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The Lawyers Carve Up the Golden Goose

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Monday, December 31, 2018

BLOODY JACK Chapter Four

I suspect that even in Whitechapel, Mary Ann Connolly stood out. She was a large woman, "Her face reddened and sodded by drink",  who went by the street monikers of "Moggg" and  “Pearly Poll”. And in the morning of Thursday, 9 August, 1888, she walked into the Commerce Street station house for the Metropolitan Police in Whitechapel, and in a loud, deep raspy voice, this fifty year old broad shouldered, almost six foot tall red faced alcoholic prostitute announced she knew the name of the woman murdered in George Yard on Tuesday morning. They were good friends and had even been drinking together on Monday night. Detective Edmund Reid went down to interview the woman.
According to Pearly Poll, she was currently living at Crossingham's Lodging House, aka The Round House, a private “dosshouse” at 35 Dorset Street. She had known Emma Turner for four or five months, and the two had become “drinking partners”. The evening of the Bank Holiday, Monday, 6 August, they made the rounds of several pubs, until about 10:00 p.m. when they met two soldiers, a Guardsman and a corporal in the Two Brewers pub on Brick Lane (above). 
Pub hopping for the next ninety minutes, their last stop was The White Hart pub (above), next to the entrance of George Yard (above, right) on Whitechapel High Street. Just before midnight, the four split up. The last Poll had seen of Emma Turner, she was disappearing into the shadows of George Yard with the guardsman.
Poll had taken the corporal up the block to Angel Alley (above, right), an even narrower, darker 3 food wide passage between Whitechapel and Wentworth. 
There Poll performed her service up against the wall (above, to the left of the shop window), a "tup penny upright",  or a "thru penny knee trembler".
Thirty minutes later, having earned enough for her bed in the doss house, Poll left the corporal standing at the corner of Wentworth and George Yard (above, center), waiting for his friend to reappear.
Detective Reid thought the story had problems. Poll's claim that she left a corporal at the corner of Wentworth and George Yard at 12:15 am, was similar to Constable Barrett's story of speaking to a soldier at the same spot about 2:00 am. Could Pearly Poll have been mistaken by 2 hours? Looking into the woman's gin soaked eyes Reid thought that was more than possible. He did not share his concerns, nor did he tell Poll that he now had two names for the murdered woman found in George Yard. 
Instead he paid Poll a few shillings, and promised her more if she returned tomorrow for a trip to the Tower of London, to review the soldiers stationed there. And then he hurried her out the door. He had an appointment that afternoon at The Working Lads' Institute.
According to lawyer, merchant and devout Methodist, Henry Hill, in 1875 one of his employees spied a messenger, sent to pick up some new quill pens, returning to the company offices. The boy had the quills jutting out of the top of his hat, thus freeing his arms to hold open a “penny dreadful” adventure story, which he was devotedly reading as other pedestrians swerved to avoid colliding with him. The employee thought him such a laughable creature, he told their boss. But Mr. Hill was not amused. He summoned the messenger to his office and found, “The boy went to neither night school nor Sunday school, and read no other literature than the sensational stories...”  This boy,  lamented Mr Hill, “...is as much a heathen as any inhabitant of India or China.” And he decided to fix that.
Two years later the socially minded Mr. Hill, founded The Working Lads Institute, a subsidized private club where working class young men could relax, socialize and “network” in an atmosphere of sobriety and thriftiness. 
And in 1885 the Working Lads' Institute built new quarters at 285 Whitechapel Road (above), next door to the Whitechapel Underground station (above, left) and just across the street from the London Hospital. 
The Institute boasted a dormitory, a library, a gymnasium and a “Swimming Bath.” (above) It also offered educational classes for those seeking to better their lot in life. To defray costs, the institute rented its classrooms for various functions, including corner's inquests, like the one held to investigate the murder of the unidentified woman murdered in George Yard.
Coroners (above, center bg) usually lacked medical training, and the inquests they held, were not trials. The coroner could issue subpoenas and questioned witnesses (above, left)  in front of a jury (above, right), drawn from the rolls of “freeholders”, who owned enough property to have the right to vote. The jury would then pass judgement whether the death was accidental, careless or criminal. But they could not charge anyone with a crime. 
