Tragedies in East London – Another woman murdered

Saturday, September 8 – 1888
The Central News says: All London was awakened this morning, to the painful and awful fact that another murder, far more diabolical and fiendish than those that preceded it, had been perpetrated on a woman of the same class as the poor wretch who was found in Buck’s-row on Friday week.

The victim in this case was discovered about a quarter to four o’clock this morning, lying in a back yard at the foot of the passage leading into a lodging-house, No. 29, Hanbury-street, formerly Old Brown’s-lane, Spitafields.

The house is occupied by a Mrs. Emelia Richardson, who lets it out to various lodgers; and it seems that the door which admits into this passage, athe the foot of which lies the yard, were the body was found, is always open, for the convenience of the lodgers.

A Mr. and Mrs. Davis occupy the upper storey (the house consisting of three storeys), and as Mr. Davis was going to work at the time mentioned he found a woman lying on her back, close up to the flight of steps leading into the yard.

Her throat was cut open in a fearful manner – so deep, in fact, that the murderer, thinking he had severed the head from the body, ties a handkerchief round it, so as to keep it on.

It was also found that her abdomen had been completely ripped open, and the bowels, heart, and entrails were lying at her side.

The fiendish work was completed by the murderer tying part of the entrails round the poor victim’s neck and head.

The spot on which she was lying was found covered with clots of thick blood, most horrible to look at.

The supposition finds ready acceptance that the poor woman was murdered outside, and taken into this yard by those who knew the place well. This is upheld by the fact that spots of blood are lying thick in the narrow passage leading from te street into the yard, while the blood marks were the body was found must have been caused by its being deposited there, there being no signs of any struggle having taken place in the vicinity.

Davis immediately communicated with the police at the Commerical-street station, and Inspector Chandler and several constables arrived on the scene in a short time, when they found the woman in the condition described.

Even at this early hour the news spread quickly, and great excitement prevailed among the occupants of the adjoining houses; and an excited crowd gathered in front of Mrs. Richardson’s house, and also around the mortuary in Old Montague-street, whither the body was quickly removed.

As the corpse lay in the rough coffin in which it was placed in the mortuary – the same coffin in which the unfortunate Mrs. Nicholls was put – it presented an appearance which could not but evoke pity for the victim and indignation at the brutal murder to an extreme degree.

The body is that of a woman evidently of about 45 years of age; the height is 5ft. exactly; the complexion is fair, with wavy dark brown hair; the eyes are blue, and two teeth have been knocked out in the lower jaw.

The nose is rather large and prominent; the third finger of the left hand bore signs of rings having been wrenched off it; and the hands and arms were considerably bruised.

Emelia Richardson, the woman who rents the house, stated, in an interview with a Central News reporter, that the murder was beyond all description in its horrible details. The belly had been fairly ripped open, it seemed to her, by the hand of some fiend or maniac, who gloated in the horribleness of the deed.

The deceased had laced-up boots and striped stockings. She had on two cotton petticoats, and was otherwise respectably dressed. Nothing was found in her pockets but a handkerchief and two small combs.

The excitement in the vicinity is intense, and innumerable rumours are flying about. One report has it that a leather apron and a long knife have been found near the place where the body lay, belonging, it is said, to a man whose name is unknown, but who is nicknamed “Leather Apron,” and evidently known in the district.

Another report states that another woman was nearly murdered early in the morning, and was taken to the hospital in a dying condition.

Several persons who were lodging in the house, who were in the vicinity when the body was found, were taken to the Commercial-street station, and are being closely examined, especially the women who were last with the deceased.

The police authorities are extremely reticent owing to the fact that any statement that might get out would help the murderer to elude detection.

There can be little doubt now that this latest murder is one of the series of fiendish atrocities on women which have been going on during the last few months, this making the fourth case in this short time – all in the same district.

It is thought that in this case the victim must have been murdered outside, or in a neighbouring house, and carried into this dark yard, where the murderer evidently thought it was safe from discovery for some time.

There is very little evidence to show that the murder was committed on the premises where the body was found, as the marks of blood were all found in one place, viz., where the police discovered the body.

The only other marks are those found in the passage close to the field of steps; and these may have been caused in removing the body to the mortuary. The police, however, in this case have more facts and evidence to go on, and they are sanguine that the murderer will be soon found out.

Looking at the corpse, no one could think otherwise than that the murder had been committed by a maniac or wretch of the lowest type of humanity.

Indeed, we should have to go to the wilds of Hungary, or search the records of the French lower peasant life, before a more sickening and revolting tragedy could be found.

A grave responsibility rests with the police in the district.

The Central News, telegraphing later, says: – The woman murdered in Spitafields last night was known among her companions as “Dark Annie,” and gave her name as Annie Liffey, but it is not yet known whether this was her correct name.

She was a prostitute, and had been recently living at a common lodging-house at Dorsett-street, which is near by the scene of last night’s atrocious crime.

The deceased formerly lived with a sieve maker in the East end of London as his wife.

The excitement in the district grows in intensity as the day draws on. Crowds have gathered at various points in the vicinity, and the prevalent feeling is one bordering upon panic.

Rumours are plentiful, but the reports of a second murder this morning is entirely unfounded.

The excitement in Spitafields is now rendering the people almost frantic. Two ordinary prisoners were arrested for trifling offences this morning, and on each occasion a maddened crowd ran after the police, shouting, “Murderer’s caught.”

Another man injured in a quarrel, and carried to the police station on a stretcher, received similar attention, the crowd fairly mobbing the station and declining to disperse.

As a matter of fact, no arrests have been made to noon, though the police are more hopeful on this than on the last occasion.

The deceased, it transpires, was unable to pay her lodging money last night, and went on the streets again to get it. She was then under the influence of liquor, and was seen drinking again in the early hours of the morning.
(Lancashire Evening Post, 08-08-1888)

Annie Chapman

Jack The Ripper, Annie Chapman

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