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Woodford Times.
Friday, 13 September 1889.


The Press Association learns that a woman was on Tuesday morning found murdered and mutilated, under circumstances similar to those attending previous outrages in the same locality, in Backchurch-lane, Whitechapel.

The Central News says a woman, believed to have been a prostitute, was found in Backchurch-lane, off Cable-street, St. George's-in-the-East, early on Tuesday morning. The arms and head were completely severed from the body, and she was fearfully disembowelled. The police and doctors believe it is the work of "Jack the Ripper" and the worst of the series of East London atrocities.


The decapitation and dismemberment must have been done with a very sharp knife, and by the aid of other instruments, as this mutilation was done in a manner that showed considerable surgical skill. She was also terribly mutilated about the abdomen in a way which has characterised nearly all the series of Whitechapel murders which are identified with the name of "Jack the Ripper." The policeman immediately whistled for assistance, and in a very short time a sergeant and some constables were on the scene. The scene of the murder was quickly surrounded, and every corner and alley in the neighbourhood searched, but


which could afford any clue to the whereabouts of the author or authors of the diabolical outrage. As soon as the news of the murder was communicated at Leman-street Police-station, which is only about three minutes' walk from Backchurch-lane, the Inspector in charge communicated with Scotland-yard, and detectives were immediately sent down. Chief Commissioner Monro also visited the locality around Cable-street. Dr. Phillips made an examination of the body, and he, as well as the Scotland-yard authorities, are distinctly (as above stated) of opinion that this is by far


of horrible tragedies which have occurred in the East-end of London during the past 18 months. They are inclined to attach the committal of this murder to the unknown fiend whose handiwork can be clearly traced throughout the preceding barbarities. The news of the murder spread rapidly throughout the courts and alleys of Cable-street, and a large crowd had gathered in front of the railway arch before six o'clock in the morning. The scene of the murder is a


one, and just the place where such a deed could be committed without much fear of interruption. The archway is wide, and carts and barrows lie in various positions along the walls. There is, however, only one exit, and this is by Backchurch-lane. This leads directly into Cable-street, and thence by numerous ways into Leman-street, and the scene of the other East London murders. From a close inspection of the various mutilations, it is thought that the deed must have taken over an hour to accomplish, and all this time a policeman on beat was doing his rounds only about 20 yards distant, that is, of course, presuming that the murder was actually committed where the body was found. The victim appears to have been a rather short and stout woman


years of age, of dark complexion, and rather shabbily dressed. From all appearances she seemed to have led a dissipated existence, as the body is but poorly nourished, and she must have been a hard drinker.

Another account says: As an instance of the organisation of the police in the district since the recent murders, it may be mentioned that a special telegraphic signal has been arranged by which the fact of such a crime as the present one can be promptly conveyed to other police-stations. Shortly before six o'clock on Tuesday morning Scotland-yard received this message: "Whitechapel again"; and in the space of a few minutes they were able to telegraph all over the metropolitan police district the following message: "At 5.40 a.m. trunk of a woman found under the arches in Pinchin-street, E. Age about 40. Height, 5 ft. 3 in.; hair dark brown. No clothing, except chemise very much torn and bloodstained. Both elbows discoloured, as if from habitual leaning on them. Post-mortem marks around waist, apparently caused by a rope." Immediately upon the circulation of this telegram, the Thames Police, under Detective-Inspector Regan, and Chief-Inspector Moore, displayed the utmost vigilance. Assisted by Sergeants Moore, Francis, Howard, Davis, and Scott, these officers at once got their various craft on the river and boarded all the vessels at the mouth of the Thames and in the Docks. Attention was particularly directed to the cattle boats, and those from Spain and America. Among those boarded in the London Docks were the City of Cork, the Cadiz, the Malaga, the Gallicia; and the Lydian Monarch in the Millwall Docks. The operation of searching these vessels had not concluded until a late hour in the evening, and so far as the investigation had gone the captains of the various vessels were able to give satisfactory accounts as to their crews. After the removal of the remains to the mortuary Mr. Clark made a brief medical examination of them. From this it was seen that both legs had been skillfully separated from the body, and that the head was missing. There was a long rip in the abdomen, extending from the inside of the left thigh up to the breast bone. None of the abdominal organs were missing. There was a gap about four inches wide in the stomach, through which the intestines could be distinctly seen. The trunk exhibited signs of decomposition, and in the opinion of the medical man death had taken place some four days previously. In the meantime communications, giving full particulars, had been sent to Scotland-yard, and Mr. Monro, the Chief Commissioner, Colonel Monsell, the Chief Constable of the district, Superintendent Swanson, Detective Inspector Miller, Superintendent Arnold, of the H Division, and local Inspector Reid all visited the scene of the discovery and made inquiries as to the matter. Later in the day Detective Inspector Tonbridge, who had charge of what was known as the Thames mystery a short time ago, went to the mortuary and saw the remains. Mr. Clarke, Dr. Gordon Brown (the City Police surgeon), and two other medical gentlemen who have had experience in previous cases of this nature shortly after made a more careful examination of the remains. It was noticed that the trunk displayed green patches; the flesh otherwise was white. The doctors, from their investigations, concluded that the cuts had been inflicted in a left-hand manner; that is to say, the cut in the throat was evidently commenced on the left side and carried to the right with a clean sweep. The same peculiarity was observed in the other wounds, and in separating the legs more flesh had been cut from the trunk on the left side than on the other. In more than one of the previous crimes this peculiarity has been observed and commented upon. The legs were taken out cleanly from the groin, the sockets of the joints showing no signs of a separating instrument. Nothing whatever was found to be missing except these members and the head. The cut severing the head from the body was skilfully done, there being no hacking or clumsy dissection noticeable. Furthermore, a saw had been used to sever the bones in such a way as to leave no doubt that the person responsible for the dismemberment possessed a good knowledge of anatomy. There were no signs about the hands which would indicate that the woman had been used to hard work, and so far as could be seen there had been no attempt to obliterate a mark on one of the fingers, apparently caused by a ring. It is believed from certain indications that the deceased had never been a mother, but she might have been pregnant. The body was well-nourished and cared for. One of the several doctors who viewed the remains expressed the opinion that, had he been asked to dissect the body in the manner in which he saw it, he could not have done it more neatly and skillfully. In consequence of the similarity of the mode of dismemberment pursued in this case and those of the recent Battersea and Rainham mysteries; the officers engaged in those cases were consulted, and their general opinion is that the resemblance in the cases are so remarkable as to give grounds for the belief that the present crime is one with a different origin to the previous Whitechapel atrocities.


