Watch Out That's Leather Apron
On the night of the 29th September 1888 a heavy rain shower drenched the streets of the East End of London.
At 11pm two men, J. Best and John Gardner were passing the Bricklayer's Arms on Settles street, when the spotted a man and woman hugging and kissing in its doorway.
Best later revealed that he had been somewhat surprised at the way the man - who was, according to Best's later testimony, "respectably dressed" - was "going on" with the woman.
Notwithstanding their surprise, the Best and Gardner couldn't resists a little taunt at the couple and so they remarked to the woman as they passed "watch out, that's Leather Apron getting round you!"
The couple were, evidently, not impressed and "went off like a shot" in the direction of Commercial Road.
Berner Street In 1888
By 11.45pm Elizabeth Stride had made her way to Berner Street, located on the other side of Commercial Road.
Berner Street Looking South
In those days it was lined by two-storey houses.
A shot way along it, on the right hand side, a set of gates gave access to Dutfield's Yard on the right side of which was the International Working Men's Educational Club where that night approximately a hundred people were attending a debate on "Why Jews should be Socialists."
However, the club's steward, Louis Diemshutz, was absent that night, as he'd spent the day in Crystal Palace hawking cheap jewellery, and his wife was overseeing the proceedings.
The meeting broke up at around 11.45pm and the majority of the members duly filed out of the premises and made their ways home, leaving a handful of diehards who sat around chatting and singing as the 29th of September became the 30th of September.
What Israel Schwarz Saw
At around 12.45am Israel Schwarz turned into Berner Street from Commercial Road and began walking along its west side.
He noticed a man walking slightly ahead of him and saw him stop to talk with a woman (who he later identified as having been Elizabeth Stride) who was standing in the gateway of Dutfield's Yard.
Berner Street - 1888
The man attempted to pull the woman into the street but then, suddenly, he spun her round and threw her to the ground, whereupon the woman screamed four times, although, according to Schwarz's later testimony, "not very loudly."
Schwarz immediately deduced that he was witnessing a domestic quarrel and didn't want to get dragged into it, so he quickly crossed the road to avoid the couple.
As he did so, he passed a second man who was standing under a lamp lighting his pipe.
At this point the man who was attacking the woman shouted across to the second man "Lipski" and the second man began to follow Shwarz along Berner Street.
Panic-stricken, Schwarz began to run and, by the time he reached the nearby railway arch he had managed to lose his pursuer.
The presence of this second man has suggested to some that the murderer may well have had an accomplice.
The police though, it appears, managed to trace him and, according to an official report, dated 19th October 1888, the second man was not a suspect in the subsequent crime.
Did Schwarz See Jack the Ripper?
There is a high probability that the man Israel Schwarz saw attacking Elizabeth Stride was the person who murdered her.
For two violent attacks to have taken place on the same woman, and in the same vicinity, in the space of fifteen minutes is beyond co-incidence.
It is, therefore, highly likely that Israel Schwarz witnessed the early stages of the attack on Elizabeth Stride and is, therefore, the only person to have seen one of Jack the Ripper's victims in the act of being murdered.
Diemshutz Finds Elizabeth Stride
At around 1am on 30th September 1888 Louis Diemshutz returned to Berner Street from Crystal Palace.
As he turned his pony and cart into Dutfield's Yard, the pony suddenly reared in alarm and pulled to the left.
Finding the Body
Looking around to find what had distressed the animal, Diemshutz saw what appeared to be a pile of clothes lying on the ground.
He poked at them with his whip and then lit a match.
The flame flickered for a brief moment before being extinguished by the breeze.
But in that brief seconds light Diemshutz saw that it was, in fact, a woman lying on the ground.
For some reason he thought that it might actually be his wife, and that she might be drunk, so he went into the club to check.
Finding her safe he alerted the lingering club members about his find. "There's a woman lying in the yard", he told them, "but I cannot say whether she is drunk or dead."
Diemshutz took a candle and beckoned his companions to follow him back into the yard, and this time he was able to see blood by the body. Holding the candle a little closer, the group let out a collective gasp of horror as they saw that her throat had been cut.
Elizabeth Stride Jack the Ripper's third victim
The woman’s name was Elizabeth Stride (sometimes known as "Long Liz Stride") and her throat had been slashed back to the spine.
The Ripper's Escape
But there were mutilations to the rest of her body, and this led the police to conclude that the murderer had been interrupted as he went about his bloody business.
Is it possible that, as he stooped over his victim, the cart entering the yard had disturbed him, causing him to move back quickly into the shadows?
Perhaps it was this sudden movement that had startled the pony?
We can only guess at Diemshutz's state of mind as it began to dawn on him that, when he had first looked upon the body of Elizabeth Stride, her killer was probably standing in the darkness just a few inches away from him.
And, when Diemshutz went in to the club to check on his wife, the murderer had slipped quickly and quietly away, as the news of another murder and the ensuing frenzied excitement it generated, helped cover his escape.
But the ripper wasn't finished that night.
For, within 45 minutes, and just a short distance away, he had struck again.
And this time he would more than make up for the fact that he had been denied the satisfaction of mutilating the body of Elizabeth Stride.
The night of the double event was underway.