This report of the opening of the murders in the East End of London, appeared in The Times on October 2nd, 1888.

The Times

The Murders at the East-End

Yesterday, Mr. Wynne. E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of Middlesex, opened an inquiry at the Vestry-hall, Cable-street, St. George’s-in-the-East, respecting the death of Elizabeth Stride, who was found murdered in a yard in Berner-street on Sunday morning.

Detective-inspector E. Reid, H. Division, watched the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department.

The jury having viewed the body, the following evidence was taken:—

William West, who claimed to affirm, said he lived at 40, Berner-street, Commercial-road, and was a printer by occupation. He lived in one of the houses on the right hand side of the gateway. No. 40, Berner-street was the International Working Men’s Club. On the ground floor, facing the street, was a window and a door—the latter leading into a passage. At the side of the house was a passage leading into a yard, and the entrance to the passage were two wooden gates.

The Foreman.—

Is that right?

The CORONER. —There is a passage before you get to the yard.

Witness, continuing, said the passage had two wooden gates folding backwards from the street. In the northern gate there was a little door. The gates were sometimes closed, and at other times left open all night. When the gates were closed the doorway was usually locked. They were seldom closed until late at night, when all the tenants had retired. As far as witness knew no particular person looked after the gates. In the yard on the left hand side there was only one house, which was occupied by two or three tenants. That house contained three doors leading to the yard, but there was no other exit from the yard except through the gates. Opposite the gate there was a workshop, in the occupation of Messrs. Hindley, sack manufacturers. Witness did not believe there was any exit through that workshop. The manufacturing was on the ground floor, and he believed the ground floor of the premises was unoccupied. Adjoining Messrs. Hindley’s premises there was a stable, which he believed was unoccupied. Passing this stable a person would come to the premises forming the club.

At this point the Coroner examined a parish map of Berner-street, which showed the yard referred to by the witness.

The witness, continuing, said he was not sure that the gardens of the houses in Batty-street faced the yard. The club premises ran back a long way into the yard. The front room on the ground floor of the club was occupied as a dining-room. At the middle of the passage there was a staircase leading to the first floor. At the back of the dining-room was a kitchen. In this room there was a small window over the door which faced the one leading into the yard. The remainder of the passage led into the yard. Over the door in the passage was a small window, through which daylight came. At the back of the kitchen, but in no way connected with it, was a printing office. This office consisted of two rooms. The one adjoining the kitchen was used as a composing-room and the other one was for the editor. The compositors, on Saturday last, left off work at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but the editor was there during the day. He was also a member of the club, and was either there or in his office until he went home. Opposite the doorway of the kitchen, and in the yard, were two closets. The club consisted of from 75 to 80 members. Any working man of any nationality could be a member of the club. It was a Socialist club.

The CORONER.—Have they to agree to any special principles?

Witness.—No person is supposed to be proposed as a member unless he was known to be a supporter of the Socialist movement.

By the CORONER.—Witness worked in the printing office. He remained in the club until about 9 o’clock on Saturday night. He then went out and returned about half-past 10. He then remained in the club until the discovery of the deceased. On the first floor of the club was a large room for entertainments, and from that room three windows faced the yard. On Saturday night a discussion was held in the large room among some 90 or 100 persons. The discussion ceased between 11 30 and 12 o’clock. The bulk of the people present then left the premises by the street door entrance, while between 20 and 30 members remained behind in the large room, and about a dozen were downstairs. Some of those upstairs had a discussion among themselves, while others were singing. The windows of the hall were partly open. Witness left the club about half-past 12. He slept at 2, William-street, and gave as his address 40, Berner-street, as he worked there all day. The distance from his lodgings to Berner-street was about five minutes’ walk. Before leaving the club he had occasion to go to the printing office to put some literature there, and he went into the yard by the passage door, thence to the printing office. He then returned to the club by the same way. As he passed from the printing office to the club he noticed the yard gates were open, and went towards them, but did not actually go up to them. There was no lamp or light whatever in the yard. There were no lamps in Berner-street that could light the yard. The only light that could penetrate into the yard was from the windows of the club or the house that was let out in tenements. He noticed lights in one or two windows of the latter house, and they were on the first floor. When he went into the printing office the editor was there reading. Noises from the club could be heard in the yard, but there was not much noise on Saturday night. When he went into the yard and looked towards the gates there was nothing unusual that attracted his attention.

