Read an Excerpt
Jack The Ripper
By Mark Whitehead, Miriam Rivett
Oldcastle BooksCopyright © 2001 Mark Whitehead and Miriam Rivett
All rights reserved.
'Vice can afford to pay more than honesty, but its profits at last go to landlords.'
Reverend Samuel Barnett, letter to The Times, 19 September 1888.
Sometime between 4 and 5am on 3 April 1888, Emma Smith returned to lodgings at 18, George Street, Spitalfields. She told the house's deputy keeper, Mary Russell, that she had been assaulted and robbed in Osborn Street (about 300 yards away). Smith, a 45-year-old prostitute , had lived at George Street for 18 months and was known for returning at all hours, usually drunk. That night, she had been returning from a night's soliciting at 1.30am when three men had attacked her outside Taylor Bros Cocoa factory near Brick Lane.
Russell and Annie Lee, a lodger, escorted her to London Hospital where she was attended by house surgeon Dr George Haslip. As well as bruising to her face and a torn right ear, Smith's vagina had been penetrated by a blunt object so forcefully that it had ruptured her peritoneum. Peritonitis resulted. After slipping into a coma, she died at 9am on 4 April.
Despite probably passing several policemen during her journeys to and from George Street, Smith had not reported the incident, or asked for assistance. Officers on patrol that evening said that they hadn't seen or heard anything unusual. The police were not alerted to the attack on Smith until they were informed that a coroner's inquest was to be held on 7 April.
Wynne Baxter presided over the inquest at the London Hospital. Baxter would conduct inquests into six other Whitechapel murders associated with the Ripper. Known for his flashy dress and, later, his friction with the Metropolitan Police, Baxter had become coroner for East London and Tower of London in 1887 after a bitter election contest. At the inquest an anonymous witness testified to having seen Smith at around a quarter past midnight near Burdett Road (about two miles from where she was attacked), talking to 'a man dressed in dark clothes with a white neckerchief'. The witness had been hurrying away from the area since she had been assaulted by two men a few minutes before she saw Smith. One man had asked her the time and the other had struck her in the mouth before both ran away. The witness didn't think that the man talking to Smith had been one of these.
Also present at the inquest was Chief Inspector John West of H Division. West would become acting Superintendent during the murder investigations of Mary Ann Nichols and Annie Chapman, and be responsible for combining the enquiries into the Whitechapel murders under Inspector Abberline. At this point, West had no official information on the assault.
The jury's verdict was 'Wilful murder by some person or persons unknown'. Unofficially, it was believed that Smith had been killed by members of a band of street thugs from The Nichol, a slum area near Old Nichol Street at the top of Brick Lane. The gang's preferred livelihood consisted of extracting protection money from East End prostitutes and it was possible that they'd brutalised Smith as a warning to other women to pay up or suffer similar treatment.
Martha Tabram (aka Martha Turner, Emma Turner) was the ex-wife of Henry Samuel Tabram, foreman packer at a furniture warehouse. They'd had two sons but separated in 1875 because of Martha's excessive drinking. By 1879 she was living with Henry Turner, a street hawker. He too found Martha's drinking difficult to cope with. As a result they often spent periods apart and finally separated in July 1888. Martha supported herself through prostitution and selling trinkets on the streets. During this time, she took lodgings at 19, George Street, Spitalfields, living there under the name Emma Turner. On Saturday 4 August 1888, Martha met Turner in Leadenhall Street where he gave her money to buy some more trinkets to sell. It was the last time that he saw her.
The following Monday, Martha went out for the evening with Mary Ann Connolly (also known as 'Pearly Poll'). According to Connolly they met two guardsmen, a corporal and a private, in The Two Brewers pub, most likely situated in Brick Lane. They drank with their new-found acquaintances in various other pubs, including the White Swan in Whitechapel High Street until about 11.45pm when they paired off to have sex. Connolly and the corporal went to Angel Alley (situated next to Osborn Street), while Martha and the private went into George Yard (now Gunthorpe Street). The buildings there were relatively new (constructed in 1875) but cheap, single-room dwellings, occupied by the poorest in the area.
At around 2.00am, PC Thomas Barrett was patrolling the area. He encountered a soldier he later described as being a Grenadier Guardsman. The soldier was in his early-to-late twenties, 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a fair complexion, dark hair and a small brown moustache turned up at the ends. The man was loitering in Wentworth Street. He claimed he was 'waiting for a chum who had gone with a girl'. Barrett later stated he would recognise the soldier, a private, if he saw him again. This he was later asked to do.
Arriving home at 3.30am, a cab driver, Albert Crow, came across a body on the first-floor landing of George Yard buildings. He thought it was a tramp sleeping rough, a regular occurrence in the area. At 4.45am in the same block, John Reeves, a waterside labourer, left his home to seek work. He also saw the body on the landing but was more observant than Crow. He saw that it was a woman lying on her back in a pool of blood. He immediately sought a police officer and found PC Barrett, who sent for a doctor. Barrett noted that the woman's clothes were 'turned up as far as the centre of the body' leaving the lower half exposed as if 'recent intimacy had taken place'. At the coroner's inquest, Reeves testified that he hadn't seen any footprints or blood leading to the body, or any sign of a weapon.
