19th August 1888

By the 19th August 1888 it was becoming more than evident that the police had not got the foggiest idea as to who had carried our the murder of Martha Turner in George-yard.

Based on the fact that both PC Barrett had reported seeing a soldier in the vicinity on the morning of the murder and Mary Connolly had stated that she and Martha had been in the company of two soldiers on the night prior to the murder, Inspector Reid, heading up the investigation, had held several identification parades – both at the Tower of London and at the Wellington Barracks – but nothing had come of them.

By the 19th August the police, therefore, appear to have given up on the feasibility of identity parades proving a reliable means of locating the murderer.


However, he apparently had not given up on the idea that a military man may have been responsible for Martha’s murder as is illustrated by a report in the East London Observer on 18th August 1888:-

“There is one fact noted by Inspector Reid which seems to prove that the murderer was a military man, and that is the wound on the breast bone of the woman. It will be recollected that at the inquest, when asked his opinion as to the instrument with which the wounds were inflicted, Dr. Keeling replied that they were undoubtedly committed with an ordinary pocket-knife – all except the wound on the breast bone. As to the instrument with which that had been caused he could not say with any degree of certainty, but of this he was sure that it must have been an heavy, dagger-pointed instrument, since an ordinary knife-blade would have been broken by contact with the bone.”


The same article also highlighted the fact that the murder scene itself, George-yard buildings, off Whitehcapel High Street, had become something of a local tourist attraction and many people had been visiting the site with, so the article informed its readers, “the rather morbid purpose of seeing the place where the deceased was discovered.”

A view along George Yard as it is today.
The Entrance To George Yard.

For those unable to make the journey to Whitechapel in order to gaze upon the murder scene, the paper was only too happy to fill any disappointed readers in on what they were missing:-

“there is still a large surface of the stone flags crimson-stained. It is at the spot where the blood oozed from the poor creature’s heart.”


Apparently the police were baffled by the fact that, despite the fact the murder had taken place within a few feet of where people were sleeping in their beds nobody had heard anything.

There had, according to the Superintendent of George-yard Buildings, Mr Francis Hewitt, been a single cry of “Murder,” which echoed through the building, earlier on the evening of the atrocity, but he was certain that it was in no way related to the crime. Indeed, as Mr Hewitt divulged to the reporter “the district round here is rather rough, and cries of ‘Murder’ are of frequent, if not nightly, occurrence in the district.”


One thing was, most certainly becoming apparent, the identity of the person responsible for the murder of Martha Turner was still no nearer to being established and the people were growing decidedly uneasy about the apparent ease with which the perpetrator had, apparently, committed his crime and then faded away without a trace or a clue being left behind.