September 8, 1888: Murder in the Backyard Sept 8, 2014 19:36:33 GMT -5 Joanna, jane, and 1 more like this
Post by Graveyardbride on Sept 8, 2014 19:36:33 GMT -5
September 8, 1888: Murder in the Backyard
A little before 5 o’clock on the morning of Saturday, September 8, 1888, John Richardson, who lived on nearby John Street, walked to 29 Hanbury (above) to make sure the padlock on the cellar was secure. His mother operated a packing case business in the backyard and recently, two saws and a hammer had been stolen from the basement. While in the yard, he sat down on the steps and cut a piece of leather that was hanging from one of his boots. He saw and heard nothing unusual. Around 5:30, Albert Cadosch, who lived next door at Number 27, heard voices in the yard followed by something falling against the fence. About a half-hour later, John Davis, a market porter who resided on the top floor of Number 29 with his family, entered the backyard, presumably to use the toilet, and discovered the body of a woman lying on the ground between the steps and wooden fence.
John Kent and Henry Holland, two workmen walking along Hanbury, were startled when a wild-eyed old man burst into the street from Number 29 crying, “Men, come here!” They followed him into the backyard, where they saw a woman sprawled on the ground. Her head was toward the house and her skirts were tugged up above her waist, revealing red-and-white-striped stockings. Her face and hands were covered in blood and her arms bent with the palms upward. Kent surmised she had “been struggling ... had fought for her throat,” which was slashed so deeply she was almost decapitated.
The men were initially speechless, then raced off in different directions in search of a policeman. Kent, however, so unnerved by what he had seen, quickly abandoned his mission and instead decided he needed a brandy to steady his nerves. Holland made his way to Commercial Street and Spitalfields Market where he encountered a constable. Out of breath, he managed to tell the officer there was a dead woman at 29 Hanbury and was shocked when he was curtly informed by the constable it was a violation of procedure for him to abandon his post. (Holland was so angered by the policeman’s attitude that he later made an official complaint at the Commercial Street Police Station, where he was told the officer had been correct not to leave his post.) John Davis meanwhile had arrived at the station on Commercial Street, where he burst through the doors and demanded to speak with a senior officer.
Moments later, Joseph Luniss Chandler turned onto Hanbury Street and forced his way through the throng of spectators now gathered at Number 29. He immediately ordered the streets be cleared of all sightseers and sent a constable back to the police station, instructing him to return with as many reinforcements as possible to contain the crowds. A second officer was dispatched to fetch Dr. George Bagster Phillips, the Divisional Police Surgeon.
Dr. Phillips arrived at the scene around 6:30 and later recorded what he observed: "The left arm was placed across the left breast. The legs were drawn up, the feet resting on the ground, and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned on the right side. The tongue protruded between the front teeth, but not beyond the lips. The tongue was evidently much swollen. The front teeth were perfect as far as the first molar, top and bottom and very fine teeth they were. The body was terribly mutilated ... the stiffness of the limbs was not marked, but was evidently commencing.” He noticed the throat was “dissevered deeply” and the incision through the skin was “jagged and reached right round the neck. ... On the wooden paling between the yard in question and the next, smears of blood, corresponding to where the head of the deceased lay, were to be seen. These were about 14 inches from the ground and immediately above the part where the blood from the neck lay.” There was a handkerchief around the throat of the deceased and he surmised it had been there prior to the attack. It was his opinion the woman had been dead at least two hours, probably more, but it was a fairly cool morning and this, combined with the great loss of blood, would cause the corpse to cool rapidly. There was no evidence of a struggle and he was positive the woman had been alive when she entered the yard.
Later that day when Phillips arrived at the morgue – which was nothing more than a filthy, cramped shed that stank to high heaven – he discovered the woman had been stripped and washed and her clothing stacked in a corner. Furious, he demanded an explanation and was advised by Rick Mann, the mortuary supervisor, that workhouse authorities had instructed two nurses to undress and clean the body. No physicians or police officers were present when the stripping and washing took place to observe and make notations of any evidence.
By the time Phillips began his examination, the body – which had been identified as that of Annie “Dark Annie” Chapman – was in full rigor. It was obvious the lady’s head was barely attached to her neck and she had been gutted like a hog hanging in a butcher’s shop. The cuts to the neck were on the “left side of the spine,” parallel and separated by approximately a half-inch. It appeared the killer had tried to separate the bones in the neck in an attempt to decapitate his victim. Because the cuts were deepest on the left, the assailant was likely right-handed – unless he attacked her from behind. The lungs and brain showed signs of advanced disease and despite her plump appearance, the woman was malnourished.
