The Murder Of Jane Thompson

In June, 1893, a London prostitute who was known as Jenny Hinks, but whose real name was Jane Thompson, was found dead on a street in Rotherhithe, South London.

The fact that her throat had been cut so savagely as to almost sever her head from her body led to speculation that Jack the Ripper may have returned.

The Portsmouth Evening News, broke the story of the murder on Monday, 26th June, 1893:-


“A murder, resembling in some respects the dreadful tragedies enacted in Whitechapel some years ago, was perpetrated at an early hour on Sunday morning, near the Rotherhithe New-road.

Close to the spot where the murder was committed is a public-house, called the Sir Garnet Wolseley, at the back of which are two streets, known as Westlake-street and Silverlock-street.


A few minutes after the public-house had closed on Saturday night, three piercing screams were heard. So loud were they that the inhabitants of the neighbouring houses rushed out greatly alarmed, and at once commenced a search of the locality.


One of the searchers noticed a dark object lying outside No. 51, Silverlock-street, and, going towards it, discovered a woman lying prostrate in a pool of blood.

On the arrival of a constable, a horrible sight was revealed when the light from the officer’s bullseye lantern was thrown on the pavement.

It was then seen that the woman’s head was as nearly as possible severed from the trunk, while her clothing was saturated with blood, streams of which were clearly visible on the ground where the body lay.

A policeman shines his lantern onto the body of Jane Thompson.
Finding The Body Of Jane Thompson. From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 8th July, 1893. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The woman was at once recognised as an unfortunate, well known in the locality, and going by the name of Jenny Hinks. She is supposed to be about forty-five years of age. “Hinks,” it is believed, is an assumed name, Thompson being, it is understood, the woman’s real surname.

When found she was clutching a latchkey in her right hand, while wedged between the fingers were a sixpenny-piece and a cork.

Her purse was empty.


Further police assistance having arrived, an ambulance was sent for, and the body was then removed to Rotherhithe mortuary, where it has since been identified by a relative.

The deceased is stated to be well known to the police. She lived in the Debenham-road, and had for years frequented the vicinity of the South Bermondsey Railway Station.


The cut in the unfortunate woman’s throat appears to have been inflicted with a very strong and sharp knife, such as carried by sailors, while a remarkable feature in connection with the tragedy is the fact that the cut is from right to left, a peculiarity which, it may be recollected, characterised the great majority of the wounds inflicted by “Jack the Ripper.”

No attempt had, however, been made to mutilate the remains, and with the exception of the peculiarity in the direction of the wound, and the position in life of the victim, there is nothing in any way to suggest that this is another addition to the long series of dreadful tragedies which have been connected with East London of late years.

The revolting features which characterised most of these murders are altogether absent, but the character of the victim and the mysterious features by which the deed is at present environed have led to a great deal of local excitement and a revival of many of the horrible recollections connected with the Whitechapel horrors.

Finding the body of Jane Thompson.
Finding The Body. From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 1st July, 1893. Copyright, The British Library Board.


No arrests had been made up to late in the afternoon, and the police are naturally reticent on the subject.

Chief-Inspector O’Dee and Detective-Inspector Moore, who have the case in hand, have been making careful inquiries, but the result of their investigations has not yet transpired.

The greatest activity prevails, and the detectives attached to Rotherhithe Police-station have been busily engaged in endeavouring to unravel the mystery at present surrounding the tragedy.


The instrument which it is supposed has been used, and the close proximity of the Surrey Commercial Docks give some colour to the suggestion that the crime has been committed by a seafaring man.

Acting on this theory, the police caused a watch to be kept on the gates of the docks as early as 3 a.m.

Passers-by were closely observed, and nobody was allowed to pass in or out of the docks without explaining his business.


About nine a.m. Chief Inspector O’Hanaran, of the Dock, accompanied by two local detective-sergeants, commenced a thorough search of the entire docks.

Every vessel was boarded and the crews closely examined.

Especial inquiries were made as to any of the crew who might have been absent, but the result of these cannot, of course, be made known at present.

In the neighbourhood it is not believed that the murder was the work of a stranger, and, in support of this view, it is pointed out that the very short space of time which elapsed between the screams being heard and the discovery the body would only allow of someone who was closely conversant with the locality making good his escape.


