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Alice's Life and Death

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Alice's Life and Death

Post by Karen on Sun 29 May 2011 - 1:02




Alice Mackenzie is the name of the last victim of the fiendish miscreant who has made that quarter of Whitechapel surrounding Commercial-road, Whitechapel-road, and Hanbury-street, his terrible hunting-ground. She was apparently not one of the same class from whom the murderer had selected his previous victims. She was living with a man not her husband - a porter named John M'Cormack - but she cannot, though apparently addicted to liquor, be classed in the same category as the miserable women whose lives the monster had previously taken.


Alice Mackenzie was a native of Peterborough. She was about forty years of age, had been married, and had children, but for the last six or seven years had cohabited with John M'Cormack, a porter. They had lived in the neighbourhood of Spitalfields for the past eighteen months, a part of the time in a furnished room, and latterly as the occupants of a "double" bed, at 8d. per night, in Gun-street, at a common lodging-house. M'Cormack, who is much distressed by the fate which has befallen his companion, defends her memory from the imputation that she had obtained her bread by what is known as "a gay life," and, on the other hand, he avers that she worked hard as a charwoman, and was never out late at night. Yesterday it was an exception to the rule when she left him in bed at the lodging-house in Gun-street, with 1s. 8d. in her possession, which he had given her to pay for the bed and to spend the rest as she pleased for necessaries. The couple had had "words" together, which had upset the woman, and she appears to have quitted the lodging-house between eight and nine o'clock, without her bonnet, according to her custom, and wearing a light shawl.


She passed through the kitchen silently and sullenly, giving the deputy the impression that she was much the worse for drink. She did not pay 8d. for the bed, but walked into the street and did not again return. M'Cormack two hours later woke up from his sleep, went downstairs, and asked the woman in charge of the common lodging-house whether his "old woman" had given her the 8d., and, on her replying in the negative, he demanded "What am I to do? Am I to walk the streets, too?" and the deputy replied "No," stretching a point in his favour, as the rule is to pay for beds in advance. Elizabeth Ryder, the deputy in question, stopped up until half-past three a.m., an hour-and-a-half after the place closed, waiting for Mackenzie and another woman, called "Mogg Cheeks," who, curiously enough, did not come back to sleep as usual.


In the meantime the woman Mackenzie must have frequented the public-houses of the locality, for nothing was seen or heard of her in the streets until half-past eleven o'clock, when she was seen by Margaret Franklin. This woman, a plainly-clad, strong, pleasant-featured person, stated she had been acquainted with the deceased for many years. She had always been known to her by the name of Alice Bryant, and she believed that she lived with a man of that name. On that point, however, she is not quite positive. On Tuesday night she was sitting with two other women, named Catherine Hughes and Sarah Mahoney, on some steps in front of a barber's shop at the Brick-lane end of Flower and Dean-street, about half-past eleven o'clock, when the murdered woman passed by, walking hurriedly. Witness shouted out, "Hulloa, Alice!" to which the deceased replied, "I can't stop." She was by herself, and was going then in the direction of Whitechapel. She stopped, although she had said she was in a hurry, and exchanged a few words with them, then leaving them and walking on. The woman then seemed to be in her usual cheerful condition, and, to all appearance, she was not the worse for drink. Nothing more was seen of her until her body was discovered at ten minutes to one o'clock next morning.


The man who was arrested in Commercial-street last night, shortly before midnight, on suspicion of being the murderer, and conveyed to the Commercial-street Police-station, was discharged at half-past one this morning. The prisoner had accosted two or three loose women in Commercial-street, and thereby attracted attention, with the result that a respectably-attired man, of the name of Spooner, who gave an address to the police at Thurlow-place, Wood-street, Bethnal-green, accused him of being "Jack the Ripper," and insisted upon the police taking him into custody. It was soon ascertained by the authorities that the name of the accused was Charles Henry Evison, and that he was a young married man, living at Balls-pond. As to his credentials of respectability there is not the slightest doubt. Amongst other things, a receipt was found on his person, showing that only on the day previous to his arrest he had insured his life for 100 pounds. Another arrest was made in Commercial-street shortly after two o'clock this morning. The individual behaved in a very extraordinary manner, and staggered along the street muttering to himself. When he reached one police-station he was found to be drunk, but as he was not disorderly or incapable he was liberated an hour afterwards, the police having received a satisfactory account of his movements.


