24 December 1888
Theophil Hanhart, 24, describing himself as a student, with no home, was charged, before Mr. Bros, with wandering, he being apparently of unsound mind, at Dunston-row, Haggerston.-Constable Whitfield, 424 J, said that at four o'clock on the previous afternoon he was on duty in Dunston-row, which runs onto the bank of the Regent's Canal, when he saw the prisoner walking up and down in a strange manner. Witness asked him what he was doing there, and he replied, "I have a very bad mind about these affairs in Whitechapel." Witness said, "Did you do them?" and he said, "Yes." Thereupon witness took him into custody. On the way to the station he handed witness an open knife and said, "I have a very bad conscience, because I am the cause of the affairs in Whitechapel."-Witness said, "What do you mean by that?" and he said, "The murders."-Mr. Bros: Has he been examined by a doctor?-The Constable: I took him to the Shoreditch Infirmary.-A clergyman, who occupied a seat at the solicitors' desk-and whose name was ascertained to be the Rev. W. Mathias-here interposed, and said that the prisoner was a German subject, and had been French and German master at his (the clergyman's) college near Bath, since Sept. 16 last. Since that time he had been in witness's house, and had never been out of his sight until the night before last. On Tuesday night he (the speaker) found that the prisoner was suffering from delusions, one of which was that he had not been attending to his classes for a fortnight. Inquiries, however, showed that this was not so. A doctor was called in, and he said that the prisoner was suffering from mental derangement, brought on by over study. The doctor advised that the man should be at once brought to London for a change of scene, and be then transferred to his friends. Accordingly witness brought him to London on Thursday afternoon, and whilst crossing the Strand the prisoner disappeared, and he did not see him again until he heard that he was charged that morning.-Mr. Bros: Has he any friends?-Mr. Mathias: He is the son of a German Minister. He has a cousin married to a clergyman in Ireland, and two friends in London. I may add that I have reported the matter to the German Consul in London, and it is left entirely in his hands. I have no application to make. I simply appear as a witness.-Mr. Bros: I hold in my hand a certificate from the doctor at the Shoreditch Infirmary, which satisfies me that the prisoner is not a fit person to be at large. It is his misfortune and not his fault that he is in this condition. So take him at once in a cab to the Shoreditch Infirmary.
The messages transmitted along the United Company's wires on the 17th inst. amounted to 103,428, the highest yet reached for any one day, while the messages for the week ending 18th inst. summed up 586,294, being at the rate of 30 millions of messages per annum. The United are erecting a main trunk route to the north, and have already built half the trunk required to connect London and Birmingham. A main trunk to the west is also being surveyed and wayleaved with a view of placing Bristol and the South Wales coal fields in telephonic communication with the metropolis, while a new route to the south is in progress for the benefit of Brighton and the towns on the southern coast. As these routes are gradually constructed, outlying towns can be joined up to them, and thus establish a complete network of telephonic wires between the provincial towns and London.
The police, up to a late hour last night, had made no arrests in connexion (sic) with the supposed murder in Poplar. In fact, they have made very little progress regarding the case, which they will not admit to be one of murder. A very large number of persons have visited the mortuary for the purpose of identifying the deceased, but it was not until yesterday afternoon that her identity was satisfactory established. Only two persons have been able to throw any light on the identity of the unfortunate woman, and one of these is a young woman named Alice Graves, resident in Whitechapel. On Saturday she called on the coroner's officer, Mr. Chivers, who resides in High-street, Poplar, and made the following statement, which if correct brings the time at which the deceased was strangled within a very narrow compass. She said -"My name is Alice Graves. I live at 18, George-street, Spitalfields. I am an unfortunate, and I identify the body as that of another unfortunate whom I had known for some time past. I knew her by the name of 'Lizzie.' I last saw her alive on Thursday morning at 2.30. She was standing outside the 'George,' Commercial-road, and was in the company of two men. I passed her and went home."
