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Descriptions Of The JTR Suspect

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Descriptions Of The JTR Suspect

Post by Karen on Sat 2 Oct 2010 - 9:02




The police are embarrassed with two definite descriptions of the man suspected of the murder. The second description induced some particularly-sanguine journalist to declare that it "not only establishes a clue to the perpetrator of the Dorset-street murder, but places the authorities in possession of an accurate and full description of a person who was seen in company with the murdered woman during the night on which she met her death." A man, apparently of the labouring class, but of a military appearance, who knew the deceased, last night lodged with the police a long and detailed statement of an incident which attracted his attention on the day in question. The following is a summary of the statement, and it may be said that, notwithstanding examination and re-examination by the police, the man's story could not be shaken, and so circumstantial and straightforward were his assertions that the police at first believed they had - to again quote the journalist - "at length been placed in possession of facts which would open up a new line of investigation, and probably enable them to track the criminal." The importance which they then attached to it has since suffered diminution. That will be seen by the result of more recent inquiries.


This man states that on the morning of the 9th instant he saw the deceased woman, Mary Janet Kelly, in Commercial-street, Spitalfields (the vicinity in which the murder was committed), in company with a man of respectable appearance. The man was about 5 feet 6 inches in height, and 34 or 35 years of age, with dark complexion and dark moustache curled up at the ends. He was wearing a long dark coat trimmed with astrachan, a white collar with a black neck-tie, in which was affixed a horseshoe pin. He wore a pair of dark gaiters with light buttons, over button boots, and displayed from his waistcoat a massive gold chain. The highly-respectable appearance of this individual was in such great contrast to that of the woman that few people could have failed to remark them at that hour of the morning. This description, which substantiated that given by others of the person seen in company with the deceased on the morning she was killed, was much fuller in detail than that hitherto in the possession of the police, and the importance they attached to this man's story may be imagined when it is mentioned that it was forwarded to the headquarters of the H Division as soon as completed by a special detective. Detectives Abberline, Nairn, and Moore were present when this message arrived, and an investigation was immediately set on foot.


However, it is well in the face of this statement to recall the evidence given at the inquest by Mary Anne Cox, a dweller in Miller's-court. She described the man whom she saw entering the court with the woman on Thursday midnight - a period earlier than that mentioned by the informant whose statement at first attracted such attention. Kelly was at midnight in a drunken condition, and her companion was carrying a pot of beer. Cox followed behind the pair, and saw them enter Kelly's room. The man turned round as he entered and closed the door, and Cox must have had a good view of him then, if not previously. The man was, it was at first presumed, the murderer. At least, there was at that time no suggestion that the murdered woman took more than one man to her room that night, and as Cox was quite sober at the time, the description she gave of him was naturally considered of the greatest importance.


This description, however, materially differs from the other given to the police. Cox stated in the most positive manner that the man was short and stout, shabbily dressed, wore a round black billycock hat, and had a blotchy face, and a full carrotty moustache, with a clean-shaven chin. The first care of the police on receiving this statement on Friday was to compare it with the descriptions given by various people and at various times of men supposed to have been seen in company of the murderer's previous victims. Unfortunately the accounts do not tally in a number of important particulars; in fact, they are very much more consistent with the descriptions they afterwards received. The Berner-street suspect was described as a very dark man. The Hanbury-street victim was seen in company with a dark foreign-looking man, and a similar description was given of a suspected individual at the time of the Buck's-row murder. It is, however, noteworthy that there were two descriptions given of the suspected Mitre-square and Hanbury-street murderers which agree in some respect with that furnished by the witness Cox of the man seen in Kelly's company on Thursday night. About ten minutes before the body of Catherine Eddowes was found in Mitre-square, a man about thirty years of age, of fair complexion, and with a fair moustache, was said to have been seen talking to her in the covered passage leading to the square. On the morning of the Hanbury-street murder a suspicious-looking man entered a public-house in the neighbourhood. He was of shabby genteel appearance, and had a sandy moustache. The first of these descriptions was given by two persons who were in the orange market, and closely observed the man. The City Police have been making inquiries for this man for weeks past, but without success, and they do not believe that he is the individual described by Cox. The Metropolitan police, however, have been induced to attach more significance to Cox's statement. The descriptions of the dark foreign-looking man mentioned in connection with the previous crimes are, however, as we say, in the description of the man seen with the victim on the morning of the 9th.


The statement that the man who accompanied Kelly home was carrying a pot of beer is considered somewhat extraordinary. The can or pot which contained the liquor was not found in the room, and a careful examination of the fireplace and the ashes showed that it had not been melted down, as was at first considered probable. If, therefore, the beer was actually taken into the house as described the man must have taken it away with him. This would seem to show that the man, if he were the murderer, feared the can might form a link in a possible chain of evidence against him, and by consequence that he, and not the woman, entered the tavern and bought and paid for the liquor. As far as inquiries have gone, no man answering the description given by Cox entered any tavern in the immediate neighbourhood and took away beer. There is a beershop at the corner of Dorset-street, but, according to information furnished within a few hours of the discovery of the murder, the woman Kelly did not have any drink in the house on the previous night.


