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The Women of Whitechapel

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The Women of Whitechapel

Post by Karen on Sun 19 Jun 2011 - 1:25

An Era of Assassination Which Has Lasted For Months.

LONDON, Oct. 30 - The word, "Whitechapel," has passed as a verb into the vocabulary of the criminal classes. No less than a dozen women of the street have complained of an assailant in the police courts this week that he threatened to "Whitechapel" them. Within a few days the word has assumed a horrible significance. The Whitechapel murders have startled the whole world. An obscure locality in a great metropolis, the borderline between Povertyville and the affluent splendor of the West End, is forced into a lurid glare of publicity. Mysterious murders are the topic of the day. Politics and everything that newspapers usually print and the public reads about are wiped out in a smudge of blood. Next to "Who is the murderer?" people are asking, "What and where is Whitechapel?"
What is usually called the Whitechapel district is about equivalent in territory to the east side of New York City, from Houston street to Frankfort street, bounded on the west by the Bowery and Chatham street. There are worse slums in London than Whitechapel, just as there are worse slums in New York than are to be found in the territory I have indicated. Through this populous region the Whitechapel road runs obliquely, much as Broadway runs through New York City. This thoroughfare is the Bowery of London, but twice as big, thrice as wicked and four times the number of people pushing and crowding through it after nightfall. The dissolute and the vicious of all crimes congegrate there - black "Lascar" sailors from India crazed with rum, gay girls from Paris who had to leave that city or go to prison for purification, men and women who have "done their time" in the prisons, others who have escaped and never stir out in the daylight, thieves and thugs, house breakers and harlots - there they all are. The sky is aglow with the glare of splendid gin palaces, cheap theatres and the smoking naphtha lamps of thousands of street vendors. You may see the reflection of it for miles.


But they are not all wicked people that you see in Whitechapel at night. It is the shopping street of the respectable laborer and his wife. He may buy there at what we call in New York "Bowery prices." Large roomy shops with showy windows and prompt salespeople to do his bidding, bid for his trade. It is one of the great trade arteries of the metropolis, one of the unique thoroughfares of the world.
Not one in one hundred of the troops of Americans who come here ever goes to Whitechapel or has even a remote idea where it is. Baedecker informs us, in three lines, that it is a district devoted to artisans and sugar refineries. That is very much like describing Brooklyn as a place devoted to preachers and Elevated railways. I venture here to offer a suggestion to Americans coming to London who want to see a novel, exciting spectacle; Get on top of a Bow 'bus, in the Strand, any Saturday night, and ride through Whitechapel road.


So far as the condition of the streets is concerned, Whitechapel is cleaner than the territory I have referred to on the east side of New York. So far as the average appearance of the houses goes, it is not nearly so delapidated as the Communists' quarter of Paris. But you will find more squalid, ragged children there, more half-fed, wretched-looking men and women than you can scrape up in New York and Paris put together. It is the loose women of Whitechapel that make it one of the strangest and saddest spectacle in Christendom. Hundreds upon hundreds of these forlorn creatures tramp the streets from dark till dawn. They have no home. It is seldom that they even sleep two nights under the same roof.
These unfortunates ply their vocation in the open streets, in the hallways of lodging houses and the sheltered "squares" where they can gain privacy. In bitterest weather they roam houseless, creeping in stairways to sleep, huddling in untenanted cellars, packed close to one another for warmth and heat. Until these murders began no policeman disturbed them. So long as they did not quarrel they were allowed to forget their misery in slumber. All this is changed now. The policemen are ordered to rout the unfortunate creatures out, and they tramp about all night and all next day till they can get fourpence to hire a bed. While looking up the murders for the World I was asked for a penny by one girl not seventeen years old, who declared that she had not been able to sleep undisturbed for forty-eight hours. And she looked it. They live and breathe in a putrid atmosphere of pitiable misery and unspeakable vice. Here is what a young woman who is doing missionary work among these people says:

