On the 7th of September, 1888, news was spreading throughout the country that a horrible murder had taken place in Whitechapel on the 31st of August.
The victim had, in fact, been identified as Mary Nichols, but news of this identification had, apparently, not reached some of the more remote parts of the country by the time they went to press later that week.
Consequently, several newspapers that were published on 7th September, 1888, were reporting the fact that the police were still trying to identify the victim.
REVOLTING MURDER IN WHITECHAPEL
One such newspaper was The Cornubian and Redruth Times, which published the following article on Friday, 7th September, 1888:-
“Another murder most revolting in its character was discovered early on the morning of the 31st of August, in Whitechapel.
As a constable was walking through Buck’s-row, Thomas-street, Whitechapel, at about a quarter to four, he found the body of a woman, between 35 and 40 years of age, lying by the side of the street, with her throat cut from ear to ear and her body mutilated in a shocking manner.
She was wearing some workhouse garments, and has been identified as having been in the lying-in ward at Lambeth.
LYING ON THE PAVEMENT
At a quarter to four in the morning, Police-constable Neil was on his beat in Buck’s-row, Thomas-street, Whitechapel, when his attention was attracted to the body of a woman lying on the pavement close to the door of the stable-yard in connection with Essex Wharf, Buck’s-row.
Like many minor thoroughfares, in this and similar neighbourhoods, Buck’s Row is not overburdened with gas-lamps, and in the dim light the constable at first thought that she had fallen down in a drunken stupor, and was sleeping off the effects of a night’s debauch.
With the aid of the light from his bullseye lantern, however, Neill at once perceived that the woman had been the victim of some horrible outrage.
Her livid face was stained with blood, and her throat had been cut from ear to ear.
HE WOKE THE NEIGHBOURS
The constable at once alarmed the people living in the house next to the stable-yard, occupied by a carter named Green and his family, and he also knocked up Mr. Walter Perkins, the resident manager of the Essex Wharf, on the opposite side of the road, which is very narrow at this point.
Neither Mr. Perkins or any of the Green family, although the latter were sleeping within a few yards of where the body was discovered, had heard any sound of a struggle.
DR LLEWELLYN ARRIVES
Dr. Llewellyn, who lives only a short distance away in Whitechapel-road, was at once sent for and he promptly arrived on the scene.
He found the body lying on its back across the gateway, and the briefest possible examination was sufficient to prove that life was extinct.
Death had not long ensued, because the extremities were still warm.
A HORRIBLE ATTACK
With the assistance of Police-sergeant Kirby and Police-constable Thane, the body was removed to the Whitechapel mortuary, and it was not until the unfortunate woman’s clothes were removed that the horrible nature of the attack which had been made upon her transpired.
It was then discovered that, in addition to the gash to her throat, which had nearly severed the head from the body, the lower part of the abdomen had been ripped up, and the bowels were protruding.
The abdominal wall, the whole length of the body, had been cut open, and on either side were two incised wounds, almost as severe as the centre one. This reached from the lower part of the abdomen to the breastbone.
The instrument with which the wounds were inflicted must have been not only of the sharpness of a razor but used with considerable ferocity.
The murdered woman is about 45 years age, and 5ft. 2in. in height.
She had a dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair, turning grey.
At the time of her death, she was wearing a brown ulster fastened with seven large metal buttons with the figure of a horse and a man standing at its side stamped thereon.
She had a brown lindsey frock and a grey woollen petticoat with flannel underclothing, close ribbed brown stays, black woollen stockings, side spring boots, black straw bonnet trimmed with black velvet.
The mark Lambeth Workhouse – R. R. was found stamped on the petticoat bands, and a hope is entertained that by this the deceased’s identity may be discovered.
A photograph of the body has been taken, and this will be circulated amongst the workhouse officials.”
ONLY JUST BEGINNING
Doubtless, the report shook the sensibilities of the people of Cornwall who read it, and perhaps even reinforced a view that appears to have been held by many people throughout the country – with much justification, it has to be said – that Whitechapel was a dangerous and unwholesome locality.
But, what they could not have known at the time was that, within 24 hours of the article being published, the unknown miscreant would have struck again.
The name of Whitechapel was about to become universally infamous, and the notorious reign of terror by the murderer – who would become known as “Jack the Ripper” – was underway.