The Victims (Jack the Ripper) Part 4

Annie Chapman

Saturday, 8 September 1888

A total of 17 souls lived in the house at 29 Hanbury Street. Facing the street at the front was a cat’s-meat shop run by Harriet Hardiman, who slept in the shop with her 16-year-old son. There was one other room on the ground floor, at the back, which was used by Amelia Richardson to cook her food and hold regular weekly prayer meetings. Richardson and her 14-year-old grandson, Thomas, actually slept in the front room on the second floor, above the shop. She also used a cellar, access to which was through the backyard, from which she ran a packing-case business. Also living on the second floor, at the back, was Mr. Walker, a maker of tennis boots. He shared the room with his retarded adult son, Alfred.

The front room on the third floor was occupied by Mr. Thompson, a carman, his wife, and their adopted daughter. The third-floor back room was home to Mr. and Mrs. Copsey, who made cigars. The house also boasted an attic, at the front of which lived another carman, John Davis, with his wife and three sons. Finally, also in the attic but at the rear of the house lived Sarah Cox, a widow.

At 3:30 A.M. on 8 September, Thompson left the house to go to his work at Goodson’s of Brick Lane. As he left the house he was heard by Amelia Richardson and called out "Good morning" as he passed her room.

Just over an hour later John Richardson, Amelia’s son, who lived at 2 John Street, called in at number 29. John was a porter at Spitalfields Market but also helped his mother in her packing-case business. It was around 4:45 or 4:50 A.M. when he came by, and it was already getting light. John checked the passageway that led from the street to the yard at the back. Occasionally people had been found sleeping rough there, but on this occasion the passageway was clear. While he was at number 29 John noted that one of his boots was hurting him, so he opened the door that led into the backyard, sat on the top step, and used his knife to trim some leather from the offending boot. He then left the house, having been there no more than three minutes or so. The back door closed itself, and John Richardson later swore that he had closed the front door behind him.


In fact, the house had two front doors. The one to the east opened directly into the shop, and the one next to it gave access to a passage some 20 or 25 feet long that led to the rest of the house and the yard. The occupants of the house used the latter door to come and go.

At 5:45 A.M., John Davis rose from his bed and started to get ready for work. By 6 A.M. he was heading downstairs, intending to go out into the yard. As he walked down the passageway he noticed that the front door that led out into Han-bury Street was wide open. There was nothing unusual in this, and John believed that it was just another ordinary work day until he pushed open the door that led into the yard.

Three stone steps led down into the yard, and a small recess lay between them and the fence to the left as one looked down into the yard. There lay the terribly mutilated body of a woman, with her head lying in the recess and pointing toward the house. Davis stepped back, recovered his composure somewhat, and ran out into Hanbury Street. As he stumbled into the street he saw two men: James Green and James Kent. These two worked for Joseph and Thomas Bayley, packing-case makers of 23a Hanbury Street whose business was known simply as Bayley’s, and were waiting outside the workshop. At the same time Henry John Holland, a boxmaker, was walking down Hanbury Street on his way to work. Davis managed to gasp, "Men, come here!"

Kent, Green, and Holland all followed Davis down the passageway of number 29. At the back door they all looked down at the body, but only Holland actually ventured down the three stone steps. He did not touch the body and went back up the steps seconds later. The men went back into Hanbury Street and ran off to find a policeman, except James Kent, who felt in need of a stiff brandy to steady his nerves.

It was by now 6:10 A.M., and Inspector Joseph Chandler was on duty in Commercial Street, close to the corner of Hanbury Street, when he saw several men rushing toward him shouting, "Another woman has been murdered." The inspector immediately rushed to number 29. His narrative speaks for itself: "I at once proceeded to number 29 Hanbury Street and in the back yard found a woman lying on her back, dead, left arm resting on left breast, legs drawn up, abducted, small intestines and flap of the abdomen lying on right side, above right shoulder, attached by a cord with the rest of the intestines inside the body; two flaps of skin from the lower part of the abdomen lying in a large quantity of blood above the left shoulder; throat cut deeply from left and back in a jagged manner right around throat."

