Friday, 21 September 1888
For a while a romantic mystery of the most morbid kind surrounded the creature who figured in the Whitechapel murder sensation as "Leather Apron." He was honoured with an attention and journalistic treatment that entitled him to rank as a horrible character from the pages of Eugene Sue. When he was brought forward and revealed himself the romance was at an end. The dangerous agitation which kept the East-end in a ferment abated after the burial of the poor woman last murdered, and would have abated earlier but for the manner in which it was kept alive by the evening and morning papers. That the criminal, whoever he may be, should be so long at large, without a clue behind him, is certainly an astonishing fact. Amongst the various means adopted to entrap him or her (for many think it is a mad woman who has slaughtered the four persons) is the dressing up of two detectives as women of the class to whom the murdered people belonged. They are protected against risks of stabbing, and they are armed with revolvers. At night they haunt the crime-stained district, imitating as well as they can the habits of the victim class.
RESUMED INQUEST ON MRS. NICHOLLS.
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter (Coroner for South-East Middlesex) on the 17th inst. resumed his inquest at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road, into the circumstances attending the death of Mary Anne Nicholls [Mary Ann Nichols], who was found murdered in Buck's-row, Whitechapel, on the 31st ult.
Dr. Llewellyn said that after he had given his evidence on the previous occasion he visited the mortuary, and made a further examination of the body. He found a scar of old standing on the forehead. He did not believe that any portion of the body was missing.
Emma Green, of New-cottage, Buck's-row, said that she was a widow. She occupied the house next to that where the deceased was found. Her daughter and her two sons lived with her. On Thursday, 30th ult., she retired to bed about eleven o'clock. Her daughter went to bed at about the same time, but her sons previously. She slept well, and did not remember waking before the police knocked at the door. She would certainly have heard screams had there been any. They often heard noises during the night, and very rough people passed through the street. She did not believe there was a disorderly house in Buck's-row.
Thomas Eade, a signalman on the East London Railway, said that on the 8th inst., at about noon, he was in Cambridge-heath-road. When in front of the Foresters Arms he saw a man walking along on the opposite side of the way. There was something peculiar in the man's appearance that attracted his attention. He caught sight of a large knife partly concealed in the man's trousers pocket. Three men stood by, and he called upon them to assist him in arresting this suspicious looking character. One of the men said he was willing to do so, but his two companions refused. The consequence was the man walked on unmolested. He saw that he had attracted the witness's attention and he hurried away, being soon lost to view. The man had not been arrested. He was about 5ft. 8in. high, and about 35 years of age. He had a dark moustache and dark whiskers. He wore a low peak cap, a short dark brown jacket, and a pair of light overalls over a pair of dark trousers. The man walked as though he had a stiff knee. He was apparently a mechanic. The overalls were perfectly clean. He was not a muscular or stout man.
Walter Purkiss said he lived at Essex Wharf, Buck's-row, where he was manager. The wharf was nearly opposite the spot where the deceased was found. Only he and his wife slept in the front of the building, his children and the servant sleeping at the back. He went to bed on the night of the occurrence at about a quarter-past eleven, his wife having retired previously. He was awake at various times during the night, but he did not think he was awake between two and four. At the latter hour he was called up by the police. His wife was awake when the police arrived, and she had been awake for about an hour previously. Neither he nor his wife heard any sounds during the night. He would certainly have heard a disturbance had any taken place.
Edward Mulshaw said he was a night watchman, employed by the Whitechapel District Board of Works. He was in Winthorpe-street during the night of the 30th ult. He went on duty at a quarter to five in the afternoon, and remained there until five minutes to six on the following morning. He was watching some sewage works. Sometimes he dozed at his post, but he did not think he slept between three and four o'clock on this particular morning. He saw nobody about and heard no noise.
John Thain, police-constable 96 J, said that on his beat he was not brought any closer to Buck's-row than Brady-street. He passed the end of Buck's-row about every 30 minutes. Nothing occurred within his knowledge on the night in question until about 3.45 a.m., when he was signalled by a constable's lamp in Buck's-row. He saw the deceased, and police -constable Neill sent him for the doctor. He searched the surrounding neighbourhood, including the railway lines, but found no traces of blood.
Robert Paul said he lived at 30, Forster-street, Whitechapel. On the Friday he left home just before a quarter to four, and on passing up Buck's-row he saw a man in the middle of the road, who drew his attention to the murdered woman. He and the man examined the body, and he felt sure he detected faint indications of breathing. The body was partly warm, though it was a chilly morning. He and the man discussed what was best to be done, and they decided that they ought to acquaint the first policeman they met with what they had discovered.
