Wednesday, 26 September 1888
The excitement caused by the brutal murder on Saturday of Jane Beetmoor, on Birtley Fell, near Gateshead-on-Tyne, is still considerable. The London police appear to think that there may be some connexion between this and the recent outrages in Whitechapel, and Inspector Roots, of Scotland-yard, with Dr. Phillips, who conducted the post-mortem examination on the body of Annie Chapman, yesterday, in company with Colonel White, Chief Constable of the county, drove from Durham to the scene of the tragedy. Dr. Phillips saw the body, but the result of his investigation is not known. It is believed, however, that the examination must have failed to disclose any direct resemblance to the Whitechapel murders, for, although the wounds in each case were somewhat similar, those upon the body of Jane Beetmoor had been inflicted by brute force, and did not show any appearance of anatomical skill. Apart from this, the police are inclined to think that the discovery of the deceased's sweetheart William Waddle or Tweddle, who is said to have been seen with her on the night of the murder, and who thereafter disappeared, will lead to a solution of the mystery. An official description of the man which has been issued from the police office at Gateshead, states that he had in his possession a large knife. He is about 22 years old, about 5ft. 9in. in height, with fresh complexion, and has blue eyes, which are small and sunken, and brown hair. He has tender feet and walks badly, leaning well forward. He is a single man, and has worked as a labourer and farm servant. Although diligent search has been made for Waddle, no trace of him has yet been discovered. The police incline to the belief that he has committed suicide, and yesterday a searching examination was made of the numerous disused pit shafts in the neighbourhood, down one of which it is thought he may have thrown himself. Some of these shafts are of great depth. If it is at the bottom of one of these, the recovery of his body would be a matter of extreme difficulty, if not complete impossibility. Inspector Roots yesterday afternoon spent some hours in company with the local officers, and took copious notes and sketches of the locality of the murder. The publication of the description of Waddle has led many people to declare that they have seen him in Newcastle, Gateshead, and other places, but the police have little faith in these statements. It was rumoured in a suburb of Newcastle that the murderer had been captured, and a crowd of persons followed a constable who had taken a man into custody on some minor charge, but the excitement subsided when it was found that there was no truth in the rumour. The remains of the deceased woman will be interred to-day.
A man answering in almost every particular the description of the person the police want in connexion with the murder is said to have been seen at Byers-green Colliery about 7 o'clock on Sunday morning by Mr. Robert Lodge, foreman coke burner. The man was in a cabin near the coke ovens, and when first observed was in a sitting posture, either whetting or cleaning a large knife on the leather of his boot. The stranger inquired the time and disappeared suddenly. Mr. Lodge speaks positively as to the description of the man. The distance from the scene of the murder to Byers-green is about 14 miles.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES
I have noticed no remark about Dr. Phillips withholding the description of the wounds.
By the Statute de Coronatore, the coroner is bound to inquire the nature, character, and size of every wound on a dead body and to enter the same on the roll.
Originally this was done super visum corporis, and the necessity of viewing the corpse thus arises, for it is the coroner's duty to explain the effect of the wounds and any appearances there may be. This is also a reason why the inquest should be commenced as soon as possible before any marks can be effaced, and even before it is moved.
In this case, had Dr. Phillips's evidence been given at once, as it ought to have been, and as I should have insisted, I think "Leather Apron" should not have been arrested. The criminal is probably a person making research from motives of science or curiosity, and not a drunken loafer. If the body had not been washed, and it is a contempt of the coroner's court to do so, there would probably have appeared on the body some finger mark, which would have been very useful.
The object of the inquest is to preserve the evidences of a crime, if any. Until some person is charged, the justices of the peace cannot act. Their function is to say whether a prima facie case has been made out against the prisoner. A prisoner may not be caught until the evidences of death have disappeared. It is, then, the duty of the coroner to register all the marks which there may be in case of death.
In Perryman's case, which depended upon the marks and bruises, I consider that the coroner did not take down the marks correctly, as proved by medical witnesses afterwards; and though I convinced Mr. Justice Stephen that there was some doubt in the case, causing Perryman to be respited during Her Majesty's pleasure and his execution commuted to imprisonment, I consider that had all the marks been examined soon after death, there must have been found hand marks on the top of the head if his mother were murdered, and none if, as I contended, she committed suicide. At the first inquest these marks would have been visible; at the trial before the Judge they would have been lost in post mortem discoloration. I did not come into the case until after condemnation and judgement. There was no evidence as to the marks on the top of the head.
Rowland Addams Williams
Late deputy coroner for Crickhowell, Breconshire.
London, Sept. 22.
26 September 1888 Charles Ludwig, 40, a decently attired German, who professed not to understand English, and giving an address in the Minories, was brought up on remand charged with being drunk and threatening to stab Alexander Finlay, of 51 Leman street, Whitechapel. The evidence of the prosecutor showed that 3 o'clock on the morning of Tuesday week he was standing at a coffee stall in the Whitechapel road when Ludwig came up in a state of intoxication. The person in charge of the stall refused to serve him. Ludwig seemed much annoyed, and said to witness, "What are you looking at?" He then pulled you a long bladed knife and threatened to stab the witness with it. Ludwig followed him round the stall and made several attempts to stab him, until, witness threatened to knock a dish on his head. A constable came up, and he was given into custody. Constable 221 H said when he was called to take the prisoner into custody he found him in a very excited condition. Witness had previously received information that Ludwig was wanted in the City jurisdiction for attempting to cut a woman's throat with a razor. On the way to the station prisoner dropped a long bladed knife, which was open, and when he was searched a razor and a long bladed pair of scissors were found on him. Constable John Johnson, 866 City, deposed that early on the morning of Tuesday week he was on duty in the Minories when he heard loud screams of "Murder" proceeding from a dark court. The court in question leads to some railway arches, and is a well known dangerous locality. Witness went down the court and found the prisoner with a prostitute. The accused appeared to be under the influence of drink. Witness asked what he was doing there, and he replied, "Nothing." The woman, who appeared to be in very agitated and frightened condition, said, "Oh, policeman, do take me out of this." The woman was so frightened that she could then make no further explanation. Witness got her and the accused out of the court and sent the latter off. He walked with the woman to the end of his beat, when she said, "Dear me, he frightened me very much when he pulled a big knife out." Witness said, "Why didn't you tell me that at the time?" and she replied, "I was too much frightened." He then went to look for the prisoner, but could not find him, and, therefore, warned several other constables of what he had seen, and also gave a description of the prisoner. On the last occasion witness was unable to procure the attendance of the woman. On the application of Detective Inspector Abberline, of Scotland yard, Mr. Saunders again remanded the accused for full inquiries to be made. He also allowed Inspector Abberline to interview the accused with the interpreter (Mr. Smaje), to ascertain if he would give any information as to where he was on certain dates. The woman Ludwig was alleged to have attempted to stab has been found. She is well know to the police as a prostitute, and her name is Elizabeth Burns. It is very probable that when the accused is next brought before the magistrate he will be charged with attempting to murder her.