Up till yesterday there was some doubt as to the time at which the murder was committed. Absurd reports had been published to the effect that Kelly was seen making purchases in the neighbouring shops as late as eight and even nine o'clock on the Friday morning, and statements of this character were persisted in long after it had been ascertained beyond doubt that the woman must have been dead hours previously. Dr. Phillips' evidence, together with that of Mary Anne Cox, Elizabeth Prater, and others, proves that the murder was committed shortly after three o'clock - a fact which brings into startling relief the murderer's coolness, caution, and tenacity of purpose. The woman's drunken merriment lasted until shortly after one o'clock, by which time doubtless the liquor taken in had been consumed. The couple must have sat up talking for half-an-hour or more before they retired for the night, because it is now known that the light was not extinguished until about two o'clock. The murderer must have restrained his fiendish impulse for nearly another hour, probably waiting until all fear of the return of late revellers and others had passed. Long before the murderer finally seized his knife his victim must have been in a deep sleep, from which she was awakened by the murderer's rough hands, but only for the one moment in which she was able to utter the pitiful cry of "Murder," heard by several dwellers in the noisome court.


The medical testimony adduced at the inquest was limited to that which was absolutely required to enable the Jury to find respecting the cause of death. A morning contemporary is, however, enabled to state on what it declares to be good authority, that, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, a portion of the body organs was missing. The police, and with them the divisional surgeon, have arrived at the conclusion that it is in the interest of justice not to disclose the details of the professional inquiry.


This is the reason why the bloodhounds were not used. At Sir Charles Warren's request Mr. Brough, bloodhound breeder, of Scarborough, brought his two dogs, Burgho and Barnaby, to London. Arrangements were made for the immediate conveyance of the animals to the spot in the event of another murder occurring, and in order to facilitate matters Mr. Brough left the hounds in the care of a friend's of his, Mr. Taunton, of Doughty-street, who was entrusted with their custody pending the conclusion of the negotiations for the ultimate purchase of the dogs. Sir Charles Warren, however, would not, so it is said, give any definite assurance on this point, and Mr. Brough insisted on resuming possession of the animals. One of them, Burgho, was sent to a show at Brighton, the other remaining in Mr. Taunton's custody. About a fortnight ago this gentleman received a telegram from Leman-street Police-station, asking him to bring the dog to assist in discovering the perpetrators of a burglary in Commercial-street. The police then admitted that subsequent to the burglary they had been all over the premises, and Mr. Taunton pointed out to them that it was absurd to expect that the bloodhounds could accomplish anything under such conditions. The owner of the dogs, on learning these facts, telegraphed insisting that Barnaby should be returned to him, he having no guarantee of compensation in case of the animal suffering maltreatment. Thus as a fact there has been no trained bloodhound in the Metropolis during the past fortnight.


It was stated late last night that the persons taken in custody on the previous day had been liberated. Of course the police have been persistently troubled with suspicions, with the use of threats, with "Jack the Ripper" hoaxes, until - if every informant's advice were acted upon - they would have sufficient prisoners to fill Pentonville.



About midnight a man was arrested in Islington, charged on his own confession with being concerned in the Whitechapel murder. He was conveyed to the King's-cross-road Police-station. These are the circumstances of his arrest: He went up to a trooper of the 11th Hussars while he, with others, were standing outside the Victoria Hotel, Pentonville-road, and taking him round the neck, said that he would show him how he committed the murders at Whitechapel. He added that he had left his black bag at home. He then scratched the soldier's face. Police-constable Seymour, 208 G, was called, and the man was charged on his own confession with committing the murders. He was removed to the King's-cross-road Police-station, and there detained. This morning he was told of the statement he had made and asked whether it was true. He at once denied knowing anything whatever about the murders or being near Whitechapel on the days of the murders. It being found that he could not have had anything to do wit the crime, he was simply charged with drunknenness, and, on this charge, will be taken before the Magistrate.
From latest inquiries it appears that a very reduced importance seems to be now - in the light of later investigation - attached to a statement made by a person last night that he saw a man with the deceased on the night of the murder. Of course, such a statement should have been made at the inquest, where the evidence, taken on oath, could have been compared with the supposed description of the murderer given by the witnesses. Why, ask the authorities, did no the informant come forward before? As many as fifty-three person have, in all, made statements as to "suspicious men," each of whom was thought to be Mary Janet Kelly's assassin. The most remarkable thing in regard to the latest statement is, that no one else can be found to say that a man of the description given was seen with the deceased, while, of course, there is the direct testimony of the witnesses at the inquest, that the person seen with the deceased at midnight was of quite a different appearance.