"The terrible difficulty we have to encounter is that of trying to find them work. We had last year a very touching case of a woman who seemed sincerely desirous of amending, but who was over the age at which they are usually admitted to homes. After a great deal of difficulty we found an opening for her, and she went to the Home; but some of these places, I am afraid, are managed too rigorously, and the matrons of them are sometimes wanting in sympathy with their inmates, who find it extremely difficult to submit to the discipline. It was the case with this woman. She found the discipline of this place more than she could endure and she left; but she came to us again, and still seemed sick and weary of the wretched life she led. If she could only find something to do she really would try, but of the "Home" she seemed to have a positive horror. We could find her no work, and she tried charing and washing, and I believe did her earnest best to maintain herself that way. But it was gradual starvation; often we found she was whole days without a bit of food; and those she lived with say that only at the best extremity did she allow herself to be driven again to her old courses. I am afraid, however, she drifted back, but still she would come to our meetings, and would borrow from our library books that you would never imagine she would care to read. She came to a meeting one Tuesday night ill and scarcely able to stand, and on Thursday she died. The woman who looks after these mission rooms," continued the speaker, "was another of the same class, and she used to be an associate of the poor creature murdered in Berner street. She saw her only last Thursday - and she- that is, the murdered woman - said then that she felt she was coming to some bad end."


The excitement and fear of Whitechapel people since the two last murders I will not attempt to describe. They know well the opportunities that the criminal has for keeping from the clutches of the police, and that if he is captured at all it will probably be in the act of butchering another victim. Which of them will it be?
Until the bodies were identified the city mortuary was surrounded all day by people attracted there by some horrible fascination, hoping to get a look at the mutilated bodies within. It was wise of the police to make this number as small as possible. No one who saw those victims will ever forget them.

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

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Re: The Women of Whitechapel

Post by Karen on Sun 19 Jun 2011 - 2:21


The first of the series of Whitechapel murders dates back to April 3, when Emma Elizabeth Smith was found dead in a yard near Osborn street with a large hole in her abdomen, made by a sharp iron stake or some similar instrument. There was nothing of the horrifying mutilation of the body which has made the five subsequent murders world famous in the annals of crime. Evil deeds are common enough in the slums of London, and this was a woman of the street, killed, it was presumed, by a jealous lover or an angry husband. The public read that the "affair was in the hands of the police" and promptly forgot it.


Very early on the morning of August 7, John Reeves, living at 37, George-Yard buildings, Whitechapel, was coming down stairs to go to work. The house was divided into tenements of three and four rooms each, all occupied by working people. On the first-floor landing Reeves found the body of a woman in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed in thirty-two places with a sharp-pointed instrument, probably a bayonet. The walls of the house are thin and ordinary conversation on the lower landing can easily be heard in the rooms upstairs. Yet no one in the house, not even four people sleeping twelve feet away from where the body was soaking in blood, heard any unusual noise that night. Elizabeth Mahony, who lived in the house, did not get home until two o'clock in the morning and the body was not there then. The murdered woman was identified as Martha Tabram, another outcast. She was buried and forgotten.


