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Another Whitechapel Murder

Another murder of the foulest kind was committed in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel in the early hours of yesterday morning, but by whom and with what motive is at present a complete mystery.

At a quarter to 4 o'clock Police constable Neill, 97J, when in Buck's Row, Whitechapel, came upon the body of a woman lying on a part of the footway, and on stooping to raise her up in the belief that she was drunk he discovered that her throat was cut almost from ear to ear. She was dead but still warm. He procured assistance and at once sent to the station and for a doctor.

Dr. Llewellyn, of Whitechapel Road, whose surgery is not above 300 yards from the spot where the woman lay, was aroused, and, at the solicitation of a constable, dressed and went at once to the scene. He inspected the body at the place where it was found and pronounced the woman dead. He made a hasty examination and then discovered that, besides the gash across the throat, the woman had terrible wounds in the abdomen. The police ambulance from the Bethnal-green Station having arrived, the body was removed there. A further examination showed the horrible nature of the crime, there being other fearful cuts and gashes, and one of which was sufficient to cause death apart from the wounds across the throat.

After the body was removed to the mortuary of the parish, in Old Montague Street, Whitechapel, steps were taken to secure, if possible, identification, but at first with little prospect of success. The clothing was of a common description, but the skirt of one petticoat and the band of another article bore the stencil stamp of Lambeth Workhouse.

The only articles in the pockets were a comb and a piece of a looking glass. The latter led the police to conclude that the murdered woman was an inhabitant of the numerous lodging-houses of the neighbourhood, and officers were despatched to make inquiries about, as well as other officers to Lambeth to get the matron of the workhouse to view the body with a view to identification. The latter, however, could not identify, and said that the clothing might have been issued any time during the past two or three years. As the news of the murder spread, however, first one woman and then another came forward to view the body, and at length it was found that a woman answering the description of the murdered woman had lodged in a common lodging-house, 18, Thrawl-street, Spitalfields.

Women from that place were fetched and they identified the deceased as "Polly," who had shared a room with three other women in the place on the usual terms of such houses — nightly payment of 4d. each, each woman having a separate bed. It was gathered that the deceased had led the life of an "unfortunate" while lodging in the house, which was only for about three weeks past. Nothing more was known of her by them but that when she presented herself for her lodging on Thursday night she was turned away by the deputy because she had not the money.

She was then the worse for drink, but not drunk, and turned away laughing, saying, "I'll soon get my 'doss' money; see what a jolly bonnet I've got now." She was wearing a bonnet which she had not been seen with before, and left the lodging house door. A woman of the neighbourhood saw her later, she told the police — even as late as 2:30 on Friday morning — in Whitechapel Road, opposite the church and at the corner of Osborne-street, and at a quarter to 4 she was found within 500 yards of the spot, murdered. The people of the lodging-house knew her as "Polly," but at about half-past 7 last evening a woman named Mary Ann Monk, at present an inmate of Lambeth Workhouse, was taken to the mortuary and identified the body as that of Mary Ann Nicholls, also called "Polly" Nicholls.

She knew her, she said, as they were inmates of the Lambeth Workhouse together in April and May last, the deceased having been passed there from another workhouse. On the 12th of May, according to Monk, Nicholls left the workhouse to take a situation as servant at Ingleside, Wandsworth Common. It afterwards became known that Nicholls betrayed her trust as domestic servant, by stealing L3 from her employer and absconding. From that time she had been wandering about. Monk met her, she said, about six weeks ago when herself out of the workhouse and drank with her. She was sure the deceased was "Polly" Nicholls, and, having twice viewed the features as the body lay in the shell, maintained her opinion.

So far the police have satisfied themselves, but as to getting a clue to her murderer they express little hope. The matter is being investigated by Detective Inspector Abberline, of Scotland Yard, and Inspector Helson, J Division. The latter states that he walked carefully over the ground soon after 8 o'clock in the morning, and beyond and the discolourations ordinarily found on pavements there was no sign of stains.

Viewing the spot where the body was found, however, it seemed difficult to believe that the woman recieved her death wounds there. The police have no theory with respect to the matter, except that a gang of ruffians exists in the neighborhood, which, blackmailing women of the "unfortunate" class, takes vengeance on those who do not find money for them. They base that surmise on the fact that within 12 months two other women have been murdered in the district by almost similar means — one as recently as the 6th of August last — and left in the gutter of the street in the early hours of the morning.

If the woman was murdered on the spot where the body was found, it is impossible to believe she would not have aroused the neighborhood by her screams, Bucks Row being a street tenanted all down one side by a respectable class of people, superior to many of the surrounding streets, the other side having a blank wall bounding a warehouse. Dr. Llewellyn has called the attention of the police to the smallness of the quantity of blood on the spot where he saw the body, and yet the gashes in the abdomen laid the body right open.

The weapon used would scarcely have been a sailor's jack knife, but a pointed weapon with a stout back — such as a cork-cutter's or shoemaker's knife. In his opinion it was not an exceptionally long-bladed weapon. He does not believe that the woman was seized from behind and her throat cut, but thinks that a hand was held across her mouth and the knife then used, possibly by a left-handed man, as the bruising on the face of the deceased is such as would result from the mouth being covered with the right hand. He made a second examination of the body in the mortuary, and on that based his conclusion, but will make no actual post mortem until he recieves the Coroner's orders. The inquest is fixed for to-day.