One of the men apprehended in the night on suspicion was John Sullivan, an Irish cockney, standing fully 5ft. 11in., and altogether a big, bulky fellow. A constable arrested him in his bed, at 60, Wentworth-street. "Why," asked the officer in charge at the Commercial-road Station, "did you arrest him?" Because, was the reply, on the night of the murder he saw the suspect, who was then wearing a skull cap, in Wentworth-street, at ten minutes past one. He was actually pointed out to him at the time. Here came the point of the controversy, for the deputy of the lodging-house, who had accompanied Sullivan to the station, declared that on that particular night the man went to bed at twelve o'clock, and was certainly still there at two o'clock, when he closed the house. This statement was persistently backed up by Sullivan, who declared that his wife Kate would corroborate the deputy. Besides, added he, the officer would discover at Leman-street Station that, whatever the police would say against him, they would never believe him guilty of such a crime as this. Angry with the officer, Sullivan loudly and vehemently remonstrated with him, but, notwithstanding his remonstrances and his vehemence, he was detained pending the discovery of the woman Kate and inquiries into his statement. There seemed, however, little doubt in the police mind that the man would be released. This took place during the morning.


Dr. Forbes Winslow has stated that nothing has occurred to alter the opinion which he formed last year that the murders in the East-end have all been committed by the same individual, who must be a homicidal lunatic at large. The murderer has apparently had a lucid interval since November 9, when the last crime of the series was committed. During that lucid interval he has probably been unconscious of what he had been doing previously. That this interval has passed off now there can be no doubt, and it is equally certain that there is a dangerous homicidal lunatic frequenting the streets of London. "I read," added Dr. Forbes Winslow, "that the officials are very (illegible) in this last affair. After the third or fourth murder last year I was in communication with Sir Charles Warren as to certain means I had suggested of running the lunatic to earth. I received a very polite reply to the effect that the police, as a public body, could not undertake what I had suggested, but I was given permission to do so as a private individual. This I did not care to risk personally, as it involved considerable outlay to carry it out efficiently. I still believe that had my suggestions been carried out London would be free from this monster. As for the latest crime, the spot chosen, the manner of the attempted mutilation, the state and condition of the body are in themselves incidental to what has gone before. The man, when caught, will be shown to be a homicidal lunatic labouring under religious mania, and perhaps acting on an imaginary command from Heaven."


Another theory held by some experienced detectives is that the murderer is a foreigner working in the capacity of cook or butcher on board a foreign vessel trading regularly to London, and it has been ascertained that some cattle boats arrived on Tuesday at the docks, and sailed again yesterday. This, taken in conjunction with the dreadful tragedy, has led the authorities to issue orders to the East-end and Thames Police to watch all vessels about to leave the Thames, especially cattle boats which trade between London, Oporto, and other Spanish ports, and American ports, and also to request the cattle-men to give an account of themselves on the night of the 16th or the morning of the 17th inst. Detective-Inspector Regan, Thames Division, with a large staff of detective officers under him, are, in consequence, busily engaged in carrying into effect the order, and all passenger vessels are boarded by the officers, and the passengers carefully scrutinised.


As a corroboration of the above theory, and justifying the action of the Thames Police, a letter was received a few days ago by Mr. Albert Backert, 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, as Chairman of the Vigilance Committee, commencing: -

"Eastern Hotel, Pop-----," and then thickly penning the words out. Mr. Backert states that he was urged to treat the matter as a practical joke; but in view of the writer, "Jack the Ripper," threatening to re-commence operations about the middle of July, and yesterday morning's murder, inquiries have been made, with the result that it has been discovered that there is an Eastern Hotel in the East India Dock-road, Poplar, which is within a stone's throw of the docks, and where a number of sailors put up. It is thought probable that the murderer may have been on a voyage during the interval between the Miller's-court murder and the one which yesterday renewed the horrors which have shocked the world.


Another woman who volunteered a statement was Mrs. Margaret O'Brien, who resides at Tenpenny's lodging-house. At half-past seven on the previous evening the deceased was sitting in the kitchen with O'Brien and others. She was talkative, but O'Brien did not notice that Alice betrayed any signs of having drunk too much. During the conversation she told them that she had had a pint of stout-and-mild with a man whom she knew at Tottenham that afternoon in the public-house adjoining the Cambridge Music Hall, and that she was going back to the same place, as she had promised to meet him again. Just as she was on the point of leaving, deceased took a short clay pipe which she had been smoking out of her mouth and handed it to Mrs. O'Brien, with the remark, "Keep it till I come home." She then went out, and witness heard nothing more of her till the morning. Mrs. O'Brien here produced the pipe, a short and somewhat blackened clay, which had been confided to her care, and showed it to her interviewer.


The theory the police put forward is that, judging from the position in which the body was discovered, the deceased must have stood with her back to the small wheels of the vehicle, while her murderer immediately faced her; and that when a convenient moment offered itself, he, unobserved by her, drew a knife of a peculiar pattern, thrust it into the left side of the throat for some distance, and then drew it some two inches to the front, causing a wound three inches in length, and sufficient to prevent her uttering a single cry or giving the slightest alarm. The deceased would then appear to have fallen backwards on the pavement with her head on the kerb, and while in that position the wretch inflicted a severe wound on the right side of the abdomen. There were also signs of two other attempts at mutilation, and the belief is that the murderer was interrupted in his ghastly task by the approach of the police.