The female laid out on the dirty table was 5'-tall, stout, with a pallid complexion. She had blue eyes, dark wavy hair and had excellent teeth with only one or two missing in the lower jaw. Her nose was described as “thick.” The results of Dr. Phillips’ postmortem exam read as follows:
"He noticed the same protrusion of the tongue. There was a bruise over the right temple. On the upper eyelid there was a bruise, and there were two distinct bruises, each the size of a man's thumb, on the forepart of the top of the chest. The stiffness of the limbs was now well marked. There was a bruise over the middle part of the bone of the right hand. There was an old scar on the left of the frontal bone. The stiffness was more noticeable on the left side, especially in the fingers, which were partly closed. There was an abrasion over the ring finger, with distinct markings of a ring or rings. The throat had been severed as before described. The incisions into the skin indicated that they had been made from the left side of the neck. There were two distinct clean cuts on the left side of the spine. They were parallel with each other and separated by about half an inch. The muscular structures appeared as though an attempt had been made to separate the bones of the neck. There were various other mutilations to the body, but he was of the opinion that they occurred subsequent to the death of the woman, and to the large escape of blood from the division of the neck.
“The deceased was far advanced in disease of the lungs and membranes of the brain, but they had nothing to do with the cause of death. The stomach contained little food, but there was not any sign of fluid. There was no appearance of the deceased having taken alcohol, but there were signs of great deprivation and he should say she had been badly fed. He was convinced she had not taken any strong alcohol for some hours before her death. The injuries were certainly not self-inflicted. The bruises on the face were evidently recent, especially about the chin and side of the jaw, but the bruises in front of the chest and temple were of longer standing – probably of days. He was of the opinion that the person who cut the deceased’s throat took hold of her by the chin, and then commenced the incision from left to right. He thought it was highly probable that a person could call out, but with regard to an idea that she might have been gagged he could only point to the swollen face and the protruding tongue, both of which were signs of suffocation.
“The abdomen had been entirely laid open: the intestines, severed from their mesenteric attachments, had been lifted out of the body and placed on the shoulder of the corpse; whilst from the pelvis, the uterus and its appendages with the upper portion of the vagina and the posterior two thirds of the bladder, had been entirely removed. No trace of these parts could be found and the incisions were cleanly cut, avoiding the rectum, and dividing the vagina low enough to avoid injury to the cervix uteri. Obviously the work was that of an expert – of one, at least, who had such knowledge of anatomical or pathological examinations as to be enabled to secure the pelvic organs with one sweep of the knife, which must therefore must have at least 5 or 6 inches in length, probably more. The appearance of the cuts confirmed him in the opinion that the instrument, like the one which divided the neck, had been of a very sharp character. The mode in which the knife had been used seemed to indicate great anatomical knowledge.
“He thought he himself could not have performed all the injuries he described, even without a struggle, under a quarter of an hour. If he had done it in a deliberate way such as would fall to the duties of a surgeon it probably would have taken him the best part of an hour."
Annie Chapman (morgue photo above) was described as undernourished and suffering from a chronic disease of the lungs, i.e., tuberculosis. Her brain tissue was also damaged and some have surmised she may have been suffering from syphilis. Although Phillips determined she wasn’t drinking at the time of her death because of the small amount of liquid in her stomach, alcohol is absorbed quickly – within 30 minutes – particularly when the stomach is empty, or near empty.
Unless a street woman had relatives or friends or lived in a regular boarding house where she could store a change of clothes and other items, she wore and carried all her worldly possessions wherever she went. Because Annie Chapman was a regular at Crossingham’s Lodging House, where she had an assigned bed (Number 29), she was allowed to keep a few personal things there and, in fact, the deputy reported finding a bottle of lotion and/or medicine among Annie’s possessions following her death. When Dark Annie’s clothing and the items she was carrying were inventoried, they included the following: long, black, knee-length coat; black skirt; two bodices, one of which was brown; two petticoats; a large empty pocket worn under the skirt and tied about the waist with strings; lace-up boots; red-and-white-striped woolen stockings; neckerchief, white with a wide red border folded tri-corner (she is wearing this neckerchief when she leaves Crossingham’s and when her body is found); scrap of muslin; one small tooth comb; one comb in a paper case, and a scrap of envelope. Those who knew Annie later recalled she had acquired three brass rings which she wore – these were missing when her body was found and there was an abrasion on her ring finger indicating the rings had been removed prior to death.