It is not at all likely that the two murders mentioned had anything to do with the "maniac murders," as the last four of the Whitechapel crimes are called, and which are no doubt the work of the same person. Except that the criminals are undetected they ought to be entirely disassociated. Polly Nichols, another vagrant of the streets, was the first victim to the shocking brutality of the fiend. At 3:35 o'clock the morning of Aug. 31 Policeman John O'Neill was walking through Buck's Row, Whitechapel, when he saw what he thought was a woman asleep on the pavement. He prodded her with his foot and said, "Come, old girl, you can't sleep here." The woman never moved and he stooped down to turn her over to get a look at her face. His hands were bathed in warm blood. He had passed the same spot scarcely fifteen minutes before, and a most atrocious murder had been committed while he was gone. If there had been a cry for help or a scuffle for life he could scarcely have helped hearing it the whole length of his beat. Three men working in a slaughter-house near by never heard a sound. The woman's head was nearly severed back to the vertebra, which was also slightly injured. One gash under the left ear reached nearly to the centre of the throat. Another cut, starting from the right ear, was almost as long. The woman's skirts were torn from her body and her abdomen ripped open so that the bowels protruded. One cut, extending from the pubic arch to the breastbone, was such as only a strong man, skilled in the use of a knife, could have made. The victims front teeth were knocked out and her face much bruised. Her hands gave evidence that she had struggled desperately for life.
When Policeman O'Neil was questioned closely he recollected that the body was lying on its back, with outstretched hands, as though it had been placed where it was found. There are three or four low houses close by and the theory was suggested that the woman was murdered in one of them and then carried into the street. Such a crime could scarcely be carried out without leaving traces of blood, and though the houses were carefully searched nothing of the kind was found.
The keeper of a lodging house nearby remembered Polly coming to him to get a bed a few hours before she was murdered. She had been drinking but was not drunk. She had not the fourpence to pay for a bed and he would not let her have it. The poor woman went into the streets to earn her "doss," as she had done scores of times before. No one has been found who saw her alive after that. A gateman was on duty all night at the crossing of the Great Eastern Railway, scarce sixty yards from where the body was found, but he heard no screams.


In less than a week there was another murder, evidently by the same hand, only the fiendish brutality to the victim was worse. This time, too, it was a courtesan. Annie Chapman was once the wife of a well-to-do veterinary surgeon living at Windsor. Drink and immorality separated her from her husband, who allowed her ten shillings a week to live on. He died, the allowance ceased, and the poor woman joined the innumerable army of street walkers. No. 29, Hanbury street, Spitalfields, is a tenement house, let out to many families, most of whom keep lodgers. In this house, as in most houses of its class, there is no lock to the front door. Anybody can pass into the hall from the street. For protection the tenants lock the doors opening in the landings. There is a large yard in the rear of these tenement houses and it is a common custom for women of the street to take men there for privacy. Beyond doubt this was the case with Annie Chapman. Like the woman Nicholls, she had not money to pay for her bed. She said to the lodging-house keeper:
"Save a bed for me; I shan't be long."
John Davies, a carman, lives at No. 29 Hanbury street. He was not well the night of the murder and woke at 3 a.m. At 5, or shortly after, he went downstairs to the back yard. There was nobody there then. About 5:40 he went to the yard again. When he reached the lower hall he noticed that the back door was closed and the front door was wide open. When he opened the back door he saw Annie Chapman's bleeding body at the foot of the steps.
Davies had been lying awake in bed and had heard no scream or cry for help. He did hear footsteps in the hallway, but that was nothing unusual, for some people in the house had to go to work at 6 o'clock and they were up and stirring. The murder had been committed inside of forty minutes, and not one of 500 people within sound of a woman's voice had heard even a groan.
Made bold by the failure of the police to catch him, or even to get on his track, the murderer carved this victim to his heart's content. The details are too horrible to print. The physician who examined the body asked to be spared relating them to the coroner's jury. Mrs. Barridge, a shopkeeper in Blackfriar's road, died in a fit while reading an account of the horror in a newspaper.
Though circumstances show that the murderer had less than 40 minutes at his disposal, there was no sign of hurry about his work. He cut up his victim as deliberately and as skifully as the surgeon operates upon a cadaver at the dissecting table. He killed her, as he did the other women, by almost cutting her head from her shoulders, and then proceeded to disembowel her, attaching a portion of the intestines to her neck. The matrix he cut out and carried away with him. This gave rise to the theory of the American offering fabulous sums for specimens of that organ, although in the other victims it was not carried away at all.


On Sunday, September 23, a young woman was murdered at Gateshead, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the North of England. All the circumstances, even to the peculiar mutilation of the body, point to the Whitechapel fiend as the murderer.