The Secretary of the London Evangelisation Society and Common Lodging-House Mission has arranged to bear the funeral expenses of the murdered woman, on behalf of the Association.


Fresh evidence still continues to come to light showing how narrow an escape the murderer must have had in escaping capture when interrupted in his diabolical task of mutilation. Amongst others, Sergeant Herwin, of the H division, states that it was five minutes to one o'clock when he first received information of the tragic event. He was then on duty in Commercial-street. Proceeding to Castle-alley without delay, he there saw the body of the deceased stretched out on the pavement. Constables Andrews and Neve were standing in the alley, while he noticed Sergeant Badham jump into a cab and drive off to inform Superintendent Arnold of the event. He at once took steps to block both exits from the alley - at one end into High-street, Whitechapel, and at the other to Wentworth-street. When Herwin arrived the body was still very warm, and death could not have occurred more than a few minutes before. He has now no doubt in his own mind that the murderer and his victim entered the alley from the High-street, Whitechapel, and that the escape was effected in the same way.


The police are again taking those exceptional measures for the detection of criminals in the locality which they took a few months ago when the murders perpetrated at that time created so much excitement. Detectives have been drawn from all parts of the Metropolis, and are distributed through all the lowest localities in the East-end. In some cases they have assumed the guise of ordinary Whitechapel loafers, taken up their abode in common lodging-houses, and gone in amongst the people of the class amongst whom it is thought the miscreant will seek shelter. Every quarter of Whitechapel and Spitalfields which would afford facilities for similar crimes are watched at night. Special men are detailed to visit at brief intervals through the night the innumerable dark alleys and lanes and side streets with which the locality abounds, and several others are to keep a perpetual watch on certain spots.


A Press Association reporter writes this morning: - "The excitement that had prevailed in the East-end throughout the day continued till a late hour last night, and did not appear in the slightest degree to have abated. Those main arteries of trade, the Whitechapel and Commercial roads, were thronged throughout the evening with crowds of people, whose one sole topic of conversation seemed to be "Jack the Ripper" and his murderous escapades. There was a reproduction of these scenes in Commercial-street and other now only too familiar localities in that neighbourhood; and although there was not anything approaching the proportions of a panic, yet it was only too obvious that the groups of females to be seen at almost every street corner gazed curiously, if not mistrustfully, at the faces of all passing strangers. In fact "Jack the Ripper" was the subject paramount in every mind, and the personality, whereabouts, and marvellous astuteness of the notorious miscreant were freely discussed on all hands.


Additional drafts of police had been poured into the district during the day, and at night the neighbourhoods of Whitechapel and Spitalfields may be said to have literally swarmed with police both uniformed and in plain clothes. After the public-houses had closed there was a noticeable falling off in the number of persons to be seen in the thoroughfares, and long before two o'clock the streets were practically deserted, save for the presence of a few roysterers noisily wending their way home, and the small gatherings of both sexes to be seen collected around the inevitable coffee stalls. Even here the conversation still turned mainly on the all-absorbing topic of the hour, and men attired in sailors' garb appeared to be regarded with particular suspicion.



The inquest was resumed this morning, by Mr. Braxton Hicks, at the Working Lads' Institute, Whitechapel-road.
Detective-inspector Reid gave brief evidence as to proceeding to the alley at 1:50 a.m., and seeing the body of the deceased there. On his arriving at the spot he found the Wentworth-street exit and the exit into the Whitechapel-road blocked by the police, who were then making an assiduous search. It was this officer who found the short clay pipe. By the way, the tobacco had not been lighted when he picked it up. A farthing, with bloodstains, was also found. Only one civilian - the man Jacobs - was present from the time of the discovery to the removal of the body. The principal object, apparently, of the Inspector's evidence was to produce a plan of the alley, showing the position in which the body was found, and to reveal the fact that the alley was lighted by five lamps.
"Would a stranger find Castle-alley?" asked the Coroner. - Well, it could be seen from High-street, Whitechapel, but I don't think a stranger would go down there unless he was taken.


I suppose there would be a number of people about at that time? - Oh, yes; people are about all night. Two police-constables are continually passing through the alley all night, and it is hardly ever left for five minutes.
Was the pavement underneath the deceased dry when you removed the body? - Yes, except where there was blood. Rain began to fall at about a quarter to one. (This evidence was given with a view to showing that the murder must have been committed before the rain fell.


Is there any doubt about the deceased's name, as far as you know? - No, Sir. I have made inqiries at Gun-street, and have ascertained from the deputy at the lodging-house that "Mog Cheeks," the woman who was mentioned yesterday, stayed at her sister's on the night of the murder. I searched the clothing of the deceased at the mortuary (Mr. Reid continued). The clothing was in a filthy condition. I have no doubt the deed was committed on the spot where the body was found.


