September 4, 1888
"The Whitechapel Murder."
Yesterday morning Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, the Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, resumed his inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, High-street, Whitechapel, respecting the death of Mary Ann Nichols, whose dead body was found on the pavement in Buck's-row, Whitechapel, on Friday morning.
Detective-inspector Abberline (Scotland-yard), Inspector Helston, and Detective-sergeants P. Enright and Godley watched the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Inspector J. Spratling, J Division, was the first witness called. He deposed that at 4 30 on Friday morning he was called to the spot where the body of the deceased was found lying. On getting there he found two constables, one of whom pointed out the exact spot on which he found the body. At that time the blood was being washed away, but he could see some stains in between the stones. He was told that the body had been removed to the mortuary. On going there he found the body was still on the ambulance in the yard. While waiting for the arrival of the keeper of the dead-house he took a description of the deceased, but at that time did not notice any wounds on the body. On the body being put in the mortuary he made a more careful examination, and then discovered the injuries to the abdomen, and at once sent for Dr. Llewellyn. He saw two workhouse men stripping the body.
At this point, in reply to a question, Detective-sergeant P. Enright said he gave instructions that the body should not be touched.
Witness, continuing his evidence, stated he again went to the mortuary and made an examination of the clothing, taken off the deceased. The principle parts of the clothing consisted of a reddish ulster, somewhat the worse for wear, a new brown linsey dress, two flannel petticoats, having the marks of the Lambeth Workhouse on them, and a pair of stays. The things were fastened, but witness did not remove them himself, so could not say positively that all the clothing was properly fastened.
The Coroner observed it was such matters as these that threw a most important bearing on the subject. The question of the clothing was a most important one. Later on he directed Constable Thain, 96 J, to examine all the premises in the vicinity of the spot where the body was discovered.
Inspector Spratling, continuing, said he and Sergeant Godley examined the East London and District Railway embankments and lines, and also the Great Eastern Railway yard, but they were unable to find anything likely to throw any light on the affair. One of Mr. Brown's men wiped up the blood. A constable was on duty at the gate of the Great Eastern Railway yard, which was about 50 yards from the spot where the body was found. He had questioned this constable, but he had not heard anything. Mrs. Green, who also lived opposite the spot, had been seen, and during the night she had not heard anything, although she was up until 4 30 that morning. Mr. Purkis, who also lived close by, stated his wife had been pacing the room that morning, about the time the murder must have been committed, but she had not heard anything. It was 150 yards from the spot where the body was found to Barber's slaughter-yard. That was by walking round the Board school. During the night Constable Neil and another officer were within hearing distance of the spot. He should think deceased had been murdered while wearing her clothes, and did not think she had been dressed after death.
Henry Tomkins, a horse-slaughterer, living at 12, Coventry-street, Bethnal-green, stated he was in the employ of Mr. Barber. Thursday night and Friday morning he spent in the slaughterhouse in Winthrop-street. Witness commenced about his usual time--between 8 and 9 o'clock p.m. On Friday morning he left off work at 20 minutes past 4 and went for a walk. It was their rule to go home when they did so, but they did not do so that morning. A constable told them of the finding of the murdered woman, and they went to look at her. James Mumford, Charles Brittan, and witness worked together. At 12 o'clock witness and Brittan left the slaughterhouse, and returned about 1 o'clock. They did not again leave the slaughterhouse until they heard of the murder. All the gates were open, and witness during the night did not hear any disturbance; the only person who came to the slaughterhouse was the constable. At times women came to the place, but none came that night. Had any one called out "Murder" in Buck's-row he might not have heard it. There were men and women in the Whitechapel-road. Witness and Mumford first went and saw the deceased, and then Brittan followed. At that time a doctor and three or four constables were there, and witness remained there until the body was taken away. At night he and his mates generally went out to have a drink. It depended upon what time their work was done when they went home. The constable was at the slaughterhouse at about a quarter past 4, when he called for his cape. It was then that they heard of the murder.
Inspector Helston, J Division, deposed that it was a quarter to 7 on Friday morning when he recieved information of the murder. Having learnt full particulars, he proceeded to the mortuary, where he saw deceased, who had her clothing on. He saw the things removed. The bodice of the dress was buttoned down to the middle and the stays were fastened. There was no bruises on the arms to indicate that a struggle had taken place. The wounds on the abdomen were visible with the stays on, and that proved they could have been inflicted while the stays were on the deceased. He did not examine the spot where the body was found until after the blood had been washed away. Witness was of opinion that the murder was committed at the spot where the body was found. The clothes were very little disarranged, thus showing that the body could not have been carried far.