The panic created by this piece of butchery and the increased vigilance of the police seemed to have frightened the murderous maniac off, but on the morning of September 30 he sallied out again. At 1 o'clock he met Elizabeth Stride, or "Hippy Lip" Anne, in Berner street and cut her throat for her. The fact that the body was not otherwise mutilated makes it possible that it was not the work of the same assassin. But the doctors who have examined the wounds in the throat believe that it is. Here is a physician's description of the wound:

"There was a clean-cut incision on the neck. It was six inches in length, and commenced two and one-half inches in a straight line below the angle of the jaw, three-quarters of an inch over an undivided muscle, and then, becoming deeper, dividing the sheath. The cut was very clean, and deviated a little downward. The artery and other vessels contained in the sheath were all cut through. The cut through the tissues on the right side was more superficial, and tailed off to about two inches below the right angle of the jaw. The deep vessels on that side were uninjured. From this it was evident that the hemorrhage was caused through the partial severance of the left carotid artery."

Berner street is a badly-lighted, narrow thoroughfare, inhabited by tolerably respectable people. The Workingmen's International Educational Club has a building there. There is a stable in the rear of it, shut off from the street by two stout wooden gates. There is a small door in one gate, fastened with a latch. The probability is that the murderer got the woman just inside this small door, cut her throat and was frightened away by the noise of people moving above in the Club. There were any number of people astir in the neighbourhood when Elizabeth Stride's life was taken, but no one heard a sound. The steward of the Club found the body just inside the wooden gate when he went there after 1 o'clock Sunday morning.
The body was still warm, and the blood was trickling under the gate down the pavement to the gutter. The steward called some of the members of the Club, who were simply staggered by the sight before them. One man said that he had closed the gate himself when he passed through the yard twenty minutes previous. The woman was identified. Her life story is a sad one, but there are thousands like it in London - and in New York, too, for that matter.


Meanwhile, to follow the murderer. While the police were carrying the body of Elizabeth Stride to the deadhouse, he was knifing another woman ten minutes' walk from the spot. To read of Mitre Square a New Yorker might think of it in comparison with Tompkin's Square or Washington Square. In reality it is a small court about the size of the New York Stock Exchange. It is, as I cabled the World the day of the murders, accessible by four "private" roads, such as only a Londoner familiar with the locality would think of entering. It is outside the balliwick of the Metropolitan police, and is patrolled by the City of London police.
The officer Watkins, who covered that beat that Sunday night is considered one of the most reliable men on the force. He talks like a shrewd, careful fellow. At 1:30 Sunday morning he walked through Mitre Square. Two street lamps were burning there and three windows in a large warehouse were ablaze with light. The policeman could see the watchman of the warehouse reading within. All was quiet. Exactly fifteen minutes later the policeman passed that way again. His feet slipped in the blood of another murdered woman.
The policeman could have heard a woman's shriek from one end of his beat to the other, but he did not hear one that night. Not a sound disturbed the ear of the watchman in the warehouse. Just inside the railings, not twenty feet from the dead body, an ex-policeman lived with his family, and the windows of their bedrooms faced the square. No cry for help disturbed their slumbers.
In this case, again, the murderer had time to mutilate his victim unmolested. Her throat was cut first, of course. Then the assassin's knife was thrust into the upper part of the abdomen and drawn completely down, ripping open the stomach and exposing the intestines. In addition there was another deep cut across the abdomen. The left kidney had been carefully taken out. It was the work, so a competent physician thinks, of a man skilled in anatomy, sure in his stroke with the knife and steady of nerve. This kidney was taken away by the murderer. A part of the right ear had been taken off and a deep gash extended across the right cheek, almost to the nose or rather the place where the nose ought to have been, for that was cut off, too.
This woman was identified as Catherine Eddowes, a street hawker, living with a man named Kelly. If the day's business was bad, as was often the case, she tried to make a little money in the slums at night.


