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Matthew Packer - Full Article

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Matthew Packer - Full Article

Post by Karen on Tue 15 Jul 2014 - 17:40



LONDON, October 1.

Two more murders must now be added to the black list of similar crimes of which the East-end of London has very lately been the scene. The circumstances of both of them bear a close resemblance to those of the former atrocities. The victim in both has been a woman. In neither can robbery have been the motive, nor can the deed be set down as the outcome of an ordinary street brawl. Both have unquestionably been murders deliberately planned, and carried out by the hand of some one who has been no novice to the work. It was early yesterday morning that the bodies of the two women were discovered, at places within a quarter of an hour's walk of one another, and at intervals of somewhat less than an hour.
The first body was found lying in a yard in Berner-street, a low thoroughfare running out of the Commercial Road. The discovery was made about one o'clock, in the early morning by a carter, who was entering the yard to put up his cart. The body was that of a woman, with a deep gash on the throat, running almost from ear to ear. She was quite dead, but the corpse was still warm, and in the opinion of the medial experts, who were promptly summoned to the place, the deed of blood must have been done not many minutes before. The probability seems to be that the murderer was interrupted by the arrival of the carter, and that he made his escape unobserved, under the shelter of the darkness, which was almost total at the spot. The efforts of the police to trace the murderer have been without result as yet. They set to work without delay. Their first attention was directed to the inmates of a Socalist International Club, close to the place at which the body had been found, but their was nothing to give ground for a reasonable suspicion about any of them, nor was there anyone in the neighbourhood of the locality on whom the guilt could be presumed to rest. The body has been identified as that of Elizabeth Stride, a widow according to one account, according to another a woman living apart from her husband, and by all accounts belonging to the "unfortunate" class. Her movements have been traced up to a certain point. She left her house in Dean-street, Spitalfields, between six and seven o'clock on Saturday evening, saying that she was not going to meet anyone in particular. From that hour there is nothing certainly known about her up to the time at which her body was found, lifeless indeed, but not otherwise mutilated than by the gash in the throat, which has severed the jugular vein, and must have caused instantaneous death.
Not so the corpse of the second victim. In this case the purpose of the murderer had been fulfilled, and a mutilation inflicted of the same nature as that upon the body of Annie Chapman. It was in the south-western corner of Mitre-square, in Aldgate, that the second body was found. It was again the body of a woman, and again had death resulted from a deep wound across the throat. But in this instance the face had also been so slashed as to render it hard for the remains to be identified, and the abdomen had been ripped up, and a portion of the intestines had been dragged out and left lying about the neck. The time of the murder can be approximately fixed. The policeman in whose beat Mitre-square lies, had passed the spot at which the body was found a little before half-past one. On his return beat, at about a quarter to two, he found the body lying as we have said, so cut about as almost to defy recognition. The deed of blood had been the work of a practised hand. The body bore clear proof of some anatomical skill, but the murderer had been in a hurry, and had carried out his design in a more rough fashion than that with which Annie Chapman's body had been mutilated. The best chance of identification seems to be from the victim's dress, of which a minute description has been put out.
The inference is clear as to the agency in these two almost concurrent murders. They are the work of the same hand. The murderer in Elizabeth Stride's case had no more than time to inflict the fatal wound. He was then interrupted, but he was not so to be put off from the completion of his abominable design. The opportunity soon offered itself. A second woman of the unfortunate class was accosted, was lured off into a quiet corner, and time was found for the hurried accomplishment of the full deed of brutality. Beyond this we are unable at present to go. We are once again in the presence of mysterious crimes, for which no adequate motive has been assigned. The object was not plunder - in neither case did the wretched woman offer any temptation for this. The circumstances are such as to forbid the idea of revenge. The victims seem almost certainly to have been mere casual street acquaintances, picked up by the murderer at the moment, and not known to him before. Have these been the freaks of a madman or the deliberate acts of a sane man who takes delight in murder on its own account, and who selects his victims by preference from the weaker sex, either as the safer and easier to deal with or as giving him the means of gratifying some horrid instinct of cruelty and perverted lust? The explanation offered by the coroner in Annie Chapman's case is equally applicable in these, but there has been so much uncertainty thrown upon it, and the facts on which it rests are so far unestablished, that it is impossible to accept it as proved.
The Daily Telegraph prints two sketches of the supposed murderer. They are presented not, of course, as authentic portraits, but as a likeness which an important witness has identified as that of the man who was seen talking to the murdered woman in Berner-street and its vicinity until within a quarter of an hour of the time when she was killed last Sunday morning. A man without moustache, and wearing a soft black felt deerstalker hat, was seen by Matthew Packer, of 44, Berner-street, two doors from the scene of the murder, late on Saturday night, and Packer, as above stated, attests the general accuracy of the likeness given. He describes the incident which brought the man to his notice as follows: On Saturday night, about half-past eleven o'clock, this man and the woman he has identified as the deceased came to the fruiterer's shop which he keeps. It was not necessary for them to enter it, as customers usually stand upon the pavement, and make their purchases through the window, which is not a shop front of the ordinary kind. Packer is certain that the woman, who wore a dark jacket and a bonnet with some crepe stuff in it, was playing with a white flower which she carried. The man was square-built, about 5ft. 7in. in height, 30 years of age, full in the face, dark complexioned, without moustache, and alert-looking. His hair was black. He wore a long black coat and soft felt hat. It seemed to Packer that he was a clerk, and not a working man. He spoke in a quick, sharp manner, and stood in front of the window. The man purchased half a pound of black grapes, which were given to him in a paper bag, and he paid threepence in copper. The couple then stood near the gateway of the club for a minute or so, and afterwards crossed the road and remained talking by the Board School for some time. They were still there when Packer had had supper and when he went to bed and Mrs. Packer remarked it as strange that they should remain, for rain was falling at the time.