The CORONER.—Can you say there was any object on the ground?

Witness.—I cannot say that an object might have been there, and I not have seen it. I am rather short-sighted, but believe that if anything had been there I should have seen it.

The CORONER.—What made you look towards the gates?

Witness.—Because they were open.

In further examination, witness said after he returned to the club he called his brother and they both left by the street door and went together home. Another member of the club, named Louis Stansley, left the club at the same time, and accompanied them as far as James-street. Witness did not see any one in the yard, and as far as he could remember did not see any one in Berner-street. They went by way of Fairclough-street, Grove-street, and then to James’s-street. Witness generally went home from Berner-street between 12 and 1 a.m. On some occasions he had noticed low women and men together in Fairclough-street, but had not seen any in Berner-street. He had never seen any of these women against his club. About 12 months ago he happened to go into the yard and heard some conversation between a man and a woman at the gates. He went to shut the gates, and then saw a man and woman leave the entrance. That was the only occasion he had ever noticed anything.

By the jury.—Witness was the overseer of the printing office.

Morris Eagle, who also claimed to affirm, stated that he lived at 4, New-road, Commercial-road, and was a traveller in jewelry. He was a member of the International Working Men’s Club, and was there several times during the day. In the evening he occupied the chair and opened the discussion. About a quarter to 12 he left the club for the purpose of taking his young lady home. They left by the front door. He returned to the club about 25 minutes to 1. As he found the front door closed he went through the gateway leading into the yard, and through the back door leading into the club. As he passed through the yard he did not notice anything on the ground by the gates. He believed he passed along about the middle of the gateway, which was about 9ft. 2in. wide.

The CORONER.—Can you say if deceased was lying there when you went in?

Witness.—It was rather dark and I cannot say for certain if anything was there or not. I do not remember whether I met any one in Berner-street when I returned to the yard, neither do I remember seeing any one in the yard.

The CORONER.—Supposing you saw a man and woman in the yard, would you have remembered it?

Witness—I am sure I would.

The CORONER.—Did you notice if there were any lights in the house on the left-hand side?

Witness.—I do not remember.

The CORONER.—Are you often late at night at the club, and do you often go into the yard?

Witness.—I often am there until late, but have seldom gone into the yard. In fact, I have never seen a man or woman in the yard. On the same side as the club is a beershop, and I have seen men and women coming from there.

A Juryman.—That is always closed about 9 o’clock.

The CORONER.—What were you doing at the club?

Witness.—As soon as I entered the club I went to see a friend, who was in the upstairs room, and who was singing a song in the Russian language. Afterwards I joined my friend, and we sang together. I had been there about 20 minutes, when a member named Gilleman came upstairs and said, “There is a dead woman lying in the yard.” I went down in a second and struck a match. I could then see a woman lying on the ground, near the gateway, and in a pool of blood. Her feet were about six or seven feet from the gate, and she was lying by the side of the club wall, her head being towards the yard. Another member, named Isaac, was with me at the time. As soon as I saw the blood I got very excited and ran away for the police. I did not touch her.

The CORONER.—Did you see if her clothes were disturbed?

Witness.—I could not say. When I got outside I saw Jacobs and another going for the police in the direction of Fairclough-street, and I then went to the Commercial-road, all the time shouting “Police!” On getting to the corner of Grove-street I saw two constables, and told them that a woman had been murdered in Berner-street. They returned with me to the yard. I then noticed several members of the club and some strangers were there. A constable threw his light on the body, and then told the other officer to go for a doctor, and sent me to the station for the inspector.

