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St. James Gazette
London, England
13 November 1888


The inquest on the body of Mary Jeanette Kelly, who was found murdered and mutilated in Miller's court, Dorset street, was open at the Shoreditch Town Hall yesterday before Dr. Macdonald, the coroner. The room in which the inquest was held was small and very few of the general public were admitted. Inspector Abberline was in charge of the case for the police.


Joseph Barnett, labourer, was the first witness called. He said that up to last Saturday he lived at 24 New street, Bishopsgate street. He was now living at 21 Portpool lane, Gray's Inn road, his sister's house. He had lived with the deceased for a year and eight months. The deceased said her name was Mary Jeanette Kelly. He had seen the body and identified it by the ears and eyes. They had lived at No 13 Room, Miller's court for eight months. He separated from her on the 30th of last month because she took in a person who was an "unfortunate." His being out of work had nothing to do with it. The witness last saw the deceased alive on the night she was supposed to have been murdered between half past seven and a quarter to eight. He called upon her and stayed a quarter of an hour. He told her that he had no work and could not give her any money, for which he was very sorry. She was quite sober. He had always found her of sober habits. The deceased told him she was born in Limerick, and from there went to Wales when she was very young. She came to London about four years ago. She said her father's name was John Kelly, and that he worked at an ironworks in Wales. She said she had been married when she was sixteen to a collier named Davies, who met his death in an explosion. She afterwards went to Cardiff, and was for eight months in an infirmary there. She subsequently came to London and was in a house at the West end. A gentleman asked her to go and live with him in France, and she went there, but did not remain long. She frequently lived in Ratcliff highway and near the Commercial gasworks with a man named Morganstone. She also went to live at Pennington street, where she was visited by a man named Joseph Fleming. The witness first made an acquaintance with deceased in Commercial street, Spitalfields. He took a place in George street, where they first lived together. She was anxious to hear what was in the papers about the recent murders, but she never expressed any fear of any one.


Thomas Boyer (sic) said he lived in Spitalfields. He was a servant with Mr. McCarthy, of 27 Dorset street. He served in the shop. At a quarter to eleven on Friday morning he was ordered to go to Mary Jane's room, No 13. He knocked at the door, but got no answer. He then went round the corner and saw one of the small windows broken near the waterspout. There was a curtain on the window, and he put his hand through the broken pane and pulled the curtain to one side. He saw two pieces of flesh lying on the table, which was standing close against the bed. He looked a second time and saw a body lying on the bed and blood on the floor. He went back to his master and told him what he had seen. They went together to the house, looked through the window, and then went to the police station. An inspector of police returned with them from Commercial street police station. The witness had often seen the deceased going in and out of her house. He knew Joseph Barnett, with whom she lived. He had seen the deceased drunk once. He last saw her alive on Wednesday afternoon, in Miller's court.

John McCarthy, a grocer and lodging house keeper, said he kept a shop at 27 Dorset street. He described how the last witness had told him of the murder. They went for the police, and Inspector Beck returned with them. The deceased had lived in the room ten months. Kelly and Barnett sometimes quarrelled, but not seriously. The rent was 4s 6d a week, and the deceased was 29s in arrears. She was frequently the worse for drink. She was a very quiet woman when sober, but got excited when she was in drink.


Mary Ann Cox, a widow living at Room 5, Miller's court, said she had known the deceased between eight and nine months. She saw her last alive at a quarter to twelve in Miller's court on Thursday night, when she was very intoxicated. She was then with a short, stout man, very shabbily dressed. He had a long dark overcoat and a billycock hat on. He had a pot of ale in his hand. He had a blotchy face and a small carroty moustache. The man slammed the door in the witness's face and the deceased wished her "Good night," and said she was going to have a song. Afterwards she heard the deceased sing, "The violet I plucked from mother's grave." The witness again passed the deceased's room at two o'clock, and there was a light there. She heard no noise or cries of murder. She heard some men go to work early in the morning. The man she saw with the deceased was apparently about thirty five years of age. She would know the man if she saw him again. She would have heard a cry of murder had there been one.

