Day 1, Monday, October 1, 1888
The inquest was then adjourned till one o'clock today.
(The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, October 2, 1888, Page 3)
Yesterday [1 Oct], at the
Vestry Hall in Cable-street, St. George-in-the-East, Mr.
Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for East Middlesex, opened an
inquest on the body of the woman who was found dead, with her
throat cut, at one o'clock on Sunday morning, in
Berner-street, Commercial-road East. At the outset of the
inquiry the deceased was described as Elizabeth Stride, but
it subsequently transpired that she had not yet been really
identified. A jury of twenty-four having been empanelled,
they proceeded to view the body at the St. George's Mortuary.
William Wess [West], who affirmed instead of being
sworn, was the first witness examined, and, in reply to the
coroner, he said: I reside at No. 2, William-street,
Cannon-street-road, and am overseer in the printing office
attached to No. 40, Berner-street, Commercial-road, which
premises are in the occupation of the International Working Men's
Education Society, whose club is carried on there. On the ground
floor of the club is a room, the door and window of which face
the street. At the rear of this is the kitchen, whilst the first
floor consists of a large room which is used for our meetings and
entertainments, I being a member of the club. At the south side
of the premises is a courtyard, to which entrance can be obtained
through a double door, in one section of which is a smaller one,
which is used when the larger barriers are closed. The large
doors are generally closed at night, but sometimes remain open.
On the left side of the yard is a house, which is divided into
three tenements, and occupied, I believe, by that number of
families. At the end is a store or workshop belonging to Messrs.
Hindley and Co., sack manufacturers. I do not know that a way out
exists there. The club premises and the printing-office occupy
the entire length of the yard on the right side. Returning to the
club-house, the front room on the ground floor is used for meals.
In the kitchen is a window which faces the door opening into the
yard. The intervening passage is illuminated by means of a
fanlight over the door. The printing-office, which does not
communicate with the club, consists of two rooms, one for
compositors and the other for the editor. On Saturday the
compositors finished their labours at two o'clock in the
afternoon. The editor concluded earlier, but remained at the
place until the discovery of the murder.
Detective-Inspector Reid, H Division, watched the case on behalf of the police.
[Coroner] How many members are there in the club? - From seventy-five to eighty. Working men of any nationality can join.
[Coroner] Is any political qualification required of members? - It is a political - a Socialist - club.
[Coroner] Do the members have to agree with any particular principles? - A candidate is proposed by one member and seconded by another, and a member would not nominate a candidate unless he knew that he was a supporter of Socialist principles. On Saturday last I was in the printing-office during the day and in the club during the evening. From nine to half-past ten at night I was away seeing an English friend home, but I was in the club again till a quarter-past midnight. A discussion was proceeding in the lecture-room, which has three windows overlooking the courtyard. From ninety to 100 persons attended the discussion, which terminated soon after half-past eleven, when the bulk of the members left, using the street door, the most convenient exit. From twenty to thirty members remained, some staying in the lecture-room and the others going downstairs. Of those upstairs a few continued the discussion, while the rest were singing. The windows of the lecture-room were partly open.
[Coroner] How do you know that you finally left at a quarter-past twelve o'clock? - Because of the time when I reached my lodgings. Before leaving I went into the yard, and thence to the printing-office, in order to leave some literature there, and on returning to the yard I observed that the double door at the entrance was open. There is no lamp in the yard, and none of the street lamps light it, so that the yard is only lit by the lights through the windows at the side of the club and of the tenements opposite. As to the tenements, I only observed lights in two first-floor windows. There was also a light in the printing- office, the editor being in his room reading.
[Coroner] Was there much noise in the club? - Not exactly much noise; but I could hear the singing when I was in the yard.
[Coroner] Did you look towards the yard gates? - Not so much to the gates as to the ground, but nothing unusual attracted my attention.
[Coroner] Can you say that there was no object on the ground? - I could not say that.
[Coroner] Do you think it possible that anything can have been there without your observing it? - It was dark, and I am a little shortsighted, so that it is possible. The distance from the gates to the kitchen door is 18 ft.
[Coroner] What made you look towards the gates at all? - Simply because they were open. I went into the club, and called my brother, and we left together by the front door.
[Coroner] On leaving did you see anybody as you passed the yard? - No.
[Coroner] Or did you meet any one in the street? - Not that I recollect. I generally go home between twelve and one o'clock.
[Coroner] Do low women frequent Berner-street? - I have seen men and women standing about and talking to each other in Fairclough-street.
[Coroner] But have you observed them nearer the club? - No.
[Coroner] Or in the club yard? - I did once, at eleven o'clock at night, about a year ago. They were chatting near the gates. That is the only time I have noticed such a thing, nor have I heard of it.
Morris Eagle, who also affirmed, said: I live at No. 4, New-road, Commercial-road, and travel in jewellery. I am a member of the International Workmen's Club, which meets at 40, Berner-street. I was there on Saturday, several times during the day, and was in the chair during the discussion in the evening. After the discussion, between half-past eleven and a quarter to twelve o'clock, I left the club to take my young lady home, going out through the front door. I returned about twenty minutes to one. I tried the front door, but, finding it closed, I went through the gateway into the yard, reaching the club in that way.
[Coroner] Did you notice anything lying on the ground near the gates? - I did not.
[Coroner] Did you pass in the middle of the gateway? - I think so. The gateway is 9 ft. 2 in. wide. I naturally walked on the right side, that being the side on which the club door was.
[Coroner] Do you think you are able to say that the deceased was not lying there then? - I do not know, I am sure, because it was rather dark. There was a light from the upper part of the club, but that would not throw any illumination upon the ground. It was dark near the gates.
[Coroner] You have formed no opinion, I take it, then, as to whether there was anything there? - No.
[Coroner] Did you see anyone about in Berner-street? - I dare say I did, but I do not remember them.
[Coroner] Did you observe any one in the yard? - I do not remember that I did.
[Coroner] If there had been a man and woman there you would have remembered the circumstance? - Yes; I am sure of that.
[Coroner] Did you notice whether there were any lights in the tenements opposite the club? - I do not recollect.
[Coroner] Are you often at the club late at night? - Yes, very often.
[Coroner] In the yard, too? - No, not in the yard.
[Coroner] And you have never seen a man and woman there? - No, not in the yard; but I have close by, outside the beershop, at the corner of Fairclough-street. As soon as I entered the gateway on Saturday night I could hear a friend of mine singing in the upstair room of the club. I went up to him. He was singing in the Russian language, and we sang together. I had been there twenty minutes when a member named Gidleman came upstairs, and said "there is a woman dead in the yard." I went down in a second and struck a match, when I saw a woman lying on the ground in a pool of blood, near the gates. Her feet were towards the gates, about six or seven feet from them. She was lying by the side of and facing the club wall. When I reached the body and struck the match another member was present.
[Coroner] Did you touch the body? - No. As soon as I struck the match I perceived a lot of blood, and I ran away and called the police.
[Coroner] Were the clothes of the deceased disturbed? - I cannot say. I ran towards the Commercial-road, Dienishitz, the club steward, and another member going in the opposite direction down Fairclough- street. In Commercial-road I found two constables at the corner of Grove-street. I told them that a woman had been murdered in Berner-street, and they returned with me.
[Coroner] Was any one in the yard then? - Yes, a few persons - some members of the club and some strangers. One of the policemen turned his lamp on the deceased and sent me to the station for the inspector, at the same time telling his comrade to fetch a doctor. The onlookers seemed afraid to go near and touch the body. The constable, however, felt it.
[Coroner] Can you fix the time when the discovery was first made? - It must have been about one o'clock. On Saturday nights there is free discussion at the club, and among those present last Saturday were about half a dozen women, but they were those we knew - not strangers. It was not a dancing night, but a few members may have danced after the discussion.
[Coroner] If there was dancing and singing in the club you would not hear the cry of a woman in the yard? - It would depend upon the cry.
[Coroner] The cry of a woman in great distress - a cry of "Murder"? - Yes, I should have heard that.
Lewis Dienishitz [Diemschutz], having affirmed, deposed: I reside at No. 40 Berner-street, and am steward of the International Workmen's Club. I am married, and my wife lives at the club too, and assists in the management. On Saturday I left home about half-past eleven in the morning, and returned exactly at one o'clock on Sunday morning. I noticed the time at the baker's shop at the corner of Berner-street. I had been to the market near the Crystal Palace, and had a barrow like a costermonger's, drawn by a pony, which I keep in George-yard Cable-street. I drove home to leave my goods. I drove into the yard, both gates being wide open. It was rather dark there. All at once my pony shied at some object on the right. I looked to see what the object was, and observed that there was something unusual, but could not tell what. It was a dark object. I put my whip handle to it, and tried to lift it up, but as I did not succeed I jumped down from my barrow and struck a match. It was rather windy, and I could only get sufficient light to see that there was some figure there. I could tell from the dress that it was the figure of a woman.
[Coroner] You did not disturb it? - No. I went into the club and asked where my wife was. I found her in the front room on the ground floor.
[Coroner] What did you do with the pony? - I left it in the yard by itself, just outside the club door. There were several members in the front room of the club, and I told them all that there was a woman lying in the yard, though I could not say whether she was drunk or dead. I then got a candle and went into the yard, where I could see blood before I reached the body.
[Coroner] Did you touch the body? - No, I ran off at once for the police. I could not find a constable in the direction which I took, so I shouted out "Police!" as loudly as I could. A man whom I met in Grove- street returned with me, and when we reached the yard he took hold of the head of the deceased. As he lifted it up I saw the wound in the throat.
[Coroner] Had the constables arrived then? - At the very same moment Eagle and the constables arrived.
[Coroner] Did you notice anything unusual when you were approaching the club? - No.
[Coroner] You saw nothing suspicious? - Not at all.
[Coroner] How soon afterwards did a doctor arrive? - About twenty minutes after the constables came up. No one was allowed by the police to leave the club until they were searched, and then they had to give their names and addresses.
[Coroner] Did you notice whether the clothes of the deceased were in order? - They were in perfect order.
[Coroner] How was she lying? - On her left side, with her face towards the club wall.
[Coroner] Was the whole of the body resting on the side? - No, I should say only her face. I cannot say how much of the body was sideways. I did not notice what position her hands were in, but when the police came I observed that her bodice was unbuttoned near the neck. The doctor said the body was quite warm.
[Coroner] What quantity of blood should you think had flowed from the body? - I should say quite two quarts.
[Coroner] In what direction had it run? - Up the yard from the street. The body was about one foot from the club wall. The gutter of the yard is paved with large stones, and the centre with smaller irregular stones.
[Coroner] Have you ever seen men and women together in the yard? - Never.
[Coroner] Nor heard of such a thing? - No.
A Juror: Could you in going up the yard have passed the body without touching it? - Oh, yes.
[Coroner] Any person going up the centre of the yard might have passed without noticing it? - I, perhaps, should not have noticed it if my pony had not shied. I had passed it when I got down from my barrow.
[Coroner] How far did the blood run? - As far as the kitchen door of the club.
[Coroner] Was any person left with the body while you ran for the police? - Some members of the club remained; at all events, when I came back they were there. I cannot say whether any of them touched the body.
