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  #1  
Old 10-24-2008, 11:56 PM
Chris Chris is offline
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Default Police treatment of eyewitness descriptions

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on why the police treated the eyewitness descriptions from the night of the "double event" as they did. It all seems very puzzling.

Schwartz

Swanson in his report dated 19 October gives the description of the man seen by Israel Schwartz:
age about 30 ht. 5ft. 5in. comp. fair hair dark, small brown moustache, full face, broad shouldered, dress, dark jacket & trousers black cap with peak, had nothing in his hands
and adds:
The description of the man seen by the P.C. was circulated amongst Police by wire, & by authority of Commissioner it was also given to the press. On the evening of the 30th the man Schwartz gave the description of the man he had seen ten minutes later than the P.C. and it was circulated by wire.
[Ultimate JTR Source Book, p. 137]

That suggests that Schwartz's description was initially circulated only within the police force, and not communicated to the press, and certainly P.C. Smith's description appeared frequently in the press reports of the next few days. Curiously, though, the Echo of 1 October gives a description almost identical to the one attributed to Schwartz in Swanson's report - with the addition of "stout build" - though without indicating the source, or even which of the two murders it related to.

Both the Echo and the Star of that date have a separate report (later repeated by other papers), apparently of the incident witnessed by Schwartz, in which the perpetrator is described only as "aged between 35 and 40 years of age, and of fair complexion". And of course the same issue of the Star has a report of its own interview with Schwartz, in which the attacker is described as "about 30 years of age, rather stoutly built, and wearing a brown moustache. He was dressed respectably in dark clothes and felt hat". Beyond that nothing more about Schwartz's story seems to have been reported in the press, as far as I've seen, and of course he did not appear as a witness at the inquest (1-3, 5, 23 October), though writing in early November Robert Anderson evidently thought he had done.

Lawende

We know that the police made contact with Joseph Lawende on 30 September or 1 October, as a result of a house-to-house enquiry conducted by Edward Collard. On the 2 October a version of his description appeared in the Times, as that of a man seen "in a court in Duke-street, leading to Mitre-square" with the murdered woman. But, as in Schwartz's case, this description doesn't appear to be repeated by the press until Lawende gave his evidence at the inquest on 11 October - and at the inquest his evidence was interrupted by the City Solicitor, attending on behalf of the police, who said he had a "special reason" why the description should not be given.

The descriptions given by Schwartz and Lawende were finally published in the Police Gazette on 19 October, prefaced by a statement that sketches published by the Daily Telegraph [on 6 October, selected by Matthew Packer] had not been authorised by the police.

Curiously, more than three weeks later (on 12 November) the Daily Telegraph reported that a correspondent had forwarded a police notice giving the descriptions as printed in the Police Gazette together with the same introductory statement. Apparently the Telegraph was unaware that they had already been published, because it comments:
These authentic descriptions, we have reason to know, have been secretly circulated by the authorities of Scotland-yard since Oct. 26, but the complete details have never been made public. This reticence is one of the mysteries of police administration, and it is difficult to find an explanation to account for the fact that this important information has been "confidentially communicated" to police-officers throughout the kingdom, but has been withheld from the people who have had the best opportunities of seeing and of, therefore, recognising the assassin. The point which the police appear to have been at most pains to suppress is the significant one that the unknown murderer has the "appearance of a sailor."
The final comment is interesting, as "appearance of a sailor" and the description of the jacket are the only material details omitted from the 2 October report in the Times.

Essentially, the Telegraph seems to be correct, in that - while P.C. Smith's description was given to the press and widely reported - those of Schwartz and Lawende were apparently not released to the press until nearly three weeks after the murders, though each of them appeared in an isolated report.

Can anyone explain what could have been the police thinking behind this?
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  #2  
Old 10-25-2008, 01:44 AM
perrymason
 
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Hi Chris,

I dont have an answer, but Ive always wondered why Lawende at least was paraded out as a "key" witness, ..even though they supressed his story, people knew that someone had seen something of investigatorial value regarding the murder of Kate Eddowes. Is Schwartz's statement any less valuable to the investigation of Liz Stride?

If anything, Schwartz offers us a more viable suspect...he is seen actually accosting the victim supposedly 15 minutes before she is "effectively" dead, at or near the crime scene. Ive heard that Lawende was put up somewhere at the police's expense, and that he may have been given some money to live on while they were working with him during the Inquest....Ive heard nothing like that about Schwartz.

One wonders how much of that story was actually believed...or as Gavin Bromley suggests in his dissertation on Mrs Luers Lodger here which I just read.....great piece......maybe his role in the Double Event wasnt simply a "witness".