This statement is considered of the utmost importance, inasmuch as it leaves only one hour and forty-five minutes to be accounted for between the time the deceased was last seen alive and the discovery of her corpse by Sergeant Golding at 4.15. The other person who has identified the body, and who has given the police the deceased's name, is Mrs. Hill, of Simpson's-row, High-street, Poplar, which is about 30 or 40 yards from Clarke's-yard, where the body was found. Her statement corroborates the statement made by Alice Graves in several particulars. She visited the mortuary yesterday afternoon, and recognized the body as that of Alice Downey, alias " Fair Alice," alias "Liz," who had latterly been leading a fast life in the East-end. She, however, was unable to give the address at which the poor woman had been residing, but stated that she was known both in Whitechapel and at the Bow. It was only occasionally that she visited Poplar. Mrs. Hill informed Mr. Chivers that she saw the deceased at half-past eleven on the night proceeding the murder, and that the deceased then complained of being without money, and added that she did not know what to do. Mrs. Hill gave her some coppers, and bade her good night. She was then perfectly sober. Hill added that Downey had been an inmate of the Bromley Sick Asylum, which institution she quitted about a month since.
As far as the movements of the deceased can be traced, it would appear that she proceeded into the East India Dock-road after leaving Mrs. Hill, and thence walked along until she reached Commercial-road, which is a continuation of the East India Dock-road. In this thoroughfare she must have spent a considerable time. After having been seen in the company of two strange men in the Commercial-road by Alice Graves at 2.30 a. m. on Thursday, it is supposed that she walked back to the East India Dock-road, which is the main thoroughfare through Poplar, where another link in the chain of circumstances is discovered. Whether she was in the company of the two men during this period is of course not known, but it has transpired that late on the night of Wednesday or early on Thursday morning an engineer, whose name has not transpired, while passing along the East India Dock-road, near the "Eagle" tavern, noticed a woman's hat within the railings of a garden in front of a private dwelling. He thought nothing of the matter at the time, but on hearing of the murder he informed the police of the incident. It will be remember that the deceased was without her hat when found in Clarke's-yard. Therefore this discovery sets up a new theory. There were no indications of a struggle in the yard where the woman was found, and serious doubts have arisen as to whether the woman's life was taken in the yard or not. It is pointed out, and with some degree of reason, that the woman's life may have been taken elsewhere than in Clarke's-yard, and that, supposing her assailants to be the two men with whom she was last seen, it would have been a very easy task to have carried her from the spot where her hat was found to the yard in which she was discovered. It is but a few hundred yards from one place to the other, and the streets just about here are very badly lighted; while a churchyard occupies the intervening space between Clarke's-yard and the "Eagle" tavern.
The cord with which the deceased was strangled has not been found, but it is thought from the marks on the neck that it was a "laid" cord, which comprises four plaited strings, and is about the thickness of a bootlace. It is stated that this would be about the thickness of a lanyard, and Dr. Bousfield's evidence is that the peculiar knots through which the cord was passed in order to produce strangulation shows that these knots are such as would be found on a lanyard, while, moreover, the loops at the one end and the knife at the other would have enabled its owner to bring into play force which could not have possibly been acquired with an ordinary piece of string.
Regarding the phial which was found in the deceased's possession, together with money and other valuables, which conclusively prove that robbery was not the motive of the person guilty of this murder, some curious facts have transpired. Although the phial was empty when found, a medical expert who has examined it concludes that it had contained sandal-wood oil, which is very expensive. The bottle had no label upon it. Nevertheless, a chemist residing in the neighborhood believes it to be a phial given to a postman who purchased some sandal-wood oil at a large chemist's in the East India Dock-road some time ago. When purchasing the oil it is understood that a request was made that no label would be affixed-a request which was acceded to. It is believed the bottle and also its purchaser can be identified. The police will probably follow up this clue, which may turn out to be an important link in the chain of evidence. It is expected that at the forthcoming adjourned inquest, which is fixed for the 2nd of January, some further important medical evidence will be adduced. On that occasion Dr. Harris will be called, and will give his theory of the murder, and certain post-mortem inferences arrived at by Dr. Brownfield and corroborated by Dr. Harris will it is expected give the case a still more mysterious aspect. Although there are some people who are of the opinion that it is the work of the Whitechapel murderer, the idea is generally ridiculed by persons competent to form an opinion based upon facts unknown to the public.