Inspector Reid (interposing): When the murder was discovered the members of the club were detained on the premises, and I searched them, whilst Dr. Phillips examined them.
A Juror; Was it possible for anybody to leave the yard between the discovery of the body and the arrival of the police?
Witness: Oh, yes - or, rather, it would have been possible before I informed the members of the club, not afterwards.
[Coroner] When you entered the yard, if any person had run out you would have seen them in the dark? - Oh, yes, it was light enough for that. It was dark in the gateway, but not so dark further in the yard.
The Coroner: The body has not yet been identified? - Not yet.
The Foreman: I do not quite understand that. I thought the inquest had been opened on the body of one Elizabeth Stride.
The Coroner: That was a mistake. Something is known of the deceased, but she has not been fully identified. It would be better at present to describe her as a woman unknown. She has been partially identified. It is known where she lived. It was thought at the beginning of the inquest that she had been identified by a relative, but that turns out to have been a mistake.
The inquiry was then adjourned till this (Tuesday) afternoon, at two o'clock.
[Back to the Top]
Day 2, Tuesday, October 2, 1888
(The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday, October 3, 1888, Page 3)
Yesterday afternoon [2 oct], in the
Vestry Hall of St. George-in-the-East, Cable-street, Mr.
Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for East Middlesex, resumed the
inquiry into the circumstances attending the death of the
woman who was found with her throat cut in a yard adjoining
the clubhouse of the International Working Men's Education
Society, No. 40, Berner-street, Commercial-road East, at one
o'clock on Sunday morning last.
Constable Henry Lamb,
252 H division, examined by the coroner, said: Last Sunday
morning, shortly before one o'clock, I was on duty in
Commercial-road, between Christian-street and Batty-street, when
two men came running towards me and shouting. I went to meet
them, and they called out, "Come on, there has been another
murder." I asked where, and as they got to the corner of
Berner-street they pointed down and said, "There." I
saw people moving some distance down the street. I ran, followed
by another constable - 426 H. Arriving at the gateway of No. 40 I
observed something dark lying on the ground on the right-hand
side. I turned my light on, when I found that the object was a
woman, with her throat cut and apparently dead. I sent the other
constable for the nearest doctor, and a young man who was
standing by I despatched to the police station to inform the
inspector what had occurred. On my arrival there were about
thirty people in the yard, and others followed me in. No one was
nearer than a yard to the body. As I was examining the deceased
the crowd gathered round, but I begged them to keep back,
otherwise they might have their clothes soiled with blood, and
thus get into trouble.
[Coroner] Up to this time had you touched the body? - I had put my hand on the face.
[Coroner] Was it warm? - Slightly. I felt the wrist, but could not discern any movement of the pulse. I then blew my whistle for assistance.
[Coroner] Did you observe how the deceased was lying? - She was lying on her left side, with her left hand on the ground.
[Coroner] Was there anything in that hand? - I did not notice anything. The right arm was across the breast. Her face was not more than five or six inches away from the club wall.
[Coroner] Were her clothes disturbed? - No.
[Coroner] Only her boots visible? - Yes, and only the soles of them. There were no signs of a struggle. Some of the blood was in a liquid state, and had run towards the kitchen door of the club. A little - that nearest to her on the ground - was slightly congealed. I can hardly say whether any was still flowing from the throat. Dr. Blackwell was the first doctor to arrive; he came ten or twelve minutes after myself, but I had no watch with me.
[Coroner] Did any one of the crowd say whether the body had been touched before your arrival? - No. Dr. Blackwell examined the body and its surroundings. Dr. Phillips came ten minutes later. Inspector Pinhorn arrived directly after Dr. Blackwell. When I blew my whistle other constables came, and I had the entrance of the yard closed. This was while Dr. Blackwell was looking at the body. Before that the doors were wide open. The feet of the deceased extended just to the swing of the gate, so that the barrier could be closed without disturbing the body. I entered the club and left a constable at the gate to prevent any one passing in or out. I examined the hands and clothes of all the members of the club. There were from fifteen to twenty present, and they were on the ground floor.
[Coroner] Did you discover traces of blood anywhere in the club? - No.
[Coroner] Was the steward present? - Yes.
[Coroner] Did you ask him to lock the front door? - I did not. There was a great deal of commotion. That was done afterwards.
The Coroner: But time is the essence of the thing.
Witness: I did not see any person leave. I did not try the front door of the club to see if it was locked. I afterwards went over the cottages, the occupants of which were in bed. I was admitted by men, who came down partly dressed; all the other people were undressed. As to the waterclosets in the yard, one was locked and the other unlocked, but no one was there. There is a recess near the dust-bin.
[Coroner] Did you go there? - Yes, afterwards, with Dr. Phillips.
The Coroner: But I am speaking of at the time.
Witness: I did it subsequently. I do not recollect looking over the wooden partition. I, however, examined the store belonging to Messrs. Hindley, sack manufacturers, but I saw nothing there.
[Coroner] How long were the cottagers in opening their doors? - Only a few minutes, and they seemed frightened. When I returned Dr. Phillips and Chief Inspector West had arrived.
[Coroner] Was there anything to prevent a man escaping while you were examining the body? - Several people were inside and outside the gates, and I should think that they would be sure to observe a man who had marks of blood.
[Coroner] But supposing he had no marks of blood? - It was quite possible, of course, for a person to escape while I was examining the corpse. Every one was more or less looking towards the body. There was much confusion.
[Coroner] Do you think that a person might have got away before you arrived? - I think he is more likely to have escaped before than after.
Detective-Inspector Reid: How long before had you passed this place?
Witness: I am not on the Berner-street beat, but I passed the end of the street in Commercial-road six or seven minutes before.
[Coroner] When you were found what direction were you going in? - I was coming towards Berner-street. A constable named Smith was on the Berner-street beat. He did not accompany me, but the constable who was on fixed-point duty between Grove-street and Christian-street in Commercial-road. Constables at fixed-points leave duty at one in the morning. I believe that is the practice nearly all over London.
The Coroner: I think this is important. The Hanbury-street murder was discovered just as the night police were going off duty. (To witness): Did you see anything suspicious? - I did not at any time. There were squabbles and rows in the streets, but nothing more.
The Foreman: Was there light sufficient to enable you to see, as you were going down Berner-street, whether any person was running away from No. 40? - It was rather dark, but I think there was light enough for that, though the person would be somewhat indistinct from Commercial-road.
The Foreman: Some of the papers state that Berner-street is badly lighted; but there are six lamps within 700 feet, and I do not think that is very bad.
The Coroner: The parish plan shows that there are four lamps within 350 feet, from Commercial-road to Fairclough-street.
Witness: There are three, if not four, lamps in Berner-street between Commercial- road and Fairclough-street. Berner-street is about as well lighted as other side streets. Most of them are rather dark, but more lamps have been erected lately.
The Coroner: I do not think that London altogether is as well lighted as some capitals are.
Witness: There are no public-house lights in Berner-street. I was engaged in the yard and at the mortuary all the night afterwards.
Edward Spooner, in reply to the coroner, said: I live at No. 26, Fairclough-street, and am a horse-keeper with Messrs. Meredith, biscuit bakers. On Sunday morning, between half-past twelve and one o'clock, I was standing outside the Beehive Public- house, at the corner of Christian-street, with my young woman. We had left a public-house in Commercial-road at closing time, midnight, and walked quietly to the point named. We stood outside the Beehive about twenty-five minutes, when two Jews came running along, calling out "Murder" and "Police." They ran as far as Grove-street, and then turned back. I stopped them and asked what was the matter, and they replied that a woman had been murdered. I thereupon proceeded down Berner-street and into Dutfield's-yard, adjoining the International Workmen's Club-house, and there saw a woman lying just inside the gate.
[Coroner] Was any one with her? - There were about fifteen people in the yard.
[Coroner] Was any one near her? - They were all standing round.
[Coroner] Were they touching her? - No. One man struck a match, but I could see the woman before the match was struck. I put my hand under her chin when the match was alight.
[Coroner] Was the chin warm? - Slightly.
[Coroner] Was any blood coming from the throat? - Yes; it was still flowing. I noticed that she had a piece of paper doubled up in her right hand, and some red and white flowers pinned on her breast. I did not feel the body, nor did I alter the position of the head. I am sure of that. Her face was turned towards the club wall.
[Coroner] Did you notice whether the blood was still moving on the ground? - It was running down the gutter. I stood by the side of the body for four or five minutes, until the last witness arrived.
[Coroner] Did you notice any one leave the yard while you were there? - No.
[Coroner] Could any one have left without your observing it? - I cannot say, but I think there were too many people about. I believe it was twenty-five minutes to one o'clock when I arrived in the yard.
[Coroner] Have you formed any opinion as to whether the people had moved the body before you came? - No.
The Foreman: As a rule, Jews do not care to touch dead bodies.
Witness: The legs of the deceased were drawn up, but her clothes were not disturbed. When Police-constable Lamb came I helped him to close the gates of the yard, and I left through the club.
Inspector Reid: I believe that was after you had given your name and address to the police? - Yes. And had been searched? - Yes. And examined by Dr. Phillips? - Yes.
The Coroner: Was there no blood on your hands? - No.
[Coroner] Then there was no blood on the chin of the deceased? - No.
By the Jury: I did not meet any one as I was hastening through Berner-street.
Mary Malcolm was the next witness, and she was deeply affected while giving her evidence. In answer to the coroner she said: I live at No. 50, Eagle-street, Red Lion-square, Holborn, and am married. My husband, Andrew Malcolm, is a tailor. I have seen the body at the mortuary. I saw it once on Sunday and twice yesterday.
[Coroner] Who is it? - It is the body of my sister, Elizabeth Watts.
[Coroner] You have no doubt about that? - Not the slightest.
[Coroner] You did have some doubts about it at one time? - I had at first.
[Coroner] When did you last see your sister alive? - Last Thursday, about a quarter to seven in the evening.
[Coroner] Where? - She came to see me at No. 59, Red Lion-street, where I work as a trousermaker.
[Coroner] What did she come to you for? - To ask me for a little assistance. I have been in the habit of assisting her for five years.
[Coroner] Did you give her anything? - I gave her a shilling and a short jacket - not the jacket which is now on the body.
[Coroner] How long was she with you? - Only a few moments.
[Coroner] Did she say where she was going? - No.
[Coroner] Where was she living? - I do not know. I know it was somewhere in the neighbourhood of the tailoring Jews - Commercial-road or Commercial-street, or somewhere at the East-end.
[Coroner] Did you understand that she was living in lodging-houses? - Yes.
[Coroner] Did you know what she was doing for a livelihood? - I had my doubts.
[Coroner] Was she the worse for drink when she came to you on Thursday? - No, sober.
[Coroner] But she was sometimes the worse for drink, was she not? - That was, unfortunately, a failing with her. She was thirty-seven years of age last March.
[Coroner] Had she ever been married? - Yes.
[Coroner] Is her husband alive? - Yes, so far as I know. She married the son of Mr. Watts, wine and spirit merchant, of Walcot-street, Bath. I think her husband's Christian name was Edward. I believe he is now in America.