Elizabeth Prater, wife of a boot machinist living in No 20 Room, Miller's court, said that the deceased lived in the room below her. The witness left her room at five o'clock on Thursday evening, and returned at about one o'clock on Friday morning. She waited about the stairs for twenty minutes. There might have been a light in the deceased's room, but she did not take any notice. She used to hear the deceased walking about in her room. She went to rest at half past one, and she was awakened between half past three and four o'clock and she heard some one say, "Oh, murder!" in a sort of faintish voice. She had often heard cries of murder near the court, and therefore she took no particular notice. She did not hear the cry a second time, nor did she hear beds and tables being pulled about. She did not hear any singing in the deceased's room at half past one o'clock.

Caroline Maxwell said she lived with her husband at 14 Dorset Street. Her husband was a lodging house deputy. She had known the deceased for about four months. She also knew Joe Barnett. She believed the deceased was an "unfortunate." She had only spoken to the deceased twice. The witness saw the deceased at the corner of the court where she lived on Friday morning, between eight and half past. She spoke to the deceased, and said, "Why, Mary, what brings you out?" The deceased replied, " Oh, Carrie, I have felt so bad." Kelly was standing against the wall on the pavement. The witness asked her to have a drink, but she refused stating that she had just had one. On returning from getting her husband's breakfast she saw Kelly standing outside the Britannia public house about 8.45 in company with a man. She could not give any description of him. He was stout and had dark clothes on.


Sarah Lewis, of 24 Great Pearl street, a laundress, said she was at No 2 Room, Miller's court, at half past two o'clock on Friday morning. She saw a stout looking man standing at the entrance to Miller's court. Later on she saw another man and a woman near the court. She heard no singing or noise during the night. She afterwards went up to her room and fell asleep in a chair. She awoke, as she could not sleep, and sat awake until four o'clock, when she heard a female voice scream, "Murder!" loudly. On Wednesday last the witness was going along Bethnal Green road in company with another woman when a gentleman who passed spoke to them and asked them to follow him. He had a shining leather bag with him which he put down on the pavement and said, "Do you think I have anything in that?" He was a short man with a pale face and a short moustache, and was apparently about forty years of age. He had a high round felt hat on, a brownish coat, and pepper and salt trousers. At half past two o'clock on Friday morning the witness saw the same man with a woman near the Britannia public house in Commercial street. The man had not an overcoat on, but he ha black bag with him. The witness would know him again if she saw him.


Dr. Phillips, divisional surgeon, said that he was called by the police about eleven o'clock, and went to Miller's court. He found a room the door of which led into a passage running out of 26 Dorset street. The room had two windows. Two of the panes of the windows were broken. Finding the door locked, he looked though the broken panes and saw the mutilated corpse lying on the bed. He assured himself that there was no one else in the room to whom he could render any professional assistance. Having ascertained that probably it was advisable that no entrance should be made into the room at that time, he remained until about half past one o'clock, when the door was broken open by direction of Police Superintendent Arnold. The court was in charge of Inspector Beck when he arrived. On the door being opened, it knocked against a table which he found close to the left hand side of the bed. The mutilated remains of a woman were lying towards the edge of the bedstead nearest the door. She had only some underlinen garments upon her, and from subsequent examination he was sure the body had been removed subsequent to the injury which caused her death from that side of the bedstead which was nearest to a wooden partition. The large quantity of blood under the bedstead, the saturated condition of the palliasse, pillow and sheets at the top corner of the bedstead nearest the partition, led him to the conclusion that the severance of the right carotid artery, which was the immediate cause of death, was inflicted while the deceased was lying on the right side of the bedstead, and had her head and neck in the top right hand corner.

The coroner said it was clear that the severance of the artery was the immediate cause of death, and unless the jury otherwise desired, this was all the evidence Dr. Phillips proposed to give that day. The jury acquiesced.