It is a remarkable circumstance - much more than an ordinary coincidence - that the description of the supposed murderer given by Packer was confirmed by another man who, without being aware of the fact, also chose from the sketches the one which had been already selected by Packer. Search for an individual answering to the description above detailed, but having a slight moustache and wearing a black deerstalker felt hat, instead of a soft one, has been made by the police in Whitechapel ever since Saturday, Sept. 1, the day following the Buck's Row tragedy. Information was tendered at the King David's Lane Police Station, at about that time, by a dairyman who has a place of business in Little Turner-street, Commercial Road. It will be recollected that on Saturday, September 1, a desperate assault was reported to have been committed near to the music hall in Cambridge-heath Road, a man having seized a woman by the throat and dragged her down a court, where he was joined by a gang, one of whom laid a knife across the woman's throat, remarking, "We will serve you as we did the others." The particulars of this affair were subsequently stated to be untrue; but the milkman has reason to suppose that the outrage was actually perpetrated, and he suspects that the murderer of Mary Ann Nicholls in Buck's Row had something to do with it. At any rate, upon that Saturday night, at five minutes to eleven o'clock, a man, corresponding with the description given by Packer of the individual who purchased the grapes in Berner-street, called at the shop, which is on the left of a covered yard, usually occupied by barrows, which are let out on hire. He was in a hurry, and he asked for a penny-worth of milk, with which he was served, and he drank it down at a gulp. Asking permission to go into the yard or shed, he went there, but the dairyman caught a glimpse of something white, and, having suspicions, he rejoined the man in the shed, and was surprised to observe that he had covered up his trousers with a pair of white over-alls, such as engineers wear. The man had a staring look, and appeared greatly agitated. He made a movement forward, and the brim of his hard felt hat struck the dairyman, who is therefore sure of the kind that he was wearing. In a hurried manner the stranger took out of a black shiny bag, which was on the ground, a white jacket, and rapidly put it on, completely hiding his cutaway black coat, remarking meanwhile, "It's a dreadful murder, isn't it?" although the subject had not been previously mentioned. Without making a pause the suspicious person caught up his bag, which was still open, and rushed into the street towards Shadwell, saying, "I think I've got a clue!" The matter was reported to the police, and although strict watch has been maintained for the reappearance of the man, he has not been seen in the street since. He is said to have had a dark complexion, such as a seafaring man acquires. The style of collar that he was then wearing was of the turn-down pattern. He had no marked American accent, and his general appearance was that of a clerk or student whose beard had been allowed three days' growth. His hair was dark and his eyes large and staring. The bag carried by the young man, whose age the dairyman places at 28, is stated to have been provided with a lock at the top, near the handle, and was made, as stated, of a black glistening material.
In connection with the Whitechapel murders a black bag has been repeatedly mentioned. Mrs. Mortimer said: "The only man I had seen pass through Berner-street previously was a young man who carried a black shiny bag. He walked very fast down the street from the Commercial Road. He looked up at the club, and then went round the corner by the Board school." This was on the morning of the murder in Berner-street. Albert Bachert, of 13, Newnham-street, Whitechapel, has also stated: "On Saturday night at about seven minutes to twelve I entered the Three Nuns Hotel, Aldgate. While in there an elderly woman, very shabbily dressed, came in and asked me to buy some matches. I refused, and she went out. A man who had been standing by me remarked that those persons were a nuisance, to which I responded "Yes." He then asked me to have a glass with him, but I refused, as I had just called for one myself. He then asked me if I knew how old some of the women were who were in the habit of soliciting outside. I replied that I knew or thought that some of them who looked about 25 were over 35, the reason they looked younger being on account of the powder and paint. He asked me if I could tell him where they usually visited, and I replied that I had heard that some went to places in Oxford-street, Whitechapel, others to some houses in Whitechapel Road, and others to Bishopsgate-street. Having asked other questions about their habits, he went outside, and spoke to the woman who was selling matches, and gave her something, I believe. He returned to me, and I bid him good-night at about ten minutes past twelve. I believe the woman was waiting for him. I do not think I could identify the woman, as I did not take particular notice of her, but I should know the man again. He was a dark man, height about 5 feet 6 inches or 7 inches. He wore a black felt hat, dark clothes, morning coat, black tie, and carried a black shiny bag."
A telegram from New York states: - "The atrocious crimes committed in Whitechapel have aroused intense interest here. The following statement has been made by an English sailor named Dodge. He says he arrived in London from China on August 13 by the steamship Glenorchy. He met at the Queen's Music Hall, Poplar, a Malay cook, named Alaska. The Malay said he had been robbed by women of bad character, and swore that unless he found them and recovered his money he would murder and mutilate every Whitechapel woman he met. He showed Dodge a double-edged knife which he always carried with him. He was about 5ft. 7in. in height, 130lb. in weight, and apparently 35 years of age."
The Central News says it is authorised to state that Sir Charles Warren has been making inquiries as to the practicability of employing trained bloodhounds for use in special cases in the streets of London, and, having ascertained that dogs can be procured that have been accustomed to work in a town he is making immediate arrangements for their use in London.
John Pizer, known as "Leather Apron," has commenced actions against two London journals for hastily assuming that he was the perpetrator of the Whitechapel murders, and has valued his character in each case at 5000 pounds.
Sir Charles Warren, in the course of a letter to the Whitechapel Board of Works, points out the difficulty of protecting victims who actually, though unwittingly, connive at their own destruction. He assures the Board that the Detective Department is doing its utmost to discover the author of the recent atrocities, but he naturally declines to make public the measures they are taking, or to disclose their methods of procedure. Although fully cognisant of the need for increasing the police service in the East End, Sir Charles Warren confesses his inability to do much towards that end without reducing the force in other districts.