Inspector Chandler sent for Dr. George Bagster Phillips and for further assistance from the police station. Dr. Phillips arrived at 6:30 A.M., and his report was even more detailed than the inspector’s:

The back yard in Hanbury Street where Annie Chapman was brutally murdered. Albert Cadoche, who may have heard the murder taking place, lived in the house to the west.

The back yard in Hanbury Street where Annie Chapman was brutally murdered. Albert Cadoche, who may have heard the murder taking place, lived in the house to the west.

I found the body of the deceased lying in the yard on her back, on the left hand of the steps that lead from the passage. The head was about 6 inches in front of the level of the bottom step, and the feet were towards a shed at the end of the yard. The left arm was across the left breast, and the legs were drawn up, the feet resting on the ground and the knees turned outwards. The face was swollen and turned on the right side, and the tongue protruded from the front teeth, but not beyond the lips; it was much swollen. The small intestines, and other portions were lying on the right side of the body on the ground above the right shoulder, but attached.

There was a large quantity of blood, with a part of the stomach above the left shoulder. The body was cold, except that there was a certain remaining heat, under the intestines, in the body. Stiffness of the limbs was not marked, but it was commencing. The throat was severed deeply. I noticed that the incision of the skin was jagged, and reached right around the neck.

Dr. Phillips believed that the woman had been dead for at least two hours, probably longer, thus putting his initial estimate of the time of death at 4:30 A.M.

The body was moved to the White-chapel Mortuary, and Inspector Chandler then made a careful search of the yard. On the back wall of the house, close to where the woman’s head had lain and about 18 inches from the ground, he found six patches of blood varying in size from a pencil point to a sixpenny piece. There were also smears of blood about 14 inches from the ground on the wooden paling that divided number 29 from the house next door.

Close to where the dead woman’s feet had lain was a small piece of coarse muslin, a small tooth-comb (the type of comb worn in the hair), and a pocket comb in a paper case. Near where the woman’s head had been lay a small portion of envelope containing two pills. The back of the envelope bore a seal and the words "Sussex Regiment" embossed in blue, and on the front was the letter "M" and lower still the letters "Sp," possibly the remaining part of a name and address. There was no stamp on the envelope, but it was postmarked, in red, "London, Aug 23, 1888."

One of the most enduring errors concerning the Ripper case has been the description of items found at this particular crime scene. Various writers have invented other articles that they say were found in the yard, having been deliberately placed there by the killer, including coins and brass rings. However, Inspector Chandler’s report was methodical; he was the first officer on the scene and was an experienced officer with 15 years’ background in the police force. His report makes no mention of any other items, and the logical conclusion is that there were no coins, no rings, and in fact no other items than those already listed.

After examining the yard, Inspector Chandler went to the mortuary and wrote down a description of the woman. This description, together with the publicity the case received, led to her rapid identification.

Amelia Palmer, who lived at 30 Dorset Street and had been a close friend of the victim, named the dead woman as Annie Chapman and stated that she had recently been living at Crossingham’s lodging house at 35 Dorset Street. This identification was later confirmed by Timothy Donovan, the deputy at Crossingham’s, who said Annie had lodged there for the past four months.

Annie Chapman was born Eliza Anne Smith in Paddington in 1841, but her parents, George Smith and Ruth Chapman, did not marry until 22 February 1842 at St. James Church, Paddington. Annie married John Chapman, a coachman, on 1 May 1869 at All Saints Church in Knightsbridge, and soon afterward the couple was living at 1 Brook Mews, Bayswater. They later moved to 17 South Bruton Mews, Berkeley Square, and in 1881 moved again to Clewer in Berkshire when John Chapman obtained employment as head coachman for a farm bailiff named Josiah Weeks.

