock this morning and go back. Another statement is to the effect that Kelly was in a public-house known as the "Ringers," at the corner of Dorset-street and Commercial-street, about ten o'clock, and that she there met a man with whom she had been living. It seems clear that the woman was alive at eight o'clock this morning, that she went out for something, and returned to the house. The murder must have been committed between that hour and a quarter to eleven o'clock. At the latter hour Mrs. M'Carthy, with her son, went to pay her customary visit for the rent. Young M'Carthy sent a man named Bowyer to the house, which, though entered from the court, is really a part of No. 26 Dorset-street. Bower failed to obtain an answer to his knocking, and looking through the window he saw to his horror the woman lying on the bed, horribly mutilated and naked. He called M'Carthy, who also looked through the window, and seeing that the body was cut up almost beyond recognition, he ran away with Bowyer, and ran to Commercial-street Police Station, where they informed the police. Inspector Beck and Sergeant Betham proceeded to the house. The news had spread so rapidly that over one thousand persons were gathered in the street. These were rapidly cleared away from the court and the side of Dorset-street, while the inspector entered the house. The dwelling in which the murder was committed is entered by two doors situate on the right hand side of passage, and has several rooms. The first door up the court from the street leads to the upper rooms; but the second door opens only into one room, which is situated on the ground floor. It was in this room that the murder was committed. The fireplace faces the door, and the bed stands behind the door. A terrible sight presented itself to the police officers. The body of the woman, in a state of nudity, was stretched out on the little bedstead, the clothing of which was saturated with her blood. The unfortunate woman had been cut and mangled by the assassin's knife in a manner which was revolting beyond all description. The fiend was not content with taking the life of his victim by severing the head from the body, but he had subjected her remains to the most frightful barbarities.

Medical assistance was immediately sent for, and a description of the discovery telegraphed to all the London police stations in the terse sentence, "The woman is simply cut to pieces." Within a very short time half a dozen cabs arrived in Dorset-street from Whitehall, conveying detectives from the criminal investigation depot, among them being Inspectors Abberline and Reid. Never before had so many men been despatched to the scene of a murder from Whitehall. The scene in the narrow courtway leading to the house was one of extraordinary excitement. The whole space was closely packed with detective officers, and quite a small army of plain clothes constables were located in Dorset-street. Dr. Phillips, the divisional surgeon of police, soon arrived, and was followed by Dr. Bond, of Westminster, divisional surgeon of the A Division, and Dr. J. R. Gabe, of Mecklenburgh Square, and two or three other surgeons. They made a preliminary examination of the body and sent for a photographer, who made several photographs of the remains. While all this was going on inside the house the excitement in the neighbourhood was spreading, and among the dwellers in the immediate locality amounted to a perfect frenzy. Women rushed about the streets telling their neighbours the news, and shouting in angry voices their rage and indignation. Notwithstanding the stolid reticence of all the police engaged at the scene the main facts of the crime soon became common knowledge, and spreading far and wide drew a great concourse of people to the scene. Great efforts were made at first to keep the side of Dorset-street clear in the vicinity of Miller Court, in the expectation that bloodhounds might have to be employed; but theugh (sic) it is understood that a telegram asking for them was sent to Sir Charles Warren, they were not sent. Barnet, the man who was acquainted with Kelly, was sent for, and he identified the body, styling the woman "Ginger," as she was called owing to the colour of her hair. Barnet made a statement to the police the purport of which did not transpire. Sir C. Warren did not visit the scene of the murder, but during the afternoon Colonel Monsell, chief constable of the district, and Chief Constables Howard and Roberts inspected the interior of the house. All the constables and detectives available were distributed throughout the district, and a house to house visitation commenced. All who knew the deceased woman were interrogated as to the person last seen in her company. There was no clue, but search was instituted for the murderer. At four o'clock this afternoon the body was removed from Dorset-street to Shoreditch mortuary, the mutilated remains having been placed in a coarse coffin, the straps of which were sealed. The coffin, conveyed in a furniture van, was escorted by several constables, and a large mob followed the van to the mortuary, where a crowd was waiting to see the coffin transferred to the building. The windows of the room where the crime was committed were boarded up, and a padlock put on the door. The street were patrolled by the police all evening, and no one was allowed to loiter near the place. All the neighbourhood to-night is like a fair, and the excitement and hubbub has filled the streets with thousands of idlers, attracted by morbid curiosity.

John M'Cartny, a provision dealer, residing at 27, Dorset-street, and who is landlord of No. 26 in the same thoroughfare as the house in which the murder was committed, made a statement to a reported to the following effect:--Mary Jane Kelly, the murdered woman, was a person about 25 years of age. The last that was heard of her was at one o'clock this morning, when she was singing in her room. At 11 o'clock last night she was in the Britannia public-house, at the corner of this thoroughfare. She was then intoxicated. The young man in her company appeared to be very respectable, and was well dressed.

