September 14th, 1888
ANOTHER LONDON TRAGEDY
SHOCKING MUTILATION OF A WOMAN.
Another horrible murder in the East of London has been added to the swelling list of brutal outrages which have been perpetrated within the last few weeks, and all of which are buried in profound mystery. In each case the victim has been a woman of the class known as 'unfortunates,' and the circumstances of each murder must have been of the most ferocious nature. The victim in this case was discovered at a quarter to four o'clock on Saturday, lying in a back yard, at the foot of the passage leading into the lodging house, No. 29, Hanbury Street, formerly Old Brown's Lane, Spitalfields. The house is occupied by a Mrs Emilia Richardson, who lets it out to various lodgers; and it seems that the door which admits into this passage, at the foot of which lies the yard where the body was found, was always open for the convenience of the lodgers. A Mr. and Mrs. Davis occupy the upper storey (the house consisting of three stories), and as Mr. Davis was going down to work, at the time mentioned, he found a woman lying on her back, close up to the flight of steps leading into the yard. Her throat was cut open in a fearful manner--so deep, in fact, that the murderer, evidently thinking that he had severed the head from the body, tied a handkerchief round it so as to keep it on. It was also found that her body had been completely ripped open, and her bowels, heart, and other entrails were lying at her side. The fiendish work was completed by the murderer tying part of the entrails round the poor victim's neck and head. The place on which she was lying was found covered with clots of thick blood. The supposition was that the poor woman was murdered outside and carried into this yard by those who knew the place well. This is upheld by the fact that spots of blood were lying thick in the narrow passage leading from the street into the yard and the blood marks around where the body was found must have been caused by its being deposited there, there being no signs of any struggle having taken place in the vicinity.
Davis (the lodger who found the body) immediately communicated with the police at Commercial Street Station, and Inspector Chandler and several constables arrived on the scene in a short time, when they found teh woman in the condition described. Even at this early hour the news spread quickly, and great excitement prevailed among the occupants of the adjoining houses. An excited crowd gathered in front of Mrs. Richardson's house and also around the mortuary in Old Morturry Street, where the body was quickly removed. As the corpse lay in the rough coffin in which it had been placed in the mortuary, the same coffin in which the unfortunate Mrs. Nicholls was put, it presented an appearance which could not but evoke pity for the victim and indignation at the brutal murder to an extreme degree. The body is that of a woman about 45 years of age. The height is five feet exactly. The complexion is fair, with wavy, dark brown hair. The eyes are blue, and two teeth have been knocked out in the lower jaw. The nose is rather large and prominent. The third finger of the left hand bore signs of rings having been wrenched off it, and the hands and arms were considerably bruised.
Emilia Richardson, the woman who rents the house, stated in an interview with a reporter that the murder was beyond all description in its horrible details. Deceased had laced-up boots and stripped (sic) stockings. She had on two cotton petticoats, and was otherwise respectably dressed. Nothing was found in her pockets but a handkerchief and two small combs. The excitement in the vicinity is intense, and innumerable rumours are flying about. One report has it that a leather apron and a long knife have been found near the place where the body was, belonging, it is said, to a man whose name is unknown, but who is surnamed "Leather Apron," and evidently known in the district. A further report states that another woman was nearly murdered early in the morning, and was taken to the hospital in a dying condition. Several persons who were lodging in the house and who were found in the vicinity when the body was found were taken to the Commercial Street Station, and were closely examined, especially the women who were last with deceased. The police authorities are xtremely reticent, owing to the fact that any statement might get out which would help the murderer to elude detection. There can be little doubt now that this latest murder is one of the series of fiendish atrocities on women which have been going on within the past few months, this making the fourth case in this short time in the same district. It is thought that in this case the victim must have been murdered outside or in a neighbouring house, and carried into this dark yard, where the murderer evidently thought the body was safe from discovery for some time. There is little evidence to show that the murder was committed on the premises where the body was found, as the marks of blood were were all found in one place--viz., where the police discovered the body. The only other marks are those found in the passage close to the flight of steps, and these may have been caused in removing the body to the mortuary. The police, however, in this case have more facts and evidence to go on, and they are sanguine that the murderer will soon be found. Looking at the corpse, no one could think otherwise than that the murder had been committed by a maniac or wretch of the loest type of humanity: indeed, we should have to go to the wilds of Hungary or search the records of French lower peasant life before a more sickening and revolting tragedy could be told.
The woman was known among her companions as, Dark Annie, and gave her name as Emily Annie Shifsey, but it is not yet known whether this was her correct name. She was an unfortunate and had been recently living at a common lodging-house at Dorset Street, which is near the scene of the night's atrocious crime. Deceased formerly lived with a sieve maker in the East End of London as his wife.
The advisibility of employing bloodhounds to trace the perpetrator of the crime has been eagerly discussed by the inhabitants of the district. It is considered, however by experts that the time has gone by for such an experiment, and it is pointed out also that in the case of the Blackburn murderer, who was discovered by such means, the circumstances were different, and that the present case does not admit of that.
The leather apron found in the yard was examined by the police, and it is believed that it has no connection with the murder. No knife was found near the spot, but a piece of old iron, sharpened at both ends, was observed lying close to the body. This weapon could not, however, have been the instrument with which the wounds were inflicted. As the body lies in the mortuary it presents a far mor eshocking appearance than any that have gone before it. The police have ascertained that the last time that woman was seen alive was at a quarter to two when she left her lodgings to go out and earn her "doss," as she put it, meaning her bed.
Every lodging-house within half a mile of the scene of the murder was visited, and the names of those who entered after two o'clock taken.
Although two or three men have been apprehended on suspicion, they have given satisfactory accounts of their movements, and have been liberated. Inspector Chandler, at Commercial Road Police Station, received information after midnight on Sunday that a person was detained at Deptford on suspicion. He proved to be a young man apprehended in the Old Kent Road, and his answers to interrogations being considered satisfactory, he was shortly afterwards released.
About nine o'clock on Monday morning a detective arrested a man known as Leather Apron, who was wanted in connexion with the Whitechapel murder at 22 Mulberry Street, Commercial Street. The real name of the man arrested is John Piser, but his friends deny that he has ever been known under the nickname of Leather Apron. When the detective called at the house the door was opened by prisoner himself. "Just the man I want," said the detective, who charged him on suspicion of being connected with the murder of the woman Siffey. The detective searched the house, and took away some finishing tools which prisoner was in the habit of using in his work. By trade he is a boot-finisher, and for some time has been living at Mulberry Street with his stepmother, Mrs Piser, and a married brother, who works at cabinetmaking. In answer to the inspector at the police station, the prisoner stated that he was going down Brick Lane, Spitalfields, at 4:30 on Saturday morning, when a woman fell down in a fit. He stooped to pick her up, whereupon she bit him through the hand. Two policemen then came up, and he ran away. Dr. Whitcombe, the police surgeon, having examined the man's clothing, discovered blood spots on two shirts the man was carrying in a bundle. He was also of the opinion that blood had been wiped off his boots. The woman was in the street, not at the back of a lodging house. Prisoner added that on Friday he was walking about Whitechapel all night.