John and Annie Chapman had three children. Emily Ruth was born on 25 June 1870, Annie Georgina on 5 June 1873, and John on 21 November 1880. The last child was unfortunately a cripple, and, even more tragically, Emily died of meningitis on 21 November 1882. Annie was rather too fond of drink, and this unfortunate proclivity led to a break-down of the marriage around 1884. Soon afterward Annie moved to Spital-fields in London.

Annie Chapman lying dead in the mortuary. None of the terrible injuries inflicted upon her body can be seen. Annie was murdered on 8 September 1888, when she was 47 years old. She was ill at the time, and the postmortem showed that she would not have lived many more years even if she had not encountered Jack the Ripper.

Annie Chapman lying dead in the mortuary. None of the terrible injuries inflicted upon her body can be seen. Annie was murdered on 8 September 1888, when she was 47 years old. She was ill at the time, and the postmortem showed that she would not have lived many more years even if she had not encountered Jack the Ripper.

By 1886 Annie was lodging at 30 Dorset Street with a sievemaker, thus earning the local nickname "Annie Sivvy." After the separation, John Chapman allowed his wife an allowance of 10 shillings a week, but this allowance ended when he died on 25 December 1886. Very soon afterward Annie’s relationship with the sievemaker ended, indicating that it had likely been her allowance that had kept them together in the first place.

At 8 A.M. on the morning of Monday, 10 September, Sgt. Thick finally captured John Pizer, alias Leather Apron, as described in the previous entry. Pizer had been staying at 22 Mulberry Street, and when the house was searched, five long-bladed knives were found. These, along with Pizer himself, were taken to Leman Street Police Station.

It was also on 10 September that the inquest on Annie Chapman opened before Coroner Wynne Edwin Baxter in the Alexandra Room of the Working Lad’s Institute in Whitechapel Road.

John Davis spoke of finding the body on the morning of 8 September. The previous evening he had gone to bed at 8 P.M.. His last son had arrived home at 10:45 P.M., and none of the family had gone out again that night. John was awake from 3 A.M. until 5 A.M., when he managed to fall asleep for half an hour, but he heard the clock at Spital-fields Church strike 5:45 A.M. when he and his wife got up. Mrs. Davis made a cup of tea, and after drinking it John went down to the yard just as the church bell was striking the hour. After finding the body and telling his story to the men outside, John ran off to find a policeman and then returned to the house but did not enter it. He confirmed that he had not gone down into the yard at any time and had not touched the body. Finally, he testified that he and his family had lived in the house for only two weeks.

Amelia Palmer, whose name was incorrectly given in some newspaper reports as Farmer, spoke of her identification of the body. Amelia stated that she had seen the victim in Dorset Street on Monday, 3 September, at which time Annie had complained of feeling unwell. She had had a bruise on one temple and had said she had argued with another woman over a man known as Harry the Hawker. Amelia had seen Annie again the following day, this time near Spital-fields Church, and Annie had again said that she felt ill and had added that she was thinking of going to the casual ward to see if the people there could help her. Amelia had kindly given her friend 2 pennies and warned her not to spend the money on drink. The final meeting between the two women was at 5 P.M. on Friday, 7 September, again in Dorset Street, when Annie had said she felt too unwell to do anything but then countered with, "It’s no good my giving way. I must pull myself together and go out and get some money or I shall have no lodgings."

Timothy Donovan, the deputy at Crossingham’s, testified that he had seen Annie in the kitchen at the lodging house on Friday. She was still there at 1:45 A.M. on the 8 September, eating a baked potato, and he asked her for her doss money. She told him she had none but would be back soon. Annie then walked out into the street.

John Evans was the night watchman at Crossingham’s, and he too saw Annie in the kitchen in the early hours of 8 September. She told him she had just had a pint of beer and had been to Vauxhall to see one of her sisters. After speaking to Donovan, Annie left the house, and Evans saw her walk up Little Paternoster Row toward Brushfield Street. After hearing Evans’s evidence, Baxter adjourned the proceedings for two days.

On the following day, 11 September, John Pizer was released from custody because no evidence against him had been found. His viability as a suspect is discussed in the appropriate section of this topic.