In Oct., another mutilated body of a woman was discovered, and the crime is by some attributed to the Whitechapel murderer. It was found in an open vault on the side of the projected Grand Opera-House, within a stone's throw of the Grand and Metropole Hotels, and within sight of Police Headquarters at Scotland Yard.
The body was in an advanced state of decomposition, and had been subjected to mutilations similar in fiendish ingenuity to those inflicted on the Whitechapel victims. The head and arms had been separated from the body; the abdomen cut vertically and the viscera exposed. The monster evidently had more time and was able to perform his terrible task with greater leisure. He had wrapped up the remains and corded them. One arm was missing. A month before a woman's arm had been found floating in the Thames at Pimlico, and this is believed to be the missing member.
The locality is one of the busiest and wealthiest parts of London, and is by day thronged with thousands of people. But at night it is somewhat deserted, and the Thames Embankment, with its brilliant electric lights and heavy shadows, is considered one of the most dangerous spots of all London after 10 p.m.

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

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Re: The Women of Whitechapel

Post by Karen on Sun 19 Jun 2011 - 3:45


It would take a page of The World to merely mention the theories printed in the newspapers about these murders, and the suggestions offered to the police for capturing the criminal. The Pall Mall Gazette has carefully culled and condensed the best of them, and I cannot do better than reproduce its summary.


The Jekyll and Hyde Theory - That the murderer lives two lives and inhabits two houses or two sets of rooms. Possibly the culprit is an army doctor suffering from sunstroke. He has seen the horrible play, lives in Bayswater or North London, in perhaps a decent square or terrace, dresses well. Goes out about 10 p.m. straight to Whitechapel. Commits deed. Home again to breakfast. Wash, brush up, sleep. Himself again.

By a Policeman - That no one but a policeman could have eluded vigilance. Therefore -

Avenging Lipski - That some of Lipski's compatriots have turned wholesale murderers for the purpose of showing that the police are mostly fools.

The Scientific Sociologist - That the murderer is a scientific sociologist who wished to bring forcibly before the public mind the natural corollary of the impunity with which the maiming of women is regarded by the magistrates and judges.

The Gang Theory - Some think that such a series of murders could only have been successfully executed by a gang of two or more.

The Work of a Religious Maniac - The murders point to one individual, and that individual insane. Not necessarily an escaped, or even as yet recognized lunatic. He may be an earnest religionist with a delusion that he has a mission from above to extirpate vice by assassination. And he has selected the victims from a class which contributes pretty largely to the factorship of immorality and sin.

The Burke and Hare Theory - Suggested by Mr. Wynne Baxter that the murderer is employed to get anatomical specimens for some experimentalist.


Hint From Archibald Forbes - That the murderer is the victim of a specific contagion and is avenging himself; possibly a medical student, from the knowledge of anatomy displayed in the murders.

Try the Clairvoyant - Several correspondents suggest that the spiritualists should be called in. Where are Messrs. Stuart Cumberland and Irving Bishop?

Handwriting Expert - Jack the Ripper's letters may be genuine. Why not have them photographed and widely circulated?

Baby-faced Pugilists - Policemen have beards, bass voices and big feet. Give the pugilists a chance; there are numbers of well-trained pugilists in Shoreditch and Whitechapel who are, many of them, young and, as is the custom in their profession, clean-shaved. Twenty game men of this class in women's clothes loitering about Whitechapel would have more chance than any number of heavy-footed policemen.

Pardon to Accomplices - There is a theory that the murderer must be known to some one who has withheld information in expectation of reward. He is now afraid. Promise him a pardon.

Bloodhounds - They ran Fish, the Blackburn barber, to earth, and it is suggested that they should be tried in Whitechapel. Mr. Percy Lindley, a breeder of bloodhounds, says that as all trace of the scent has been trodden out they would be useless at present, but suggests that a pair of these dogs should be kept for a time at one of the police headquarters ready for immediate use.

Everyone to Report to the Police before Going to Bed - Another idea is to draw a line round the area of the murders, constitute a number of temporary police stations and make every man living in the area report himself before going to bed.