The CORONER.—Did you see any one touch the body?

The Witness.—I think the policemen touched it, but the other persons appeared afraid to go near it. When I first saw the body of deceased, I should say it was about 1 o’clock, although I did not look at the clock.

In answer to the foreman of the jury, the witness further said he could not remember how far from the wall the body was lying. On Saturday evening there were free discussions at the club for both men and women. Any one could go in. On Saturday night there were some women there, but those he knew. He should say there were not more than six or eight women present. Saturday was not a dancing night, although after the discussion was ended some dancing might have been carried on. Had a cry of “Murder” been raised he believed they would have heard it, or even any other cry of distress. Witness had never been in the stable or in Hindley’s workshop, and could not say for certain whether there was any other exit from the yard except from the gateway.

Louis Diemschütz deposed that he lived at 40, Berner-street, and was steward of the club. The correct title of the club was International Working Men’s Educational Club. Witness was a married man, and his wife assisted in the management of the club. Witness left home about half-past 11 on Saturday morning, and he returned home exactly at 1 o’clock on Sunday morning. He was certain about the time. Witness had with him a costermonger’s barrow, and it was drawn by a pony. The pony was not kept in the yard of the club, but in George-yard, Cable-street. He drove home for the purpose of leaving his goods. He drove into the yard, and saw that both gates were wide open. It was rather dark there. He drove in as usual, and as he entered the gate his pony shied to the left. Witness looked to the ground on his right, and then saw something lying there, but was unable to distinguish what it was. Witness tired to feel the object with his whip before he got down. He then jumped down and struck a match. It was rather windy, but he was able to get a light sufficient to tell it was a woman lying there. He then went into the club, and saw his wife in the front room on the ground floor. He left his pony in the yard, just outside the club door, by itself. He told his wife, and several members who were in the room, that a woman was lying in the yard, but that he was unable to say whether she was drunk or dead. He then got a candle and went out into the yard. By the candlelight he could see that there was blood. He did not touch the body, but at once went off for the police. He passed several streets without seeing a policeman, and returned without one, although he called out “Police” as loud as he could. A young man whom he had met in Grove-street and told about the murder, returned with him. This young man lifted the woman’s head up, and witness for the first time saw that her throat was cut. At the same moment the last witness and the constables arrived. When he first approached the club he did not notice anything unusual, and came from the Commercial-road end of the street.

By the CORONER.—Then doctor arrived about ten minutes after the police came. No one was then allowed to leave the place until their names and addresses were taken, and they had been searched. The clothes of the deceased, as far as he remembered, were in order. Deceased was lying on her side with her face towards the wall of the club. He could not say how much of the body was lying on the side. As soon as the police came witness went into the club and remained there.

The CORONER.—Did you notice her hands?

Witness.—I did not notice what position her hands were in. I only noticed that the dress buttons of her dress were undone. I saw the doctor put his hand inside and tell the police that the body was quite warm. The doctor also told one of the constables to feel the body, and he did so.

The CORONER.—Did you notice the quantity of blood about?

Witness.—The blood ran in the direction of the house from the neck of the woman. I should say there were quite two quarts of blood on the ground. The body was lying about one foot from the wall. In the yard were a few paving stones, which were very irregularly fixed.

The CORONER.—Have you ever seen men and women in the yard?

Witness.—I have not.

The CORONER.—Have you ever heard of their being found there?

Witness.—Not to my knowledge.

The Foreman.—Was there sufficient room for you to pass the body when you went into the yard?

Witness.—Yes; and I did so. When my pony shied I was passing the body, and was right by when I got down.

The CORONER.—Did the blood run down as far as the door of the club?


The Foreman.—When you went for the police, who was in charge of the body?

Witness.—I cannot say. As soon as I saw the blood I ran off.