At the St. George's Vestry Hall, Cable-street, St-George's-in-the-East, on Wednesday morning, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter opened the inquiry respecting the mysterious discovery of a woman's remains under a railway arch in Pinchin-street.

Detective-Inspector E. Reid and Inspector Moore, of the Criminal Investigation Department, watched the case on behalf of the Chief Commissioner of Police.

Police-constable William Pennett, 239 H, deposed: I went on duty on Monday night at ten o'clock. There was nothing to attract my attention as unusual during the night.

Have you a regular beat, or are you on "special point?" - I had a regular beat. I had to go through Pinchin-street. The "ground" I had took me half-an-hour or so before I revisited Pinchin-street. I came always from Christian-street to Pinchin-street. Occasionally, I turned down Frederick-street, leading to Backchurch-lane. Then I came back to Pinchin-street again in my beat. Pinchin-street was the starting point.

What time did you make this discovery? - About five-and-twenty past five in the morning. I came from the direction of Christian-street into Backchurch-lane. I went across the road to the arch.

You had no special reason for doing so? - Only to look at the arch. I saw the body before I crossed.

Then that made you go across? - I don't always look in at the arch. I thought it was a "bundle" that some Jews had thrown away in the night. The arch is used by the Whitechapel Board of Works for the dressing of stones, and leads at the back to a piece of waste ground. There are three arches abutting on Pinchin-street. Two of the arches are closed in - fenced in, ten or twelve feet high. At the arch where I found the remains there was simply an open paling. From Backchurch-lane there is a cart entrance to this arch. On reaching the bundle - I should say it was from four and a half to five yards in the archway, nearest the pavement - I noticed it was against the wall. It was the western side.

On going up to it what did you see? - It was only covered with two or three pieces of rag.

Then it was not a bundle? - No. It was part of a human body. I could not say what the pieces of rag were. Otherwise it was naked. The head and the legs were absent.

Were there any marks of wheels? - It was a dusty place inside. I did not notice any marks of wheels nor of footprints: they would not be left behind, because of the dust.

Were there any spots of blood about? - Oh, no.

I suppose you gave an alarm? - I did not whistle, because I thought at that hour it would only cause alarm. I saw a man come by with a broom. I said to him, "You might go and fetch my mate at the corner." He said, "What's on, guv'nor?" I replied, "Tell him I've got a job on - make haste!" He then went up Backchurch-lane towards the adjoining beat, where my comrade was. I next saw two constables running towards me - 205 H was acting sergeant at the time. Constable 115 H was also there. The acting sergeant went to the station, and Constable 115 remained with me. Soon after Inspector Pinhorn came, and at once gave directions to search the arches.