[Coroner] Did he get into trouble? - No.
[Coroner] Why did he go away? - Because my sister brought trouble upon him.
[Coroner] When did she leave him? - About eight years ago, but I cannot be quite certain as to the time. She had two children. Her husband caught her with a porter, and there was a quarrel.
[Coroner] Did the husband turn her out of doors? - No, he sent her to my poor mother, with the two children.
[Coroner] Where does your mother live? - She is dead. She died in the year 1883.
[Coroner] Where are the children now? - The girl is dead, but the boy is at a boarding school kept by his aunt.
[Coroner] Was the deceased subject to epileptic fits? - Witness (sobbing bitterly): No, she only had drunken fits.
[Coroner] Was she ever before the Thames police magistrate? - I believe so.
[Coroner] Charged with drunkenness? - Yes.
[Coroner] Are you aware that she has been let off on the supposition that she was subject to epileptic fits? - I believe that is so, but she was not subject to epileptic fits.
[Coroner] Has she ever told you of troubles she was in with any man? - Oh yes; she lived with a man.
[Coroner] Do you know his name? - I do not remember now, but I shall be able to tell you to- morrow. I believe she lived with a man who kept a coffee-house at Poplar.
Inspector Reid: Was his name Stride? - No; I think it was Dent, but I can find out for certain by to-morrow.
The Coroner: How long had she ceased to live with that man? - Oh, some time. He went away to sea, and was wrecked on the Isle of St. Paul, I believe.
[Coroner] How long ago should you think that was? - It must be three years and a half; but I could tell you all about it by to-morrow, even the name of the vessel that was wrecked.
[Coroner] Had the deceased lived with any man since then? - Not to my knowledge, but there is some man who says that he has lived with her.
[Coroner] Have you ever heard of her getting into trouble with this man? - No, but at times she got locked up for drunkenness. She always brought her trouble to me.
[Coroner] You never heard of any one threatening her? - No; she was too good for that.
[Coroner] Did you ever hear her say that she was afraid of any one? - No.
[Coroner] Did you know of no man with whom she had relations? - No.
Inspector Reid: Did you ever visit her in Flower and Dean-street? - No.
[Coroner] Did you ever hear her called "Long Liz"? - That was generally her nickname, I believe.
[Coroner] Have you ever heard of the name of Stride? - She never mentioned such a name to me. I think that if she had lived with any one of that name she would have told me. I have heard what the man Stride has said, but I think he is mistaken.
The Coroner: How often did your sister come to you? - Every Saturday, and I always gave her 2s. That was for her lodgings.
[Coroner] Did she come to you at all last Saturday? - No, I did not see her on that day.
[Coroner] The Thursday visit was an unusual one, I suppose? - Yes.
[Coroner] Did you think it strange that she did not come on the Saturday? - I did.
[Coroner] Had she ever missed a Saturday before? - Not for nearly three years.
[Coroner] What time in the day did she usually come to you? - At four o'clock in the afternoon.
[Coroner] Where? - At the corner of Chancery-lane. I was there last Saturday afternoon from half-past three till five, but she did not turn up.
[Coroner] Did you think there was something the matter with her? - On the Sunday morning when I read the accounts in the newspapers I thought it might be my sister who had been murdered. I had a presentiment that that was so. I came down to Whitechapel and was directed to the mortuary; but when I saw the body I did not recognise it as that of my sister.
[Coroner] How was that? Why did you not recognise it in the first instance? - I do not know, except that I saw it in the gaslight, between nine and ten at night. But I recognised her the next day.
[Coroner] Did you not have some special presentiment that this was your sister? - Yes.
[Coroner] Tell the jury what it was? - I was in bed, and about twenty minutes past one on Sunday morning I felt a pressure on my breast and heard three distinct kisses. It was that which made me afterwards suspect that the woman who had been murdered was my sister.
The Coroner (to the jury): The only reason why I allow this evidence is that the witness has been doubtful about her identification. (To witness) Did your sister ever break a limb? - No. Never? - Not to my knowledge.
The Foreman: Had she any special marks upon her? - Yes, on her right leg there was a small black mark.
The Coroner: Have you seen that mark on the deceased? - Yes.
[Coroner] When did you see it? - Yesterday morning.
[Coroner] But when, before death, did you see it on your sister? - Oh not for years. It was the size of a pea. I have not seen it for 20 years.
[Coroner] Did you mention the mark before you saw the body? - I said that I could recognise my sister by this particular mark.
[Coroner] What was the mark? - It was from the bite of an adder. One day, when children, we were rolling down a hill together, and we came across an adder. The thing bit me first and my sister afterwards. I have still the mark of the bite on my left hand.
The Coroner (examining the mark): Oh, that is only a scar. Are you sure that your sister, in her youth, never broke a limb? - Not to my knowledge.
[Coroner] Has your husband seen your sister? - Yes.
[Coroner] Has he been to the mortuary? - No; he will not go.
[Coroner] Have you any brothers and sisters alive? - Yes, a brother and a sister, but they have not seen her for years. My brother might recognise her. He lives near Bath. My sister resides at Folkestone. My sister (the deceased) had a hollowness in her right foot, caused by some sort of accident. It was the absence of this hollowness that made me doubt whether the deceased was really my sister. Perhaps it passed away in death. But the adder mark removed all doubt.
[Coroner] Did you recognise the clothes of the deceased at all? - No. (Bursting into tears). Indeed, I have had trouble with her. On one occasion she left a naked baby outside my door.
[Coroner] One of her babies? - One of her own.
[Coroner] One of the two children by her husband? - No, another one; one she had by a policeman, I believe. She left it with me, and I had to keep it until she fetched it away.
Inspector Reid: Is that child alive, do you know? - I believe it died in Bath.
The Coroner: It is important that the evidence of identification should be unmistakable, and I think that the witness should go to the same spot in Chancery- lane on Saturday next, in order to see if her sister comes. Witness: I have no doubt.
The Coroner: Still, it is better that the matter should be tested.
Witness (in reply to the jury): I did not think it strange that my sister came to me last Thursday instead of the Saturday, because she has done it before. But on previous occasions she has come on the Saturday as well. When she came last Thursday she asked me for money, stating that she had not enough to pay for her lodgings, and I said, "Elizabeth, you are a pest to me."
The Coroner: Has your sister been in prison? - Witness: Yes.
[Coroner] Has she never been in prison on a Saturday? - No; she has only been locked up for the night.
[Coroner] Never more? - No; she has been fined.
A Juror: You say that before when she has come on the Thursday she has also come on the Saturday as well? - Always.
The Coroner: So that the Thursday was an extra. You are quite confident now about the identity? - I have not a shadow of doubt.
Mr. Frederick William Blackwell deposed: I reside at No. 100, Commercial-road, and am a physician and surgeon. On Sunday morning last, at ten minutes past one o'clock, I was called to Berner-street by a policeman. My assistant, Mr. Johnston, went back with the constable, and I followed immediately I was dressed. I consulted my watch on my arrival, and it was 1.16 a.m. The deceased was lying on her left side obliquely across the passage, her face looking towards the right wall. Her legs were drawn up, her feet close against the wall of the right side of the passage. Her head was resting beyond the carriage-wheel rut, the neck lying over the rut. Her feet were three yards from the gateway. Her dress was unfastened at the neck. The neck and chest were quite warm, as were also the legs, and the face was slightly warm. The hands were cold. The right hand was open and on the chest, and was smeared with blood. The left hand, lying on the ground, was partially closed, and contained a small packet of cachous wrapped in tissue paper. There were no rings, nor marks of rings, on her hands. The appearance of the face was quite placid. The mouth was slightly open. The deceased had round her neck a check silk scarf, the bow of which was turned to the left and pulled very tight. In the neck there was a long incision which exactly corresponded with the lower border of the scarf. The border was slightly frayed, as if by a sharp knife. The incision in the neck commenced on the left side, 2 inches below the angle of the jaw, and almost in a direct line with it, nearly severing the vessels on that side, cutting the windpipe completely in two, and terminating on the opposite side 1 inch below the angle of the right jaw, but without severing the vessels on that side. I could not ascertain whether the bloody hand had been moved. The blood was running down the gutter into the drain in the opposite direction from the feet. There was about 1lb of clotted blood close by the body, and a stream all the way from there to the back door of the club.
[Coroner] Were there no spots of blood about? - No; only some marks of blood which had been trodden in.
[Coroner] Was there any blood on the soles of the deceased's boots? - No.
[Coroner] No splashing of blood on the wall? - No, it was very dark, and what I saw was by the aid of a policeman's lantern. I have not examined the place since. I examined the clothes, but found no blood on any part of them. The bonnet of the deceased was lying on the ground a few inches from the head. Her dress was unbuttoned at the top.
[Coroner] Can you say whether the injuries could have been self-inflicted? - It is impossible that they could have been.
[Coroner] Did you form any opinion as to how long the deceased had been dead? - From twenty minutes to half an hour when I arrived. The clothes were not wet with rain. She would have bled to death comparatively slowly on account of vessels on one side only of the neck being cut and the artery not completely severed.
[Coroner] After the infliction of the injuries was there any possibility of any cry being uttered by the deceased? - None whatever. Dr. Phillips came about twenty minutes to half an hour after my arrival. The double doors of the yard were closed when I arrived, so that the previous witness must have made a mistake on that point.
A Juror: Can you say whether the throat was cut before or after the deceased fell to the ground? - I formed the opinion that the murderer probably caught hold of the silk scarf, which was tight and knotted, and pulled the deceased backwards, cutting her throat in that way. The throat might have been cut as she was falling, or when she was on the ground. The blood would have spurted about if the act had been committed while she was standing up.
The Coroner: Was the silk scarf tight enough to prevent her calling out? - I could not say that.
[Coroner] A hand might have been put on her nose and mouth? - Yes, and the cut on the throat was probably instantaneous.
Day 3, Monday, October 3, 1888
(The Daily Telegraph, Thursday, October 4, 1888, page 5)
Yesterday [3 Oct], at St.
George's Vestry Hall, Cable-street, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter,
coroner for East Middlesex, again resumed the inquiry into
the circumstances attending the death of the woman who was
found with her throat cut at one o'clock on Sunday morning
last in a yard adjoining the International Working Men's
Club, Berner-street, Commercial-road East.
examined by the Coroner, said: I am deputy of the common
lodging-house, No. 32, Flower and Dean-street, and am a widow. I
have seen the body of the deceased at St. George's Mortuary, and
recognise it as that of a woman who has lodged in our house, on
and off, for the last six years.
[Coroner] Who is she? - She was known by the nick-name of "Long Liz."
[Coroner] Do you know her right name? - No.
[Coroner] Was she an English woman? - She used to say that she was a Swedish woman. She never told me where she was born. She said that she was married, and that her husband and children were drowned in the Princess Alice.
[Coroner] When did you last see her alive? - Last Saturday evening, at half-past six o'clock.
[Coroner] Where was she then? - With me in a public-house, called the Queen's Head, in Commercial-street.
[Coroner] Did she leave you there? - She went back with me to the lodging-house. At that time she had no bonnet or cloak on. She never told me what her husband was.