M'Cartney gave a reporter the following account of the discovery of the body:--About half-past ten this morning I saw a man named Henry Bowyer go to Mary Jane Kelly's, and ask for the rent she owed. Bowyer went to the house but failed to get any answer to his knocks. He then peered through one of the windows, and saw the woman lying cut up on the bed. The bed was saturated with blood. Bowyer came and called me, telling me what he had seen, and we looked through the window. I cannot fully describe her injuries, for the sight was too much for me. She was quite naked. In answer to questions as to whether the woman was married, M'Cartny said deceased's husband was a fish porter, employed in Billingsgate, but in consequence of a quarrel between them four nights ago the man was now lodging at a boarding-house in Bishopsgate-street.

There are several statements as to the woman's movements when last seen alive.--Morris Lewis, a tailor, states that he was in the court at nine o'clock this morning, and an hour before that he had seen the woman leave the house and return with some milk.--Mrs. Paumier, a chestnut seller at the corner of Widcoate-street, a narrow thoroughfare about two minutes' walk from the scene of the murder, told a reporter a story which appear (sic) to afford a clue to the murder. She said that about 12 o'clock this 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 tared into her face and went down Sandys Row,, another narrow thoroughfare which cuts across Widcoate-street. When he had got some way off he looked back, as if to see whether she was watching him, and then vanished. Mrs. Paumier said the man had a black moustache, was about 5ft. 6in. in height, and wore a black silk hat, black coat, and speckled trousers. He carried a black bag about 1ft. in depth and 1 1/2 ft. in length. Sarah Roney, a girl about 20 years of age, states that she was with two other girls last 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.

The excitement in the neighbourhood of Dorset-street is intense, and some of the low women with whom that street abounds appear more like fiends than human beings. The police have great trouble to preserve order, and one constable, who is alleged to have struck an on-looker, was so mobbed and hooted that he had to beat a retreat to Commercial-street Police Station, whither he was followed by a huge crowd, which was only kept at bay by the presence of about half a dozen constables, who stood at the door and prevented anyone from entering.

An important fact has transpired this evening which puts a fresh complexion on the theory of the murders. It appear that the cattle boats bringing live freight to London are in the habit of coming into the Thames on Thursdays or Fridays, and leave again for the Continent on Sundays or Mondays. It has already been a matter of comment that the recent, revolting crimes have been committed at the week end, and an opinion has been formed among some of the detectives that the murderer is a drover or butcher employed on one of these boats and that he periodically appears and disappears with one of the steamers. This theory is held to be of much importance by those engaged in this investigation who believe that the murderer does not reside either in the locality or even in this country at all. It is thought that he may be either a person employed upon one of these boats, or one who is allowed to travel by them, and inquiries have for some time been directed upon this theory. It is pointed out that at the inquest on the previous victims the Coroners had expressed the opinion that the knowledge of physiology possessed by a butcher would have been sufficient to enable him to find and cut out the parts of the body which in several cases were abstracted. Up to nine o'clock to-night there had been no arrests, and the police appeared to be without a clue. The non-appearance of the bloodhounds to-day is accounted for by the fact that during the 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, have called a meeting for Tuesday evening next to consider what steps they can take to assist the police in the latest tragedy.

Related pages:
  Mary Jane Kelly
       Home: Timeline - Mary Jane Kelly 
       Dissertations: Did Kelly Have a Heart? 
       Dissertations: Did Mary Kelly Survive? 
       Dissertations: Estimating Mary Kellys Time of Death 
       Dissertations: Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction? A Response to Des McKenna 
       Dissertations: Kit, Kitty, Kitten: The Story of Kitty Ronan 
       Dissertations: Mary Kelly 
       Dissertations: Mary Kelly is Dead 
       Dissertations: McCarthy, Kelly and Breezer's Hill 
       Dissertations: Providence Row Night Refuge 
       Dissertations: Reinvestigating Murder: The Kelly Enigma 
       Dissertations: Room 13 Millers Court 
       Dissertations: The Enigmas of Millers Court 
       Dissertations: The Enigmas of Millers Court 
       Dissertations: The Funeral of Mary Jane Kelly 
       Dissertations: The Kelly Crime Scene Photographs 
       Dissertations: The Mystery of Mary Jane Kelly 
       Dissertations: The Origins of Mary Kelly 
       Dissertations: The Whitechapel Dossier: Dorset Street and Miller’s... 
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       Dissertations: What Happened at Miller's Court? 
       Message Boards: Mary Jane Kelly 
       Official Documents: Dr. Bond's Post Mortem on Mary Kelly 
       Official Documents: Mary Jane Kelly's Inquest 
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       Ripper Media: Jack l’Eventreur: Le Secret de Mary Jane K. 
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       Ripper Media: Will the Real Mary Kelly? 
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       Victims: Mary Jane Kelly 
       Victims: Testimonies of George Hutchinson and Sara Lewis 
       Victorian London: Dorset Street 
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       Witnesses: Elizabeth Phoenix 
       Witnesses: Lizzie Albrook 
       Witnesses: Thomas Bowyer 
       Witnesses: Walter Beck 

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