Best regards Chris.
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  #3  
Old 10-25-2008, 02:58 AM
Wickerman Wickerman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris View Post
Essentially, the Telegraph seems to be correct, in that - while P.C. Smith's description was given to the press and widely reported - those of Schwartz and Lawende were apparently not released to the press until nearly three weeks after the murders, though each of them appeared in an isolated report.

Can anyone explain what could have been the police thinking behind this?
On the face of it we might jump to the conclusion that the description by the P.C. was taken as trustworthy, and released among a select few without reservation.

Perhaps the information given by Schwartz needed substantiating.
It is strange that no-one else in Berner St. appears to have seen anything that supports Schwartz's claims. The street wasn't exactly deserted.
The statement was taken through an interpreter so perhaps the police had some concerns that needed clearing up.

Lawende's statement was better from a timing point of view, within 9 minutes of the discovery of the body.
Perhaps that was held back because the police were aggresively following the 'sailor' lead? They might not have wanted to alert the subject to the possibility they were finally, "on the right track"?
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:13 AM
Simon Wood Simon Wood is offline
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Hi All,

Chris's question is difficult to answer, but the cops were certainly doing one thing at a public level and something completely different within ranks.

Wrap your mind around this—

PC Smith's description was published. Schwarz's description was also published, but the following day got heaped with doubt. PC Smith gave evidence at Stride's inquest. Schwarz did not appear at the inquest.

But in his 19th October report Swanson preferred Schwartz's description to PC Smith's.

Regards,

Simon
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:30 AM
perrymason
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wood View Post
Hi All,

Chris's question is difficult to answer, but the cops were certainly doing one thing at a public level and something completely different within ranks.

Wrap your mind around this—

PC Smith's description was published. Schwarz's description was also published, but the following day got heaped with doubt. PC Smith gave evidence at Stride's inquest. Schwarz did not appear at the inquest.

But in his 19th October report Swanson preferred Schwartz's description to PC Smith's.

Regards,

Simon
Hi Simon,

Is it your contention there that Schwartz's account was purposefully played down, perhaps for reasons of the ongoing investigation or maybe perceived problems with the overall story? The date you mentioned of the report was just after the "vigilence" was suspended on Batty St., maybe tied in with that? Or the Jewish Tailors helper dropping off shirts to be laundered...or one in the same?

Cheers Simon.
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  #6  
Old 10-25-2008, 03:39 AM
Simon Wood Simon Wood is offline
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Hi Michael,

The Star version [which made the most sense] got played down while Abbo's original Schwarz story helped prop up Swanson's case for a double-event.

I'm with Chris. God knows how their minds worked.

Regards,

Simon
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  #7  
Old 10-25-2008, 03:54 AM
Roy Corduroy Roy Corduroy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Wood View Post
Schwarz did not appear at the inquest.
Because of Lipski.

Roy
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Old 10-25-2008, 03:58 AM
Simon Wood Simon Wood is offline
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Hi Roy,

How so?

Regards,

Simon
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Old 10-25-2008, 05:06 AM
Roy Corduroy Roy Corduroy is offline
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Because Lipski was an incendiary expression, Jew vs Gentile, and the police did not want it uttered at inquest.

Seen in a larger context, note certain actions police took that fall:

* Police moved in to stop a riot against the Jews.
* Police advised Jews to move along at the crime scenes lest they become targets of abuse.
* The grafitto, which contained the word Juewes was erased.
* The Batty St Lodger story was kept low key by police, and maybe, as SPE has suggested, a cover story based on Gray's Inn Road was issued. Because Batty St conjures up Lipski.
*And Schwartz, whose story included the cry of Lipski, was not called to inquest.

All these things demonstrate, on the part of the police, a pattern of acting to quelch the anti-semitic undertone of this crime spree turned media circus. As best they could. And they were perfectly right in doing so. Indeed, the Chief Rabbi, in a letter to Warren, thanked him for it.

Hope this explains my opinion more fully, Simon,

Roy

PS, this doesn't begin to address all that Chris raised, only one thing.
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Old 10-25-2008, 04:16 PM
DVV DVV is offline
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The way the police treated the witnesses is a very crucial one, and not only for the double-event.
There is also the problem of Cox' suspect vs Hutch's, and after Chapman's murder, the police didn't pay much attention to Mrs Long's testimony, choosing to believe Phillips' conclusions about the time of death, though he himself had admitted that he could have been mistaken by the cold and the loss of blood.

Amitiés,
David
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