Knife-Searching - It is seriously suggested by a correspondent in the Daily Telegraph that after dark in certain parts of London every policeman ought to have the right of stopping and searching anyone to see if he carries a knife such as must have been used in these hideous crimes.

Policemen in Rubber Shoes - Policemen have mostly big feet, wear thick boots, and have a heavy tread. If they wore list or rubber shoes they might come on the murderer unawares.

Policemen as Women - That policemen should disguise themselves as women and act as decoys. The policemen say they have beards and bass voices.

Professional Slaughterers - Some suggest that a census of the men employed in slaughter-houses should be taken.

The arrests so far are legion. Still, at this writing no one is under arrest. All the men locked up on suspicion and on delirium-tremens confessions have been discharged. A man from New York was among the number. He came into the World office afterward and wanted it explained that he was "on a lark." Well, he had his fun, and, from the Police Court evidence, he deserved all the unsavory publicity he got.

Last edited by Karen on Sun 19 Jun 2011 - 9:42; edited 1 time in total

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

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Re: The Women of Whitechapel

Post by Karen on Sun 19 Jun 2011 - 9:41


Sir Charles Warren, forced to say something in response to the frantic appeals for prompt and effective action made to him, said: "Statistics show that London, in comparison to its population, is the safest city in the world to live in." It is due to the police to say that their failure to catch the criminal has not been wholly due to inactivity. This is especially true of the "city" force. Each organization is working independently of the other, according to its own methods. The investigation of the numerous slaughter-houses in the district has been most thorough. Every one in the East End and some others have practically been turned inside out. The proprietors and managers have in most cases heartily cooperated with the police. Every employee has been personally "pumped." Each man has been called upon to give an account of himself and his whereabouts not only on Saturday night, Sept. 29, but during the entire period over which the series of crimes extends. Every peculiar circumstance is made note of, and no one to whom the slightest suspicion attaches is lost sight of until the suspicion is completely allayed. Nor has the man's own word been accepted as conclusive. Each man has been asked if he knows of anyone who has not been regular at his work or has played tricks on the timekeeper, for the time-book in each establishment plays an important part in the investigation. More than all this, in some cases all men who can write have been called upon to make a statement in writing and sign their names, so that any possible question of handwriting may be more easily compared. The same thoroughness has characterized what has been done in the lodging-houses. Deputies were required to make a showing of all their regular lodgers, to point out their habits, their peculiarities and their associates, and to furnish descriptions of all casual visitors who had attracted special attention. Frequenters of lodging-houses have been interviewed by hundreds, and detectives have been scattered all over the district disguised as men down on their luck in the hope of their picking up some information. But the police have pretty well made up their minds that the man they want is not to be found through the lodging-house channel. The fact that so many of the victims were themselves frequenters of these caravansaries has quickened the instinct and aroused the spirit of the class, and it would be almost impossible for a murderer to be among them without someone giving him away. The attention that has been paid to the hospitals has been quite as close, but the police have not always found the hospital authorities to eager to assist them. The ethics of medical etiquette appear to stand in the way of full and free investigation among medical students at least, for they are slow to tell what they know or suspect when it may affect one of their number. One police inspector said that he supposed there were over a hundred men who were being individually shadowed in his district alone, and if the same system is in vogue all over the East End the number of detectives on the job must be something enormous. There is not a vacant building in the East End that has not been thoroughly searched lest it might afford a hiding place for the murderer; and in at least two instances the drain pipes have been taken up for a long distance where suspicious matter was thought to have been deposited.
Every vessel that has left the harbor since the hour of the commission of the last crime has been thoroughly overhauled, the workhouses have been visited for the examination of all new inmates, and even the prison authorities have been enlisted in the cause for the sake of keeping a close eye on prisoners who may have been glad to get put away for a time for trivial offences. It is estimated, rougly speaking, that there are at least 500 men engaged in these investigations who are not police officers, but who are directly instructed by the police officials

Source: Quebec Weekly Chronicle, Thursday November 15, 1888, Page 2

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