The inquest into the death of Annie Chapman was held Monday, September 10, at the Working Lads’ Institute on Whitechapel Road opposite the London Hospital. It was presided over by Middlesex coroner Wynne Baxter and began at 9:30 a.m.
Baxter addressed the jury saying: “She [Chapman] lived principally in the common lodging houses in the neighborhood of Spitalfields, where such as she herd like cattle, and she showed signs of great deprivation, as if she had been badly fed. The glimpse of life in these dens which the evidence in this case discloses is sufficient to make us feel that there is much in the nineteenth century civilization of which we have small reason to be proud; but you [the jury] who are constantly called together to hear the sad tale of starvation or semi-starvation, of misery, immorality and wickedness, which some of the occupants of the 5,000 beds in this district have every week to relate to coroner’s inquests, do not require to be reminded of what life in a Spitalfields lodging house means.”
Of the location where Annie’s body was found, he said: “This place is a fair sample of a large number of houses in the neighborhood. It was built, like hundreds of others, for the Spitalfields weavers and when hand-looms were driven out by steam and power, these were converted into dwellings for the poor. Its size is about such as a superior artisan would occupy in the country, but its condition is such as would to a certainty leave it without a tenant. In this place, 17 persons were living, from a woman and her son sleeping in a cat’s-meat shop on the ground floor to Davis and his wife and their three grown-up sons all sleeping together in an attic. The street door and the yard door were never locked and the passage and yard appear to have been used constantly by people who had no legitimate business there. There is little doubt that the deceased knew the place, for it was only 300 or 400 yards from where she lodged. If so, it is quite unnecessary to assume that her companion had any knowledge – in fact, it is easier to believe that he was ignorant both of the nest of living beings by whom he was surrounded, and of their occupations and habits. Some were on the move late at night; some were up long before the sun.”
During testimony, it was learned that Annie was born Eliza Ann Smith in September 1841 and her parents, George Smith and Ruth Chapman, did not marry until she was 6 months old. She had three sisters and one brother. On May 1, 1869, at the age of 27, Annie married John Chapman and their place of residence on the marriage certificate was listed as 29 Montpelier Place in Brompton. This is also the address where her mother lived until her death in 1893 indicating Annie and her new husband initially moved in with her mother. In 1870, Mr. and Mrs. Chapman moved to 1 Brook Mews in Bayswater and two years later, to 17 South Bruton Mews, Berkeley Square. In 1881, they moved again, this time to Windsor, where John worked as a domestic coachman. The couple had three children, Emily Ruth born in 1870, Annie Georgina in 1873 and John Alfred in 1880. Unfortunately, John was born a cripple and his parents sent him to a home and Emily died of meningitis at age 12.
The Chapmans separated by mutual consent in 1884 or 85 and a police report indicates it was because of Annie’s “drunken and immoral ways.” She was arrested for drunkenness several times while living in Windsor and her husband was also a drinker. John Chapman was ordered to pay his estranged wife 10 shillings per week, which he did on a semi-regular basis until he died of cirrhosis of the liver and dropsy on Christmas Day of 1886. Annie learned of her husband’s death through her brother-in-law. Her friend Amelia Palmer testified that Annie cried when telling her of her husband’s death and “since the death of her husband, she seemed to have given away all together.” Mrs. Palmer also said Annie seemed downcast when speaking of her children.
Sometime during 1886 Annie was living with a sieve maker named John Sivvey (it is unknown whether “Sivvey” was a nickname or the man’s surname) at the common lodging house at 30 Dorset Street in Spitalfields. Shortly after her husband’s death, Sivvey left Annie, probably because there was no longer any money coming in, and moved to Notting Hill.
From around May or June 1888, Annie was living consistently at Crossingham's Lodging House at 35 Dorset Street, Spitalfields, which housed approximately 300 residents. The deputy was Timothy Donovan.
At some point, she took up with Edward Stanley, a bricklayer's mate, known as “The Pensioner.” On September 8, Stanley was living at 1 Osborn Place in Whitechapel. Initially, he claimed to be a military veteran, but later admitted he was not, and never had, drawn a military pension. Stanley and Annie spent weekends together at Crossingham's and Stanley, who was obviously the jealous type, instructed Donovan to turn Annie away if she tried to enter with another man. He often paid for Annie's bed as well as that of Eliza Cooper. Stanley and Annie usually spent Saturdays together, parting between 1 and 3 a.m. on Sunday. Stanley denied having known Annie when she lived in Windsor.
