The Murder Of Mrs Smith

Although there is now a general belief that the Jack the Ripper spree ended with the murder of Mary Kelly on the 9th of November, 1888; those who lived through the horror of the autumn of terror did not possess the hindsight that we now have.

Indeed, for many years after the supposed end of the Whitechapel murders, cases were being reported in the newspapers in which the hand of “Jack the Ripper” seemed to be apparent.

One such case was reported in The Portsmouth Evening News  on Monday the 9th of September 1895:-

MURDER IN LONDON

A FIENDISH CRIME. ARREST AND CONFESSION

About half-past five on Sunday morning a terrible crime, recalling in some respect the “Jack the Ripper” tragedies, was discovered in the Kensal Green district.

A night watchman, on his way home, was passing a piece of waste land at Kensal Rise, near the London and North-western Railway Company’s station, when he found the dead body of a woman, with her throat cut and her head battered in, lying in a pool blood, and, by the side of the body, there was a large stone, smeared with blood and hair.

There was no living person to be seen in the immediate neighbourhood, and the woman had evidently been dead for some time.

THE DOCTOR’S EXAMINATION

Horrified at his discovery, the man went in search of policeman, and met constable of the X Division about 200 yards away, to whom he communicated what he had seen.

The constable called up Dr. Whitlock, a neighbouring practitioner, who pronounced life to be extinct, and the body was removed to Willesden mortuary.

There it was examined by Dr. Robertson, divisional police surgeon, in conjunction with Dr. Whitlock, and both gentlemen agreed that death had taken place some hours previously.

THE INJURIES

A triangular piece of paving stone, about 6in. long and 4in. thick, had evidently been used to give the woman a crushing blow, which fractured the skull and felled her senseless to the ground.

Her throat was the cut from ear to ear, and the head was almost severed from the body.

No knife was found, but the doctors agreed that it must have been a knife or a razor that was used, and that it was in a somewhat blunt condition, the wound being jagged, as though great force has been used to make the weapon do its work.

NO MUTILATION

The medical examination also disclosed the fact that the wound was inflicted by a left-handed person – i.e., the cut was from right to left, as the victim lay on her back; and this circumstance suggested a similarity to the mysterious Whitechapel murders of a few years ago.

There was, however, no mutilation of the body of the victim as in those murders.

A DESCRIPTION OF THE DECEASED

It was assumed that the woman belonged to the “unfortunate” class, but she was not identified on the spot, and a description of her was promptly circulated by the police, who proceeded also to make inquiries in the neighbourhood.

The deceased is of a dark complexion, with black hair, and aged about 35.

A WATCHMAN’S STORY

Later in the day, a watchman employed at the Roman Catholic Cemetery made a statement at the Kilburn Police-station which might throw some light on the affair.

He said that, at about six o’clock in the morning, whilst on his way from work, he saw a respectably-dressed man carrying a Gladstone bag in conversation with another man at the corner of Greyhound-road, near the scene of the tragedy, who accosted him, offering a knife for sale, saying he would take a halfpenny for it.

This was, however, refused, and the watchman, being suspicious, although not aware at the time of the murder, watched the individual along the Harrow-road.

He is described as about forty years age, with a stiff right leg.

The knife offered for sale was a large white-handled pocket-knife, the small blade of which had been broken, but the large blade was intact.

There were, however, no signs of blood upon it.

THE DECEASED IDENTIFIED

As a result of the inquiries instituted, Mr and Mrs. Potter, the proprietors of a common lodging house in Kilburn-lane, situated about half-a-mile from the spot, visited the mortuary on Sunday afternoon, and identified the remains as being those of a woman who had frequently lodged at their house.

She was of the unfortunate class, and had two children, but they could not say whether she was married or not.

Among those who have also seen the body is a man who averred that he knew the woman as a Mrs. Smith, who was living apart from her husband at College Park, who had four children, and who formerly worked at a laundry  in Kensal Green.

Crowds of’ people visited the scene of the tragedy on Sunday.

THE MURDER CONFESSED

At ten minutes past two on Sunday afternoon, a rough-looking man, clothed in the ordinary attire of a labourer, walked up to the constable on point duty opposite the Prince of Wales Tavern, in the Harrow-road, and said that he desired to be taken into custody on the charge of murdering the woman whose body had been found on the waste land at the back of the Plough Inn, Kensal Rise.

The constable accordingly arrested the man, and took him to the head station of the X Division at Carlton Bridge, Westbourne Park.

RICHARD WINGROVE

He was there formally charged with the murder, and gave the name of Richard Wingrove, labourer, aged 35.

Later on in the day, the prisoner was confronted with a number Kensal Green residents, who identified him by the name he had given.

Wingrove is a powerfully-built fellow, standing nearly six feet tall, and of fair complexion. He is a native of Kensal Green.

When the indictment on the charge sheet was read out to him Wingrove merely remarked that it was quite true, and that he had voluntarily surrendered himself to the police.

Wingrove has, it appears, been employed casually at the Kensal Green works of the Gas, Light, and Coke Company.

NOT HIS REAL NAME

It is said that Wingrove is not the man’s proper name, and that he enlisted as Richard Wingrove into an infantry regiment, with which he served 12 years, only taking his discharge within a comparatively recent period.