Constable G. Mizen, 56 H, stated that at a quarter past 4 on Friday morning he was in Hanbury-street, Baker's-row, and a man passing said "You are wanted in Baker's-row." The man, named Cross, stated that a woman had been found there. In going to the spot he saw Constable Neil, and by the direction of the latter he went for the ambulance. When Cross spoke to witness he was accompanied by another man, and both of them afterwards went down Hanbury-street. Cross simply said he was wanted by a policeman, and did not say anything about a murder having been committed. He denied that before he went to Buck's-row he continued knocking people up.
George Cross, a carman, stated that he left home on Friday morning at 20 minutes past 3, and he arrived at his work, at Broad-street, at 4 o'clock. Witness walked along Buck's-row, and saw something lying in front of the gateway like a tarpaulin. He then saw it was a woman. A man came along and witness spoke to him. They went and looked at the body. Witness, having felt one of the deceased woman's hands and finding it cold, said "I believe she is dead." The other man, having put his hand over her heart, said "I think she is breathing." He wanted witness to assist in shifting her, but he would not do so. He did not notice any blood, as it was very dark. They went to Baker's-row, saw the last witness, and told him there was a woman lying down in Buck's-row on the broad of her back. Witness also said he believed she was dead or drunk, while the other man stated he believed her to be dead. The constable replied "All right." The other man left witness at the corner of Hanbury-street and turned into Corbett's court. He appeared to be a carman, and was a stranger to the witness. At the time he did not think the woman had been murdered. Witness did not hear any sounds of a vehicle, and believed that had any one left the body after he got into Buck's-row he must have heard him.
William Nichols, a machinist, of Coburg-road, Old Kent-road, stated that the deceased woman was his wife. He had been separated from her for upwards of eight years. The last time he saw her was over three years ago, and he had no idea what she had been doing since that time, nor with whom she had lived. Deceased was much given to drink. They separated several times, and each time he took her back she got drunk, and that was why he had to leave her altogether.
Jane Oram, 18, Thrawl-street, Spitalfields, deposed that deceased had slept at the common lodging-house there for about six weeks. Witness and deceased had occupied the same bed. For eight or ten days she had not been to the lodging-house, but witness saw her on the morning of her death in the Whitechapel-road. Deceased told her she was living where men and women were allowed to sleep, but added she should come back and live with witness. Witness believed deceased stated she had been living in Flowery Dean-street. Deceased was the worse for drink and refused to stay with witness, although she did all she could to persuade her to do so. Witness did not think she was a fast woman. She was a clean woman, but witness had previously seen her the worse for drink.
Mary Ann Monk stated that she was an inmate of the Lambeth Workhouse. She knew the deceased, who had been an inmate of the union, but that was six or seven years ago.
The Coroner here informed the jury that the police did not propose to offer any further evidence that day, and it would be as well to adjourn the inquiry sufficiently long to give them an opportunity of obtaining further evidence.
The inquiry was accordingly adjourned for a fort night.
So many stories of "suspicious" incidents have cropped up since the murder, some of them evidently spontaneously generated by frantic terror, and some, even where credible, pointing in contrary directions, that it would be idle to refer to them. A valuable hint may be found by the detectives in some of these volunteered reminiscences, but there is also danger that they may be diverted from the broad and obvious lines of investigation by distracting suggestions. If the perpetrator of crimes so numerous and so extraordinary is not only humiliating, but also an intolerable perpetuation of the danger. Although the Whitechapel murders are without example, the police have also an unexampled number of data from which to draw their conclusions. The most salient point is the maniacal frenzy with which the victims were slaughtered, and unless we accept, as a possible alternative, the theory that the assassin was actuated by revenge for some real or supposed injury suffered by him at the hands of unfortunate women, we are thrown back upon the belief that these murders were really committed by a madman, or by a man whom a sottish passion interlaced with a lust for blood places too far outside the pale of human feelings to be governed by commonly recognized motives. However, if the police are right in believing that certain flash rings were torn from NICHOLS'S finger, this is a circumstance which slightly disconcerts the idea that the murderer was a simple maniac. But, on the whole, this is the most probable theory, and, without any intention to accentuate alarm, it may be pointed out that, if it is correct, the ordinary motives of prudence which deter murderers from a speedy repetition of their crime cannot be reckoned upon in aid of the safety of wretched women in Whitechapel.