[Coroner] Where did you actually leave her? - She went into the kitchen, and I went to another part of the building.
[Coroner] Did you see her again? - No, until I saw the body in the mortuary to-day.
[Coroner] You are quite certain it is the body of the same woman? - Quite sure. I recognise, beside the features, that the roof of her mouth is missing. Deceased accounted for this by stating that she was in the Princess Alice when it went down, and that her mouth was injured.
[Coroner] How long had she been staying at the lodging-house? - She was there last week only on Thursday and Friday nights.
[Coroner] Had she paid for her bed on Saturday night? - No.
[Coroner] Do you know any of her male acquaintances? - Only of one.
[Coroner] Who is he? - She was living with him. She left him on Thursday to come and stay at our house, so she told me.
[Coroner] Have you seen this man? - I saw him last Sunday.
Detective-Inspector Reid: He is present to-day.
Witness: I do not know that she was ever up at the Thames Police-court, or that she suffered from epileptic fits. I am aware that she lived in Fashion-street, but not that she has ever resided at Poplar. I never heard of a sister at Red Lion-square. I never heard of any relative except her late husband and children.
[Coroner] What sort of a woman was she? - Very quiet.
[Coroner] A sober woman? - Yes.
[Coroner] Did she use to stop out late at night? - Sometimes.
[Coroner] Do you know if she had any money? - She cleaned two rooms for me on Saturday, and I paid her 6d for doing it. I do not know whether she had any other money.
[Coroner] Are you able to say whether the two handkerchiefs now at the mortuary belonged to the deceased? - No.
[Coroner] Do you recognise her clothes? - Yes. I recognise the long cloak which is hanging up in the mortuary. The other clothes she had on last Saturday.
[Coroner] Did she ever tell you that she was afraid of any one? - No.
[Coroner] Or that any one had ever threatened to injure her? - No.
[Coroner] The fact of her not coming back on Saturday did not surprise you, I suppose? - We took no notice of it.
[Coroner] What made you go to the mortuary, then? - Because I was sent for. I do not recollect at what hour she came to the lodging-house last Thursday. She was wearing the long cloak then. She did not bring any parcel with her.
By the jury: I do not know of any one else of the name of Long Liz. I never heard of her sister allowing her any money, nor have I heard the name of Stride mentioned in connection with her. Before last Thursday she had been away from my house about three months.
The Coroner: Did you see her during that three months? - Yes, frequently; sometimes once a week, and at other times almost every other day.
[Coroner] Did you understand what she was doing? - She told me that she was at work among the Jews, and was living with a man in Fashion-street.
[Coroner] Could she speak English well? - Yes, but she spoke Swedish also.
[Coroner] When she spoke English could you detect that she was a foreigner? - She spoke English as well as an English woman. She did not associate much with Swedish people. I never heard of her having hurt her foot, nor of her having broken a limb in childhood. I had no doubt that she was what she represented herself to be - a Swede.
Catherine Lane: I live in Flower and Dean-street, and am a charwoman and married. My husband is a dock labourer, and is living with me at the lodging house of which the last witness is deputy. I have been there since last February. I have seen the body of the deceased at the mortuary.
The Coroner: Did you recognise it? - Yes, as the body of Long Liz, who lived occasionally in the lodging-house. She came there last Thursday.
[Coroner] Had you ever seen her before? - I have known her for six or seven months. I used to see her frequently in Fashion-street, where she lived, and I have seen her at our lodging-house.
[Coroner] Did you speak to her last week? - On Thursday and Saturday.
[Coroner] At what time did you see her first on Thursday? - Between ten and eleven o'clock.
[Coroner] Did she explain why she was coming back? - She said she had had a few words with the man she was living with.
[Coroner] When did you see her on Saturday? - When she was cleaning the deputy's room.
[Coroner] And after that? - I last saw her in the kitchen, between six and seven in the evening. She then had on a long cloak and a black bonnet.
[Coroner] Did she say where she was going? - No. I first saw the body in the mortuary on Sunday afternoon, and I recognised it then.
[Coroner] Did you see her leave the lodging-house? - Yes; she gave me a piece of velvet as she left, and asked me to mind it until she came back. (The velvet was produced, and proved to be a large piece, green in colour.)
[Coroner] Had she no place to leave it? - I do not know why she asked me, as the deputy would take charge of anything. I know deceased had sixpence when she left; she showed it to me, stating that the deputy had given it to her.
[Coroner] Had she been drinking then? - Not that I am aware of.
[Coroner] Do you know of any one who was likely to have injured her? - No one.
[Coroner] Have you heard her mention any person but this man she was living with? - No. I have heard her say she was a Swede, and that at one time she lived in Devonshire-street, Commercial-road - never in Poplar.
[Coroner] Did you ever hear her speak of her husband? - She said he was dead. She never said that she was afraid, or that any one had threatened her life. I am satisfied the deceased is the same woman.
By the jury: I could tell by her accent that she was a foreigner. She did not bring all her words out plainly.
[Coroner] Have you ever heard of her speaking to any one in her own language? - Yes; with women for whom she worked. I never heard of her having a sister, or of her having left a child at her sister's door.
Charles Preston deposed: I live at No. 32, Flower and Dean-street, and I am a barber. I have been lodging at my present address for eighteen months, and have seen the deceased there. I saw the body on Sunday last, and am quite sure it is that of Long Liz.
The Coroner: When did you last see her alive? - On Saturday morning between six and seven o'clock.
[Coroner] Where was she then? - In the kitchen of the lodging-house.
[Coroner] Was she dressed to go out? - Yes, and asked me for a brush to brush her clothes with, but I did not let her have one.
[Coroner] What was she wearing? - The jacket I have seen at the mortuary, but no flowers in the breast. She had the striped silk handkerchief round her neck.
[Coroner] Do you happen to have seen her pocket-handkerchiefs? - No.
[Coroner] You cannot say whether she had two? - No.
[Coroner] Do you know anything about her? - I always understood that she was born at Stockholm, and came to England in the service of a gentleman.
[Coroner] Did she ever tell you her age? - She said once that she was thirty-five.
[Coroner] Did she ever tell you that she was married? - Yes; and that her husband and children went down in the Princess Alice - that she had been saved while they were lost.
[Coroner] Did she ever state what her husband was? - I have some recollection that she said he was a seafaring man, and that he had kept a coffee-house in Chrisp-street, Poplar.
[Coroner] Did she ever tell you that she was taken to the Thames Police-court? - I only remember her having been taken into custody for being drunk and disorderly at the Ten Bells public-house, Commercial- street, one Sunday morning from four to five months ago.
[Coroner] Do you know of any one who was likely to have injured her? - No.
[Coroner] Did she ever state that she was afraid of any one? - Never.
[Coroner] Did she say where she was going on Saturday? - No.
[Coroner] Or when she was coming back? - No.
[Coroner] Did she say whether she was coming back? - She never said anything about it. She always gave me to understand that her name was Elizabeth Stride. She never mentioned any sister. She stated that her mother was still alive in Sweden. She apparently spoke Swedish fluently to people who came into the lodging-house.
Michael Kidney said: I live at No. 38, Dorset-street, Spitalfields, and am a waterside labourer. I have seen the body of the deceased at the mortuary.
The Coroner: Is it the woman you have been living with? - Yes.
[Coroner] You have no doubt about it? - No doubt whatever.
[Coroner] What was her name? - Elizabeth Stride.
[Coroner] How long have you known her? - About three years.
[Coroner] How long has she been living with you? - Nearly all that time.
[Coroner] What was her age? - Between thirty-six and thirty-eight years.
[Coroner] Was she a Swede? - She told me that she was a Swede, and I have no doubt she was. She said she was born three miles from Stockholm, that her father was a farmer, and that she first came to England for the purpose of seeing the country; but I have grave doubts about that. She afterwards told me that she came to England in a situation with a family.
[Coroner] Had she got any relatives in England? - When I met her she told me she was a widow, and that her husband had been a ship's carpenter at Sheerness.
[Coroner] Did he ever keep a coffee-house? - She told me that he had.
[Coroner] Where? - In Chrisp-street, Poplar.
[Coroner] Did she say when he died? - She informed me that he was drowned in the Princess Alice disaster.
[Coroner] Was the roof of her mouth defective? - Yes.
[Coroner] You had a quarrel with her on Thursday? - I did not see her on Thursday.
[Coroner] When did you last see her? - On the Tuesday, and I then left her on friendly terms in Commercial- street. That was between nine and ten o'clock at night, as I was coming from work.
[Coroner] Did you expect her home? - I expected her home half an hour afterwards. I subsequently ascertained that she had been in and had gone out again, and I did not see her again alive.
[Coroner] Can you account for her sudden disappearance? Was she the worse for drink when you last saw her? - She was perfectly sober.
[Coroner] You can assign no reason whatever for her going away so suddenly? - She would occasionally go away.
[Coroner] Oh, she has left you before? - During the three years I have known her she has been away from me about five months altogether.
[Coroner] Without any reason? - Not to my knowledge. I treated her the same as I would a wife.
[Coroner] Do you know whether she had picked up with any one? - I have seen the address of the brother of the gentleman with whom she lived as a servant, somewhere near Hyde Park, but I cannot find it now.
[Coroner] Did she have any reason for going away? - It was drink that made her go on previous occasions. She always came back again. I think she liked me better than any other man. I do not believe she left me on Tuesday to take up with any other man.
[Coroner] Had she any money? - I do not think she was without a shilling when she left me. From what I used to give her I fancy she must either have had money or spent it in drink.
[Coroner] You know of nobody whom she was likely to have complications with or fall foul of? - No, but I think the police authorities are very much to blame, or they would have got the man who murdered her. At Leman-street Police-station, on Monday night, I asked for a detective to give information to get the man.
[Coroner] What information had you? - I could give information that would enable the detectives to discover the man at any time.
[Coroner] Then will you give us your information now? - I told the inspector on duty at the police-station that I could give information provided he would let me have a young, strange detective to act on it, and he would not give me one.
[Coroner] What do you think should be inquired into? - I might have given information that would have led to a great deal if I had been provided with a strange young detective.
Inspector Reid: When you went to Leman-street and saw the inspector on duty, were you intoxicated? - Yes; I asked for a young detective, and he would not let me have one, and I told him that he was uncivil. (Laughter.)
[Coroner] You have been in the army, and I believe have a good pension? - Only the reserve.
A Juror: Have you got any information for a detective? - I am a great lover of discipline, sir. (Laughter.)
The Coroner: Had you any information that required the service of a detective? - Yes. I thought that if I had one, privately, he could get more information than I could myself. The parties I obtained my information from knew me, and I thought someone else would be able to derive more from them.
Inspector Reid: Will you give me the information directly, if you will not give it to the coroner? - I believe I could catch the man if I had a detective under my command.
The Coroner: You cannot expect that. I have had over a hundred letters making suggestions, and I dare say all the writers would like to have a detective at their service. (Laughter.)
Witness: I have information which I think might be of use to the police.
The Coroner: You had better give it, then.
Witness: I believe that, if I could place the policeman myself, the man would be captured.
