Friday, 14 September 1888
Yesterday Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, resumed his inquiry at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road respecting the death of Annie Chapman, who was found murdered in the back yard of 29, Hanbury-street, Spitalfields; last Saturday morning.
Detective-inspectors Abberline (Scotland-yard), Helson, Chandler, Beck, and Detective-sergeant W. Thicke, H Division, again represented the Criminal Investigation Department.
Inspector Joseph Chandler, H Division, said that about two minutes past 6 on Saturday morning he was on duty in Commercial-street. He saw several men running up Hanbury-street, and he beckoned to them. One of them said, "Another woman has been murdered." Witness at once went with him to 29, Hanbury-street, and passed through the passage into the yard. There were several people in the passage, but no one was in the yard. He saw the body of the deceased lying on the ground on her back. Her head was towards the back wall of the house, but it was some 2ft. from the wall, and the body was not more than 6in. or 9in. from the steps. The face was turned on the right side, and the left hand rested on the left breast. The right hand was lying down by the left side, and the legs were drawn up. The body was lying parallel with the fencing, and was about two yards distant. Witness, remaining there, sent for the divisional surgeon; Dr. Phillips, and also to the station for the ambulance and further assistance. When the constables arrived he removed all persons from the passage, and saw that no one touched the body till the doctor arrived. He obtained some sacking from one of the neighbours to cover the body pending the arrival of the doctor. Dr. Phillips arrived about half-past 6 and examined the body. He then directed the body to be removed to the mortuary, which was done on the police ambulance. After the body had been removed a piece of coarse muslin and a small pocket haircomb case were found. A portion of an envelope was found lying near where her head had been, and a piece of paper containing two pills. He had not the pills there, as inquiries were being made about them. On the back of the envelope was the seal of the Sussex Regiment. The other portion of the writing was torn away. On the other side of the envelope was the letter "M" in a man's handwriting. There was also a post-office stamp, "London, 28 Aug., 1888," with a stamp that was indistinct. There was no postage stamp on that portion. On the front side of the envelope were the letters "Sp." in writing. He also found a leather apron lying in the yard saturated with wet and it was about 2ft. from the water tap. A box, commonly used by packing-case makers, a piece of flat steel that had a since been identified by Mrs. Richardson, and also a spring were found lying close to where the body was found.
By the CORONER. - Some portions of the yard were composed of earth and others of stones. It had not been properly paved. Some of the stones were flat while others were round. He could not detect any appearance of a struggle having taken place. The palings were only temporarily erected, although they might support the weight of a man while he was getting over them. There was no evidence of any one having recently got over them, and there was no breakage. Witness examined the adjoining yard. None of the palings had been broken, although they had since been broken. The palings near the body were stained with blood. In the wall of No. 27 marks were discovered on Tuesday last, and they had been seen by Dr. Phillips. There were no drops of blood in the passage or outside, and the bloodstains were only found in the immediate neighbourhood of the body. There were also a few spots of blood on the back wall at the head of the body and some 2ft. or 3ft. from the ground. The largest spot was about the size of a six-penny piece. They were all within a small compass. Witness assisted in drawing out a plan of the place, and the plan produced was a correct one. Witness searched the clothing of the deceased after the body was removed to the mortuary. The outside jacket, which was a long black one and reached to the knees, had bloodstains around the neck, both on the inside and out, and two or three spots on the left arm. The jacket was hooked at the top and buttoned down. There did not appear to have been any struggle with the jacket. The pocket produced was found worn under the skirt. It was torn down the front and also at the side and did not contain anything. The deceased had on a black shirt, on which was a little blood at the back. There was no damage to the lower portion of the clothing. The boots were on her feet, while the stockings were bloodstained. None of the clothing was torn. Witness saw young John Richardson a little before 7 o'clock in the passage of the house. He told witness he had been to the house about a quarter to 5 that morning, that he went to the back door and looked down at the cellar to see that all was right. He then went away to his work in the market. He did not say anything to witness about cutting his boot, but said he was sure the woman was not there at the time.
By the Foreman. -The back door opened outwards into the yard, on the left-hand side. That was the side on which the body was lying. Richardson might not have seen the body if he did not go into the yard. If he went down the steps and the body was there at the time he was bound to see it. Richardson told witness he did not go down the steps, and did not mention the fact that he sat down on the steps and cut his boots.
The Foreman. - Are you going to produce the pensioner we have heard so much about?
Witness. - We have not been able to find him. No one can give us the least idea who he is. We have instructed the deputy of the lodging-house to let us know at once if he again goes there.
The CORONER. - I should think that if the pensioner knows his own business he would come forward himself.
The Foreman. - It is important he should be here, as he was in the habit of spending Saturday nights with the deceased.
Sergeant Edmund Barry, 31H, stated that on Saturday last he conveyed the body of the deceased from 29, Hanbury-street, to the Whitechapel mortuary on the police ambulance. Detective-Sergeant Thicke examined the body and gave out a description of it to witness. In doing this that sergeant moved the clothing about. Two females from 35, Dorset-street, were also present, and described the clothing to witness. They did not touch the clothing or the body. Inspector Chandler then came.