In answer to Inspector Reid, the witness said every one who was in the yard was detained. This included the strangers. Their names and address were taken, and they were questioned as to their presence there. They were also searched, and their hands and clothes examined by Dr. Phillips. It would have been possible for any person to have escaped while he went into the club. Had any person run up the yard witness would have seen him.

The CORONER.—Is the body identified yet?

Inspector Reid.—Not yet.

The Foreman.—I cannot understand that, as she is called Elizabeth Stride.

The CORONER.—That has not yet been sworn to, but something is known of her. If is known where she lived. You had better leave that point until tomorrow.

At this stage the inquiry was adjourned until this afternoon.

The excitement caused by the murders committed early on Sunday morning in Berner-street, Commercial-road, and Mitre-square, Aldgate, has in no way abated. In the East-end statements and rumours of the most extraordinary nature were in circulation yesterday respecting conversations which certain persons, male and female, had had with two or three suspicious-looking men an hour or so before the crimes were committed, the purport of the statements in question being to connect the latter individuals with the outrages. Nothing, however, can be extracted from these statements of sufficient importance to form any clue. A few arrests have been made by the Metropolitan Police, but none had been made by the City Police up to a late hour last night. The authorities are now fully on the alert in the localities of the murders, and, as stated below, it has been decided by the City Police to offer a reward for the discovery of the assassin.

It is satisfactory to announce that one discovery at least has been made which, in the hands of efficient detectives, should prove an important clue to the lurking-place of the murderer—for the belief is now generally entertained in official quarters that to one person alone is attributable the series of crimes which in the last few weeks have horrified and alarmed the public.

It appears that after perpetrating his foul work in Mitre-square the miscreant retraced his steps towards the scene of the crime which he had committed an hour or so earlier. As stated in the particulars given in The Times of yesterday, part of the attire of the unfortunate woman who was butchered in Mitre-square consisted of portion of a coarse white apron, which was found loosely hanging about the neck. A piece of this apron had been torn away by the villain, who, in proceeding to his destination further east after leaving the City boundary, presumably used it to wipe his hands or his knife on, and then threw it away. It was picked up in Goulston-street very shortly after the second murder had been committed, and it was brought to the mortuary by Dr. Phillips soon after the body had been removed there. It was covered with blood, and was found to fit in with the portion of apron which had been left by the murderer on his victim. Goulston-street, it may be stated, is a broad thoroughfare running parallel with the Commercial-road and is off the main Whitechapel-road, and the spot where the piece of apron was picked up is about a third of a mile from Mitre-square. By the direct and open route it is 1,550 feet, but it can be approached through several small streets, making the distance about 1,600 feet. These measurements were taken yesterday.

The only other clues in the possession of the police are two pawnbrokers’ tickets which were found lying close to the spot where the Mitre-square murder was discovered, and a knife which was picked up by a police-constable in the Whitechapel-road early yesterday morning. It is described as black-handled, 10 inches long, keen as a razor, and pointed like a carving knife. The pawn-tickets are believed to have belonged to the woman. They were in a small tin box and related to pledges which had been made in August of a pair of boots and a man’s shirt. The tickets had been made out in two names—Emily Birrell and Anne Kelly—and the articles had been pawned for 1s. and 6d. respectively with Mr. Jones, of Church-street, Spitalfields, who, however, cannot identify the woman as having made the pledges.

Photographs of the ill-fated creature were taken at the City Mortuary in Golden-lane both before and after the post-mortem examination, after which the features—which, as already reported in The Times, had been brutally cut about—were rendered more life-like by the doctors. Up to a late hour last night, however, the body had not been identified, though several persons, having missed relatives or friends, have been taken to see it by the police.