The Coroner: You must know that the police would not be placed at the disposal of a man the worse for drink.
Witness: If I were at liberty to place 100 men about this city the murderer would be caught in the act.
Inspector Reid: But you have no information to give to the police?
Witness: No, I will keep it to myself.
A Juror: Do you know of any sister who gave money to the deceased? - No. On Monday I saw Mrs. Malcolm, who said the deceased was her sister. She is very like the deceased.
[Coroner] Did the deceased have a child by you? - No.
[Coroner] Or by a policeman? - She told me that a policeman used to court her when she was at Hyde Park, before she was married to Stride. Stride and the policeman courted her at the same time, but I never heard of her having a child by the policeman. She said she was the mother of nine children, two of whom were drowned with her husband in the Princess Alice, and the remainder were either in a school belonging to the Swedish Church on the other side of London Bridge, or with the husband's friends. I thought she was telling the truth when she spoke of Swedish people. I understood that the deceased and her husband were employed on the Princess Alice.
Mr. Edward Johnson: I live at 100, Commercial-road, and am assistant to Drs. Kaye and Blackwell. On Sunday morning last, at a few minutes past one o'clock, I received a call from Constable 436 H. After informing Dr. Blackwell, who was in bed, of the case, I accompanied the officer to Berner-street, and in a courtyard adjoining No. 40 I was shown the figure of a woman lying on her left side.
The Coroner: Were there many people about? - There was a crowd in the yard.
[Coroner] And police? - Yes.
[Coroner] Was any one touching the deceased? - No.
[Coroner] Was there much light? - Very little.
[Coroner] What light there was, where did it come from? - From the policeman's lantern. I examined the woman and found an incision in the throat.
[Coroner] Was blood coming from the wound? - No, it had stopped bleeding. I felt the body and found all warm except the hands, which were quite cold.
[Coroner] Did you undo the dress? - The dress was not undone when I came. I undid it to see if the chest was warm.
[Coroner] Did you move the head at all? - I left the body precisely as I found it. There was a stream of blood down to the gutter; it was all clotted. There was very little blood near the neck; it had all run away. I did not notice at the time that one of the hands was smeared with blood. The left arm was bent, away from the body. The right arm was also bent, and across the body.
[Coroner] Can you say whether any one had stepped into the stream of blood? - There was no mark of it.
[Coroner] Did you look for any? - Yes. I had no watch with me, but Dr. Blackwell looked at his when he arrived, and the time was 1.16 a.m. I preceded him by three or four minutes. The bonnet of the deceased was lying three or four inches beyond the head on the ground. The outer gates were closed shortly after I came.
Thomas Coram: I live at No. 67, Plummer's-road, and work for a cocoanut dealer. On Monday shortly after midnight I left a friend's house in Bath-gardens, Brady-street. I walked straight down Brady-street and into Whitechapel-road towards Aldgate. I first walked on the right side of Whitechapel-road, and afterwards crossed over to the left, and when opposite No. 253 I saw a knife lying on the doorstep.
[Coroner] What is No. 253? - A laundry. There were two steps to the front door, and the knife was on the bottom step. The production of the knife created some sensation, its discovery not having been generally known. It was a knife such as would be used by a baker in his trade, it being flat at the top instead of pointed, as a butcher's knife would be. The blade, which was discoloured with something resembling blood, was quite a foot long and an inch broad, whilst the black handle was six inches in length, and strongly rivetted in three places. Witness (continuing): There was a handkerchief round the handle of the knife, the handkerchief having been first folded and then twisted round the blade. A policeman coming towards me, I called his attention to the knife, which I did not touch.
[Coroner] Did the policeman take the knife away? - Yes, to the Leman-street station, I accompanying him.
[Coroner] Were there many people passing at the time? - Very few. I do not think I passed more than a dozen from Brady-street to where I found the knife. The weapon could easily be seen; it was light there.
[Coroner] Did you pass any policeman between Brady-street and where the knife was? - I passed three policemen.
Constable Joseph Drage, 282 H Division: On Monday morning at half-past twelve o'clock I was on fixed point duty opposite Brady-street, Whitechapel-road, when I saw the last witness stooping down to pick up something about twenty yards from me. As I went towards him he beckoned with his finger, and said, "Policeman, there is a knife lying here." I then saw a long-bladed knife on the doorstep. I picked up the knife, and found it was smothered with blood.
[Coroner] Was it wet? - Dry. A handkerchief, which was also blood-stained, was bound round the handle and tied with a string. I asked the lad how he came to see it, and he said, "I was just looking around, and I saw something white." I asked him what he did out so late, and he replied, "I have been to a friend's in Bath-gardens." I took down his name and address, and he went to the police-station with me. The knife and handkerchief are those produced. The boy was sober, and his manner natural. He said that the knife made his blood run cold, adding, "We hear of such funny things nowadays." I had passed the step a quarter of an hour before. I could not be positive, but I do not think the knife was there then. About an hour earlier I stood near the door, and saw the landlady let out a woman. The knife was not there then. I handed the knife and handkerchief to Dr. Phillips on Monday afternoon.
Mr. George Baxter Phillips: I live at No. 2, Spital-square, and am surgeon of the H Division of police. I was called on Sunday morning last at twenty past one to Leman-street Police-station, and was sent on to Berner-street, to a yard at the side of what proved to be a club-house. I found Inspector Pinhorn and Acting-Superintendent West in possession of a body, which had already been seen by Dr. Blackwell, who had arrived some time before me. The body was lying on its left side, the face being turned towards the wall, the head towards the yard, and the feet toward the street. The left arm was extended from elbow, and a packet of cachous was in the hand. Similar ones were in the gutter. I took them from the hand and gave them to Dr. Blackwell. The right arm was lying over the body, and the back of the hand and wrist had on them clotted blood. The legs were drawn up, feet close to wall, body still warm, face warm, hands cold, legs quite warm, silk handkerchief round throat, slightly torn (so is my note, but I since find it is cut). I produce the handkerchief. This corresponded to the right angle of the jaw. The throat was deeply gashed, and there was an abrasion of the skin, about an inch and a quarter in diameter, under the right clavicle. On Oct. 1, at three p.m., at St. George's Mortuary, present Dr. Blackwell and for part of the time Dr. Reigate and Dr. Blackwell's assistant; temperature being about 55 degrees, Dr. Blackwell and I made a post-mortem examination, Dr. Blackwell kindly consenting to make the dissection, and I took the following note: "Rigor mortis still firmly marked. Mud on face and left side of the head. Matted on the hair and left side. We removed the clothes. We found the body fairly nourished. Over both shoulders, especially the right, from the front aspect under colar bones and in front of chest there is a bluish discolouration which I have watched and seen on two occasions since. On neck, from left to right, there is a clean cut incision six inches in length; incision commencing two and a half inches in a straight line below the angle of the jaw. Three-quarters of an inch over undivided muscle, then becoming deeper, about an inch dividing sheath and the vessels, ascending a little, and then grazing the muscle outside the cartilages on the left side of the neck. The carotid artery on the left side and the other vessels contained in the sheath were all cut through, save the posterior portion of the carotid, to a line about 1-12th of an inch in extent, which prevented the separation of the upper and lower portion of the artery. The cut through the tissues on the right side of the cartilages is more superficial, and tails off to about two inches below the right angle of the jaw. It is evident that the haemorrhage which produced death was caused through the partial severance of the left carotid artery. There is a deformity in the lower fifth of the bones of the right leg, which are not straight, but bow forward; there is a thickening above the left ankle. The bones are here straighter. No recent external injury save to neck. The lower lobe of the ear was torn, as if by the forcible removing or wearing through of an earring, but it was thoroughly healed. The right ear was pierced for an earring, but had not been so injured, and the earring was wanting. On removing the scalp there was no sign of bruising or extravasation of blood between it and the skull-cap. The skull was about one-sixth of an inch in thickness, and dense in texture. The brain was fairly normal. Both lungs were unusually pale. The heart was small; left ventricle firmly contracted, right less so. Right ventricle full of dark clot; left absolutely empty. Partly digested food, apparently consisting of cheese, potato, and farinaceous edibles. Teeth on left lower jaw absent." On Tuesday, at the mortuary, I found the total circumference of the neck 12 inches. I found in the pocket of the underskirt of the deceased a key, as of a padlock, a small piece of lead pencil, a comb, a broken piece of comb, a metal spoon, half a dozen large and one small button, a hook, as if off a dress, a piece of muslin, and one or two small pieces of paper. Examining her jacket I found that although there was a slight amount of mud on the right side, the left was well plastered with mud.
A Juror: You have not mentioned anything about the roof of the mouth. One witness said part of the roof of the mouth was gone. - Witness: That was not noticed.
The Coroner: What was the cause of death? - Undoubtedly the loss of blood from the left carotid artery and the division of the windpipe.
[Coroner] Did you examine the blood at Berner-street carefully, as to its direction and so forth? - Yes.
[Coroner] The blood near to the neck and a few inches to the left side was well clotted, and it had run down the waterway to within a few inches of the side entrance to the club-house.
[Coroner] Were there any spots of blood anywhere else? - I could trace none except that which I considered had been transplanted - if I may use the term - from the original flow from the neck. Roughly estimating it, I should say there was an unusual flow of blood, considering the stature and the nourishment of the body.
By a Juror: I did notice a black mark on one of the legs of the deceased, but could not say that it was due to an adder bite.
Before the witness had concluded his evidence the inquiry was adjourned until Friday, at two o'clock.
[Back to the Top]
Day 4, Monday, October 5, 1888
(The Daily Telegraph, Saturday, October 6, 1888, Page 3)
Yesterday [5 Oct]
afternoon at the Vestry Hall of St. George-in-the-East,
Cable-street, Mr. Wynne E. Baxter, coroner for East
Middlesex, resumed the inquiry concerning the death of the
woman who was found early on Sunday last with her throat cut,
in a yard adjoining the International Working Men's Club,
Berner-street, Commercial-road East.
surgeon of the H Division of police, being recalled,
said: On the last occasion I was requested to make a
re-examination of the body of the deceased, especially with
regard to the palate, and I have since done so at the mortuary,
along with Dr. Blackwell and Dr. Gordon Brown. I did not find any
injury to, or absence of, any part of either the hard or the soft
palate. The Coroner also desired me to examine the two
handkerchiefs which were found on the deceased. I did not
discover any blood on them, and I believe that the stains on the
larger handkerchief are those of fruit. Neither on the hands nor
about the body of the deceased did I find grapes, or connection
with them. I am convinced that the deceased had not swallowed
either the skin or seed of a grape within many hours of her
death. I have stated that the neckerchief which she had on was
not torn, but cut. The abrasion which I spoke of on the right
side of the neck was only apparently an abrasion, for on washing
it it was removed, and the skin found to be uninjured. The knife
produced on the last occasion was delivered to me, properly
secured, by a constable, and on examination I found it to be such
a knife as is used in a chandler's shop, and is called a slicing
knife. It has blood upon it, which has characteristics similar to
the blood of a human being. It has been recently blunted, and its
edge apparently turned by rubbing on a stone such as a kerbstone.
It evidently was before a very sharp knife.