The doctor called to the scene, Dr Timothy Killeen, arrived around 5.30am, and estimated that the woman had been dead for three hours. She had been stabbed 39 times. As there was no public mortuary in Whitechapel the police took the body to the workhouse infirmary in Old Montague Street. Killeen conducted the post-mortem, finding wounds to both lungs, the heart, liver, spleen and stomach as well as the breasts and genital area. He concluded that most of the wounds had been inflicted by a right-handed assailant and that all the wounds bar one could have been inflicted by an ordinary penknife. However, one wound penetrated the sternum , and Killeen thought that this must have been inflicted by a dagger or possibly a bayonet. Whether this wound had been caused by another assailant, Killeen did not speculate, but he contended that it was possibly made by a left-handed person unlike the others. It has been pointed out that he may have been unaware that the standard-issue triangular bayonet had been withdrawn from issue the previous year and that the blade replacing it could well have made all of the wounds.
At the coroner's inquest on 9 August, the deputy coroner for south-east Middlesex, George Collier (Wynne Baxter was on holiday) remained hopeful that the body would be identified. Three women had come forward but identified the dead woman under three different names. The inquest was adjourned for a fortnight. On 14 August, Henry Tabram, Martha's ex- husband, positively identified her. He'd only learned of her death when he noticed the name Tabram mentioned in one of the newspaper reports of the murder.
Meanwhile, Mary Ann Connolly had come forward to give details of Martha's last night. On 9 August, she told the police at Commercial Street station that she could identify both soldiers if she saw them again. An identity parade of corporals and privates in the Grenadier Guards who had been on leave that evening was assembled at the Tower of London the following day. Connolly failed to show. Later traced by the police to her cousin's house in Drury Lane, Connolly was taken to a second identity parade at the Tower on 13 August, but failed to identify the men. She now said that they'd had white bands around their caps, which suggested they were Coldstream Guards. A similar parade was assembled at Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk on 15 August. Here Connolly picked out Guardsmen George and Skipper, both of whom had strong alibis. Let down once more by 'Pearly Poll,' the police did not seek her question able assistance any further.
PC Barrett also attended identity parades at the Tower. On 8 August he picked out two men. Later, Barrett admitted his first choice was wrong (this private wore medals whereas the man Barrett encountered on the 7th wore none).The second, Private John Leary, had been drinking with Private Law in Brixton until closing time. Losing Law, Leary had returned via Battersea and Chelsea, meeting up with Law once more in the Strand at about 4.30am. They had reached barracks around 6.00am. Law corroborated Leary's statement.
Inspector Edmund Reid of H Division CID organised the identity parades and questioned those guards picked out by Connolly and Barrett. In his report dated 24 September 1888 he concludes:'Having both picked out the wrong men they could not be trusted again as their evidence would be worthless.'
The time lapse between Tabram's disappearance with the guardsman (11.45pm) and her estimated time of death (2.30am) seems curious. It is certainly possible that she found another client after the private. It may also be possible that the soldier PC Barrett saw at 2.00am was not the same one that Connolly had been with earlier. Further to this, Private Law could only corroborate that part of Private Leary's story for which he was present. However, Barrett's confusion over identification obviously made Inspector Reid doubtful of his powers of recollection. The inquest reconvened on 23 August. The verdict returned was one of 'Wilful murder by some person or persons unknown'. It was a verdict that would recur over the coming months.
Tabram's ferocious murder had incited public reaction and led to the establishment of the first of several vigilance committees. St Jude's Vigilance Committee comprised seventy local men and students from Toynbee Hall. Twelve of their group were selected to patrol in the area between 11pm and 1am. In addition, on 18 August, the East London Advertiser reported that the Whitechapel Board of Works had approved 'lamps with double the illuminating power be fixed at the corner of the following streets, viz. Wentworth Street west corner, Thrawl Street, Flower and Dean Street, Vine Court, Quaker Street, Worship Square'. Attempts to make the area safer were beginning but no one could know how much more unsafe the East End was about to become. The murders were treated as isolated incidents and prostitutes continued to ply their trade on the Whitechapel streets.
As with all the 'canonical' Ripper murders no one was ever apprehended for the killing of Emma Smith or Martha Tabram. Several theorists suggest that Martha Tabram's murder marked the start of Jack the Ripper's career. Both attacks were later linked to the Ripper's crimes by the press but, at the time, horrendous though the crimes were, neither was seen as being part of a pattern. Violence was commonplace in the East End but even so these murders were out of the ordinary.CHAPTER 2
'Watchman, Old Man, I Believe Somebody Is Murdered Down the Street'
'They were locked together like a famous football team: they were inseparable. Part of the doctrine'
Iain Sinclair, White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings
Mary Ann Nichols
For most of its length, Buck's Row (now Durward Street) was a narrow and poorly-lit street. It ran between Brady Street to the east and Baker's Row (now Vallance Street) to the west, both of which joined with Whitechapel Road to the south. From the Brady Street entrance its left-hand side was flanked by a row of run-down two-storey houses mainly occupied by working-class tenants. Next to these there was a stable yard and a board school. After these, Buck's Row widened considerably, meeting with Winthrop Street.
