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Victoria Home

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Victoria Home

Post by Karen on Thu 16 Dec 2010 - 21:01

This is the first time that I have heard of a suspect requesting a good character reference from the keeper of the Victoria Home for Men.


Another of the series of diabolical crimes which so startled London some months ago was committed late on Tuesday night or at an early hour on Wednesday morning. The scene of the crime is also within the same restricted area as before, and the murderer would appear (at the time of the preparation of the first report of the horrible occurence) to have been able to shield himself from discovery so effectually as to leave, as hitherto, no trace behind him. Shortly before one o'clock on Wednesday morning the constable on the beat, while passing through Castle-alley, Whitechapel noticed a woman lying in the shadow of a doorway. He was about to rouse the woman, when he was horrified to discover that she was dead, blood flowing from a wound in the throat. The body was in a pool of blood which had flowed from a gash in the stomach, evidently inflicted with a sharp knife or razor. The officer at once gave the alarm and within a few minutes several other constables were on the spot. The officials at the Commercial-road Station were informed of the discovery, and the superintendent at once despatched a messenger for the divisional surgeon. From what could be ascertained in the neighbourhood the murdered woman seemed to be about 40 years of age, and seemed to have belonged to the unfortunate class. The neighbourhood was closely watched by police, but no one had been arrested up to the publication of the London morning papers on Wednesday.

Up to later on on Wednesday only


had taken place in connection with the latest of the East-end murders. At about five o'clock in the morning a man was seen lurking about the scene of the murder, and his movements attracting the suspicion of the police he was arrested and brought to Commercial-street Police Station, where he was searched. In his possession was a common butcher's knife and other small things. He, however, referred the police to the keeper of the Victoria Lodging House, who came and identified him as a man he had known for years. Owing to this and other accounts received by the police he was


The only clue which the police had to identify the murderer was a very slight one, being an old clay pipe which was found saturated with blood close beside the gas lamp under which the body was found. From later accounts it would appear almost a marvel how the murderer could have escaped, as no less than four policemen were on beat at the different exits to Castle-alley. The sergeant on duty in Wentworth-street and the vicinity passed the very spot only ten minutes before the murder, and when the alarm whistle blew every constable who was about closed in and blocked all the openings, arresting and examining every person who sought to pass by. The murderer must have been


and escaped immediately after committing the deed. The cut on the left side of the throat was sharp and deep, and the victim would have bled to death from it alone. The knife was inserted with the same precision which characterised the other work of the Whitechapel murderer. On the other hand, the injuries inflicted in the abdomen were not so sharp and vital; neither was any attempt made to carry away any part of the body, but, of course, this may be accounted for by the fact that the murderer was anxious to escape. No blood was found on the wagon which lay alongside the gaslamp, thus proving that the murder must have been committed on the pavement, which was covered with blood.
The victim is 5ft. 4in. in height. She is of fair complexion, with dark brown hair. One of her teeth had evidently been knocked out lately, and she was


No bonnet was on her head, and her upper dress consists of a red stuff bodice patched under the armpits and sleeves. She had on a kilted skirt and a brown linsey petticoat, while one of her stockings is maroon coloured and the other black. A white chemise and button boots, which are very much worn, completed her attire. Her left thumb is cut off at the first joint. All the lodging houses in the vicinity, as well as the dwelling houses, have been thoroughly searched, but nothing of a suspicious character has been found. Several women who were


of the murder were questioned as to having seen any person with the deceased, but they were unable to give any satisfactory answers. As it was raining at the time, the majority of the women who were about had gone indoors.
The excitement in Whitechapel reached a tremendous pitch. Early on Wednesday morning crowds gathered round about the place. The old terror of last year went abroad in as great intensity as ever. It was just at this period last year that the last series of murders began, and Old Castle-street is quite in the midst of the murder district. It runs from Whitechapel-road to Wentworth-street, parallel to and at a short distance from Osborne-street, where No. 1 murder was committed, while at scarcely a stone's throw, and running in the same direction, is George-yard, where Martha Turner's mutilated body was found. Old Castle-street begins at the Whitechapel-road end with a very narrow, low, dark court, and after about 20 yards of this it widens out for about a similar distance, and narrows again at the further end. There are


in this wider part, and it was under the middle one of these three that Constable 272 H found the body. On the opposite side of the street is a low hoarding, and over this the windows of a row of dwelling-houses look right down upon the place; but the miscreant was slightly shielded from the light by a small hand cart which stood between the body and the lamp. This morning most of the traces of the murderer's work has been removed, and the spot covered with a thick layer of dust, but there were still splashes of blood on the foot of the lamp-post.