The idea that this is another addition to the Whitechapel series of crimes is seriously discussed in some quarters, but such a theory is greatly discounted by the spot selected, which is totally dissimilar to any of the arches, courts, passages and winding narrow streets in which the crimes of that class have hitherto been committed, while the absence of any mutilation still further weakens the suggestion.

According to a later report, the victim is a married woman, but is stated to have been living apart from her husband for eleven years.

The man is stated to be still alive, and to have been seen in the neighbourhood.

The police are making inquiries as to his whereabouts.


It has now been ascertained that at ten minutes to twelve on Saturday night the deceased was seen drinking with a man and a woman in a public house in the vicinity, known as the Jolly Gardeners.

The three left together and went to the house of the deceased, but only remained there a few minutes.

She was afterwards seen alone with the man.

The police are in possession of a description of the man, who is stated to be a sailor.”


By the next day, Tuesday, 27th June, 1893, The Portsmouth Evening News was able to report that an arrest had been made:-

“Throughout the whole of yesterday, the neighbourhood of Rotherhithe was in a state of great excitement, consequent upon the discovery of the murdered woman, and the report that there had been another Ripper atrocity.

During the day some thousands of people visited the spot in Springfield-street, where the body was found, the police experiencing great difficulty in dispersing the crowds that continually assembled.

It has been clearly proved that the woman was known by the name of Jenny Hinks, and had stated that she was forty years of age.

She was a woman of the unfortunate class, but is described by those who know her as quiet and inoffensive.


Without the slightest delay after the discovery of the crime, Detective-Inspector John O’Dea, who is in charge of the district, was communicated with, and he, upon viewing the scene and the body, sent specially to Great Scotland Yard, with the result that yesterday he had the assistance of a number of the chief officers of the Criminal Investigation Department.

The closest investigation was made as to the unfortunate woman’s whereabouts on Saturday night, and although the authorities refuse to give any authentic information, it is said she was in company with another woman and a man having the appearance of a sailor shortly before twelve o’clock on Saturday night.

After that time they appear to have had some drink at a neighbouring public-house, but after then nothing is known of the missing man or woman.


Detective-Inspector Moore is following a clue that is considered of importance, but, nevertheless, the Surrey Commercial Docks, which are nearby, are closely watched.

Already Inspector O’Hannen, assisted by the Dock Company’s police, has made a strict search of the shipping in the docks, but without result.

Any suspicious members of the various crews were subjected to a severe examination, but, as many are out on leave, a further search is likely to be made.


So far as can be gathered, the police authorities are searching for a man about thirty-three years of age, 5ft. 6in. in height, dressed in a blue serge suit, wearing a peaked sailor’s cap, and having all the appearance of a seaman.


The circulating of the report that Rotherhithe had been the scene of a Jack the Ripper murder greatly intensified the excitement, and the body as it lay in the mortuary showed a great resemblance to the injury to the neck inflicted on his unfortunate victims by the Whitechapel murderer.

There has, however, been no attempt at mutilation.


Shortly before eight o’clock last night the police succeeded in arresting an Italian sailor belonging to one of the vessels at present berthed in the Surrey Commercial Docks, who is suspected of having caused the death of the woman Jenny Hinks, alias Thompson, at Rotherhithe early on Sunday morning.

The man had been absent from his vessel nearly 48 hours, and his description tallies to a certain extent with that of the man last seen with the deceased.

He left his ship on leave on Saturday, and should have been on board the same night, and the captain of the vessel had reported his prolonged absence to the Italian consul.

The berth of the absent sailor was yesterday thoroughly searched, and it was then found that the knife usually carried by sailors was not in his box.

No suspicion is attached to the husband of the deceased, but the police are following up a clue which it is believed will sufficiently fix the guilt of the culprit.


London, Tuesday. Paolo Cammarola, 24, an Italian sailor on board the ship Unioni, lying in the Surrey Commercial Docks, was charged at Greenwich Police-court today with murdering Jane Thompson in Silverlock-street, Rotherhithe, on Saturday night, by cutting her throat.

The Prisoner was unable to speak English, and the evidence had to be interpreted.