The Coroner: Is it such as knife as could have caused the injuries which were inflicted upon the deceased? - Such a knife could have produced the incision and injuries to the neck, but it is not such a weapon as I should have fixed upon as having caused the injuries in this case; and if my opinion as regards the position of the body is correct, the knife in question would become an improbable instrument as having caused the incision.
[Coroner] What is your idea as to the position the body was in when the crime was committed? - I have come to a conclusion as to the position of both the murderer and the victim, and I opine that the latter was seized by the shoulders and placed on the ground, and that the murderer was on her right side when he inflicted the cut. I am of opinion that the cut was made from the left to the right side of the deceased, and taking into account the position of the incision it is unlikely that such a long knife inflicted the wound in the neck.
[Coroner] The knife produced on the last occasion was not sharp pointed, was it? - No, it was rounded at the tip, which was about an inch across. The blade was wider at the base.
[Coroner] Was there anything to indicate that the cut on the neck of the deceased was made with a pointed knife? - Nothing.
[Coroner] Have you formed any opinion as to the manner in which the deceased's right hand became stained with blood? - It is a mystery. There were small oblong clots on the back of the hand. I may say that I am taking it as a fact that after death the hand always remained in the position in which I found it - across the body.
[Coroner] How long had the woman been dead when you arrived at the scene of the murder, do you think? - Within an hour she had been alive.
[Coroner] Would the injury take long to inflict? - Only a few seconds - it might be done in two seconds.
[Coroner] Does the presence of the cachous in the left hand indicate that the murder was committed very suddenly and without any struggle? - Some of the cachous were scattered about the yard.
The Foreman: Do you not think that the woman would have dropped the packet of cachous altogether if she had been thrown to the ground before the injuries were inflicted? - That is an inference which the jury would be perfectly entitled to draw.
The Coroner: I assume that the injuries were not self-inflicted? - I have seen several self-inflicted wounds more extensive than this one, but then they have not usually involved the carotid artery. In this case, as in some others, there seems to have been some knowledge where to cut the throat to cause a fatal result.
[Coroner] Is there any similarity between this case and Annie Chapman's case? - There is very great dissimilarity between the two. In Chapman's case the neck was severed all round down to the vertebral column, the vertebral bones being marked with two sharp cuts, and there had been an evident attempt to separate the bones.
[Coroner] From the position you assume the perpetrator to have been in, would he have been likely to get bloodstained? - Not necessarily, for the commencement of the wound and the injury to the vessels would be away from him, and the stream of blood - for stream it was - would be directed away from him, and towards the gutter in the yard.
[Coroner] Was there any appearance of an opiate or any smell of chloroform? - There was no perceptible trace of any anaesthetic or narcotic. The absence of noise is a difficult question under the circumstances of this case to account for, but it must not be taken for granted that there was not any noise. If there was an absence of noise I cannot account for it.
The Foreman: That means that the woman might cry out after the cut? - Not after the cut.
[Coroner] But why did she not cry out while she was being put on the ground? - She was in a yard, and in a locality where she might cry out very loudly and no notice be taken of her. It was possible for the woman to draw up her legs after the wound, but she could not have turned over. The wound was inflicted by drawing the knife across the throat. A short knife, such as a shoemaker's well-ground knife, would do the same thing. My reason for believing that deceased was injured when on the ground was partly on account of the absence of blood anywhere on the left side of the body and between it and the wall.
A Juror: Was there any trace of malt liquor in the stomach? - There was no trace.
Dr. Blackwell [recalled] (who assisted in making the post-mortem examination) said: I can confirm Dr. Phillips as to the appearances at the mortuary. I may add that I removed the cachous from the left hand of the deceased, which was nearly open. The packet was lodged between the thumb and the first finger, and was partially hidden from view. It was I who spilt them in removing them from the hand. My impression is that the hand gradually relaxed while the woman was dying, she dying in a fainting condition from the loss of blood. I do not think that I made myself quite clear as to whether it was possible for this to have been a case of suicide. What I meant to say was that, taking all the facts into consideration, more especially the absence of any instrument in the hand, it was impossible to have been a suicide. I have myself seen many equally severe wounds self-inflicted. With respect to the knife which was found, I should like to say that I concur with Dr. Phillips in his opinion that, although it might possibly have inflicted the injury, it is an extremely unlikely instrument to have been used. It appears to me that a murderer, in using a round-pointed instrument, would seriously handicap himself, as he would be only able to use it in one particular way. I am told that slaughterers always use a sharp-pointed instrument.
The Coroner: No one has suggested that this crime was committed by a slaughterer. - Witness: I simply intended to point out the inconvenience that might arise from using a blunt-pointed weapon.
The Foreman: Did you notice any marks or bruises about the shoulders? - They were what we call pressure marks. At first they were very obscure, but subsequently they became very evident. They were not what are ordinarily called bruises; neither is there any abrasion. Each shoulder was about equally marked.
A Juror: How recently might the marks have been caused? - That is rather difficult to say.
[Coroner] Did you perceive any grapes near the body in the yard? - No.
[Coroner] Did you hear any person say that they had seen grapes there? - I did not.
Mr. Sven Ollsen deposed: I live at No. 23, Prince's-square, St. George's-in-the-East, and am clerk of the Swedish Church there. I have examined the body of the deceased at the mortuary. I have seen her before.
The Coroner: Often? - Yes. For how many years? - Seventeen.
[Coroner] Was she a Swede? - Yes.
[Coroner] What was her name? - Her name was Elizabeth Stride, and she was the wife of John Thomas Stride, carpenter. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Gustafdotter. She was born at Torlands, near Gothenburg, on Nov. 27, 1843.
How do you get these facts? - From the register at our church.
[Coroner] Do you keep a register of all the members of your church? - Of course. We register those who come into this country bringing a certificate and desiring to be registered.
[Coroner] When was she registered? - Her registry is dated July 10, 1866, and she was then registered as an unmarried woman.
[Coroner] Was she married at your church? - No.
[Coroner] Then how do you know she was the wife of John Thomas Stride? - In the registry I find a memorandum, undated, in the handwriting of the Rev. Mr. Palmayer, in Swedish, that she was married to an Englishman named John Thos. Stride. This registry is a new one, and copied from an older book. I have seen the original, and it was written by Mr. Frost, our pastor, until two years ago. I know the Swedish hymn book produced, dated 1821. I gave it to the deceased.
[Coroner] When? - Last winter, I think. Do you know when she was married to Stride? - I think it was in 1869.
[Coroner] Do you know when he died? - No. She told me about the time the Princess Alice went down that her husband was drowned in that vessel.
[Coroner] Was she in good circumstances then? - She was very poor.
[Coroner] Then she would have been glad of any assistance? - Yes.
[Coroner] Did you give her some? - I did about that time.
[Coroner] Do you remember that there was a subscription raised for the relatives of the sufferers by the Princess Alice? - No.
[Coroner] I can tell you that there was, and I can tell you another thing - that no person of the name of Stride made any application. If her story had been true, don't you think she would have applied? - I do not know.
[Coroner] Have you any schools connected with the Swedish Church? - No, not in London.
[Coroner] Did not ever hear that this woman had any children? - I do not remember.
[Coroner] Did you ever see her husband? - No.
[Coroner] Did your church ever assist her before her husband died? - Yes, I think so; just before he died.
[Coroner] Where has she been living lately? - I have nothing to show. Two years ago she gave her address as Devonshire-street, Commercial-road.
[Coroner] Did she then explain what she was doing? - She stated that she was doing a little work in sewing.
[Coroner] Could she speak English well? - Pretty well.
[Coroner] Do you know when she came to England? - I believe a little before the register was made, in 1866.
William Marshall, examined by the Coroner, said: I reside at No. 64, Berner-street, and am a labourer at an indigo warehouse. I have seen the body at the mortuary. I saw the deceased on Saturday night last.
[Coroner] Where? - In our street, three doors from my house, about a quarter to twelve o'clock. She was on the pavement, opposite No. 58, between Fairclough-street and Boyd-street.
[Coroner] What was she doing? - She was standing talking to a man.
[Coroner] How do you know this was the same woman? - I recognise her both by her face and dress. She did not then have a flower in her breast.
[Coroner] Were the man and woman whom you saw talking quietly? - They were talking together.
[Coroner] Can you describe the man at all? - There was no gas-lamp near. The nearest was at the corner, about twenty feet off. I did not see the face of the man distinctly.
[Coroner] Did you notice how he was dressed? - In a black cut-away coat and dark trousers.
[Coroner] Was he young or old? - Middle-aged he seemed to be.
[Coroner] Was he wearing a hat? - No, a cap.
[Coroner] What sort of a cap? - A round cap, with a small peak. It was something like what a sailor would wear.
[Coroner] What height was he? - About 5ft. 6in.
[Coroner] Was he thin or stout? - Rather stout.
[Coroner] Did he look well dressed? - Decently dressed.
[Coroner] What class of man did he appear to be? - I should say he was in business, and did nothing like hard work.
[Coroner] Not like a dock labourer? - No.
[Coroner] Nor a sailor? - No.
[Coroner] Nor a butcher? - No.
[Coroner] A clerk? - He had more the appearance of a clerk.
[Coroner] Is that the best suggestion you can make? - It is.
[Coroner] You did not see his face. Had he any whiskers? - I cannot say. I do not think he had.
[Coroner] Was he wearing gloves? - No.
[Coroner] Was he carrying a stick or umbrella in his hands? - He had nothing in his hands that I am aware of.
[Coroner] You are quite sure that the deceased is the woman you saw? - Quite. I did not take much notice whether she was carrying anything in her hands.
[Coroner] What first attracted your attention to the couple? - By their standing there for some time, and he was kissing her.
[Coroner] Did you overhear anything they said? - I heard him say, "You would say anything but your prayers."
[Coroner] Different people talk in a different tone and in a different way. Did his voice give you the idea of a clerk? - Yes, he was mild speaking.
[Coroner] Did he speak like an educated man? - I thought so. I did not hear them say anything more. They went away after that. I did not hear the woman say anything, but after the man made that observation she laughed. They went away down the street, towards Ellen-street. They would not then pass No. 40 (the club).
[Coroner] How was the woman dressed? - In a black jacket and skirt.
[Coroner] Was either the worse for drink? - No, I thought not.
[Coroner] When did you go indoors? - About twelve o'clock.
[Coroner] Did you hear anything more that night? - Not till I heard that the murder had taken place, just after one o'clock. While I was standing at my door, from half-past eleven to twelve, there was no rain at all. The deceased had on a small black bonnet. The couple were standing between my house and the club for about ten minutes.
Detective-Inspector Reid: Then they passed you? - Yes.
A Juror: Did you not see the man's face as he passed? - No; he was looking towards the woman, and had his arm round her neck. There is a gas lamp at the corner of Boyd-street. It was not closing time when they passed me.
James Brown: I live in Fairclough-street, and am a dock labourer. I have seen the body in the mortuary. I did not know deceased, but I saw her about a quarter to one on Sunday morning last.
The Coroner: Where were you? - I was going from my house to the chandler's shop at the corner of the Berner-street and Fairclough-street, to get some supper. I stayed there three or four minutes, and then went back home, when I saw a man and woman standing at the corner of the Board School. I was in the road just by the kerb, and they were near the wall.