Mr. G.B. Phillips, the Divisional Surgeon of Police, next gave evidence. When he was called to Castle-alley - and this was, he said, about 1 a.m. - it was raining. On the way thither he noticed that there were very few people about. The body was lying on the pavement about six yards from a gas lamp. The outline of the body nearest the wall was marked by a quantity of coagulated blood, which had flowed from a wound in the woman's throat. A portion of the blood had been washed into the gutter by the rain, otherwise it had not been disturbed. Yesterday afternoon he made a post-mortem examination of the body. Just below the collar-bone there was a recent bruise about the size of a shilling, and an inch below the junction of the collar-bone and the breast-bone there was a larger and well-defined recent bruise. Seven inches below there was a large external wound, seven inches in extent, and being deepest at its middle part. It only divided the skin. There were also several scored wounds on the body. There was, he noticed, a loss of a portion of the right thumb, but this was evidently the result of a previous injury.


The wound in the neck was four inches long. It reached to the fore part of the neck, to a point four inches below the right angle of the mouth. It must have taken a somewhat upward direction. Judging by various smaller wounds, the first incision seemed to have been interrupted by the prominence of the lower jaw. There was a second incision, which appeared to have been commenced below, and in a direct line with, the first incision. This wound extended to the carotid vessels, which were entirely severed. He had not the slightest doubt that death was due to syncope, owing to the loss of blood from those vessels, and that probably death was instantaneous. There was no division of any portion of the air passages.
This was all Dr. Phillips wished to say, although there were several important points on which the Coroner wished to question him. Dr. Phillips, however, expressed a desire to reserve those points, and consequently his further examination was postponed.


Margaret Cheek was the next witness. She is the person described as "Moggy" by her familiar friends. The Court officials had some difficulty in finding her. They called her name outside the door of the room, and then there was an exodus of constables in search of her. At length she appeared. Of medium height, she wore a light dress and white apron, with a typical East-end hat, ornamented with a large black feather. "Margaret Cheek's my name," she asserted, standing akimbo in front of the Coroner.
"Do you spell it with an "s," he next essayed? - "No, you don't - it's Margaret Cheek. I've give it ye straight, you know I have." (Laughter.)
"Well, we want to know about the deceased."
"But I don't know nothing about her, I don't. I lived in the same house as she did, at 52, Gun-street, wuss luck; and I saw her Tuesday morning."
"Did you see her afterwards?" - "No, I didn't, and not since; so there," and Mrs. Cheek gave an expressive nod, and a wink at some of the jurymen, much to the amusement of the Court.
"That's all," added Margaret Cheek. "Oh, I'll sign it right enough," she retorted when the Coroner asked her to so oblige him. Having placed her signature to the brief statement she gave another expressive nod to the Jury, and made her exit.


Margaret Franklin, who lives at 56, Flower and Dean-street, next told the Coroner that she knew the deceased.
"How long have you known her?" he asked. - "For fifteen years. She has been living in this neighbourhood during that time. I can't say whether she was married."
Did you see her on Tuesday night? - Yes. Three of us were sitting on a barber's shop steps in Flower and Dean-street, between 11:30 and 12 o'clock, when she passed by, going towards Whitechapel. I spoke to her, and asked her how she was. She replied, "I am quite well. How are you?" I can't stop." She then went on. I did not notice that she was under the influence of drink.
"Have you often seen her out as late as that?" - Oh, yes.
Inspector Reid - Did you know her when she lived with a blind man? - Yes.
What has become of him? - He died about eleven years ago.
Did you see her speak to any one on Tuesday night? - No, she was by herself.
Catherine Hughes, who was also sitting on the steps at the barber's shop in Flower and Dean-street when the deceased passed on Tuesday night, also stated that the deceased did not appear to be intoxicated.


Inspector Reid intimated that that was as far as the police were able to proceed today, and consequently the inquiry was adjourned until Wednesday, the 14th of August.
The Coroner expressed a hope that in the meantime another of these horrible crimes would not be committed. He reminded the Jury of the character of the victims of these outrages, and added that those women had it in their own hands to prevent a recurrence of these crimes.


A serious stabbing affray took place in the East-end yesterday afternoon. The victim was Mrs. Margaret Jones, of Usher-road, Old Ford. She quarrelled with one of her lodgers, and he stabbed her in the head with a carving-knife, inflicting a serious wound. The woman was taken to the London Hospital, where she now remains. Her assailant appears also to have injured his hand with the knife, and he too was taken to the hospital, but, not being sufficiently closely watched, he suddenly absconded, and has not since been discovered.

Source: The Echo, Thursday July 18, 1889, Page 2-3

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

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