Whistling For The Police

On the morning of Sunday the 30th September, 1888, the people of the East End of London were waking up to the horrific news that the Whitechapel murderer had struck twice over night.

The body of Elizabeth Stride had been found at 1 a.m. in Berner Street, and, forty five minutes later, the body of Catherine Eddowes had been discovered in the south-west corner of Mitre Square.

However, by the time of the murders, the Sunday newspapers had gone to print, so it would be another day before news of the two new atrocities filtered through to the country as a whole.

The Sunday newspapers were concerned with events that had occurred before the double murder, and, it is something of a surprise to discover how many men were, apparently, claiming to be the Whitechapel murderer.

Pc Wtakins standing over the body of Catherine Eddowes and blowing his whistle.
Constable Watkins Raises The Alarm On Finding the Body In Mitre Square.


Reynolds’s Newspaper, in its edition of Sunday the 30th of September, 1888, carried the following report on one such claimant who had appeared at Portsmouth Police Court the previous week:-

“At Portsmouth Police Court, a youth of 18, named Joseph Woods, the son of a licensed victualler, was placed in the dock on a charge of indecently assaulting Eleanor Candey, a single woman.

The Prosecutrix stated that she was in Commercial-road shortly after midnight on Tuesday, when she met the prisoner and another man, who accosted her.

Prisoner approached her in a very rough manner, and seized her by the waist and the throat, breaking her necklace. He then threw her to the ground and assaulted her.


She remonstrated with him, and he thereupon produced a clasp knife, exclaiming, “‘Look at this. I’ll put it right through you!”

She said, “Are you one of the Whitechapel men?” and he replied, ” Yes, I am.”

Witness then blew a whistle for the police, and a constable took the prisoner’s name and address.


She had carried a whistle for protection ever since the Whitechapel murders, but she had never used it before this.

The clerk:- “You never carry it with you in the daytime, I suppose?”

Witness:- “No, sir.”

Clerk:- “Only at night?”

Witness:- “Yes.”


Police Sergeant Brading said that he heard the whistle blown, and, seeing the prisoner and the woman near the waterworks office, asked what was the matter.

The woman accused prisoner of having assaulted her, and said that he was the Whitechapel murderer, and had threatened her with an open knife.

Finding that he had a knife, the witness asked him to accompany him to the police station, where his name and address were taken.


On the way prisoner said, “That woman is drunk. I did tell her I was the Whitechapel murderer, but I did not touch her.”

The clerk:- “You have no reason to suppose that he is the Whitechapel murderer?”

Witness:- “No, sir.” (Laughter)

The clerk:- “Was he sober?”

Witness:- “No, he was drunk; but the woman was quite sober.”


Addressing the bench for the defence, Mr. King, solicitor, submitted that the prosecutrix first accosted the prisoner, and, while they were conversing, she mentioned that since the murders she had carried  a whistle.

He then said, “And I always carry a knife. If you want to know who I am, I am the Whitechapel murderer,” whereupon she called the police and alleged that he had ill-treated her.

He maintained that there was no foundation for the charge, which was entirely without corroboration.


The magistrates dismissed the charge of assault, but bound the defendant over in the sum of £10 to keep the peace, ordering him to find a surety for a like amount.