Still, in the words of a modern author, such inquests added two valuable extralegal elements to the judicial process. “First it invited armature and expert perspectives at the same time,...Second...it had narrative...” In other words, without the restrictions of chain of custody, or against hearsay testimony, and because they were often well attended by the press, an inquest provided a, (often salacious) story of why and how an individual died, usually within 48 hours of the event. The police and prosecutors could then follow up the corner's evidence, if they deemed it advisable.
Deputy Coroner George Collier (above) called this jury to order at 2:00 p.m., on Thursday 9 August, 1888, just 56 hours after the woman found in George Yard had been declared dead. In attendance, beside the jury – the foreman was Mr. Greary – was Collier's assistant Mr. Banks. There was also Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, dressed in his usual impeccable manner, with Metropolitan Police Sargent Green beside him, taking notes. It was Reid who informed Collier that they now had two identities for the dead woman, Emma Turner and/or Martha Turner. Collier decided not to release either name until one could be confirmed. Then he began to call witnesses.
Elizabeth Mahoney testified that she and her husband John had returned home to George Yard at 1:40 a.m., and she had almost immediately gone back out and returned “no more than five minutes later”. She had seen no one in the stairwell on either trip. Cabbie Alfred Crow testified he had seen someone lying on the stairs at about 3:30 a.m.  And John Reeves testified to finding the body just before 5:00 am. Constable Barrett testified he had examined the body and sent for Dr. Timothy Kileen.
Doctor Killeen had declared the victim dead at 5:30 a.m. He estimated the woman's age as about 36 years old and 5 feet, 3 inches tall.. He now said there were 36 stab wounds to the body, many of which could not have been self inflicted - 7 to the lungs, 1 to the heart, 5 to the liver, 2 to the spleen and six to the stomach. 
He now said that most of the wounds were inflicted by a knife, but one wound, which penetrated the breastbone, might have made by a bayonet. He felt certain all had been inflicted while the victim was pre-mortem - while she was still alive. And he gave the time of death as about 2:30 a.m., Tuesday, 7 August, 1888. He found blood between the scalp and skull, and added that the woman's brain appeared pale but healthy. There was food in the digestive tract. When pressed by Mr. Collier he admitted some of the wounds might have been inflicted by a left handed man.
Coroner Collier called this “one of the most terrible cases that one can imagine. The man must have been a perfect savage to have attacked a woman in this way.” He then ordered the inquest be continued in  2 weeks time, so the woman's identity could be confirmed. This was important because most murder victims knew their killers. But it was just another indication of how little the authorities were ready for the hell that was about to descend upon Whitechapel, London.  
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Sunday, December 30, 2018

BLOODY JACK Chapter Three

I have to keep reminding myself, how small the place was. It was less than a mile via Whitechapel Road between Aldegate (above, middle left) and the London Hospital (above, upper right). And from a midway mark on that road, less then a twenty minute walk in any direction encompassed all of Whitechapel, Spitafields and Waping, the three poorest parishes in London. 
Contained within that tiny circle were some 800,000 hungry, exhausted, sickly, desperate people, living short, brutal, filthy lives. Capitalism offered them few opportunities, and the ones it did demanded first that they take advantage of each other. Religion offered only the peace of resignation. Justice was a tool  the powerful used to remain powerful .
Life, liberty and happiness were available only if you could afford them. And the wealth of those that could rested largely on the backs of the people of the East End of London. The Victorian age was defined by its hypocrisy, the sins of its age no less gilded in London, than in Mark Twain's America.
Thus it was a short sad walk pushing the police ambulance from George Yard, a few blocks north from where Wentworth street became Montague Street, to the mortuary (above, green box, lower left) a half block from the Whitechapel Union Workhouse. 
About 7:00  that morning the cart was admitted through the Eagle Place gate (above) and then had to wait while the gate keepers sent for Robert Mann, the 53 year old workhouse inmate who was authorized to open the mortuary for incoming bodies.
In his life Robert Mann had been a dock worker, but either through injury or illness,  Robert's mind was injured and left easily confused.  He was no longer able to hold a job. He had lived in the Workhouse for almost a decade now. He helped in the kitchen, and in the men's ward of the hospital, mopping up, removing waste and bodies. That Tuesday afternoon, Robert opened the mortuary a second time to admit two nurses. They stripped and washed the body of the unknown murder victim, and were the first to clearly see the brutality done to her. 