Also on 11 September another suspect came to the attention of the police. At 10 P.M. that day, Dr. Cowan of 10 Landseer Road and Dr. Crabb of Holloway Road went to the police to state that Jacob Isenschmid, a butcher who lived at 60 Mitford Road, had left his lodgings on several occasions and might possibly be connected with the crimes. Acting Superintendent McFadden went to the address given and there spoke to George Tyler, the occupier, who confirmed that Isen-schmid’s movements had been erratic and that he had been away from home at the times of the murders.

McFadden then went to see Mrs. Isen-schmid, who said she had not seen her husband for two months but added that he was in the habit of carrying large butcher’s knives with him. Convinced that this man warranted close attention, McFadden ordered Constable Cracknell to keep a watch on Isenschmid’s home.

The inquest reopened on Wednesday, 12 September, and one of the early witnesses was Fountain Smith, a brother of the dead woman. He offered little evidence beyond stating that his sister had been 47 years old and that he had seen her shortly before her death, when he gave her 2 shillings.

James Kent, one of the men who worked for Bayley’s in Hanbury Street, testified that he had left home at 6 A.M. on the day in question, getting to work about 6:10 A.M. His employer’s gate was open, but while he was still waiting outside a man he now knew to be John Davis rushed up and appealed for assistance. Kent described how he and James

Green had then gone to number 29, walked down the passageway, and stood at the top of the steps, from which they could plainly see the body. He said he noticed that the woman had a handkerchief of some kind around her throat and that her hands were bent with the palms upward. The sight distressed him so much that he had to leave the house and take some brandy. Shortly afterward he went to Bayley’s to get a piece of canvas to throw over the body.

James Green said he had gotten to Bayley’s about 5:50 A.M. He added little new testimony, merely confirming much of the evidence given by James Kent.

Amelia Richardson told the court that at around 6 A.M. on 8 September she had heard some commotion and noise in the passage, and her grandson, Thomas Richardson, had gone downstairs to investigate. He returned to say, "Oh, Grandmother, there is a woman murdered." She went down herself and saw the body. At that time there were police and some other men in the passage, which was quite crowded.

Mrs. Richardson said she had retired the previous night at 9:30 P.M. She had been awake for most of the night and was certainly wide awake at 3 A.M. After that she dozed fitfully and heard nothing apart from Mr. Thompson leaving the house about 3:30 A.M. She was sure she would have heard anyone going through the passage, but she hadn’t heard a thing that Saturday.

Harriet Hardiman said she had gone to bed at 10:30 P.M. on 7 September. She woke at 6 A.M. when she heard footsteps in the passage. She too sent her son to investigate, and he came back and told her a woman had been killed in the yard.

John Richardson now gave his testimony and swore he had seen nothing when he trimmed his boot in the yard. It was suggested at the time that the open back door might well have obscured Richardson’s view; Dr. Phillips had estimated the time of death at 4:30 A.M., and if he were correct, then the body must have been lying in the yard when Richardson opened the door. In fact, it is highly unlikely that Annie was dead at this time; it is much more probable that the doctor was wrong. If we accept this scenario, then John Richardson’s testimony narrows the time of death to some time after 4:55 A.M.

John Pizer, the man who had been suspected of the murder, was now called merely to show that he had been home at the time of the murder and had remained there until he was arrested by Sergeant Thick.

The final witness was Henry John Holland, who said that at 6:08 A.M. he was passing down Hanbury Street on his way to his place of work in Chiswell Street. As he passed number 29 an elderly man dashed out and cried, "Come and look in the backyard." Holland went through to the back door, saw the body, and stepped down into the yard to get a clearer look. He then went in search of a policeman and found one on duty in Spitalfields Market. That officer was unable to assist because he was on fixed-point duty and was unable to leave his post. This response so incensed Holland that later that day he made an official complaint at the police station in Commercial Street.