Inspector Chandler, recalled, said he reached the mortuary a few minutes after 7 o'clock, and the body, which was lying on the ambulance, did not appear to have been disturbed. He did not remain until the doctor arrived, but left a constable in charge. It was Constable Barnes, 376H.
Robert Mann, an inmate of the Whitechapel Union, stated that he had charge of the mortuary. At 7 o'clock on Saturday morning he received the body of the deceased, and remained with it until the doctor arrived at 2 o'clock. Two nurses from the infirmary came and undressed the body. He was not in the shed when that was done.
The CORONER. - This is not a mortuary, but simply a shed. Bodies ought not to be taken there. In the East-end, where mortuaries are required more than anywhere else, there are no mortuaries. When bodies are thrown up from the river off Wapping they have to be put in boxes, as there is no mortuary.
The Foreman agreed that one was necessary. He added that a reward should be offered in this case by the Government. Some gentlemen were forming a fund to offer a reward, and Mr. Montagu, M.P., had offered £100.
The witness, in further examination, said he was present when Dr. Phillips made his post-mortem examination. While he was doing so witness picked up the handkerchief produced from off the clothing, which was lying in a corner of the room. He gave the handkerchief to Dr. Phillips, who told him to put it in some water. Witness did not see the handkerchief across the throat of the deceased. It had blood on it as though it had been across her throat.
Timothy Donovan, 35, Dorset-street, recalled, identified the handkerchief produced, which deceased generally wore round her throat. She bought it off another lodger at the lodging-house a week or a fortnight before she met with her death. She was wearing it when she left the lodging-house on Saturday morning and had under it a piece of black woollen scarf. It was tied in the front in one knot.
By the Foreman. - He would recognize the pensioner if he saw him again, and he knew "Harry the hawker." He had not seen the pensioner since Saturday. On that day, when he came to the lodging-house, witness sent for the police, but before they came he went away. He was a man of soldierly appearance, and at times used to come differently attired.
Mr. George Bagster Phillips, 2, Spital-square, stated he was a divisional surgeon of police, and had been for 23 years. At 6:20 on Saturday morning he was called by the police to 29, Hanbury-street, and he arrived there at 6:30. He found the dead body of a female in the possession of the police, lying in the back yard, on her back and on the left hand of the steps. The head was about 6in. in front of the level of the bottom step, and her feet were towards a shed, which proved to contain wood, at the bottom of the yard. The left arm was placed across the left breast. The legs were drawn up, the feet resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned on the right side. The tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen. The front teeth were perfect, so far as the first molar, top and bottom, and very fine teeth they were. The body was terribly mutilated. He searched the yard, and in doing so found a small piece of coarse muslin and a pocket comb in a paper case lying at the feet of the woman near the paling; and they apparently had been placed there in order or arranged there. He also found and delivered to the police other articles, including the leather apron. The stiffness of the limbs was not marked, but was evidently commencing. He noticed that the throat was dissevered deeply; that the incisions through the skin were jagged, and reached right round the neck. On the back wall of the house between the steps and the paling which bounded the yard on the left side, about 18in. from the ground, were about six patches of blood varying in size from a sixpenny piece to a small point. On the wooden paling, between the yard in question and the next, smears of blood, corresponding to where the head of the deceased lay, were to be seen. These were about 14in. from the ground, and immediately above the part where the blood lay that had flowed from the neck. Soon after 2 o'clock on Saturday he went to the labour yard of the Whitechapel Union for the purpose of further examining the body. He was surprised to find that the body had been stripped, and was lying ready on the table for his examination. It was under great difficulty he could make his examination, and, as on many occasions he had met with similar difficulties, he now raised his protest, as he had previously done, that members in his profession should be called upon to perform their duties in these inadequate circumstances. There were no adequate conveniences for a post-mortem examination; and at particular seasons of the year it was dangerous to the operator.
The CORONER. - As a matter of fact there is no public mortuary in the City of London up to Bow.
Witness, continuing, said, - The body had evidently been attended to since the removal to the mortuary, probably to be washed. He noticed the same protrusion of the tongue. There was a bruise over the right temple. On the upper eyelid there was a bruise, and there were two distinct bruises, each of the size of the top of a man's thumb, on the forepart of the top of the chest. The stiffness of the limbs was now well marked. There was a bruise over the middle part of the bone of the right hand. There was an old scar on the left of the frontal bone. The stiffness was more noticeable on the left side, especially in the fingers, which were partly closed. There was an abrasion over the ring finger, with distinct markings of a ring or rings. The throat had been severed as before described. The incisions into the skin indicated that they had been made from the left side of the neck. There were two distinct, clean cuts on the left side of the spine. They were parallel from each other and separated by about half an inch. The muscular structures appeared as though an attempt had been made to separate the bones of the neck. There were various other mutilations of the body, but he was of opinion that they occurred subsequent to the death of the woman, and to the large escape of blood from the division of the neck. At this point Dr. Phillips said that, as from these injuries he was satisfied as to the cause of death, he thought that he had better not go into further details of the mutilations, which could only be painful to the feelings of the jury and the public. The Coroner decided to allow that course to be adopted. Witness, continuing, said, - The cause of death was visible from the injuries he had described. From these appearances he was of opinion that the breathing was interfered with previous to death, and that death arose from syncope, or failure of the heart's action in consequence of loss of blood caused by the severance of the throat.