When they were finished the nurses stood by while a photo was taken of the victim's pale blood drained face. Then they left the body under a sheet on the dissecting table in the post mortem room and Robert Mann locked the door behind them.
During late Tuesday afternoon, 7 August, 1888, Detective Inspector Edmund Reid had gone back to the Blackwell Building on George Yard (above), and started knocking on doors. First he re interviewed the Hewitts, the building superintendent and his wife, who lived on the ground floor. They confirmed what they had told Constable Barrett. The dead woman had never been a resident, and had never before been seen about the building. 
Inspector Reid then spoke to the woman in Apartment 37, Louisa Reeves, the wife of John Saunders Reeves, who had found the dead woman at 4:45 or 4:50 that morning. Lousia Reeves told Detective Reid there had been several fights on Wentworth street that Monday night, as was to be expected, what with it having been a “Bank Holiday”. It was the last Monday holiday of the summer. The couple had heard the first shouting about 11:30, and then again half past midnight, and then a third fight broke out about 1:00 am. The couple had watched from their balcony overlooking Wentworth Street, while the police broke up all three brawls. one after another.

The resident of Apartment 35, Mr. Alfred George Crow, made his living as a licensed driver of a hackney cab. The Bank Holiday had been a busy work day for the 25 year old, and he did not get home until 3:00 am on the morning of Tuesday, 7 August. He had seen a “person” on the stairs, whom he assumed was sleeping. Since this was not unusual,  he took little note of it, going straight to bed. He did not realized a murder had occurred until 9 that morning, when he had gotten up, and gone out to buy either food or gin.
At 7:30 that night, Inspector Reid caught Mrs. Elizabeth Mahoney returning from her job at the Stratford matchbook factory, just behind the Workhouse. The 25 year old soft spoken woman and her husband John lived in Apartment 47, directly above Alfred Crow. She said they had spent the day celebrating with her sister, and had not returned home until about 1:40 that Tuesday morning. Elizabeth had paused in their apartment just long enough to take off her hat and cloak, before going downstairs again to buy some dinner (or gin) at a chandler's shop one block north on Thrawl Street (above). Elizabeth said the errand had taken no more than five minutes, before she came home again, climbing the same staircase just before two in the morning. She saw no one on the stairs, she said, living or dead, and did not learn of the murder until ten that morning.
Inspector Reid took note that no one heard any screams or shouting after one that morning, despite the Hewitts apartment being at the foot of the stairwell. And given Mr. Crow's and Mrs. Mahoney's testimony, the murder must have occurred between 2:00 am and 3:00 am. Because of the lack of calls for help, it seemed likely that the victim had known her killer. But until he knew the name of the first, he had little chance of finding the name of the second.
Reid wrote up a description of the victim, and had it dispatched to the newspapers, who would publish it the next morning. The female victim was about 37 years old, 5 feet 3 inches tall, with dark hair and a dark complexion, wearing an old dark-green skirt, brown petticoat, long black jacket, brown stockings, a black bonnet, and side-sprung boots. It was a proven, plodding police approach. But Inspector Reid was about to be offered a short cut that would throw his case completely off track.
The red herring appeared in the form of Police Constable Thomas Barrett, who showed up early for his  Tuesday evening tour at the Leman Street station.  Speaking to Inspector Reid, Barrett said he was bothered by an incident which occurred while he was walking his beat at 2:00 am on that Tuesday morning. He spotted a soldier loitering on Wentworth street (above), near the northern entrance to George Yard.  Barrett thought he might be a guard to insure no interference with a robbery going on in the alley. When Barrett asked what he was doing there, the soldier confessed to “waiting for chum who had gone up the alley with a girl.” Because he believed the soldier, and because of the directive regarding street walkers, Barrett merely told the soldier to move along, and then continued his patrol. 
 Barrett described the soldier as a Private between 22 and 26 years of age, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with fair complexion, dark hair and a small brown mustache turned up at the ends. He was also wearing a good conduct badge. It had happened three hours before the body was discovered, but Barrett was sure he could recognize the soldier again. Might it not have something to do with the murder? Desperate for a lead, Reid thought it might.
On Wednesday, 8 August, Reid escorted Constable Barrett to the Tower, where members of the Guards were paraded for his inspection. Looking for the soldier he had encountered outside of George Yard Tuesday morning, Barrett picked out one man, and then another. Under questioning, both men proved to have separate but equally iron clad alibis  Reid was frustrated, but not surprised. The lead had led nowhere. 