Caroline McCarthy, married woman, said she knew both the deceased and the prisoner.

She met the prisoner and a shipmate on Saturday night.

After they had been drinking together for some time the shipmate went away with another woman.

The Deceased then came along, and the witness left her with the prisoner.

This was about ten minutes past twelve, and that was all she saw of the parties.

The Prisoner, replying through the interpreter, said he had never seen the witness, and on Saturday, at ten o’clock, he was on board his vessel.

Detective Patrick Moore said that when he took Mrs. McCarthy to the ship she pointed out the prisoner from among a dozen others, and also pointed out the man who was in his company on Saturday night.


The Prisoner was remanded, and the Magistrate certified for legal aid for the police.

Inspector O’Dea said that although the evidence might appear weak at present, they would find that as the case proceeded it would become strong.”


The Salisbury Times, on Friday, 7th July, 1893, reported that another arrest had been made:-

“The Sunderland police on Sunday arrested an Italian seaman, wanted in connection with the Rotherhithe murder, for which another Italian seaman is already in custody in London.

He was discovered on board the Italian vessel Matilda Migvane, stowed away in the sail locker.

The vessel would not have sailed for some time, but was bound for the port to which the accused belonged.

What led to his discovery is not known.


The Italian sailor, Scotto di Carlo, who was arrested in Sunderland, on Sunday, on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of Jane Thompson, in Rotherhithe, arrived in London on Monday evening with Detective-Inspector O’Dea.

He was at once conveyed to Rotherhithe Police Station, where he was charged with the murder.

The crew of the vessel Unioni were sent for to identify the man.

Illustrations showing the arrest of the suspect.
From The Illustrated Police News, Saturday, 15th July, 1893. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The two Italians in custody in connection with the recent murder of a woman in Silverlock Street, Rotherhithe, were brought up, on Tuesday, at the Greenwich Police Court, before Mr. G. G. Kennedy.

Paolo Cammarota, aged 24, a sailor belonging to the Unioni, was charged on remand upon suspicion of causing the death of Jane Thompson, by cutting her throat, and the other prisoner, Andrea Scotto di Carlo, 20, a sailor, also belonging to the Unioni, was charged with the actual murder.

When the elder prisoner was placed in the dock, Detective-Inspector O’Dea applied, on behalf of the Solicitor to the Treasury, for a remand until the morrow, and Mr. Kennedy at once acceded to the application, as he said there would be no hardship in that.


With reference to the charge of murder against Carlo, Inspector O’Dea (whose evidence was interpreted to the prisoner) said that he arrested the prisoner at Sunderland on the previous day for the murder of the woman at Rotherhithe on the 25th ult.

The Prisoner replied through an interpreter:- “I know nothing about the murder; I thought you were going to arrest me for deserting my ship.”


The Prisoner was then brought back to London, and on being formally charged that evening with the crime at Rotherhithe Police Station, he made a statement, which was translated by the interpreter, and written down by Inspector Alstin, who would be prepared to give evidence later on.

Mr. Kennedy then remanded Carlo, who will be brought before the Court on Wednesday.”


The Sheffield Evening Telegraph, somewhat unfairly as it transpires, reported that, with a view to one of the suspects, the police had been on a “false scent.”

On Wednesday, 5th July, 1893, the paper reported that:-

“At Greenwich today two sailors named Cammarata and Carlo were charged with the murder of the woman Jane Thompson in Silverlock-street, Rotherhithe.

Mr. Sims, who appeared for the Treasury [the Prosecution], asked that Cammarata might be discharged, it having been shown that he was on his ship at the time of the murder.

It was proposed to call evidence that Carlo had told his captain that he had hurt a woman with a razor.

Cammarata was then discharged, but Carlo remanded.”


The trial of Andrea Scotti De Carlo, took place at the Central Criminal Courts (the Old Bailey) on Monday, 24th July, 1893.

The Jury found him guilty of the crime, albeit they recommended mercy on the grounds that the evidence strongly pointed to the fact that he had, in fact, been robbed by his victim.

However, the judge ignored the jury’s recommendation and actually sentenced him to death, although this was later commuted to penal servitude for life.


You can read the full transcript of the Old Bailey Trial of Andrea Scotti De Carlo here.