Friday, 27 September 1889
Mr. Wynne E. Baxter resumed the inquest at the Vestry-hall, Cable-street, Whitechapel, on September 23rd, concerning the death of a woman unknown, whose mutilated body was discovered on September 10th under a railway arch in Pinchin-street, Whitechapel.
Dr. John Clarke, assistant to Dr. Phillips, divisional police-surgeon, was the first witness. He said that at a little before six o'clock on the morning of the 10th of September he was called by the police to Pinchin-street. Under a railway arch there, about 8 ft. from the road, and 1 ft. from the right wall of the arch, he saw the trunk of a woman, minus the head and legs. It was lying with the right arm doubled under the abdomen, and left arm at the side. The arms were not severed from the body. There was no blood, and no signs of any struggle having taken place. Decomposition was just commencing. The body was lifted on to the ambulance and taken to the mortuary. On re-examining it there the body appeared to be that of a woman of stoutish build, dark complexion, about 5 ft. 3 in. in height, and between 30 and 40 years of age. He thought the woman had been dead 24 hours. Besides the wounds caused by the severance of the head and legs, there was a wound 17 in. long through the external coats of the abdomen. The body was not bloodstained, and had the appearance of not having been recently washed. On the back were four bruises which had been caused before death, one just to the right of the spine, and one an inch lower down. About the middle of the back was a bruise about the size of half-a-crown, and 3 in. to the left of the spine was a bruise 2½ in. in diameter. It was such a bruise as would be caused by a fall or a kick. None of the bruises were of old standing. Round the neck was an indention such as would be caused by clothing during life. On the right arm were eight distinct bruises, and seven on the left, all of them caused before death and of recent date. The back of both forearms and hands were much bruised. On the outer side of the left forearm, 3 in. above the wrist, was a cut about 2 in. in length, and lower down there was another cut. Both were caused before death. The bruises might have been caused by the right arm being tightly grasped. There was an old injury on the index finger of the right hand. The hands and nails were pallid, but were not indicative of any particular kind of work. There were no signs that the woman had been a mother.
Dr. George Baxter Phillips said that he had examined the body, and he confirmed the evidence given by Dr. Clarke. With Dr. Gordon Browne and Mr. Hubbard he afterwards further examined the body. The neck had been severed with a clean instrument, commencing a little to the right side of the neck behind. The two small cuts on the arm appeared to him as likely to have been caused by the sweep of the knife when dividing the thighs. The pallor of the hands and nails were important elements enabling him to draw a conclusion as to the cause of death. There was throughout the body an absence of blood. There was no evidence of disease or poison. He believed that death arose from loss of blood, and that the mutilations had taken place subsequent to death. The mutilations had been effected by some one accustomed to cut up animals, or to see them cut up. The incisions had been made with a strong knife about 8 in. in length. There had probably been a former incision in the neck before the head was severed from the trunk. In answer to a juryman the witness said that he had no reason to say that the person who had dealt with the body had any anatomical knowledge.
Michael Keating, shoeblack, living near Brick-lane, said he went under the arch at Pinchin-street on the night of the 9th inst., between eleven and twelve o'clock to sleep, not being able to pay for his lodging. No other person was there at the time, and he did not notice any signs of the body. He was awakened by the police when the body was found.
Richard Hawk, a Cornish seaman, was next called. He said he was paid off in the Thames about seven weeks ago, but subsequently had been in Greenwich Hospital. He left the hospital on the 9th inst., and walked up to London. Shortly after four o'clock next morning he went into the arch in Pinchin-street, where he lay down to sleep. He was not exactly sober at the time. He did not see any one or anything in the arch.
Inspector Moore, Criminal Investigation Department, produced a plan of Pinchin-street and the surrounding neighbourhood. He said every effort had been made to have the body identified, but without success. At present there was nothing to show how the body had been placed where it was found. He had had the chemise found on the body cleansed, but no marks were discovered that would give them any clue as to the owner or maker.
Dr. Phillips, recalled, was asked by the coroner if there was any similarity in the way in which the limbs were severed in this case and in the Dorset-street case: and he replied that he did not find sufficient similarity to convince him that it was the same person who performed the operation, but the division of the neck, and the attempt to disarticulate the bones of the spine in the Dorset-street case were very similar to that which was effected here. The mutilations in the Dorset-street case were most wanton, whereas in this it struck him that they were made for the purpose of disposing of the body. He thought there was greater knowledge shown in regard to the construction of the parts composing the spine, and that on the whole there was greater knowledge of the mode of separating a joint.
This concluded the evidence, and the Coroner proceeded to sum up. He referred to the want of identification, which in many cases helped to clear up a mystery. The cause of death was clearly loss of blood, but how that came about the jury would have to decide. The circumstances were overwhelmingly in favour of the opinion that the woman met with a violent and criminal death.
The jury, after consultation, returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.