That same morning, Wednesday, 8 August, 1888,  Dr. Timothy Robert Killeen walked the five blocks from his surgery to the Old Montague Street Mortuary to autopsy the body of the woman from George Yard. He was supposed to be assisted by a nurse from the Workhouse hospital ward, but none showed up. So the doctor relied on mortuary worker Robert Mann and his assistant James Hatfield, a 68 year old resident of the Workhouse. 
As usual for the Montague Street mortuary dissecting room (above) , conditions were horrible. The lighting was bad, the room un-vented,  and there was no ready source of water. Luckily it had been a cool summer, because every surgeon in Whitechapel dreaded doing an autopsy there in August.
Dr, Killeen now counted 22 stab wounds (above). The left lung had been penetrated in five places, the right lung in two places. The victim's fatty heart had also been pierced. The liver had been penetrated five times, the spleen twice, the stomach six times. 
All but one of the wounds had been inflicted by a pen knife, held, deduced Dr. Killeen , by a right handed person. But for some reason, on the death certificate (above), Dr. Killeen omitted any details of the savage wounds to the victim's throat, or the slice made just above her pubic bone.
Perhaps the savagery of the assault on the woman was affecting him. Perhaps it was the stench and dirty conditions in the mortuary. Perhaps after three years laboring in the cesspit that was Whitechapel he was finally feeling overwhelmed. If it was the latter, Dr. Timothy Killeen would be far from the first or the last doctor to be "burned out" in Whitechapel. Within the year, Dr, Killeen would return to his family home north of Limerick, Ireland. He never wrote about his time in Whitechapel, nor his brush with the murderer who would become known as Jack the Ripper.
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Saturday, December 29, 2018

BLOODY JACK Chapter Two

I doubt few of us today could find a doctor so close or quick at such an hour. It was just after 5 in the chilly damp morning of Tuesday, 7 August, 1888. The constable dispatched first ran north on George Yard to Wentworth Street (above). He turned right and headed east for half a block, then crossed Osborn Street Then he turned left and headed north on Brick Lane for three blocks to the northeast corner of Henage Street. Not 5 minutes after beginning the task he was banging on the front door of 68 Brick Lane until Dr. Timothy Robert Killeen answered. The constable then waited in the hall while the doctor got dressed and grabbed his medical bag.
Dr. Timothy Killeen was living and working surrounded by his patients, who were mostly dying from malnutrition and its companions: typhoid fever, cholera, syphilis, tuberculosis, measles and food poisoning, to name but a few of the most prominent. They shared polluted water sources, unsanitary food, and breathed foul air. The yearly death rate in Whitchapel and Spitafields was 25 for every 1,000 residents. Many of London's slum dwellers were born, lived and died without ever seeing a doctor.
Timothy had graduated two years earlier from Kings and Queens College of Physicians, at Trinity College in Dublin. And if he were fulfilling a religious and moral obligation, he might have been disappointed. The Tower Hamlets of Whitechapel, Spitafields and Wopping,  which had once been occupied almost exclusively by Irish Catholics escaping the Potato famine, was filling now with Russian and east European Jews, running from the pogroms. 
But whoever his patients were, it is likely he had seen few as badly injured as this unknown woman on the landing between the first and ground floors of the Blackwell Buildings on George Yard (above). Setting his bag down on the steps, he took out a standard thermometer, which he set on the floor beyond the blood pool. Then he checked his watch, and recorded the time in his notebook. It was just 5:30 in the morning.
He found the victim (above) well nourished, and about 33 years old. His estimate showed he was familiar with the rapid aging a life in Whitechapel could produce. By his careful count the dead woman had suffered 38 separate stab wounds to her neck and chest, as well as one slash in her pubic region. But learning how deep these wounds were, and what internal injuries had resulted would have wait for an autopsy. Gently he lifted the fingers of her left hand. They moved easily, as did the elbow and shoulder joint. The absence of rigor mortis indicated she had died less than six hours ago. He recorded the air temperature as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Then he inserted the thermometer in the dead woman's nostril.