The next day, 13 September, the inquest began its third session, with Inspector Joseph Chandler as the first witness. He put the time he had noticed the men in Hanbury Street at 6:02 A.M. By the time he arrived at number 29 there were several people in the passage but none in the yard. After giving his report of what he had found in the yard, Inspector Chandler said he had sent for the doctor, the ambulance, and further police assistance. When other constables arrived he ordered them to remove all the people from the passageway.

After the body was moved, the inspector searched the yard, and in addition to the items already mentioned, he found a leather apron, which was wet, about two feet away from the water tap. At the time this discovery was believed to be a possible clue, but the apron was soon shown to belong to John Richardson. His mother had confirmed that she had found it in the cellar, rather green and moldy, and had washed it out and left it in the yard to dry.

The final portion of Chandler’s evidence was confirmation that there was no sign of a struggle in the yard and that the back door opened outward, into the yard, on the left-hand side, the same side where the body had lain, so it was possible that John Richardson had missed seeing it when he opened the door.

Sergeant Edward Badham was one of the officers who had been sent to assist Inspector Chandler, but his only real contribution was to convey Annie Chapman’s body to the mortuary on the police ambulance.

The time came for Dr. Phillips to outline the medical evidence. He described the scene upon his arrival and then spoke of his initial examination. There was a bruise on Annie’s right temple, another on her upper eyelid, and two more on the top of her chest, but these appeared to not be fresh. There were more recent marks on Annie’s face and jaw, from which the doctor deduced that the killer had seized her by the chin before her throat was cut. This and the protruding, swollen tongue indicated that Annie had been partially strangled before the wounds were inflicted. There were also the marks of one or more rings on Annie’s ring finger, but an abrasion there suggested that the killer had wrenched these items from her.

The immediate cause of death had been the loss of blood from the throat wounds. The throat had been cut from left to right, and an attempt had been made to cut off Annie’s head. Though the details of the injuries were not revealed in the press, an article in the Lancet of 29 September gave more detail: "The abdomen had been entirely laid open; the intestines, severed from their mesenteric attachments, had been lifted out of the body, and placed by the shoulder of the corpse; whilst from the pelvis the uterus and its appendages, with the upper portion of the vagina and the posterior two-thirds of the bladder had been entirely removed." The article went on to say that "the incisions were cleanly cut, avoiding the rectum, and dividing the vagina low enough to avoid injury to the cervix uteri."

Other parts of Dr. Phillips’s testimony are controversial. He deduced that the killer was a medical expert or at least one who "had such knowledge of anatomical or pathological examinations as to be enabled to secure the pelvic organs with one sweep of a knife." However, as will become plain when future crimes are described, the killer need not have had any such anatomical knowledge. Though the concept was not clear at the time that the crimes were committed, with hindsight it seems that the Ripper was a trophy collector, and it is likely that all he sought was some organ from his victim. (This subject is discussed at length in the "Descriptions" section of this topic.)

After brief testimony from Mary Elizabeth Simonds, a nurse at the Whitechapel Infirmary, to the effect that she and another woman named Frances Wright had undressed and washed the body at the mortuary, the inquest was adjourned again until 19 September.

On 13 September the suspect Jacob Isenschmid was picked up and taken to Holloway Police Station. From there he was taken to the Infirmary at Fairfield Road Asylum, Bow, where he was certified as a dangerous lunatic.

The police were also following up the possible lead of the envelope found close to Annie’s body. The crest was traced to the 1st Battalion of the Sussex Regiment at Farnborough, and this identification was confirmed by Captain Young of that regiment. He told the police that the men used this stationery to write letters home and that the envelopes could be purchased in the canteen. However, no men could be found who had written to an address in Spitalfields, and none of the men’s handwriting matched the writing on the front of the envelope. The trail was confused even further when it was discovered that the stationery could also be bought over the counter in the Lynchford Road Post Office.

