Tuesday, 25 September 1888
Considerable excitement has been created in North Durham by the discovery of the body of the woman, Jane Beetmoor, at Birtley Fell, near Gateshead, from the circumstances that the wounds inflicted upon her are very similar to those found on the two latest victims in Whitechapel. The immediate cause of Beetmoor's death seems to have been a deep incised wound in the left cheek. The instrument used must have been long and sharp, and it entered the left cheek just below the ear. The wound extended almost right through the neck, and the spinal cord was completely severed. This would have in itself been more than sufficient to cause death. There was a wound also upon the other side of the face. The injury to the lower part of the body had been terribly cruel. The knife, or whatever instrument was used, had evidently been forcibly thrust into the body, and the half-severed bones showed the force that had been used to extend the wound. The body was found in a ditch by the side of a wagon way, in the direction in which the deceased was walking when last seen alive. The deceased, who was 27 years of age, was courted by a young man lodging in the neighbourhood, named Waddle, who was employed at the Birtley Iron Works. Waddle has not been seen since Saturday. His disappearance simultaneously with the discovery of the murder has naturally attracted attention, and for the present the police are concentrating their efforts to find out the whereabouts of this man. The most vigilant search has failed even to discover the slightest trace of him, and there is now an impression that if he has been guilty of the terrible crime he may also have put an end to his own life; and, acting on this theory, the police are making an investigation of some disused pit shafts in the neighbourhood in which he may have committed suicide. As yet, however, the belief that Beetmoor may have been killed by her sweetheart is not supported by any tangible evidence, but rests entirely on the suspicion aroused by his mysterious disappearance at the very time of the murder. A search has also been made by the police for the weapon with which the murder must have been committed, but without result.
The inquest on the body of the deceased was opened before Mr. Coroner Graham yesterday. Only evidence of identification and as to the finding of the body was taken. When found the deceased's hands were held up in front of her face, the palms outwards, as though protecting herself from attack. The body was found about 7 o'clock on Sunday morning, and life must then have been extinct several hours. The inquest was adjourned till the 9th prox.
It is stated that Dr. Phillips, who made the post-mortem examination of the body of Annie Chapman, the victim of the last Whitechapel murder, has been sent to Durham. Dr. Phillips, who left London last night, will examine the body of the murdered woman with the view of ascertaining whether the injuries inflicted on her resemble those inflicted on the Whitechapel victim. Inspector Roots, of the Criminal Investigation Department, also left London last night for Durham, with the object of ascertaining whether any of the facts connected with the Birtley murder are likely to be serviceable in elucidating the Whitechapel crimes. The methods and success of the murderer so closely resemble those of the Whitechapel fiend that the local authorities are strongly inclined to connect the two crimes. As in the last two London cases the murder was effected without any violent struggling on the part of the victim; the actual cause of death was the cutting of the throat, and the same parts of the body were mutilated and in a very similar manner. For the present the police suspend final judgment until the results of Dr. Phillip's examination have been made known.
Dr. Forbes Winslow writes from 70 Wimpole street, Cavendish square, Sept. 24:-
Will you allow me to draw your attention to rather a peculiar circumstance which occurred at Brighton yesterday afternoon at 4.30. My sister in law and her daughter were walking up Norton road when a strange looking man, dressed in a brown pea jacket and cap, about the medium height, suddenly fell down on his knees right in front of them and produced from his pocket a large bowie knife, which he commenced sharpening on the flagstone before them. Naturally alarmed, they hurried home and informed me what had happened. It was too late, however, to capture the man, who hurried down the Western road. I immediately gave information to the police. The circumstance to my mind is of sufficient significance at the present time to draw public attention to it."