Had you seen anyone up to that time - anyone pass - besides those you have mentioned? - No. There were two men asleep in the last arch, which we searched. They had the appearance of sailors. In the middle arch there was a shoeblack lying on the stones.

Were they all asleep? - The shoeblack was asleep, and I awoke him.

The sailors? - The farthest one was asleep. I would not say whether the other man was asleep or not. He had a pipe in his mouth. They were taken to the station.

Did they make any statement? - Not to me.

Can you give the time when you passed the place before? - A little before five o'clock. I know that because on the previous night a working man met me in Pinchin-street and asked me to call him at that time. I looked in the arch, but did not cross over, when I passed to call the man. Had the trunk been there then I should have seen it. After I left Pinchin-street, then I went through Backchurch-lane into Ellen-place to call the man I have mentioned. I did not see anyone carrying a bundle or any costermonger's cart, excepting one at Splidt's-street, which was there all the time I was on duty.

Did you see any cart or vehicle about? - No, except those that come out of Christian-street, belonging to Messrs. Fairclough, which started soon after four o'clock in the morning. None of those came down Pinchin-street.

What time did the doctor arrive? - Within half-an-hour after I made the discovery, Dr. Clarke, the assistant divisional surgeon, arrived. Shortly after six o'clock the body was taken to the mortuary.

Is the arch often used for sleeping purposes? - I don't know. I was on the beat for the first time. There was a change of duty.

By the Jury - I should think the body was taken there in a sack and "shook out." Had it been dragged along there would have been marks of a trail. (The constable subsequently explained that he did not think the body was "shook out," as there were no marks of dirt on the neck.)

By Inspector Reid - Had there been any struggle or anything of the kind it could not have been noticed because of the condition of the ground.

By the Jury: Had witness or any other constable seen a man carrying a bundle he would have been stopped. Witness called up only one man that morning, who asked him, "Call me all the week if you go by." It was a very common occurrence for constables to call up working men.

Inspector Charles Pinhorn stated that he heard of the discovery shortly after half-past five. Statements were taken from the three men found in the arches. They said that two of them went there at four o'clock that morning, and the third at two o'clock. They declared they heard no noise during the night.

Are the arches used by casuals? - They would be if we did not prevent them. Night after night we turn men away - "frequently," perhaps, would be a better term. Men who frequent the arches know that they are liable to be disturbed.

Inspector Reid: It is private property, is it not? - Yes. The ground was given up by the St. George's Vestry to the Whitechapel Vestry. All isolated spots are searched during the night by all ranks of the police. These arches have not been properly protected by the hoardings placed there, which have simply been of a temporary character. No constable noticed anyone with a bundle that morning. Costermonger's barrows would not have been at Spitalfields Market at that early hour - not till after six o'clock. The nearest street lamp was from 12 to 20 yards from the spot where the trunk was found. The lamp was on the other side of the road. The trunk was nine feet from the pavement, and was lying chest downwards. There was a nightdress, cut open and jagged, lying on the back of the body. The appearance of the trunk was such that it might have been carried in a sack.

There was a good deal of blood on the garment. The body had not any blood about it - just a little at the neck. There was no name or any mark on the garment to lead to identity. The men found asleep must have passed the body - if it had been there when they went in - to get to the place where they were found.

Inspector Reid said full inquiries had been made respecting the three men in the arches. There was no doubt they were drunk when they entered. Inquires had also been made respecting barrows in the district on the morning in question.

The Coroner said that as Dr. Clarke could not now attend, and Dr. Phillips had not made the post-mortem examination, an adjournment would be necessary.

The inquiry was then adjourned.

Related pages:
  Pinchin Street Torso
       Dissertations: The Thames Torso Murders of 1887-89 
       Message Boards: The Pinchin Street Murder 
       Official Documents: Pinchin Street Torso Inquest 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Despatch - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Decatur Daily Republican - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 14 September 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 21 September 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Advertiser - 28 September 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 14 September 1889 
       Press Reports: East London Observer - 28 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 14 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Eastern Post - 28 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Freeborn County Standard - 19 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Galveston Daily News - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Gettysburg Complier - 17 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Lima Daily Times - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Lima Daily Times - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: New York Herald - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: New York Times - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Newark Daily Advocate - 25 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Olean Democrat - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Times - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 13 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 14 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Times [London] - 25 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 10 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 11 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Trenton Times - 12 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Walthamstow and Leyton Guardian - 14 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Williamsport Sunday Grit - 15 September 1889 
       Press Reports: Woodford Times - 27 September 1889 
       Victims: The Pinchin Street Murder 
       Victorian London: Pinchin Street 
       Witnesses: John Arnold