[Coroner] Did you see enough to make you certain that the deceased was the woman? - I am almost certain.
[Coroner] Did you notice any flower in her dress? - No.
[Coroner] What were they doing? - He was standing with his arm against the wall; she was inclined towards his arm, facing him, and with her back to the wall.
[Coroner] Did you notice the man? - I saw that he had a long dark coat on.
[Coroner] An overcoat? - Yes; it seemed so.
[Coroner] Had he a hat or a cap on? - I cannot say.
[Coroner] You are sure it was not her dress that you chiefly noticed? - Yes. I saw nothing light in colour about either of them.
[Coroner] Was it raining at the time? - No. I went on.
[Coroner] Did you hear anything more? - When I had nearly finished my supper I heard screams of "Murder" and "Police." This was a quarter of an hour after I had got home. I did not look at any clock at the chandler's shop. I arrived home first at ten minutes past twelve o'clock, and I believe it was not raining then.
[Coroner] Did you notice the height of the man? - I should think he was 5ft. 7in.
[Coroner] Was he thin or stout? - He was of average build.
[Coroner] Did either of them seem the worse for drink? - No.
[Coroner] Did you notice whether either spoke with a foreign accent? - I did not notice any. When I heard screams I opened my window, but could not see anybody. The cries were of moving people going in the direction of Grove-street. Shortly afterwards I saw a policeman standing at the corner of Christian- street, and a man called him to Berner-street.
William Smith, 452 H Division: On Saturday last I went on duty at ten p.m. My beat was past Berner-street, and would take me twenty-five minutes or half an hour to go round. I was in Berner-street about half-past twelve or twenty-five minutes to one o'clock, and having gone round my beat, was at the Commercial-road corner of Berner-street again at one o'clock. I was not called. I saw a crowd outside the gates of No. 40, Berner-street. I heard no cries of "Police." When I came to the spot two constables had already arrived. The gates at the side of the club were not then closed. I do not remember that I passed any person on my way down. I saw that the woman was dead, and I went to the police-station for the ambulance, leaving the other constables in charge of the body. Dr. Blackwell's assistant arrived just as I was going away.
The Coroner: Had you noticed any man or woman in Berner-street when you were there before? - Yes, talking together.
[Coroner] Was the woman anything like the deceased? - Yes. I saw her face, and I think the body at the mortuary is that of the same woman.
[Coroner] Are you certain? - I feel certain. She stood on the pavement a few yards from where the body was found, but on the opposite side of the street.
[Coroner] Did you look at the man at all? - Yes.
[Coroner] What did you notice about him? - He had a parcel wrapped in a newspaper in his hand. The parcel was about 18in. long and 6in. to 8in. broad.
[Coroner] Did you notice his height? - He was about 5ft. 7in.
[Coroner] His hat? - He wore a dark felt deerstalker's hat.
[Coroner] Clothes? - His clothes were dark. The coat was a cutaway coat.
[Coroner] Did you overhear any conversation? - No.
[Coroner] Did they seem to be sober? - Yes, both.
[Coroner] Did you see the man's face? - He had no whiskers, but I did not notice him much. I should say he was twenty-eight years of age. He was of respectable appearance, but I could not state what he was. The woman had a flower in her breast. It rained very little after eleven o'clock. There were but few about in the bye streets. When I saw the body at the mortuary I recognised it at once.
Michael Kidney, the man with whom the deceased last lived, being recalled, stated: I recognise the Swedish hymn-book produced as one belonging to the deceased. She used to have it at my place. I found it in the next room to the one I occupy - in Mrs. Smith's room. Mrs Smith said deceased gave it to her when she left last Tuesday - not as a gift, but to take care of. When deceased and I lived together I put a padlock on the door when we left the house. I had the key, but deceased has got in and out when I have been away. I found she had been there during my absence on Wednesday of last week - the day after she left - and taken some things.
[Coroner] The Coroner: What made you think there was anything the matter with the roof of her mouth? - She told me so.
[Coroner] Have you ever examined it? - No.
[Coroner] Well, the doctors say there is nothing the matter with it? - Well, I only know what she told me.
Philip Krantz (who affirmed) deposed: I live at 40, Berner-street, and am editor of the Hebrew paper called "The Worker's Friend." I work in a room forming part of the printing office at the back of the International Working Men's Club. Last Saturday night I was in my room from nine o'clock until one of the members of the club came and told me that there was a woman lying in the yard.
[Coroner] Had you heard any sound up to that time? - No.
[Coroner] Any cry? - No. Or scream? - No.
[Coroner] Or anything unusual? - No.
[Coroner] Was your window or door open? - No.
[Coroner] Supposing a woman had screamed, would you have heard it? - They were singing in the club, so I might not have heard. When I heard the alarm I went out and saw the deceased, but did not observe any stranger there.
[Coroner] Did you look to see if anybody was about - anybody who might have committed the murder? - I did look. I went out to the gates, and found that some members of the club had gone for the police.
[Coroner] Do you think it possible that any stranger escaped from the yard while you were there? - No, but he might have done so before I came. I was afterwards searched and examined at the club.
Constable Albert Collins, 12 H. R., stated that by order of the doctors, he, at half-past five o'clock on Sunday morning, washed away the blood caused by the murder.
Detective-Inspector Reid said: I received a telegram at 1.25 on Sunday morning last at Commercial-street Police-office. I at once proceeded to No. 40, Berner-street, where I saw several police officers, Drs. Phillips and Blackwell, and a number of residents in the yard and persons who had come there and been shut in by the police. At that time Drs. Phillips and Blackwell were examining the throat of the deceased. A thorough search was made by the police of the yard and the houses in it, but no trace could be found of any person who might have committed the murder. As soon as the search was over the whole of the persons who had come into the yard and the members of the club were interrogated, their names and addresses taken, their pockets searched by the police, and their clothes and hands examined by the doctors. The people were twenty-eight in number. Each was dealt with separately, and they properly accounted for themselves. The houses were inspected a second time and the occupants examined and their rooms searched. A loft close by was searched, but no trace could be found of the murderer. A description was taken of the body, and circulated by wire around the stations. Inquiries were made at the different houses in the street, but no person could be found who had heard screams or disturbance during the night. I examined the wall near where the body was found, but could detect no spots of blood. About half-past four the body was removed to the mortuary. Having given information of the murder to the coroner I returned to the yard and made another examination and found that the blood had been removed. It being daylight I searched the walls thoroughly, but could discover no marks of their having been scaled. I then went to the mortuary and took a description of the deceased and her clothing as follows: Aged forty-two; length 5ft. 2in; complexion pale; hair dark brown and curly; eyes light grey; front upper teeth gone. The deceased had on an old black skirt, dark-brown velvet body, a long black jacket trimmed with black fur, fastened on the right side, with a red rose backed by a maidenhair fern. She had two light serge petticoats, white stockings, white chemise with insertion, side-spring boots, and black crape bonnet. In her jacket pocket were two handkerchiefs, a thimble, and a piece of wool on a card. That description was circulated. Since then the police have made a house-to-house inquiry in the immediate neighbourhood, with the result that we have been able to produce the witnesses who have appeared before the Court. The investigation is still going on. Every endeavour is being made to arrest the assassin, but up to the present without success.
The inquiry was adjourned to Tuesday fortnight, at two o'clock.
[Back to the Top]
Day 5, Tuesday, October 23, 1888
(The Times, October 24, 1888)
Yesterday afternoon [23 Oct] Mr.
Wynne E. Baxter, Coroner for the South-Eastern Division of
Middlesex, resumed his adjourned inquiry at the Vestry-hall,
Cable-street, St. George's-in-the-East, respecting the death
of Elizabeth Stride, who was found murdered in Berner-street,
St. George's, on the 30th ult.
Detective-Inspector Edmund Reid,
recalled, said, - I
have examined the books of the Poplar and Stepney Sick Asylum,
and find therein the entry of the death of John Thomas William
Stride, a carpenter, of Poplar. His death took place on the 24th
day of October, 1884. Witness then said that he had found Mrs.
Watts, who would give evidence.
Detective-Inspector Reid, H Division, watched the case on behalf of the Criminal Investigation Department.
Constable Walter Stride stated that he recognised the deceased by the photograph as the person who married his uncle, John Thomas Stride, in 1872 or 1873. His uncle was a carpenter, and the last time witness saw him he was living in the East India Dock-road, Poplar.
Elizabeth Stokes, 5, Charles-street, Tottenham, said, - My husband's name is Joseph Stokes, and he is a brickmaker. My first husband's name was Watts, a wine merchant of Bath. Mrs. Mary Malcolm, of 15, Eagle-street, Red Lion-square, Holborn, is my sister. I have received an anonymous letter from Shepton Mallet, saying my first husband is alive. I want to clear my character. My sister I have not seen for years. She has given me a dreadful character. Her evidence is all false. I have five brothers and sisters.
A juryman. - Perhaps she refers to another sister.
Inspector Reid. - She identified the deceased person as her sister, and said she had a crippled foot. This witness has a crippled foot.
Witness. - This has put me to a dreadful trouble and trial. I have only a poor crippled husband, who is now outside. It is a shame my sister should say what she has said about me, and that the innocent should suffer for the guilty.
The Coroner. - Is Mrs. Malcolm here?
Inspector Reid. - No, Sir.