A further addition to the annals of crime was brought to light on October 2, the scene on this occasion being within a stone's throw of the Houses of Parliament. The body proved to be that of a woman of about 25 years of age, and was discovered in an unfinished building on the Thames Embankment. On Monday morning, October 1, the foreman, in making his rounds, happened to glance in a corner obscured from view, and his eye alighted on a dark-looking object, which had the appearance of an old coat, and which, he believed, had been thrown there by one of the workmen. The following day two or three pieces of black or dark material, used for ladies' dresses, were discovered in different parts of the works, and he sent a labourer to get the parcel he had seen in the vault. On bringing it to the light the men were horrified, and the stench arising from it almost overcame them. The covering was of the same material as that previously spoken of, but it was tied with cord. On removing the fastenings a mutilated trunk was exhibited, the head, arms, and legs being cut away. The body itself was further bound with cords, but was frightfully decomposed. From its appearance it was that of a woman of somewhat full proportions. After investigation, it became apparent that the body must have been carried bodily and placed in the position in which it was found. It is impossible for anything to lodge in such a manner if thrown over the hoarding on the embankment, and it would be equally difficult for any person to climb over at that part in order to gain access to the vault. The police at present are completely in the dark as to the method adopted in gaining access to the building, but they incline to the opinion that it is the act of some one fully cognisant of the arrangements. The doctors are preparing an elaborate report to be presented to the coroner at the inquest, which is to be held on October 8, and decline to give any detailed information until then. It has, however, been ascertained that the body is that of a well-nourished woman, and that the arm found in the Thames at Pimlico was beyond doubt cut from this trunk, that the cord tied round the limb is similar to that by which the parcel was tied, and that death - from what cause cannot be ascertained - must have taken place about three weeks ago, decomposition having been hastened by exposure. The clothing in which the body was wrapped has been disinfected and cleaned, and is now proved to have been a rich broche silk underskirt. This is looked upon as proving that the woman did not belong to the poorest class of society.

LONDON, October 18.

The mass of absurd theories, false clues, and unlimited arrests of wrong men, which have almost turned the pursuit of the Whitechapel murderer into a burlesque, is relieved tonight by a genuine sensation. George Lusk, a builder, is the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. Late Tuesday night a parcel post delivery left a box at his house. Upon opening it he discovered a meaty substance, which smelt very strongly, and which he judged to be half of a kidney belonging to some animal. Enclosed in the box was the following letter: -
"I send you half the kidney I took from one woman. I preserved it for you. The other piece I fried and ate. It was very nice. I may send you the bloody knife that took it out, if you only wait a while longer."
Lusk at first regarded the matter as a joke, but, remembering that the left kidney was taken from the Mitre-square victim, he took the box to the London Hospital. Dr. Openshaw examined it yesterday, and said it was certainly half of the left kidney of a full-grown woman, divided longitudinally.

Source: The New Zealand Herald, Monday November 12, 1888, Page 6

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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