Robert Manns (an old man in workhouse uniform), said he was keeper of the Whitechapel mortuary. He received the body in the morning and left it in the mortuary. After having breakfast he returned and, with the assistance of a man named Hatfield, he undressed the body. The Coroner: Oh, yes, and the inspector was present while this was done, was he not? - Witness: No; we two were alone. The Coroner (in astonishment): Surely you make a mistake. Think again. The witness adhered to his statement, and after some further examination, the coroner remarked that Manns' evidence was quite unreliable. He was subject to fits, and apparently his memory was impaired. (It will be remembered that on a previous occasion Inspector Helston deposed to being present while the body was being stripped).
James Hatfield, another old man, also in the workhouse uniform, said he assisted Manns to strip the body, and he described how this was done. They cut some of the clothes and tore others, to get them off. He and Manns were quite alone. The deceased did not have any stays on. A Juryman (indignantly): Why when we were in the yard you showed me the stays. You even put them on to show me how small they were. (Laughter.) The witness said he had no recollection of such a thing, and the coroner remarked that it was useless to examine this witness further, as he, too, evidently had an impaired memory.
Police-Inspector Spratling said that after the body had been found he made various inquiries in the neighbourhood, though he did not call at all the houses in Buck's-row.
The Coroner: Is there any further evidence? Inspector Helston: No, sir. The Coroner: Is any further evidence likely to transpire? Inspector Helston: Not to my knowledge, sir. The Coroner then asked the jury whether they would like to adjourn the inquiry on the chance of some further evidence being forthcoming.
A Juryman (warmly): I want to say that we think the Home Secretary should have offered a reward. Several horrible murders have been committed, and the neighbourhood is in a state of great alarm. The fright has even made some persons ill, and yet Mr. Matthews offers no reward. If a reward had been offered after the first of these terrible outrages we think the monster would have been caught, and then the others never would have been committed. If the victims had been rich instead of poor, a large reward would have been offered.
The Coroner: I don't think you have any right to say that. I understand that the practice of offering rewards has been discontinued.
The Juryman: Then it ought to be revived. People say the money might get into undeserving hands; but what matter if it did? All we want is to capture the perpetrator of these horrible murders.
The Coroner: I agree with you that they are horrible, and in my opinion the first of the series, of which little notice was taken, was the most horrible of all.
After some further discussion the inquest was again adjourned.
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for South-east Middlesex, resumed on the 19th inst. at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel, the inquest into the circumstances attending the death of Annie Chapman, who was found in the yard of the house, 29, Hanbury-street, Whitechapel, on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 8, with her throat cut and her body frightfully mutilated.
Eliza Cooper, a hawker, lodging 35, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, said she knew the deceased and had a quarrel with her on the Tuesday before her death - Sept. 4 - in consequence of her bringing Mr. Stanley on the previous Saturday to 35, Dorset-street. The quarrel was about a piece of soap which she lent the deceased for Stanley to wash himself with. The witness and the deceased went to a public-house on the Tuesday, and while quarrelling there the deceased slapped her on the face, and the witness in return struck her on the left eye and on the chest. The witness last saw her alive on Wednesday, the 5th inst.; the deceased then wore three rings, but they were all brass rings, not gold. The deceased associated with Stanley and several others, whom she used to bring casually into the lodging-house.
Dr. George B. Phillips, recalled, gave the reasons for his believing that the perpetrator of the crime had held the woman's chin while he cut her throat. There were abrasions on the left side of the neck, and on the corresponding side was a more marked bruise. These indications led him to the conclusion that the woman was seized by the chin while the incision in the throat was perpetrated.
The Coroner asked for full details of his examination of the body.
The Witness: I think the making public of the details of this examination is thwarting the ends of justice.
The Coroner directed all females and boys to leave the hall. This having been done, he stated that he was bound to take all possible evidence, and whether it should be published was a matter for the Press; he was not responsible for that.
The witness then proceeded to enlarge the evidence he had given at the last sitting, describing the condition of the organs that were cut or injured. One of the organs was entirely absent from the body. The appearance of the cut surfaces indicated that the instrument used must have been very sharp, and showed a certain amount of anatomical knowledge.
The Coroner: How long would it take to produce all the injuries?
The Witness: I myself could not have performed all the injuries I saw on that woman, even without a struggle, under a quarter of an hour. If I had done it in the deliberate manner usual with a surgeon, it would probably have taken me the best part of an hour. The conclusion I came to was that the whole object of the operation was to obtain possession of a certain portion of the body.
By the Foreman: I was asked by the police whether a photograph of the deceased's eye would be of any use; but I gave it as my opinion that the photograph of the eye would be useless in this case. I also was asked whether bloodhounds could be used with success. I said I thought not, as there was so much of the woman's blood in the yard. The injuries I found on the lower part of the woman's face were consistent with partial suffocation.