Castle-alley is a thoroughfare about 170 yards long, and for about 160 yards is about 35ft. wide; the other ten yards, which forms the entry from Whitechapel High-street, is about 3ft. wide, and runs under and between Nos. 124 and 125, Whitechapel High-street. Through this narrow, dark, covered entry the wider portion of the alley is entered. On either hand are fenced-in spaces where rookeries have lately been demolished, on the left for about 40ft. and on the right for something over 140ft. The remainder of the right side is


beside which stood on Tuesday night some dozen 4-wheel vans and 20 costermongers' barrows. On the right side are rather dilapidated factories of a firm of wheelwrights and van makers, a builder's yard, a fruiterer's place, and the Castle-alley Wash-houses and the Board School. Thus it will be seen that in this 170 yards of thoroughfare completely shut off from the public view by the narrow passage connecting it with the High-street at one end and the projection of the Board School, which narrows it to about 16ft. at the other, and crowded as it was with large vans and barrows, there was lots of cover for the perpetration of the crime. Where the body was found was between two four-wheeled vans, which were chained together outside the wheelwright's premises. The chain was fastened to the rails of the vans, which were sufficiently apart for two persons to stand between, and standing immediately over the space between them was a gaslamp. This very alley was


as a resort of destitute women, who utilised the vans and barrows for shelter and sleeping purposes. Some time ago the police authorities put two men on the watch in this alley every night, and continued to do so until the excitement resultant upon former atrocities wore away. On the side of the road on which the murder occurred there is a brick wall, not a dead wall, but with a number of stable entrances. Over these stables and warehouses there are a few people sleeping, and one woman who was there the whole of the night remarked to a reporter, "We can always hear a cat move almost in this street at night time." She heard not a sound which she can recall as in the slightest way connected with the atrocity. The crime was not committed at the foot of the wall, but on the roadside near the kerb, between two of the carts standing there for the night. Of course, the roadside was stained with blood, but this the police have had washed away and covered over. When the cordon was drawn round the spot by the police, several persons were seized for examination, and called upon to explain their business in the street at the time. One of these named Larkin, a man who has seen better days, was thought to be hurrying away with undue haste. He was seized and taken to the Commercial-street Station, but the deputy of the Victoria Home was sent for, and he was able to clear the man of all suspicion. He was then released, and it is this incident which is probably giving rise to the rumour which is so exciting some of the people that an arrest of importance has been made.


It is stated that the police have during the past few weeks received letters, signed "Jack the Ripper," intimating that he would recommence his horrible work in July; and Mr. Albert Backert, who took a leading part in the Vigilance proceedings of last year, received a similar letter about three weeks ago.


The inquest was opened on Wednesday afternoon before Dr. Wynne Baxter, at the Boys' Institute, Commercial-road. The jury having viewed the body at the mortuary, John M'Cormack said: I live at 54, Gun-street, Spitalfields, a common lodging-house. I am a porter. I have seen the body at the mortuary, and recognise it as that of Alice Mackenzie. She was about 40 years of age. She has been living with me for six or seven years as my wife. I recognise her by her right thumb, which had been crushed at the tip by a machine. I recognised her face also, and a scar on her forehead. She said she came from Peterborough. I do not know whether she ever had a husband. She worked very hard for her living as a washerwoman and charwoman. I last saw her alive between three and four o'clock on Tuesday afternoon. I was then in bed, and she went downstairs to pay the deputy of the lodging-house 8d. for the night's bed. I had given her the money for the purpose, and also 1s. She was to do what she liked with the shilling. I did not see her again until at the mortuary. She had not been to work on Tuesday. She told me she went to work on Monday, but I did not believe it. She was not accustomed to come home late at night, and was always at home in the evening until Tuesday night. I had a few words with her on Tuesday, and that upset her. She did not say she would walk the streets, or that she would do anything because of the quarrel. I went down to the deputy between half-past ten and eleven o'clock at night, and asked if she had paid the night's lodging, and the deputy said she had not. I said, "What am I to do?" "Am I to walk the streets?" The deputy said, "No. Go upstairs," and I went upstairs to bed again, and got up at a quarter to six in the morning. I can't say what the deceased went out for. She used to smoke a clay pipe." Other witnesses were examined, and the inquest was then adjourned till Thursday morning.

Source: Hornsey And Middlesex Messenger, Friday July 19, 1889

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

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