On 14 September Ted Stanley, who was also known as "the Pensioner," called at the Commercial Street Police Station. He had been mentioned at the inquest as a close friend of the dead woman, but up to this point the police had been unable to trace him. Stanley gave a satisfactory account of his movements and said he had last seen Annie on the corner of Brushfield Street on 2 September, at which time she was wearing two rings on one of her fingers.

On the same day yet another suspect, Edward McKenna, was arrested. He had been seen at Heath Street carrying a knife and was taken to the police station in Commercial Street. However, he was able to prove that he was at a lodging house in Brick Lane at the time Annie had likely met her death.

One final event also took place on 14 September: Annie Chapman was laid to rest in the Manor Park Cemetery. The ceremony was deliberately kept quiet, and only members of her family attended.

The "clue" of the torn envelope was laid to rest on 15 September, when William Stevens, a painter who lodged at Crossingham’s and had known Annie, said that on Friday, 7 September, she came into the house and told him she had been to the hospital. She had with her a bottle of medicine, a bottle of lotion, and a box containing two pills. As she was showing him the box, it fell to pieces in Annie’s hands, and she took the pills out, picked up a piece of envelope from the floor, and wrapped the pills in it.

On 19 September the inquest opened again. Details had already been given in press reports of an argument Annie was supposed to have had in Crossingham’s lodging house some time before her death. Eliza Cooper, who had lodged at that same address for the past five months, said she had argued with Annie on the Tuesday (4 September) before the latter met her death. According to Eliza, the contretemps was about a piece of soap, but matters cooled down and they all went for a drink at the Britannia public house on the corner of Commercial and Dorset Streets. Here the argument flared up again, and Annie lashed out and slapped Eliza’s face. Eliza retaliated by striking Annie in the left eye and on the chest.

Dr. Phillips was recalled to discuss the various bruises on Annie’s body in light of Eliza Cooper’s testimony. He confirmed that he had seen the old bruises but stated that there were scratches of recent origin about 2 inches below the lobe of one ear. He stated again his belief that Annie had been seized by the throat and that her killer seemed to display anatomical knowledge.

Two valuable witnesses appeared at the hearing on 19 September. The first was Elizabeth Darrell, sometimes referred to as Elizabeth Long. She lived at 32 Church Street, but on the morning of 8 September, at 5:30 A.M., she was walking down Hanbury Street on the same side as number 29, on her way to Spital-fields Market. Close to the shutters of that house she saw a man and a woman talking. The man had his back toward Brick Lane, and the woman faced Mrs. Darrell. Mrs. Darrell had seen the dead woman since and was sure that the woman she had seen was the same person. As she passed, Mrs. Darrell heard the man say, "Will you?" and the woman reply, "Yes." Though she never saw the man’s face, Mrs. Darrell was able to give a partial description. He was dark, wore a brown deerstalker hat, and looked to be over 40. He had a shabby-genteel appearance, was a little taller than Annie, and appeared to be a foreigner. Since Annie Chapman had been five feet tall, this would put her companion at about 5 feet 2 inches.

The other valuable witness was Albert Cadoche (whose name sometimes appears as Cadosch), who lived next door to the murder scene at 27 Hanbury Street. On the morning that Annie’s body was discovered, Albert rose at 5:15 A.M. and soon afterward went out into the yard. As he returned to his house he heard a voice say the one word "No." Three or four minutes later Albert was again in his yard and heard a sound as if something was falling against the fence, but he did not attempt to look over to next door to see what was going on. He heard no further noises and soon afterward left his house to go to work. He passed Spitalfields Church about 5:32 A.M.

Taken together and allowing for slight errors in the times given, if these two witnesses were telling the truth, and there is no reason to doubt them, then this information really pins down the time of the attack upon Annie to around 5:30 A.M. This time frame would indicate that the man seen outside number 29 by Mrs. Darrell was almost certainly the killer.

There was one further adjournment, to 26 September, on which date the coroner summed up the evidence before the jury returned the usual verdict. By now, the press was linking together four murders: those of Emma Smith, Martha Tabram, Mary Ann Nichols, and now Annie Chapman.

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