Yesterday morning, shortly after 10 o’clock, an interview respecting the Mitre-square murder took place between Mr. M’William (the inspector of the City Detective Department), Superintendent Foster, and Inspector Collard and the City Coroner, who has arranged to hold the inquest on Thursday morning, it being hoped that the woman may be identified in the meantime. The plans taken by Mr. F. W. Foster, of Old Jewry, of the scene of this outrage immediately after it was discovered were submitted to the Coroner, and Mr. Foster will be one of the witnesses at the inquest.

The following is a description of a man seen in company with a woman who is supposed to be the victim of the murderer in the City. The man was observed in a court in Duke-street, leading to Mitre-square, about 1 40 a.m. on Sunday. He is described as of shabby appearance, about 30 years of age and 5ft. 9in. in height, of fair complexion, having a small fair moustache, and wearing a red neckerchief and a cap with a peak.

Two communications of an extraordinary nature, both signed “Jack the Ripper,” have been received by the Central News Agency, the one on Thursday last and the other yesterday morning. The first—the original of which has been seen by Major Smith, the Assistant Commissioner of the City Police—was a letter, bearing the E.C. postmark, in which reference was made to the atrocious murders previously committed in the East-end, which the writer confessed, in a brutally jocular vein, to have committed; stating that in the “next job” he did he would “clip the lady’s ears off” and send them to the police, and also asking that the letter might be kept back until he had done “a bit more work.” The second communication was a postcard, and as above stated, it was received yesterday morning. It bore the date, “London, E., October 1,” and was as follows:—“I was not codding, dear old Boss, when I gave you the tip. You’ll hear about Saucy Jacky’s work to-morrow. Double event this time. Number One squealed a bit; couldn’t finish straight off. Had not time to get ears for police. Thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again.” The postcard was sent to Scotland Yard. No doubt is entertained that the writer of both communications, whoever he may be, is the same person.

Many adverse remarks have been made concerning the want of vigilance on the part of the police in connexion with the outrages; but it should be remembered, as urged by them, that the women are of a class who know that they are liable to punishment if detected, and who, therefore, go alone to the places where they agree to meet their male companions. Shortly after the first horrible murders were committed some weeks ago, special precautions were taken by the City Police authorities with a view to detect the criminal or criminals, several plain-clothes constables being ordered on the beats in the district which has now become so notorious. Instructions were given to the constables to watch any man and woman seen together in suspicious circumstances, and especially to observe any woman who might be seen alone in circumstances of a similar nature. At about the time when the Mitre-square murder was being committed two of the extra men who had been put on duty were in Windsor-street, a thoroughfare about 300 yards off, engaged, pursuant to their instructions, in watching certain houses, it being thought possible that the premises might be resorted to at some time by the murderer. Five minutes after the discovery of the murder in Mitre-square, the two officers referred to heard of it, and the neighbourhood was at once searched by them, unfortunately without result. It is believed that had any man and woman been in company with each other going to Mitre-square they must have been observed, and that the man in that case would have been detected and captured. The supposition of the police is that the murderer and the ill-fated woman went to the place separately, having made an appointment. The general impression is that no man in his right senses could have perpetrated such a series of dreadful crimes. Some of the doctors who have been engaged in the examination of the bodies believe it quite possible that the murders may have been committed in from three to five minutes.

At a late hour last night it was decided by the City Police to offer a reward for the discovery and conviction of the criminal, and the following notice was forwarded to us:—

“Murder.—£500 Reward.

“Whereas, at 1 45 a.m. on Sunday, the 30th of September last, a woman, name unknown, was found brutally murdered in Mitre-square, Aldgate, in this City, a reward of £500 will be paid by the Commissioner of Police of the City of London to any person (other than a person belonging to a police force in the United Kingdom), who shall give such information as shall lead to the discovery and conviction of the murderer or murderers.

“Information to be given to the Inspector of the Detective Department, 26, Old Jewry, or at any police-station.

“JAMES FRASER, Colonel, Commissioner.

“City of London Police Office, 26, Old Jewry,

October 1, 1888.”