Annie Chapman did not turn to prostitution until after her husband’s death. She had managed to live off her allowance, which she supplemented by doing crochet-work and selling flowers.
In mid to late August of 1888, Annie ran into her brother Fountain Smith on Commercial Road. She said she was hard up, but refused to divulge where she was living. He gave her 2 shillings.
On Saturday, September 1, Edward Stanley, who had been away since August 6, returned to Whitechapel and came across Annie at the corner of Brushfield Street. Around this time, it has been reported that Annie and Eliza Cooper got into a fight over Stanley at the Britannia Public House in which Cooper struck Annie, giving her a black eye and bruising her breast. In another version of events, Annie noticed Copper palming a florin belonging to Harry the Hawker, who was drunk, and replacing it with a penny. Annie told Harry and Cooper attacked Annie for telling on her. According to Cooper, the confrontation took place Sunday, September 2. Amelia Palmer later testified that Annie told her the argument took place at the pub, but the actual fighting happened at the lodging house. John Evans, night watchman at the lodging house, confirmed the fight broke out at Crossingham’s, but recalled it happening Thursday, September 6. According to his account, the women weren’t fighting over Stanley, but rather a bar of soap which Annie borrowed from The Pensioner and failed to return. In yet another version, Annie was said to have thrown a half-penny at Cooper and slapped her in the face, yelling, “Think yourself lucky I did not do more!”
Tim Donavan testified he noticed Annie had a black eye on Friday, August 30, and by way of explanation said, “Tim, this is lovely, ain’t it?” According to Stanley, he noticed her black eye on the evening of Monday, September 2. Amelia Palmer said she saw Annie on Dorset Street either Monday or Tuesday and noticing the bruise on her temple, asked, “How did you get that?” In response, Annie opened her dress, saying, “Look at my chest” and complained of feeling unwell. During the conversation, she mentioned visiting her sister. “If I can get a pair of boots from my sister,” she told Palmer, “I may go hop picking.” There is no record of Annie Chapman’s being treated at either Whitechapel or Spitalfields workhouse infirmaries during this time period. However, later testimony indicated she obtained some sort of medication somewhere.
Donovan also told the inquest Annie was not at the lodging house during the week prior to her death, so it appears the fight took place in the last few days of August in the lodging house as opposed to the pub.
Mrs. Palmer saw Annie again Tuesday, September 4, near Christ Church and Annie again complained of feeling ill, saying she might go to the casual ward for a day or two. She also claimed she had not had anything to eat or drink all day and Palmer gave her 2d, warning her not to spend it on rum. Even though there is no record of her admission to the casual ward, the day following the murder, Donovan discovered a bottle of medicine in the room where Bed 29 was located.
By Friday, September 7, 1888, most of London had all but forgotten the murder of Mary Ann Nichols the previous week. Somewhere around 5 p.m. that day, Amelia Palmer again encountered her friend Annie Chapman on Dorset Street and although everyone knew Annie had a taste for rum, at that time, she was sober and Palmer asked if she was on her way to Stratford – presumably the area where Annie normally did business. She told Palmer she was too ill to do anything and when Palmer returned a few minutes later, Annie had not moved. “It’s no use my giving way,” Annie said, “I must pull myself together and go out and get some money or I shall have no lodgings."
Nothing had changed in Whitechapel, which one writer described as a “horrible black labyrinth, reeking from end to end and swarming with human vermin, whose trade is robbery and whose recreation is murder.” As twilight fell and the already dim streets darkened, the prostitutes began to ply their trade and among them was Dark Annie Chapman, who, at age 47, had seen better days.
Around 11:30 that night, Annie returned to Crossingham’s and requested permission to go into the kitchen. Not long after, Frederick Stevens, a printer and fellow lodger, drank a pint of beer with Annie, who by that time, was quite inebriated. She said she had been to Vauxhall to see her sister and her family had given her 5 pence. She took a broken box of pills from her pocket and when it came apart in her hands, reached up and removed a piece of envelope from the mantlepiece, folded it into a little pocket and placed the pills inside. According to Stevens, she left the kitchen around 1 o’clock and he assumed she had gone to bed.
Annie returned to Crossingham’s at approximately 1:30 and on this occasion, she was eating a baked potato. John “Brummy” Evans, the night watchman, attempted to collect her lodging money, but instead of paying, she went upstairs to see Donovan. “I haven’t sufficient money for my bed,” she admitted, “but don’t let it. I shall not be long before I’m in.” Donovan chastised her: "You can find money for your beer and you can't find money for your bed." Undaunted, Annie retorted, “Never mind, Tim. I’ll soon be back.” As she left the lodging house, she told Evans, “I won’t be long, Brummy. See that Tim keeps the bed for me." Evans watched as Mrs. Chapman entered Little Paternoster Row, walked in the direction of Brushfield Street and turned toward Spitalfields Market.
