Jack The Ripper Strikes Again
At some stage around 4.40am on 8th September 1888 John Richardson, whose mother Amelia Richardson lived in and ran a packing case business from 29 Hanbury Street, stopped off at the building to check the backyard of the premises from which his mother ran her business.
A few months before, the padlock on the cellar door had been broken by someone who may have been trying to break in and so John Richardson was now in the habit of regularly visiting the yard on his way to work to check that all was well.
On this particular morning one of his boots was pinching his toe so, before he left, he sat down on the back step to trim off some of the leather from the offending piece of footwear with a kitchen knife.
He would later state that he had probably sat on the step for around two minutes and had seen nothing untoward.
At around 5.30am on 8th September 1888, Mrs. Elizabeth Long was walking along Hanbury Street when, as she passed the door of number 29, she noticed a "foreign looking" man talking with a woman who she later identified as Annie Chapman.
29 Hanbury Street
There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the couple, and nothing that particularly attracted her attention, so she gave them little more than a cursory passing glance as she walked by.
It was around this time - at the subsequent inquest he couldn't be exactly sure about the time, but sated that it was between 5.15am and 5.32am - Albert Cadoche, who lived in the neighbouring property at 27 Hanbury Street, went out to his backyard.
As he was walking back across the yard, there came the sound of a woman's voice saying, "No!", from the adjacent yard.
He continued indoors, but returned to the yard three or four minutes later, at which point he heard something fall against the fence between the two yards.
At around 6am market porter, John Davis, a resident at number 29 Hanbury Street, came down stairs, turned along the narrow corridor of the house's ground floor and looked into the back yard.
Looking down at the ground between the steps and the fence he saw, to his horror, the mutilated body of a woman lying there.
He recoiled back in horror at the sight of his grisly find and then went racing out into Hanbury Street where he encountered three men, whom he shouted at to follow him.
Mystified by the sudden appearance of the agitated old man, the three followed him through the corridor of the house and gazed down into the back yard.
Annie Chapman's Injuries
Annie Chapman' dress had been pulled up around her knees, exposing her striped stockings. A deep cut had slashed across her throat; her intestines had been tugged out and laid across her shoulder.
Missing from the body were the uterus and part of the bladder.
The contents of her pocket were found lying in a neat pile near to the body. The brass rings that she had been wearing at the time of her murder, had evidently been torn from her fingers and were never discovered.
The Back Yard
29 Hanbury Street
It took a few minutes for the full horror of the scene to sink in, but, when it did so, the group sprang into action and raced from the property to alert the police of their horrific find.
Soon Inspector Joseph Chandler had arrived outside number 29 and was pushing through the crowd of spectators who had begun gathering in the passageway leading out to the yard.
Seeing the body, he ordered all the onlookers to vacate the premises and then sent a police constable to Commercial Street Police Station ordering him to bring as many re-enforcements as were available.
Having secured the crime scene, and covered the body with a piece of sacking, he sent another officer to fetch the local Divisional Police Surgeon, Dr George Bagster Phillips.
The medic arrived at 6.30am and carried out a cursory examination of the body.
It was instantly apparent that she was dead, and so there was little he could do, other than pronounce life extinct and order that the body be taken to the mortuary at the nearby Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary.
A Significant Find
Once the body had been removed, the police undertook a thorough search of the backyard at number 29 Hanbury Street.
Hanbury Street Looking East
In the corner of the yard, close to where the body had been found, they discovered what appeared to be a freshly washed leather apron.
It soon transpired that the leather apron found in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street actually belonged to one of the residents and was in no way related to the crime nor to the murderer.
The press, however, saw this as a genuinely significant find and so they continued to push "Leather Apron" as the major suspect throughout the entire weekend and this with the result that a wave of anti - Semitism swept the district.
According to the East End Advertiser: "On Saturday... the crowds who had assembled in the streets began to assume a very threatening attitude towards the Hebrew population of the district. It was repeatedly asserted that no Englishman could have perpetrated such a horrible crime.. and the crowds proceeded to threaten and abuse such of the unfortunate Hebrews as they found in the streets.."
In a desperate attempt to restore order, and to prevent an outbreak of full scale anti-Jewish rioting, hundreds of police officers were transferred into the district from other parts of London and, to an extent, the agitation of the mob was contained.
Sergeant Thicke Makes An Arrest
By 10th September, it appears that the press had begun to realise that the frenzy that they were generating by pushing the "Leather Apron" theory so enthusiastically was having a detrimental effect on the district as a whole.
Some newspapers were even openly questioning the existence of this sinister character and wondering if the whole thing was a fiction created by either the Star newspaper, or by locals eager to cash in on the excitement that the Whitechapel Murders were generating.
It was on the 10th September that Sergeant William Thick went round to 22 Mulberry Street, and arrested thirty - six - year old John Pizer maintaining, as he had been doing for almost a week, that he was “Leather Apron”.
Pizer, however, had cast iron alibi’s for the nights of both murders and was quickly eliminated from the enquiry.
He even turned up as a surprise witness at the inquest into the death of Annie Chapman where, with Sergeant Thicke sitting alongside him, he was publicly cleared of any involvement in the recent murders.
Indeed, it was quickly becoming apparent that the police were no closer to catching whoever was responsible for the crimes than they had been a week or so before and, as their investigation began to derail, they found themselves subjected to a barrage of criticism from the press, from the local populace and also from the Coroner.
Desperate for a break through, but also anxious to keep their lines of enquiry from story hungry journalists who, they felt, might alert potential suspects that the police were looking for them, the police became more and more guarded of any information that came their way.
Increased Police Presence, Dreadful Quiet
In the streets of Whitechapel and Spitalfields, the intensification of police activity in the wake of the "Leather Apron" unrest had seen a dramatic downturn in the crime rate.
This increase in police numbers also appears to have deterred the murderer and, by the end of September, newspapers were reporting that a "dreadful quiet" had descended across the street of the district, and people began to wonder if their ordeal was over and the murders had come to an end.
But, with the last day of September just two hours old, the Whitechapel Murderer would prove their hopes horrifyingly wrong, by murdering twice in less than an hour.