Elizabeth Long, married, and living in Church-row, Whitechapel, said: I never saw the deceased till Saturday morning, the 8th inst., when I was passing along Hanbury-street to the Spitalfields-market. A public clock had just struck half-past five when I passed No. 29, Hanbury-street, and I there saw a gentleman and lady standing on the pavement talking together. I saw the woman's face and recognised it. I have seen the face of the deceased in the mortuary, and I recognise it as the same. I am sure it is the same person. I did not see the man's face. I only saw he had a brown hat on and he was dark. I cannot tell you what kind of clothes he had on; but I think he had a dark coat on. He was a man of over 40 years by the look of him. He appeared to be a little taller than the woman. In my opinion he looked like a foreigner - very dark. He looked, I think, like what is called shabby genteel. They were talking loudly; and I heard him say, " Will you?" The woman said "Yes." That is all I heard. I passed on. I did not see where they went. I went to my work. I see lots of men talking together as I pass along at that hour of the morning. Hence I take little notice of them. I distinctly heard the clock strike half-past five just before I saw the woman.
Edward Stanley, a tall, elderly working man, said: I live at 1, Osborn-place, Osborn-street, Spitalfields. I am a bricklayer's labourer, and I am known by the name of the "Pensioner." I knew the deceased. I visited her at 35, Dorset-street, once or twice, and at other times elsewhere. I last saw her alive on Sunday, the 2nd inst., between one and three o'clock. She was then wearing rings. I knew no one she was on bad terms with. I have never been with her week after week.
The Coroner: Are you a pensioner?
The Witness: Cannot I refuse to answer that question?
The Coroner: It is said at one time a man was just going to receive a pension.
The Witness: Then it cannot be me.
The Coroner: Were you ever in the Royal Sussex Regiment?
The Witness: Never. It is possible I may get discharged from my employ for this when I go back again. I am a law-abiding man, who interferes with nobody that does not interfere with me.
Timothy Donovan, a deputy lodging-house keeper, said the "Pensioner" and the deceased used to come to his lodging-house from Saturday till Monday. He thought the "Pensioner" had been there six or seven Saturdays, and was last there the Saturday before the woman died.
The Coroner: What do you say to that "Pensioner?"
Edward Stanley: That is all wrong. I was at Gosport from August 6 to September 1.
The Coroner: I should think the lodging-house keeper is mistaken.
Albert Cadosch, living at 27, Hanbury-street, said he was a carpenter, and on Saturday, the 8th inst., he got up about a quarter-past five a.m., and went into the yard, and in returning about 20 minutes past five he heard a voice quite near him, and he thought probably it was in the yard of No. 29. He went into his house, and on going back to the yard he heard a sort of fall against the fence that divided the yard of No. 29 from No. 27. He went into the house again, and then into the street, going to his work. It was about two minutes after half-past five. He saw no man or woman in Hanbury-street when he went out.
William Stevens, living at 35, Dorset-street, saw the deceased at twenty minutes past twelve on the Saturday morning, the 8th inst. She was not the worse for drink, and she wore rings on her fingers. When she left the kitchen, where he saw her, she said she would not be long out of bed.
The Coroner (to the Jury): Well, that is all the evidence there is. It is a question for you now to say whether you would like to close the inquest, or have it adjourned.
The jury expressed an opinion in favour of an adjournment, to see if the police could get any further evidence; and the inquest was accordingly further adjourned.
A meeting of the Vigilance Committee, of which Mr. Lusk is president, has met again for the purpose of receiving the reports of the honorary officers in the matter. The Secretary said that the committee sent a letter to the Home Secretary on the subject, which was to the following effect: "At a meeting of the committee of gentlemen, held at 74, Mile-end-road, E., it was resolved to approach you upon the subject of the reward we are about to issue for the discovery of the author or authors of the late atrocities in the East-end of London, and to ask you, sir, to augment our fund for the said purpose or kindly state your reasons for refusing." To this letter he had received the following communication:
" Sir, - I am directed by the Secretary of State to acknowledge the receipt of your letter with reference to the question of the offer of a reward for the discovery of the perpetrators of the recent murders in Whitechapel, and I am to inform you that, had the Secretary of State considered the case a proper one for the offer of a reward, he would at once have offered one on behalf of the Government, but that the practice of offering rewards for the discovery of criminals was discontinued some years ago, because experience showed that such offers of reward tended to produce more harm than good, and the Secretary of State is satisfied that there is nothing in the circumstances of the present case to justify a departure from this rule. - I am, sir, your obedient servant,
"G. Leigh Pemberton.
"Mr. B. Harris, The Crown, 74, Mile-end-road, E."