By this time in April 1888 the first of what we now know as the Whitechapel Murders had occurred.
Emma Smith had been attacked in the early hours of the Easter Tuesday of that year and, although she had survived the initial attack, the injuries she sustained were so horrific that she died shortly after.
A hastily convened inquest was held at which Chief Inspector West, a member of the Metropolitan Police’s H Division, in whose jurisdiction the attack had occurred, confessed that the police had almost no knowledge of the attack other than ‘through the daily papers’ and, under instruction from the Coroner, the jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder by person, or persons, unknown.
It transpired that Emma Smith had told several people, including the medic who treated her at the local hospital, that she had been attacked by a gang.
As a result, the local community, who don’t appear to have paid a great deal of attention to her death, attributed the crime to one of local gangs who were known to be running extortion rackets amongst the prostitutes of the East End and the matter was laid to rest.
Had that been the only murder of a prostitute in the East End of London that year the chances are the name of Emma Smith would have been long forgotten today.
The police filed the crime under the title the Whitechapel Murder and went back to policing the area in much the same way as they had been doing for the previous 20 or so years.
What they could not have known in April 1888, however, was that, within 6 months, the Whitechapel Murder file, was destined to become the Whitechapel Murders file, and that somewhere in the festering slums of the East End of London, a lone assassin was preparing to launch a murderous reign of terror that would leave the police totally humiliated.