Prior to the death of Elizabeth Annie Smith, who was found in the River Lea at the end of April, was the Modern Babylon scandal, in which, young girls were being abducted and sold out as slaves to prostitution. This particular case seems to have many connections to the Elizabeth Annie Smith case, in that:
a.) Lily Pank was taken by cab down the Lea Bridge Road to a secluded portion of Epping Forest and Smith was found drowned in the River Lea after attending a dance at the Carman's Rest in the Lea Bridge Road.
b.) The proximity of the two dates in question - both occurring in April of 1888.
c.) In this case it is explained that the two men who abduct the young girls own a vessel which is masquerading as a trading vessel, yet seems to have more nefarious purposes; and in the Smith case, George Anthony was seen by a witness walking away from a boat-house in which he lodged at the Middlesex Wharf.
THE MODERN BABYLON.
Girl Snatchers in London.
A few weeks ago Mrs. Pank, wife of a builder's foreman, resident at 25, Medway Road, Old Ford, applied to the sitting magistrate at Worship-street Police Court, with reference to the mysterious disappearance of her daughter Lily, who had been missing since the afternoon of the 14th. She was stated to be 14 years of age, but looking older, 5 feet 4 inches in height, very fair, with light hair and blue eyes and of prepossessing appearance. She had gone out, the mother said, to deliver some work, for which she had received a sovereign in payment. It afterwards came out that when in the neighbourhood of the Bethnal Green Museum on her return home, she was seen to be in great distress, having lost the sovereign. Among the lookers-on was a woman, who manifested such strong sympathy with her that Lily Pank was induced to accompany her to a house in Hackney Wick. Here the attitude of the woman suddenly changed, and she stripped the girl of some of her best clothing, which included a fawn-coloured dolman, a hat to match and a white silk handkerchief, and pushing her into a room upstairs locked her in. Here she remained a close prisoner till the evening of the 17th, when she arrived home in a sadly bedraggled state, with most of her clothing gone. The statement she made to her mother then coincided with the particulars we have just given, the only addition being that although the door of the room in which she had been kept was always locked, the woman who had led her there had returned home that afternoon the worse for drink, and had inadvertently left it unlocked. Taking advantage of this, together with the maudlin condition of the woman, the girl managed to effect her escape. By those who questioned the girl - among others, Mr. F.N. Charrington and Mr. E.H. Kerwin, of the Central Vigilance Society - her story is believed to be strictly true, and taken in connection with an incident which happened some five months ago, seems to point to a determined attempt to get forcible possession of the girl. One afternoon in the month of June, while coming from business, Lily Pank was startled and surprised when in the Cambridge Road, just opposite the Bethnal Green Museum, a cab suddenly drew up beside the kerb, and a man, having the appearance of the captain of a vessel, wearing a navy blue coat with brass buttons, white duck trousers and a peak cap with gold lace band, jumped out, and, seizing her, dragged her, screaming, into the vehicle. A lady who was passing by, accompanied by a child, ventured to remonstrate with the man at his treatment of the girl, but his only reply was that he could do what he liked with his own. The cab, it appears, then drove by way of Lea Bridge Road to a secluded portion of Epping Forest, where the man attempted to outrage the girl, who bravely struggled with him, however, until the appearance of a gentleman coming towards the scene caused him to desist. Jumping into the cab, the last words the terror-stricken girl heard him say were, "I'll let you go this time; but, mind, I have not done with you yet." The girl wandered about until she reached a railway station, where she told a porter of what had happened. The porter secured the services of a police constable, to whom the story was repeated. The constable, who appeared somewhat sceptical, insisted on taking the girl home to ascertain the truth of her statement; and, walking all the way, Old Ford was reached at about half-past 1 in the morning. There the constable learnt that the address given him by the girl was correct. The story was repeated by her, without variation, to her mother, who also was inclined to disbelieve it until she was shown the scratches and bruises the girl had received, and had satisfied herself that she was otherwise unharmed. The particulars of the case were at the time communicated to Mr. Charrington, who, however, despite the most assiduous inquiries, was unable to trace the man until lately. In the meantime, the mother of the girl was confined to her bed by the condition of mental anguish into which she was placed on hearing the story. It was only about a month ago that she recovered from her state of prostration, and very shortly following that came the most extraordinary part of the business narrated above.
Both the gentlemen above named are agreed that the second adventure was only a continuation of the first, and a fulfilment of the sinister words of the man when he left the girl at Epping Forest.
And now comes the curious connecting link in the chain of evidence against the man which is gradually being forged. A person recently waited on Mr. Charrington and said that, although unfortunately an acquaintance of the parties, he felt in duty bound to tell him of the horrible traffic that was being carried on by two men in a certain house in Bethnal Green, aided by one or more agents in the neighbourhood. They make a practice, he said, of decoying young girls away by means of these agents, and in many cases resorted to the process of going about in cabs, snatching the girls, placing them inside and carrying them off to their den.
The men, he added, owned a vessel which, although ostensibly an ordinary trading vessel, yet carried from London to the North of England, and in some cases to the Continent, the girls thus decoyed, and handed them over to brothel-keepers for a pecuniary consideration, although more often than not they had already been outraged by the men before they were thus bartered. The description the informant gave of one of the men - his own quondam friend - corresponded minutely with that of the individual who, in June, decoyed Lily Pank to Epping Forest, and information has been received which it is believed will lead to the identification of the cabman employed on the occasion. The House in Hackney Wick, to which the girl was taken, has also been identified by the police.
A large number of letters, it may be added, from heart-broken parents, have found their way to the Great Assembly Hall, asking for Mr. Charrington's assistance in trying to discover the whereabouts of daughters who have been some time missing.
Source: Auckland Star, Volume XIX, Issue 88, 14 April 1888, Page 3