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Annie Farmer Knew Her Assailant

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Annie Farmer Knew Her Assailant

Post by Karen on Mon 9 May 2011 - 1:46




Whitechapel is again alive with excitement. "Another murder!" is on the lips of everyone. But the statement is not true. As far as the facts can at present be obtained, it appears that a man was with a woman in a lodging-house at George-street, a turning near Thrawl-street, within three minutes' walk of the scenes of the late murders, when loud screams were heard proceeding from the woman, and at the same time a man, dressed in dark clothes, was seen leaving the premises. Two or three persons at once laid hold of him, but he eluded their grasp, rushed out into the street, and was gone in an instant. He had evidently been this time foiled in his attempt to commit a crime, for his victim was discovered covered with blood, but only from a wound in her throat, which will, it is said, not prove fatal. The police were at once called, and the poor creature was conveyed on the ambulance to the Commercial-street Police-station. Dr. Phillips soon attended and stitched up the woman's wound, which had evidently been inflicted with a very sharp weapon. The woman was then able to give a description of her assailant, and states that, having her suspicions aroused, but almost paralysed with fear, she looked her assailant in the face. Immediately he drew a weapon across her throat. Then, fearing he might not escape if he stayed to complete the crime, he rushed out of the room.
The police have now a definite description of the man. They hope to effect a capture before many hours, as it is thought that the fellow is now hiding where he lives - but a short distance from where the other murders have been committed. The woman has gained a precarious living by singing in the streets. She is known as "Liz the singer," and her name is Annie Farmer.


George-street, Spitalfields, is not a bad-looking street, as the streets of Spitalfields go. One side of it is almost wholly taken up by a block of model lodging-houses. The houses on the other side, however, belong to the decayed tumbledown class familiar to all who have been through Spitalfields. The attempted murder took place in a lodging-house. George-street, it may be mentioned is only a stone's-throw from Dorset-street, where the last murder took place. Dorset-street is on the west side of Commercial-road, and George-street, the scene of today's crime, is on the eastern side. It is possible to get from the scene of one crime to that of the other in less than a minute.


The woman came running downstairs this morning at half-past nine with her throat cut. The intending murderer was seen escaping from the house. Two coal-men, who were delivering coke at the houses, are said to have seen him. The man went off like lightning. Some men followed him, but he disappeared. He is said to have passed two policemen on the way; but that seems incredible. The woman told a friend of hers that she was half asleep, and felt the knife across her throat. The intending assassin appears to have left a bundle behind him. The lodging-house in which the attempted murder took place is a dingy-looking place. The windows are glazed with blue glass.


Behind the miscreant's right ear was the mark of an abscess. It is also said he had a slight cut at the corner of the mouth. Beyond this, however, the coke men do not seem to have carried their observations. The man is said to have been about 5ft. 6in. in height, shabbily dressed.


is a very big one. It in reality comprises two houses knocked into one. Some fifty or sixty men and women were lodging there, and it is little short of marvellous that the would-be murderer escaped. As we have said, the woman came rushing downstairs screaming as loudly as she was able, and with the blood running from her throat. Five minutes cannot have elapsed between the attempt at murder and the flight of the would-be murderer, and the woman's appearance on the stairs screaming for help.


Philip Harris, who lodges in the house, in an interview with a Press representative, said: - "I saw what was the matter when the woman came downstairs, and several of us rushed out of the house and pursued the man, who, we were told, had gone up Thrawl-street. We saw him running before us, but when we got to the corner of Brick-lane we lost sight of him. He was about 5ft. 6in. in height, and wore a thick, black moustache. I noticed that he had an overcoat with a cape on it, but I did not see anything in his hand."


The Press Association reporter had an interview with a woman who professed to have some knowledge of the circumstances. The informant states: - "The woman, who is now at the Police-station, is called Matilda. She lodges in various common lodging-houses in the locality, and as far as personal appearance is concerned, she is very good looking, and altogether seems to have been brought up in far better surroundings than she now occupies. "I believe (she said) she has known the man who attacked her for about twelve months. From what I hear, it is not true that the couple slept in Dorset-street last night. It was about seven o'clock in the morning when the woman met the man near to Spitalfields Church. He asked her what she was doing at such an early hour, and she said she had not been able to pay for a bed, as the charge was eightpence. He gave the woman sixpence, and they went to the house in Dorset-street together. They had not been long in the room when the woman shouted out, "He has cut my throat," and she followed the man downstairs."


Esther Hall says: - "I lodge at 19, George-street. I sleep in the basement of the house, and was awoke this morning by a man, who told me a murder had been committed. I ran upstairs, and saw a woman lying down. She was covered with blood. The deputy put a piece of rag round her throat, and I said, "Are you able to dress yourself?" She said she was not, so I dressed her. I then inquired, "Do you know the man?" She replied, "Yes. I was with him about twelve months ago, and he ill-used me then." She said she undressed when she went to bed this morning, but the man did not. She added that the man had a black moustache, and wore dark clothes and a hard felt hat, and that she thought he was a saddler."


The scene of the attempted murder is within three minutes' walk of Dorset-street, where the last murder occurred, and it is a singular fact that the victim of the George-yard murder lived at No. 19, George-street, while the victim of the Osborne-street murder lived next door at No. 18.


The Superintendent of the Commercial-street Police-station has informed a reporter this afternoon, that the woman's wound is quite superficial. She is still in the station, and there is no danger whatever that her injury will result seriously. Her name has, as we stated above, been ascertained to be Annie Farmer, and it is asserted that she has been living with her husband at No. 1, Fetherington-street, City-road.


Despite the prevalent rumour in the district that Annie Farmer's assailant is the man responsible for the many terrible atrocities committed in Whitechapel, the police now have their doubts upon the subject. They declare that he is more likely to be an "amateur" at the hideous work. Had he been "Jack the Ripper" they think the poor woman would nto have escaped. At five o'clock this morning she was seen in a public-house near Great Pearl-street in the company of her would-be murderer. The police authorities, under Inspector Abberline and Inspector Reid, together with officers sent from Scotland-yard, are using their utmost endeavours to effect a capture.


Several persons have already been arrested, but the woman soon obtained their discharge.


The following telegraphic communication has been circulated amongst the police this morning" - "Wanted, for attempted murder, on 21st inst., a man, aged 36 years, being 5ft. 6in., complexion dark, no whiskers, dark moustache; dress, black jacket, vest, and trousers, round black felt hat; respectable appearance; can be identified."

Source: The Echo, Wednesday November 21, 1888, Page 3

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

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