At about 3.40am on the morning of 31 August, carman (cart driver) Charles Cross was walking to work at Pickford's in Broad Street from his home in Bethnal Green. Entering Buck's Row from the east, he was on the right hand side of the street when he noticed something lying out side the gate to the stable yard. At first he thought someone had abandoned a tarpaulin but then he realised that he was mistaken. It was the body of a woman.
Uncertain what to do, Cross was shortly joined by another carman, Robert Paul, on his way to work in Spitalfields. Together they went to examine the body. She was lying on her back, her skirts raised almost to her stomach . Cross felt her hands and told Paul: 'I think she is dead.' Putting his hand on her heart, Paul was not so certain. 'I think she is breathing,' he replied, 'but very little if she is.' He asked Cross to help him prop her up, but Cross refused. In the darkness they could see little of what might have caused the woman's condition and, after an attempt to pull her skirts down, they headed off towards Baker's Row in search of a policeman. At the corner of Baker's Row and Hanbury Street they met PC Jonas Mizen and told him of their discovery. 'I think she is dead or drunk,' Cross told him. Mizen went to investigate and the two men, unwilling to lose more time, went their separate ways.
Meanwhile, the body had been discovered by another policeman. At 3.45am, PC John Neil's patrol took him east into Buck's Row. With his lantern he was able to examine the woman more closely than it had been possible for the two carmen to do. Her hands were open at her sides, the left touching the stable yard gate, her eyes were open, as was her throat from which blood was oozing. Neil felt her right arm and found it was still warm above the elbow. With his lantern, he signalled PC John Thain from Brady Street. Thain was dispatched to fetch Dr Rees Llewellyn from 152, Whitechapel Road. Neil was joined shortly by PC Mizen, who went to fetch an ambulance (basically a wheeled stretcher) and assistance from Bethnal Green police station.
Neil rang the bell at Essex Wharf (across the road from the stable yard) and asked if anyone had heard a disturbance. Neither the manager, Walter Purkiss, nor his wife had heard anything, despite having had a restless night's sleep. Further enquiries were made by Sergeant Kerby, who had arrived at the same time as Dr Llewellyn. Kerby enquired at the house of Mrs Emma Green, who lived with her daughter and two sons at the first of the houses on Buck's Row. None of them had noticed anything unusual during the night.
Dr Llewellyn's on-site examination confirmed that the woman was dead and had been, he estimated, for about half an hour. Although there was very little blood around her, or in the gutter nearby, there were no bloodstains to suggest that the body had been dragged there. Neither was there any evidence of a struggle. Llewellyn ordered the woman to be removed to Old Montague Street Workhouse infirmary mortuary, where he would make a further examination.
At the inquest Thain, Mizen and Neil would tell how, once the body had been moved, a patch of congealed blood was revealed, about six inches in diameter. More, however, had been absorbed by the woman's clothes. PC Thain found, when lifting her onto the stretcher, that her back was covered with blood which smeared his hands.
Mizen, Neil and Kerby escorted the body to the mortuary . After visiting the crime scene, Inspector Spratling, divisional inspector of J Division, arrived at the mortuary to find it locked up and the body on the stretcher in the yard. While he waited for Robert Mann, the keeper of the mortuary , to arrive, he took a description of the woman. Mann arrived between 5.00 and 5.20am whereupon the body was taken inside. It was there that Spratling summoned Dr Llewellyn once more for, lifting the woman's clothes, he found that the wound to her throat was the least of their concerns. Her abdomen had been viciously ripped open up to the sternum and her intestines exposed.
Dr Llewellyn's post-mortem noted the following: There were lacerations to the tongue. Bruises to both sides of the jaw were probably caused by pressure from a thumb and fingers. There were two deep incisions in the neck, the second and longest of which cut right down to the vertebrae. There were no wounds to the body above the deep, jagged wound to the abdomen on the left and several similar cuts to the abdomen on the right. All of these were inflicted violently downwards and from left to right, 'as might have been done by a left-handed person'. He concluded:'All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.' No part of the viscera was missing. Later, he would express doubts about his original supposition that the murderer was left-handed.
Identifying the victim seemed difficult, but within a day her name was revealed and her life began to take shape for the investigators. As news of the latest murder spread through the East End, it transpired that a woman fitting the deceased's deescription had lodged at 18,Thrawl Street. One occupant, Ellen Holland, identified the body as 'Polly'. A more solid identification resulted from the laundry mark of Lambeth Workhouse in the victim's petticoats. Mary Ann Monk, an inmate of the workhouse, identified the woman as Mary Ann Nichols, 43, who had been at the workhouse as recently as May that year. The police then traced the deceased's father, Edward Walker, and her estranged husband, William Nichols, both of whom identified the body the next day.
Excerpted from Jack The Ripper by Mark Whitehead, Miriam Rivett. Copyright © 2001 Mark Whitehead and Miriam Rivett. Excerpted by permission of Oldcastle Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.