The Lord mayor, acting upon the advice of Colonel Sir James Fraser, K.C.B., the Commissioner of City Police, will, in the name of the Corporation of London, offer a reward of £500 for the detection of the Whitechapel murderer, the last crime having been committed with the jurisdiction of the City. The Common Council on Thursday will confirm the action of his lordship.

During yesterday three persons were detained at the Leman-street Police-station on suspicion of being connected with the murder in Berner-street, but no evidence of a serious nature was obtained against them.

The report of the arrest of a man on Sunday night at the Albert-chambers, Gravel-lane, Southwark, was not strictly correct. The man was not taken into custody at all, but was merely requested to go the Stones-end police-station by a detective in order that he might give an account of himself. After a detention of half-an-hour he was allowed to go back to the lodging-house.

Police-sergeant Dudman had his attention drawn yesterday afternoon at No. 36, Mike-street, a house a short distance from where the second murder was committed, and there he found what appeared to be blood-stains upon the doorway and underneath the window, as if a person had wiped his fingers on the window ledge and drawn a bloodstained knife down part of the doorway. Mr. Hurtig, who lives on the premises, said he had only just before noticed the stains. Almost immediately afterwards the same police officer had his attention drawn to similar marks on the plate-glass window of a shop at the corner of Mitre-square; but the occupier ridiculed the idea that they could have anything to do with the murders, as the windows were covered at night by shutters.

With reference to the murder in Berner-street, Mrs. Deimschütz, the stewardess of the Socialist Club in that thoroughfare, has made the following statement:—“Just about 1 o’clock on Sunday morning I was in the kitchen on the ground floor of the club and close to the side entrance. I am positive I did not hear any screams or sound of any kind.”

The servant at the club strongly corroborates the statement made by her mistress, and is equally convinced that there were no sounds coming from the yard between 20 minutes to 1 and 1 o’clock.

Yesterday evening a singular discovery, which is supposed to afford an important clue to the murderer, was being investigated by the police at Kentish-town. At about 9 o’clock in the morning the proprietor of the Nelson Tavern, Victoria-road, Kentish-town, entered a place of convenience adjoining his premises for the purpose of pointing out to a builder some alterations which he desired executed, when a paper parcel was noticed behind the door. No particular importance was attached to the discovery until an hour later, when Mr. Chinn, the publican, while reading the newspaper, was struck with the similarity of this bundle to the one of which the police have issued a description as having been seen in the possession of the man last seen in company with the woman Stride. The police at the Kentish-town-road Police-station were told of the discovery, and a detective officer was at once sent to make inquiries. It was then found that the parcel, which had been kicked into the roadway, contained a pair of dark trousers. The description of the man wanted on suspicion of having committed the murders gives the colour of the trousers he wore as dark. The paper which contained the trousers was stained with blood.

Albert Backert, of 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, made a further statement yesterday in amplification of that which has already been published. He said:—On Saturday night, at about seven minutes to 12, I entered the Three Nuns Hotel, Aldgate. While in there an elderly woman, very shabbily dressed, came in and asked me to buy some matches. I refused and she went out. A man who had been standing by me remarked that those persons were a nuisance, to which I responded “Yes.” He then asked me if I knew how old some of the women were who were in the habit of soliciting outside. I replied that I knew, or thought, that some of them who looked about 25 were over 35. He then asked me whether I thought a woman would go with him down Northumberland-alley—a dark and lonely court in Fenchurch-street. I said I did not know, but supposed she would. He then went outside and spoke to the woman who was selling matches and gave her something. He returned, and I bid him good-night at about ten minutes past 12. I believe the woman was waiting for him. I do not think I could identify the woman, as I did not take particular notice of her; but I should know the man again. He was a dark man, about 38 years of age, height about 5ft. 6in. or 5ft. 7in. He wore a black felt hat, a dark morning coat, a black tie, and carried a black shiny bag.

Source: The Times []