By the CORONER. - He should say that the instrument used at the throat and the abdomen was the same. It must have been a very sharp knife, with a thin, narrow blade, and must have been at least 6in. to 8in. in length, probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not have been inflicted by a bayonet or sword bayonet. They could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used for post-mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not contain such an instrument. Those used by slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be long enough in the blade. There were indications of anatomical knowledge, which were only less indicated in consequence of haste. The whole of the body was not present, the absent portions being from the abdomen. The mode in which these portions were extracted showed some anatomical knowledge. He did not think these portions were lost in the transit of the body. He should say that the deceased had been dead at least two hours, and probably more, when he first saw her; but it was right to mention that it was a fairly cool morning, and that the body would be more apt to cool rapidly from its having lost a great quantity of blood. There was not evidence about the body of the woman of a struggle having taken place. He was positive that the deceased entered the yard alive. He made a practical search of the passage and the approach to the house and he saw no trace of blood. There was no blood on the apron, which had the appearance of not having been recently unfolded. He was shown some staining on the wall of No. 25. To the eye of a novice it looked like blood, but it was not so. The deceased was far advanced in disease of the lungs and membranes of the brain, but they had nothing to do with the cause of death. The stomach contained a little food, but there was not any sign of fluid. There was no appearance of the deceased having taken alcohol, but there were signs of great deprivation, and he should say she had been badly fed. He was convinced she had not taken any strong alcohol for some hours before he death. The injuries were certainly not self-inflicted. The bruises on the face were evidently recent, especially about the chin and the sides of the jaw, but the bruises in front of the chest and temple were of longer standing - probably of days. He was of opinion that the person who cut the deceased's throat took hold of her by the chin, and then commenced the incision from left to right. He thought it was highly probably that a person could call out, but with regard to an idea that she might have been gagged he could only point to the swollen face and protruding tongue, both of which were signs of suffocation. The handkerchief produced, together with the pocket, he separated from the rest of some articles said to be taken from the body of deceased at the Whitechapel mortuary, and not then in the custody of the mortuary keeper. A handkerchief was round the throat of the deceased when he saw her early in the morning. He should say it was not tied on after the throat was cut.
Mary Elizabeth Simonds, nurse at the Whitechapel Infirmary, said on Saturday morning she and a nurse named Frances Wright were instructed to go to the mortuary. The body was lying on the ambulance. They were directed by Inspector Chandler to undress the deceased. Witness took the clothes off and placed them in a corner of the shed. They left the handkerchief round the neck of deceased. They washed the blood off the body. There was blood on the chest, as if it had run down from the throat. She found the pocket, the strings of which were not broken.
Inspector Chandler stated he did not instruct the nurses to undress and wash the body.
The Coroner's officer said it was done by order of the clerk to the guardians.
At this point the inquiry was adjourned until Wednesday next.
Up to the present time the police have not succeeded in connecting any person with the crime.
Dr. Phillips's positive opinion that the woman had been dead quite two hours when he first saw the body at half-past 6, throws serious doubt upon the accuracy of at least two important witnesses, and considerably adds to the prevailing confusion.
The man arrested at Holloway has for some reason been removed to the asylum at Bow. His own friends give him an indifferent character. He has been missing from home for nearly two months, and it is known that he has been in the habit of carrying several large butcher's knives about his person. Inquiries are now being made with a view to tracing his movements during the past two months.
The principal officers engaged in investigating the Whitechapel murders were summoned to Scotland-yard yesterday. Later in the day Mr. Bruce, Assistant Commissioner, and Colonel Monsell, Chief Constable, paid a private visit to the Whitechapel district without notifying the local officials of their intention to do so. They visited the scene of the Buck's-row murder as well as Hanbury-street, and made many inquiries. They spent nearly a quarter of an hour at No. 29, Hanbury-street, and minutely inspected the house and the yard in which were found the mutilated body of Mrs. Chapman.
The police have satisfied themselves that the man Pigott could have had nothing to do with the murders. His movements have been fully accounted for, and he is no longer under surveillance.
The Lancet says:- "The theory that the succession of murders which have lately been committed in Whitechapel are the work of a lunatic appears to us to be by no means at present well established. We can quite understand the necessity for any murderer endeavouring to obliterate by the death of his victim his future identification as a burglar. Moreover, as far as we are aware, homicidal mania is generally characterized by the one single and fatal act, although we grant this may have been led up to by a deep-rooted series of delusions. It is most unusual for a lunatic to plan any complicated crime of this kind. Neither, as a rule, does a lunatic take precautions to escape from the consequences of his act; which data are most conspicuous in these now too celebrated cases."