The Coroner, in summing up, said the jury would probably agree with him that it would be unreasonable to adjourn this inquiry again on the chance of something further being ascertained to elucidate the mysterious case on which they had devoted so much time. The first difficulty which presented itself was the identification of the deceased. That was not an unimportant matter. Their trouble was principally occasioned by Mrs. Malcolm, who, after some hesitation, and after having had two further opportunities of viewing again the body, positively swore that the deceased was her sister - Mrs. Elizabeth Watts, of Bath. It had since been clearly proved that she was mistaken, notwithstanding the visions which were simultaneously vouchsafed at the hour of the death to her and her husband. If her evidence was correct, there were points of resemblance between the deceased and Elizabeth Watts which almost reminded one of the Comedy of Errors. Both had been courted by policemen; they both bore the same Christian name, and were of the same age; both lived with sailors; both at one time kept coffee-houses at Poplar; both were nick-named "Long Liz;" both were said to have had children in charge of their husbands' friends; both were given to drink; both lived in East-end common lodging- houses; both had been charged at the Thames Police-court; both had escaped punishment on the ground that they were subject to epileptic fits, although the friends of both were certain that this was a fraud; both had lost their front teeth, and both had been leading very questionable lives. Whatever might be the true explanation of this marvellous similarity, it appeared to be pretty satisfactorily proved that the deceased was Elizabeth Stride, and that about the year 1869 she was married to a carpenter named John Thomas Stride. Unlike the other victims in the series of crimes in this neighbourhood - a district teeming with representatives of all nations - she was not an Englishwoman. She was born in Sweden in the year 1843, but, having resided in this country for upwards of 22 years, she could speak English fluently and without much foreign accent. At one time the deceased and her husband kept a coffee-house in Poplar. At another time she was staying in Devonshire-street, Commercial-road, supporting herself, it was said, by sewing and charing. On and off for the last six years she lived in a common lodging-house in the notorious lane called Flower and Dean-street. She was there known only by the nick-name of "Long Liz," and often told a tale, which might have been apocryphal, of her husband and children having gone down with the Princess Alice. The deputy of the lodging-house stated that while with her she was a quiet and sober woman, although she used at times to stay out late at night - an offence very venial, he suspected, among those who frequented the establishment. For the last two years the deceased had been living at a common lodging-house in Dorset-street, Spitalfields, with Michael Kidney, a waterside labourer, belonging to the Army Reserve. But at intervals during that period, amounting altogether to about five months, she left him without any apparent reason, except a desire to be free from the restraint even of that connexion, and to obtain greater opportunity of indulging her drinking habits. She was last seen alive by Kidney in Commercial-street on the evening of Tuesday, September 25. She was sober, but never returned home that night. She alleged that she had some words with her paramour, but this he denied. The next day she called during his absence, and took away some things, but, with this exception, they did not know what became of her until the following Thursday, when she made her appearance at her old quarters in Flower and Dean-street. Here she remained until Saturday, September 29. On that day she cleaned the deputy's rooms, and received a small remuneration for her trouble. Between 6 and 7 o'clock on that evening she was in the kitchen wearing the jacket, bonnet, and striped silk neckerchief which were afterwards found on her. She had at least 6d. in her possession, which was possibly spent during the evening. Before leaving she gave a piece of velvet to a friend to take care of until her return, but she said neither where she was going nor when she would return. She had not paid for her lodgings, although she was in a position to do so. They knew nothing of her movements during the next four or five hours at least - possibly not till the finding of her lifeless body. But three witnesses spoke to having seen a woman that they identified as the deceased with more or less certainty, and at times within an hour and a-quarter of the period when, and at places within 100 yards of the spot where she was ultimately found. William Marshall, who lived at 64, Berner-street, was standing at his doorway from half-past 11 till midnight. About a quarter to 12 o'clock he saw the deceased talking to a man between Fairclough-street and Boyd-street. There was every demonstration of affection by the man during the ten minutes they stood together, and when last seen, strolling down the road towards Ellen-street, his arms were round her neck. At 12 30 p.m. the constable on the beat (William Smith) saw the deceased in Berner-street standing on the pavement a few yards from Commercial-street, and he observed she was wearing a flower in her dress. A quarter of an hour afterwards James Brown, of Fairclough-street, passed the deceased close to the Board school. A man was at her side leaning against the wall, and the deceased was heard to say, "Not to-night, but some other night." Now, if this evidence was to be relied on, it would appear that the deceased was in the company of a man for upwards of an hour immediately before her death, and that within a quarter of an hour of her being found a corpse she was refusing her companion something in the immediate neighbourhood of where she met her death. But was this the deceased? And even if it were, was it one and the same man who was seen in her company on three different occasions? With regard to the identity of the woman, Marshall had the opportunity of watching her for ten minutes while standing talking in the street at a short distance from him, and she afterwards passed close to him. The constable feels certain that the woman he observed was the deceased, and when he afterwards was called to the scene of the crime he at once recognized her and made a statement; while Brown was almost certain that the deceased was the woman to whom his attention was attracted. It might be thought that the frequency of the occurrence of men and women being seen together under similar circumstances might have led to mistaken identity; but the police stated, and several of the witnesses corroborated the statement, that although many couples are to be seen at night in the Commercial-road, it was exceptional to meet them in Berner-street. With regard to the man seen, there were many points of similarity, but some of dissimilarity, in the descriptions of the three witnesses; but these discrepancies did not conclusively prove that there was more than one man in the company of the deceased, for every day's experience showed how facts were differently observed and differently described by honest and intelligent witnesses. Brown, who saw least in consequence of the darkness of the spot at which the two were standing, agreed with Smith that his clothes were dark and that his height was about 5ft. 7in., but he appeared to him to be wearing an overcoat nearly down to his heels; while the description of Marshall accorded with that of Smith in every respect but two. They agreed that he was respectably dressed in a black cut away coat and dark trousers, and that he was of middle age and without whiskers. On the other hand, they differed with regard to what he was wearing on his head. Smith stated he wore a hard felt deer stalker of dark colour; Marshall that he was wearing a round cap with a small peak, like a sailor's. They also differed as to whether he had anything in his hand. Marshall stated that he observed nothing. Smith was very precise, and stated that he was carrying a parcel, done up in a newspaper, about 18in. in length and 6in. to 8in. in width. These differences suggested either that the woman was, during the evening, in the company of more than one man - a not very improbable supposition - or that the witness had been mistaken in detail. If they were correct in assuming that the man seen in the company of deceased by the three was one and the same person it followed that he must have spent much time and trouble to induce her to place herself in his diabolical clutches. They last saw her alive at the corner of Fairclough-street and Berner-street, saying "Not to-night, but some other night." Within a quarter of an hour her lifeless body was found at a spot only a few yards from where she was last seen alive. It was late, and there were few people about, but the place to which the two repaired could not have been selected on account of its being quiet or unfrequented. It had only the merit of darkness. It was the passage-way leading into a court in which several families resided. Adjoining the passage and court there was a club of Socialists, who, having finished their debate, were singing and making merry. The deceased and her companion must have seen the lights of the clubroom, and the kitchen, and of the printing office. They must have heard the music and dancing, for the windows were open. There were persons in the yard but a short time previous to their arrival. At 40 minutes past 12, one of the members of the club, named Morris Eagle, passed the spot where the deceased drew her last breath, passing through the gateway to the back door, which opened into the yard. At 1 o'clock the body was found by the manager of the club. He had been out all day, and returned at the time. He was in a two-wheeled barrow drawn by a pony, and as he entered the gateway his pony shied at some object on his right. There was no lamp in the yard, and having just come out of the street it was too dark to see what the object was and he passed on further down the yard. He returned on foot, and on searching found the body of deceased with her throat cut. If he had not actually disturbed the wretch in the very act, at least he must have been close on his heels; possibly the man was alarmed by the sound of the approaching cart, for the death had only just taken place. He did not inspect the body himself with any care, but blood was flowing from the throat, even when Spooner reached the spot some few minutes afterwards, and although the bleeding had stopped when Dr. Blackwell's assistant arrived, the whole of her body and the limbs, except her hands, were warm, and even at 16 minutes past 1 a.m. Dr. Blackwell found her face slightly warm, and her chest and legs quite warm. In this case, as in other similar cases which had occurred in this neighbourhood, no call for assistance was noticed. Although there might have been some noise in the club, it seemed very unlikely that any cry could have been raised without its being heard by some one of those near. The editor of a Socialist paper was quietly at work in a shed down the yard, which was used as a printing office. There were several families in the cottages in the court only a few yards distant, and there were 20 persons in the different rooms of the club. But if there was no cry, how did the deceased meet with her death? The appearance of the injury to her throat was not in itself inconsistent with that of a self-inflicted wound. Both Dr. Phillips and Dr. Blackwell have seen self-inflicted wounds more extensive and severe, but those have not usually involved the carotid artery. Had some sharp instrument been found near the right hand of the deceased this case might have had very much the appearance of a determined suicide. But no such instrument was found, and its absence made suicide an impossibility. The death was, therefore, one by homicide, and it seemed impossible to imagine circumstances which would fit in with the known facts of the case, and which would reduce the crime to manslaughter. There were no signs of any struggle; the clothes were neither torn nor disturbed. It was true that there were marks over both shoulders, produced by pressure of two hands, but the position of the body suggested either that she was willingly placed or placed herself where she was found. Only the soles of her boots were visible. She was still holding in her left hand a packet of cachous, and there was a bunch of flowers still pinned to her dress front. If she had been forcibly placed on the ground, as Dr. Phillips opines, it was difficult to understand how she failed to attract attention, as it was clear from the appearance of the blood on the ground that the throat was not cut until after she was actually on her back. There were no marks of gagging, no bruises on the face, and no trace of any anaesthetic or narcotic in the stomach; while the presence of the cachous in her hand showed that she did not make use of it in self-defence. Possibly the pressure marks may have had a less tragical origin, as Dr. Blackwell says it was difficult to say how recently they were produced. There was one particular which was not easy to explain. When seen by Dr. Blackwell her right hand was lying on the chest, smeared inside and out with blood. Dr. Phillips was unable to make any suggestion how the hand became soiled. There was no injury to the hand, such as they would expect if it had been raised in self-defence while her throat was being cut. Was it done intentionally by her assassin, or accidentally by those who were early on the spot? The evidence afforded no clue. Unfortunately the murderer had disappeared without leaving the slightest trace. Even the cachous were wrapped up in unmarked paper, so that there was nothing to show where they were bought. The cut in the throat might have been effected in such a manner that bloodstains on the hands and clothes of the operator were avoided, while the domestic history of the deed suggested the strong probability that her destroyer was a stranger to her. There was no one among her associates to whom any suspicion had attached. They had not heard that she had had a quarrel with any one - unless they magnified the fact that she had recently left the man with whom she generally cohabited; but this diversion was of so frequent an occurrence that neither a breach of the peace ensued, nor, so far as they knew, even hard words. There was therefore in the evidence no clue to the murderer and no suggested motive for the murder. The deceased was not in possession of any valuables. She was only known to have had a few pence in her pocket at the beginning of the evening. Those who knew her best were unaware of any one likely to injure her. She never accused any one of having threatened her. She never expressed any fear of anyone, and, although she had outbursts of drunkenness, she was generally a quiet woman. The ordinary motives of murder - revenge, jealousy, theft, and passion - appeared, therefore, to be absent from this case; while it was clear from the accounts of all who saw her that night, as well as from the post-mortem examination, that she was not otherwise than sober at the time of her death. In the absence of motive, the age and class of woman selected as victim, and the place and time of the crime, there was a similarity between this case and those mysteries which had recently occurred in that neighbourhood. There had been no skilful mutilation as in the cases of Nichols and Chapman, and no unskilful injuries as in the case in Mitre-square - possibly the work of an imitator; but there had been the same skill exhibited in the way in which the victim had been entrapped, and the injuries inflicted, so as to cause instant death and prevent blood from soiling the operator, and the same daring defiance of immediate detection, which, unfortunately for the peace of the inhabitants and trade of the neighbourhood, had hitherto been only too successful. He himself was sorry that the time and attention which the jury had given to the case had not produced a result that would be a perceptible relief to the metropolis - the detection of the criminal; but he was sure that all had used their utmost effort to accomplish this object, and while he desired to thank the gentlemen of the jury for their kind assistance, he was bound to acknowledge the great attention which Inspector Reid and the police had given to the case. He left it to the jury to say, how, when, and by what means the deceased came by her death.
The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of "Wilful murder against some person or persons unknown."
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The inquest was then adjourned till one o'clock today.[Back to the Top]
Many THANKS to the people who have contributed to this page:
The Times transcriptions - Courtesy of Alex Chisholm.
Daily Telegraph transcriptions - Courtesy of Alex Chisholm.
Stride image - Courtesy of Illustrated Police News via Alex Chisholm.
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