Catherine Eddowes

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Catherine Eddowes

On 29th September, 1888, just a few hours before the brutal murder of Elizabeth Stride in Dutfield's Yard, Berner Street, another prostitute, Catherine Eddowes was found lying on the pavement close to the Bull Inn.

She was found by City Police Constable Louis Robinson. PC Robinson couldn't sit Catherine Eddowes upright. Robinson enlisted the help of another constable and they took her to Bishopsgate Police Station.

Eddowes was placed into a cell in order to sober up. The jailer, George Henry Hutt, found Eddowes singing to herself just before midnight. Hutt decided Eddowes was fit to be released just before 1am, so he escorted her to the duty sergeant's office where she falsely presented herself as Mary Ann Kelly of 6 Fashion Street. She was then released into the night.

City Police Constable Edward Watkins was on duty in the early hours of 30th September, 1888. His beat included Mitre Square which was just within the easternmost boundary of the City of London. He passed Mitre Square approximately every fifteen minutes. Mitre Square was said to be darker than usual on this morning due to a defective lamp.

At 1.30am PC Edward Watkins saw nothing out of the ordinary. A colleague of Watkins, PC James Harvey, walked down Church Passage at approximately 1.40am. PC Harvey took a brief look into Mitre Square and also found nothing of note.

PC Watkins returned to Mite Square at approximately 1.44am. Upon entering the square he quickly noticed something that would stay with him forever. It was the body of a woman who had been horribly mutilated.

PC Watkins is quoted as saying:

"I saw her throat was cut and her bowels protruding."

He went on to say that the woman's stomach had been:

"... ripped up, she was lying in a pool of blood"

PC Watkins ran across the square to the Kearley and Tonge warehouse and upon finding the night watchman, George Morris, said: “For God’s sake, mate, come to my assistance!”

George Morris asked what the matter was, to which PC Watkins said:

"Oh, dear, here is another woman cut to pieces."

PC Watkins sent George Morris to get help. Morris found PC James Harvey in Aldgate High Street and informed him of the murder. PC Harvey enlisted the help of another police constable who was close by and they returned to Mitre Square.

PC Harvey sent the other constable to fetch Dr George William Sequeira from Jewry Street whilst he and PC Watkins stayed with the body. Dr Sequeira arrived at Mitre Square at 1.55am.

City Detective Daniel Halse was in close proximity and made his way with other detectives to Mitre Square. Halse organised a neighbourhood search as well as a search for 'suspicious characters'.

Dr Frederick Gordon Brown, together with an assistant, arrived at 2.18am and performed an on-site examination of the body. Catherine Eddowes was in a similar position to the other women who had been recently murdered. She was on her back, with her legs apart, and her right leg was bent at the knee. Her clothes were pulled up, exposing the abdomen and the genitals. The upper part of her dress was torn open.

At 2.55am PC Alfred Long discovered important evidence in Goulston Street, which is just east of Mitre Square. The street usually held an outdoor market where Jewish merchants sold food and clothing. It was considered the "commercial centre of the Jewish East End".

PC Alfred Long came across a rag covered with blood and fecal matter lying inside the entrance to 108-110 Wenthworth Dwellings. The rag was found to be part of Eddowes' apron. This appeared to be used by the killer to wipe his hands, and/or, knife.

The text "The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing" was also scribbled in chalk in the door way.

After a brief search of the surrounding area PC Long took the potential evidence to the Commercial Street Police Station.

Inspector James McWilliam, head of the City Police Detective Department, decided that the chalk text should also be recorded. Detective Halse sent for a photographer. Unfortunately, before the photographer arrived, a decision was made to copy the chalk writing and then erase it, as crowds were growing and stalls were being setup ready for business. It was feared that a backlash against Jews could take place - with the potential of riots and revenge attacks.

Debates still continue as to whether the killer left the chalk message or if it was already there before the killer dropped the piece of apron.

Reports suggest that Sir Robert Anderson and Henry Moore both believed that the message had been written by the killer.

Researchers have also noted that the bloody apron piece was found along the direct route from Mitre Square to Aaron Kosminski's residence.

Body position and wounds

  • Catherine Eddowes' throat had been deeply cut
  • There was a long incision from the abdomen to the rectum, which cut through the vagina
  • Her intestines, "smeared with some feculent matter" had been removed and placed over her right shoulder
  • There were also cuts through her eyelids, cheeks, lips, nose and one earlobe
  • Both the left kidney and the uterus had been removed and apparently taken by the killer

The 'Saucy Jack' postcard

On 1st October, 1888, the Central News Agency received what has become known as the 'Saucy Jack' postcard.

I was not codding dear old Boss when I gave you the tip, you'll hear about Saucy Jacky's work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn't finish straight off. Had not got time to get ears off for police thanks for keeping last letter back till I got to work again. Jack the Ripper

Even though the letter appeared to have been posted in advance of the murders and the text "one squealed a bit couldn't finish straight off" seemed to describe Elizabeth Stride's murder, police treated both this letter, and the 'Dear Boss' letter, as hoaxes.

Commissioner Charles Warren signaled this in one of his letters to the Home Office, "At present I think the whole thing is a hoax but of course we are bound to try & ascertain the writer in any case".

The 'From Hell' letter (also known as the 'Lusk Letter')

On 16th October, 1888, George Lusk, the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received a small cardboard parcel containing what appeared to be half of a human kidney, along with a letter, written in red ink, with messy handwriting and several spelling errors. It read:

From hell.

Mr Lusk, Sor I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer signed

Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk

The kidney was taken to Dr Openshaw, a pathological curator at London Hospital, for inspection. Dr Openshaw confirmed that is was a human kidney.

The package was then taken to the police station at Leman Street. Detective Frederick Abberline gave it to the City Police, and then Inspector James McWilliam submitted it to City Police surgeon Dr Frederick Gordon Brown for a second analysis.

Dr Brown concluded that the kidney was certainly from a human adult, but he could not say whether it came from Catherine Eddowes.

The Inquest

On day two of the inquest on 11th October, 1888, witness Jospeh Lawende gave the following testimony:

On the night of Sept. 29, I was at the Imperial Club, Duke-street, together with Mr. Joseph Levy and Mr. Harry Harris. It was raining, and we sat in the club till half-past one o’clock, when we left. I observed a man and woman together at the corner of Church-passage, Duke-street, leading to Mitre-square.

The woman was standing with her face towards the man, and I only saw her back. She had one hand on his breast. He was the taller. She had on a black jacket and bonnet. I have seen the articles at the police-station, and believe them to be those the deceased was wearing.

He had on a cloth cap with a peak of the same.

The Funeral

Catherine Eddowes' funeral took place on October 8th, 1888.

The funeral procession started at 1.30pm. Eddowes’ elm coffin was followed by a mourning coach carrying Eddowes' boyfriend, John Kelly, and four of the Catherine's sisters. Thousands of people followed the cortege as police conducted the carriages to the City of London boundary, then along Whitechapel Road past St. Mary’s church. Some five hundred mourners attended the interment at Ilford Cemetery.