The Ninth Whitechapel Murder

The London Daily News, on Wednesday the 11th September 1889, questioned the police handling of the Whitechapel murders in light of the fact that another victim – the Pinchin Street Torso  – had been found in the East End of London:-


“Another terrible discovery was made in Whitechapel yesterday morning.

At about half-past five a policeman found the mutilated and slightly decomposed body of a woman in an archway in Pinchin-street, which is within a stone’s c throw of Berner-street, where Elizabeth Stride was murdered a year ago.


In the present instance, only the trunk and arms were found; the head and both legs had been removed.

There were other ghastly mutilations, but most of the marks showed a hand skilful in the use of the knife.

The body was nude, though a piece of underclothing was found with it, and it had evidently been carried in its mutilated condition to the place where it was discovered.

Death must have taken place two or three days ago.


There is, at present, absolutely no clue to the identity, but something may be revealed at the inquest to-day. There is room for some difference of opinion as to whether this is to be classed among the Whitechapel murders.

It presents as many points of difference from those crimes as of resemblance to them.

To take the latter first, the locality must count for something.

The remains were found in the very heart of the murder region.

It is, moreover, probable that they had been cut up in a house hard by, for they were heavy to carry, and they could hardly have been borne a long distance without exciting suspicion.

Illustrations showing scenes from the finding of the torso in Pinchin Street.
The Pinchin Street Discovery. From The Illustrated Police News, 21st September, 1889. Copyright, The British Library Board.


The more purposeless mutilations bore some general resemblance to those which had been inflicted on the victims of the Whitechapel crimes, but the manner in which the head and limbs had been removed is said to give evidence of no small surgical skill.

The man who left the trunk in its place had done his work with the rapidity of that mysterious entity known as the Whitechapel murderer.


The police passed the spot between five o’clock and twenty minutes to six. At the earlier hour there was no trace of the body.

On the other hand, there is a possibility that this murder – for murder it seems to be – belongs to an order of horrors different from those peculiar to Whitechapel.


For just now, unfortunately, we have a rich variety of undiscovered crimes.

There is the Whitechapel series, but that is only one.

There is also the series of Battersea, Rainham, and Whitehall, in which the marked peculiarity is the removal of the head or limbs from the trunk, although for purposes of concealment.


In the Whitechapel cases, there is no attempt at concealment whatever.

The victims are lured to the spot which is to be the scene of their death, and there butchered and left to await almost certain identification.

In the other, they are murdered in some place unknown and distributed piecemeal about the Metropolis.


For all that, we incline to the belief that Whitechapel was the scene of the crime as well as of the discovery; and this for the reason already given. A man carrying so huge a burden, no matter how he carried it, at that early hour – would have been challenged at almost every street corner by the police.

Policemen standing under the arch where the body was found.
From The Penny Illustrated Paper, 21st September 1889. Copyright, The British Library Board.


We have, therefore, in all probability, another Whitechapel murder properly~so called, but a murder committed in a way which shows that the murderer has lost something of his old confidence.

He can no longer venture to butcher in the streets, and he has taken a slaughter-house.


There is one chance of detection, and that a good one.

In all probability, the murderer will never leave off till death or capture puts an end to his exploits. He is a wolf that must have his prey; and where the prey is there may the hunters be.

Only too little is known of him, yet some things may be said with certainty. He slays from vanity, not from wrath or greed. He can have no quarrel with his victims; he can have nothing to gain by putting them to death. In his monomania, murder must be literally one of the fine arts.

Now in work of this kind, each successive stroke tempts to the repetition of it.

The danger is the incentive.

When he has killed nine without detection, how exquisite to surpass himself by killing ten!

The choice of the locality – all the murders committed within a space that could be covered by a shilling on any ordinary map of London – points to this conclusion.


To murder people of the same kind, in the same place, time after time, in circumstances that make each murder more thrilling with the excitement of danger than the last, must be to this demented wretch the chief joy of life.

He has the vice of blood as others have the vice of rum, and he will go back to it again and again while his life or his liberty lasts.


This it must be which keeps him always in the same spot.

There would be no “fun” in going elsewhere.

Any one might diminish the risks of capture by changing the scene of the crime.

To him, the indispensable sensation must be found in the fact that, with all Whitechapel hunting for him, he has doubled on all Whitechapel once more, and has again plucked a hair from the sleeping lion in his very den.

It is our conviction, therefore, that if life and health are left to him – and they seem sometimes most capriciously bestowed – he will continue to “operate” in Whitechapel.


His knowledge that this temptation was divined would only increase the temptation. He will be impelled to go on to surpassing himself, until his foolhardiness exceeds any possible measure of prudence, and he falls into the trappers’ hands.

This consideration ought to lessen the difficulties of the Police.

It is a great thing for them to know that whenever they have to look for their man they will always be “warm” in Whitechapel. They may invest all their capital of energy and foresight in that neighbourhood with something like the certainty of an ultimate return.

The question will arise – how much of it have they already invested?

It is a pity that Parliament is not sitting, for Parliament might usefully insist on having some account of their stewardship.


There could be no impolicy in such disclosures, for, at most, they could show no more than how not to do it.

Would it have been quite impossible to keep every street and court and alley of this narrow area under constant – yet secret – observation, night and day?

Could not each thoroughfare and blind alley have had its private watchman – not of course tramping a measured beat before the neighbours, but posted as to be an observer who was not observed?

How many avenues are there in the district? – perhaps fifty or sixty in all.


Could not the police organize as many extra men as that to exercise a sleepless vigilance for a whole year?

It is satisfactory to be able to infer from the reply of Mr. Pemberton to the at lightermen at the Home Office yesterday that no more constables will be drafted from the Whitechapel-road, where they are wanted, to the Docks, where they are not.

Their reports of goings out and coming in, of the movements of suspicious characters, of the day life and the night life, would gradually constitute a body of inductive material from which the most he precious conclusions might be drawn.


The time has come for an explanation from the police.

They ought to tell us what they have done, and when they have told us we shall be the better able to judge what they have failed to do.

It is idle to denounce them; their failure is not a subject for denunciation, but it is certainly a subject for inquiry.

Nothing would be more consolatory than to find that it had more than the merit of most successes – that they had done everything that ingenuity could suggest.

Nothing would be more depressing – and we fear this would be the result of it – than to learn that they had not hit on a single new idea, and that they had tramped after this spring-heeled Jack of the shambles only less heavily booted than the gendarmes in the play.


That they have shown vigilance of a kind is not to be denied.

The discovery was telegraphed throughout the whole metropolis in a very short time, and the Thames Police were searching the cattle boats before most of us were out of bed.

The highest authorities from Scotland-yard were in consultation on the scene of the discovery in the course of the day.

This is something, but it is plainly not enough.

Our special account points both to precaution and to reports, at least, of want of precaution.

The facts themselves indicate the last with irresistible force.

The toils are not close enough, for once more the beast has slipped through.”