The beer can incident is being inquired into. Though there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of Mary Anne Cox's testimony - it was this witness who saw the man carrying a beer can while accompanying the deceased to her home at midnight - it is a remarkable thing that the can was not discovered in the room. It is not now believed for a moment that the murderer took it away with him. The only other explanation is this: - In the lowest parts of the East-end, as in other districts of ill-repute, it is the practice of women of the unfortunate class to take beer home with them at night, and then place the cans outside their doors. These are collected by potmen in the morning. Inquiries are now being made by Inspector Moore, Inspector Beck, and Detective-sergeant Thicke as to whether any potman in the district collected a can from outside Kelly's room.


Dorset-Street, Whitechapel, says an Echo reporter, writing late this afternoon, is like a fair. From "Mr. Ringer's public-house" (alluded to at the inquest yesterday), which is at one corner, in sight of Spitalfields Church, to the other end of this narrow and notorious thoroughfare, are dense crowds of men and women discussing the miscreant's hideous work, and commenting, in their mixed Whitechapel-Yiddish dialect, on the "full confession" which has partly been responsible for this afternoon's extraordinary activity in the region of Miller's-court. The "full confession," it need scarcely be added, relates to the publication of the Islington drunkard's assertion that he is the author of the crimes. But the news-boys make it a pretext for pushing business, and as the cry of "Full confession of the Whitechapel murderer" is again and again echoed by the gamins, truth for the moment is but too successfully distorted. Then, in the midst of all this excited crowd, through which a strong man has to push his way with some force, an opening is suddenly made in the throng - not for a policeman or a man in authority, but for a centenarian Jewess, 107 years of age, known as the "Grandmother of many in Brick-lane," who, smitten with the one all-absorbing desire in the East-end, has been led by a relative to see the site of the crime. Up to the present no additional clue has been obtained, and at the Leman-street and Commercial-street Police-stations no person was detained at a late hour this afternoon.


The HOME SECRETARY said - In order to avoid misunderstanding as to the statement made yesterday regarding the ground of Sir C. Warren's resignation, I beg leave to make a brief statement to the House on the subject. On November 8th I directed the following letter to be written to Sir C. Warren: - "Sir, - Mr. Secretary Matthews directed me to state that his attention has been called to an article signed by you, which appears in this month's number of Murray's Magazine, relating to the management and discipline of the Metropolitan Police Force. He desires me to forward you the enclosed copy of a Home Office Circular which was duly communicated to the Commissioner of Police on May 22nd, 1879, and to state that the directions in that circular were intended to apply to every officer of the police, from the Chief Commissioner downwards. I have accordingly to request that the terms of the order may be strictly complied with." The enclosure is as follows: - "The Secretary of State has had his attention called to the question of allowing communications to be made by officers of the police force relating to their department, and it of opinion that the practice, which leads to embarrassment should be discontinued in future. He desires, therefore, it should be considered a rule that no officer should publish any matter relating to the department unless with the sanction of the Secretary of State." On the same day I received the following reply: - "Sir, - I have just received a pressing confidential letter, enclosing a circular from the Home Department, of the date of May 1879, and stating that the circular was intended to apply to the whole of the Metropolitan police.

(The report will be continued.)



There are innumerable rumours as to who the future Chief Commissioner of Police will be. While nothing definite is known, there is a strong belief that the position has been offered to Mr. Howard Vincent, and that it will in all probability be accepted by the hon. gentleman. Mr. Vincent has not, however - presuming that the offer has been made to him - notified his formal acceptance to Mr. Home Secretary Matthews. Of course, Mr. Howard Vincent - whose experience as the head of the Detective Department would naturally stand him in good stead - would have to vacate his seat for the Central Division of Sheffield.



A very painful scene occurred in the Marylebone Court today, on the hearing of a charge against Philip Gad Cornish, 23, a schoolmaster, of Ratling Hope School, Pontesbury, near Shrewsbury, Salop, who was said to be a lunatic wandering at large and not under proper control. Before being brought into the Court, the poor fellow was heard shouting and kicking violently at the door. When brought into Court by two officers, both his hands were tightly pressing the top of his head, his eyes were glaring wildly, and he generally presented a very distressing appearance. - Police-constable 192 F said he found the man in Praed-street, about five o'clock on Monday, behaving in such a way as to convince him that he was not of sound mind. So he arrested him. There was a companion with Cornish, and from the two he learned that they had come to London to catch the Whitechapel murderer. The officer's evidence was frequently interrupted by the violent behaviour of Cornish, who shouted at the top of his voice, and threw himself about, and stamped with his foot, demanding that the witness - who was, he said, the son of Perdition - should be made to tell the truth. The younger man, who had accompanied the prisoner, said he was a blacksmith. On Monday morning Cornish asked him to accompany him from Ratling Hope to London, as he had been appointed to come up and catch the author of the Whitechapel murders, and for which he was to receive a large sum of money. He thought it was all right, so he left his work and accompanied Cornish, and they arrived in London in the afternoon. He thought Cornish was all right when they started, but he saw a change come over him while on the journey. - Mr. De Rutzen ordered that the poor fellow should be taken to the workhouse in a cab.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday November 13, 1888, Page 3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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