So far as is known, Evans was the last person personally acquainted with Annie Chapman who saw her alive – with the exception of the man who killed her. Following her murder, there were stories circulating that Annie was seen in the Ten Bells Pub on the corner of Commercial and Church streets around 5 a.m., but when they were allowed to view the body at the mortuary, neither the barmaid nor another pub employ could say positively she was the woman they saw.
However, Mrs. Elizabeth Long (sometimes identified Mrs. Darrell or Mrs. Durrell) testified she saw both Annie Chapman and a man (possibly her killer) at approximately 5:30 on the morning of September 8. Mrs. Long lived on Church Row (the exact address is unknown) and her husband was a cart minder who did business at Spitalfields Market, where she also worked. She claimed she was walking along Hanbury Street on her way to work at approximately 5:30. She was certain of the time because she heard the brewer’s clock on Brick Lane strike just before she turned onto Hanbury. She was walking on the north side of the street, the same side as Number 29, and passed a man and woman "standing only a few yards nearer Brick Lane from 29 Hanbury Street." The two were talking and Mrs. Long heard the man ask, “Will you?” to which the woman answered, “Yes.” Mrs. Long continued walking toward the market, where she arrived a few minutes later.
At the inquest, Baxter asked Mrs. Long: "Was it not an unusual thing to see a man and a woman standing there talking?" She answered: “Oh no. I see lots of them standing there in the morning” and admitted she “did not take much notice of them ... I left them standing there and I did not look back, so I cannot say where they went to.”
When asked if she could identify the man, she testified: "I did not see the man's face, but I noticed that he was dark. He was wearing a brown low-crowned felt hat. I think he had on a dark coat, though I am not certain. By the look of him he seemed to me a man over 40 years of age. He appeared to me to be a little taller than the deceased.” According to Mrs. Long, the hat was of the deer-stalker type.
“Did he look like a working man, or what?” Baxter enquired. “He looked like a foreigner,” Mrs. Long replied.
Baxter then asked: “Did he look like a dock laborer, or a workman, or what?” to which she answered: “I should say he looked like what I should call shabby-genteel.”
Mrs. Long described the man she saw as “a little taller” than the woman. Although Annie Chapman was only 5-feet-tall, she was wearing lace-up boots and such boots sometimes had heels as high as 2-inches. Accordingly, a “little taller” could mean the man was no more than around 5'4" or perhaps as tall as 5'6".
* * *
At 7 o’clock on the morning of Friday, September 14, a hearse, supplied by a Hanbury Street undertaker, traveled to the Whitechapel Mortuary. Annie Chapman’s body was placed in a black-draped elm coffin and transported to the business establishment of Harry Hawes at 19 Hunt Street, a Spitalfields undertaker, who arranged the funeral. Two hours later, the hearse, without accompanying mourning coaches, carried the murdered woman to City of London Cemetery (Little Ilford), where she was buried in Public Grave 78, Square 148. Her relatives, who paid the funeral expenses, met the hearse at the graveyard and, at their request, the funeral was kept secret with only her immediate loved ones in attendance. Annie Chapman’s grave no longer exists, having been buried over years ago.
The following day, Chief Inspector Donald Swanson of Scotland Yard was placed in overall command of the investigation. He wasted no time linking Annie’s murder to that of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols and reported an "immediate and searching enquiry was made at all common lodging houses to ascertain if anyone had entered that morning with blood on his hands or clothes, or under any suspicious circumstances.”
Today, the location where Annie Chapman breathed her last is occupied by a parking garage, but the opposite side of the street is much as it was in 1888 – but cleaner. Through the years, those finding themselves near what used to be 29 Hanbury Street in the wee hours of the morning of September 8, have reported seeing the apparition of a woman they describe as "short and stout" wearing a long dark coat and voluminous skirt. Some say this is the spirit of Annie Chapman returning to the site where she was slaughtered more than a century ago.
Sources: Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell; The Murder of Annie Chapman; The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow; The Complete History of Jack the Ripper by Philip Sugden, Casebook: Jack the Ripper; History in the Headlines; The Whitechapel Murders, CrimeLibrary; BBC News; and Jack the Ripper - 1888.