Julia Vanturney, living at No 1 Room, Miller's court, said she knew the deceased and the man who lived with her. Barnett objected to the deceased going out on the streets. She frequently got drunk and broke the windows. She said she was very fond of a man named Joe. The witness last saw the deceased alive on Thursday morning. She could not rest all Thursday night, but she heard no noise nor singing going on. She was awake, and she must have heard the singing had there been any.

Maria Harvey, laundress, living at No 3, New court, Dorset street, said she knew the deceased and slept with her two nights. She asked the deceased to allow her to put a few things in the room. She and the deceased were together all Thursday afternoon. She saw Barnett there that afternoon for a short time. Barnett and the deceased seemed to be on the best of terms.

The witness left in the house some wearing apparel and a ticket of a lace shawl pawned for 2s. The deceased had never told the witness that she was fond of other men than Barnett, nor had she said that she was afraid of any one.


Inspector Beck said that he was called by McCarthy and his assistant to the deceased's room. He could not say that the deceased was well known to the police.

Inspector Abberline, of Scotland Yard, said he was in charge of the case for the police. He arrived on the scene at half past eleven o'clock on Friday morning. He heard that the bloodhounds had been sent for and were coming, and Dr. Phillips gave instructions that the door of the room was not to be opened. Later on Superintendent Arnold arrived and stated that the order for the hounds had been countermanded. The door was ordered to be forced open. There were evidences that a large fire had been kept up in the grate of the room, and the spout of the kettle had been melted off. They had since examined all the ashes in the grate and the brim of a woman's hat and some remnants of clothing were found. The witness believed that these things had been burnt to give the murderer light to see what he was doing. There was only a small portion of a candle standing in a broken wine glass. The key of the room had been missing for some time.


The coroner asked the jury whether they had heard sufficient evidence to justify them in giving a verdict without a further adjournment. The police were prepared to take up the proceedings, and it was not for the jury to say what the penalty should be against the man who committed the murder.

The jury stated that they thought sufficient evidence had been given, and returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.


About midnight a man was arrested in Islington charged, on his own confession, with being concerned in the Whitechapel murder. He was conveyed to the King's Cross road police station, but the authorities there observe the most complete reticence, this being, they say, essential to the interests of justice. The man was decidedly intoxicated, and probably little importance is to be attached to his statements.


The police yesterday evening received an important piece of information. A man, apparently of the labouring class, with a military appearance, who knew the deceased, stated that on the morning of the 9th inst. he saw her in Commercial street, Spitalfields, near where the murder was committed, in company with a man of respectable appearance. He was about 5ft 6in in height, and thirty four of thirty five years of age, with dark complexion and dark moustache turned up at the ends. He was wearing a long dark coat, trimmed with astrachan, a white collar with black necktie, in which was affixed a horse shoe pin. He wore a pair of dark gaiters with light buttons, over button boots, and displayed from his waistcoat a massive gold chain. His appearance contrasted so strongly with that of the woman that few people could have failed to remark them at that hour of the morning. This description, which confirms that given by others of the person seen in company with the deceased on the morning she was killed, is much fuller in detail than that hitherto in the possession of the police.


Some surprise was created among those present at the inquest in the Shoreditch Town Hall by the abrupt termination of the inquiry, as it was well known that further evidence was available. The coroner himself distinctly told the jury that he was only going to take the preliminary portion of Dr. G.R. Phillips's evidence, the remainder of which would be more fully given at the adjourned inquiry. No question was put to Dr. Phillips as to the mutilated portions of the body, and the coroner did not think fit to ask the doctor whether any portions of the body were missing. The doctor stated to the coroner during the inquiry that his examination was not yet completed. His idea was that by at once making public every fact brought to light in connection with this terrible murder, the ends of justice might be retarded. The examination of the body by Dr. Phillips on Saturday lasted upwards of six and a half hours. Notwithstanding reports to the contrary, it is till confidently asserted that some portions of the body of the deceased woman are missing.

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