He lifted her skirt and noted the faint mottling on the bottom of her thighs. By the color he estimated she had been lying here, on her back, for less than four hours. He placed his hand on her forehead, as if judging her temperature in life. She was still warm to the touch.  He examined her clothing – cap and jacket, shirtwaist , dress and petticoat, knee high stockings and ankle high boots. The clothing was old and thin, and Dr. Killeen figured his modifying number for this woman should be 1 or 1.10.
Meanwhile PC Barrett had awakened the building superintendent, Francis F. Hewitt. A retired painter, he lived in a ground floor apartment immediately adjacent to the stairwell, with his wife. Although Mr. Hewitt claimed to have heard nothing during the night, his wife, Amy, had heard a cry of “Murder” that evening. But, she added, "The district round here is rather rough, and cries of 'Murder' are frequent.” Francis said such shouts were heard almost every night. Asked to look at the body, still on the stairs, the couple were certain she was not one of their tenants.
Once the Hewitts had returned to their apartment, Dr. Killeen check the thermometer in the victim's nose. It recorded a body temperature of 95.4 degrees Fahrenheit, for a loss of 3 degrees since death. Following the standard formula given in his text books of a 1.5 degree Fahrenheit drop in body temperature for every hour after death, then multiplied by 1.10 to account for her thin clothing, Dr.Killeen could estimate the time of death to have been 2 ½ to 3 hours earlier than his 5:30 examination, or between 2:30 and 3:00 that morning. And that was the time he recorded in his notebook. Next, he told PC Barrett to send for a police ambulance, to transport the body up Wentworth to the Old Montague Street Mortuary, on the grounds of the Whitechapel Union Workhouse.
Being in debt had always been a criminal act in England, but the 1831 Poor Law created public institutions where the injured, the ill or the aged could reimburse the state for their crime of poverty at hard labor for 9 pence a day - the Workhouse. As crusading journalist Margaret Harkness noted, “The Whitechapel Union (above) is...the Poor Law incarnate in stone and brick.”
In exchange for “A little gruel morning and night, meat twice a week”, a cot and a roof, male inmates broke stone for 10 hours a day, six days a week, while the women and children unraveled rope for ships' caulking. They were allowed no privacy and no visitors. 
The amenities – uniforms and meager education classes, were intended to fulfill the state's Christian obligation to the less fortunate. A man sentenced to the Workhouse committed his entire family to the same punishment. 
Once behind the walls of the 5 story tall Whitechapel Union on New Charles Street, families were immediately separated by sex and age. Over time many families melted into the institution. And yet there were many so desperate they begged to be admitted.
On Thomas  Street, to the east of the Workhouse, the ill working poor lined up to be diagnosed  at the Casual Dispensary (above) -  men in mornings, women in the afternoons,  separated to maintain Christian propriety.
But through the Eagle Place  gate,  between those two brick buildings,  in a dirt and dirty courtyard was a bare, windowless dark  shed (above), where the inmates paid their final debt to society. They were dissected. It was to this place that the body of the unknown woman, found murdered in a stairwell on George Yard, was taken on the morning of Tuesday, 7 August, 1888.
By 8:00 that morning the body had been removed, and the police had returned to their beats and George Yard had returned to something described as normal.  There was nothing left to indicate that a woman had been murdered on the stairwell of the Blackwell Building, except for the blood still puddled on the landing. A few of the moribund came from the surrounding buildings look upon the spot and the blood. About 9:30 that morning, George Crow, resident of apartment number 307, came down the steps on his way to get breakfast.  He was a cab driver, and had been working the night before, arriving home just about 3:00 am. He paused upon seeing the blood, and realized it was staining just the spot on the dark stairs, where he had seen a figure sleeping the night before.
Later that morning, at the H division Metropolitan Police station on Leman Street (above), Divisional Inspector Ernest Ellisdon decided to assign the case to 42 year Detective Inspector Edmund Reid. It was an indication of Ellisdon's concern about the bloody murder. 
 Reid (above, front row center)  was a 12 year veteran of the MET, he was, when he joined, the shortest man on the force. But he eventually rose to head the Whitechapel Criminal Investigation Division for a time. A contemporary officer had called Reid, "one of the most remarkable men of the century"  He was an aviator - having set altitude records in a balloon - a published poet, a professional actor, a social activist and an accomplished magician. And he was a damn fine police man.  If any detective of 1888 could solve this murder mystery, it would be D.I  Edmund Reid.
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