An Arrest On Whitechapel Road

As the end of September, 1888 approached, the police investigation into the Whitechapel murders was yielding up suspect after suspect.

Some of them had been observed acting suspiciously on the streets of Whitechapel, but on the intervention of a police officer were able to give a good account of themselves and were sent on their way without further action against them being taken.

Others were, quite evidently very dangerous people, and the sooner they were taken off the streets, the better it would be for the district, as far as the police and the general public were concerned.

One such dangerous character was featured in the following report, which appeared in The Wrexham Advertiser on Saturday, 22nd September 1888:-


At the Thames Police Court, London, on Tuesday, Charles Ludwig Wetzel, 40, a decently-attired German, who professed not to understand English, and giving an address at 1, Minories, was charged with being drunk, and threatening to stab Alexander Finlay, of 51, Leman Street, Whitechapel.

The prosecutor said that very early the previous morning he was standing at a coffee stall in the Whitechapel Road, when Ludwig came up in a drunken condition. In consequence, the person in charge of the stall refused to serve him.

Ludwig seemed much annoyed, and said to witness, “What are you looking at?”

He then pulled out a long bladed knife and tried to stab the witness with it. Wetzel followed him round the stall, and made several attempts to stab him, until the witness threatened to knock a dish on his head.

A constable came up, and he was then given into custody.

An East End Coffee Stall.
An East End Coffee Stall.


Constable 221 H said that when he was called to take the prisoner into custody he found him in a very excited condition.

Witness had previously received information that Ludwig was wanted on the City ground for attempting to cut a woman’s throat with a razor,

On the way to the station the prisoner dropped a long-bladed knife, which was open, and when he was searched a razor and a long-bladed pair of  scissors were found on him.


Constable J. Johnson, 866 City, deposed that he was on duty in the Minories, when he heard loud screams of “Murder” from a dark court in which there were no lights. The court in question led to some railway arches, and is a well-known dangerous locality.

Witness went down the court, and found the prisoner with a woman. The former appeared to be under the influence of drink.

Witness asked what he was doing there, and he replied, “Nothing.”

The woman, who appeared to be in a very agitated and frightened condition, said, “Oh, policeman, do take me out of this.” The woman was so frightened that she could then make no further explanation.

Witness got her and the accused out of the court, and sent the latter off.

He then walked with the woman to the end of his beat, when she said, “Dear me. He frightened me very much when he pulled a big knife out.” Witness said, “Why didn’t you tell me that at the time!” The woman replied, “I was too much frightened.”

He then went and looked for the prisoner but could not find him.


Mr. Saunders said that it was clear that the prisoner was a dangerous man, and he ordered him to be remanded for a week.

Considerable excitement has prevailed in the neighbourhood owing to a report that the prisoner was connected with the recent murders in Whitechapel, and that some important discoveries would result from this capture.

Inquiries show that the man Wetzel is by trade a baker. He has made various statements as to the time he has been in this country, but his knowledge of English is imperfect.


On Sunday night last, he lodged at a coffee house in Church Street, Minories, but in consequence of his dirty habits the proprietor would not allow him to remain the next night.

He then went to an hotel in Finsbury, where he had previously lodged, and he remained there until about one o’clock in the morning, but the landlord would not allow him to stay the night.

He produced a number of razors, and acted in such a manner that some of the inmates were quite frightened at his conduct.”


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