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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Victims > Non-Canonical Victims > Torso Killings

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Old 06-12-2016, 06:40 AM
Elamarna Elamarna is offline
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Default Whitehall Inquest Testimony

On another thread, the issue of the testimony in the Whitehall case was raised, now my knowledge of this was limited to a little reading and the old pod cast on the torso murders.
Therefore I went and looked at the inquest, initially just to reply to the original thread.

However on reading the “Telegraph” content on this site, it seemed that with regards to the finding of the Torso, there were in my view serious issues with the testimony of the worker witnesses in particular from the site.

I decided the best course of action was to post what I saw has a new thread, and see if others see the same possible issues.


So lets start with the testimony of:

Frederick Wildborn:

“At six o’clock on the morning of the previous day I had occasion to go to the vaults to find my tools, my labourer having taken them there on the Saturday. I then noticed what I took to be an old coat thrown on one side. It was lying in the corner of a recess. It was very dark there, even in the middle of the day. I could not find my tools - my labourer having, in fact, already removed them. In the evening at 5.30 I went once more to the vaults, and I then noticed the parcel again. There was no smell, not in the least. I drew my mate’s attention to the parcel, and struck a wax vesta to look at it. “


“[Coroner] Did you report the circumstance? - Not then. I saw the parcel again the next morning. About one o’clock Mr. Brown, the assistant foreman, came down to where I was at work, and I then informed him of what I had seen. We both went and looked at the parcel, and we thought it seemed curious.
[Coroner] Was it opened in your presence? - No. “

“[Coroner]Were you in the vault on the Saturday? - I was not there for a week before. “

“[Coroner] Has this vault been used for putting your tools in for any length of time? - For some weeks until the last three weeks. I always placed my tools there from Saturday to Monday, because I considered them safer there than in the locker. I have not noticed any similar parcel”


We can see from this testimony:

The parcel was there at six am Monday, but not reported.
That it was dark in the vault, they need to light a wax vesta.
However despite looking at the parcel several times and taking Brown to it, he gives the impression he had no idea what the parcel was.
That the parcel was in the corner of a recess so not in the open and apparently did not smell,

Mr Wildborn appears to contradict himself. In that he says his tools were stored in the vault, but he also says this had stopped 3 weeks before.



George Budgen

“[Coroner]Had you ever seen the parcel before? - No. I took a lamp down; without it I should not have been able to see anything. It was as dark as the darkest night.!”


So it was very dark, to search he needed a lamp not a match.


"...Mr. Cheney, told me there was a parcel there, and I was to examine it. I looked at it, and found that the top was bare, and the rest wrapped in some old cloth, but could make nothing of it. I thought it was some old bacon at first. I took hold of the strings around it, and dragged it into the light and cut the strings, three or four in number. On opening the old wrappers I saw that the parcel contained part of a human body."


Budgen claims he was told to check the parcel, that he moved it into the light.
Even with the lamp it was not clear in its original position.



Thomas Hawkins, detective

“[Coroner]What did you notice about the vaults? - They were very dark, so dark that it was impossible for a stranger to reach them without artificial light. The body was lying across a trench. “

Once again someone saying how dark it was.
Confirming the body had been moved.
The impression is given that the body is still in the vault, in the dark.


Charles William Brown:

“[Coroner]Do you think previous knowledge was required to get to the vaults? - Yes, I do. I first saw the parcel about half-past two o’clock on Tuesday afternoon. I had been in the vaults on the Monday, but had not noticed any smell. I was there in the dark. On Tuesday the first witness called my attention to the parcel. He struck a light, and I saw in the corner what looked like an old coat with a piece of ham inside. I procured a lamp, and the parcel was afterwards got out and opened. “


This very interesting, firstly he suggests the perpetrator was not a stranger to the site.
He then says there was no smell (second person).
He also says he was in the vault on Monday but noticed nothing because it was dark!
He claims Wildborn lit the match to show him the parcel, and he noticed the parcel looked like a coat with ham in it.
However he needed a lamp to see it properly.



Mr. George Cheney: “I live at 23, Berwick-street, Wandsworth Bridge, and am a foreman of bricklayers at the new police buildings. On Tuesday afternoon last Mr. Brown led me to this parcel, and on our striking a light we examined it, but could not make out what it was. We obtained a lamp, and removed the parcel to daylight, when we saw the remains of a woman.


Again it is clear it is very dark.
However there is no mention of getting Budgen to check it, he and Brown did. And they moved it.



Earnest Edge

In his first piece of testimony

“I struck a match, but nothing was in the vault then. I went across the trench, where we were measuring on the Friday. On the Saturday I was in the very corner where the parcel was discovered on the Tuesday. “

Firstly he is saying he used only a match to see his way around

In his recall testimony he is sure it was not there:

“The Coroner: Do you think it possible that the parcel was there without your seeing it? - I am sure it was not there."


However in his first testimony he gives a very strange answer:

[Coroner]There was no parcel there on the Saturday? - No. I might have been near the vault on the Monday; I certainly was on the Tuesday.


He seems to be distancing himself from the discovery.



Now we reach the medical evidence


Mr. Thomas Bond:
“I was called to the new police buildings, where I was shown the decomposed trunk of a body. It was then lying in the basement partially unwrapped. I visited the place where it had been discovered, and found that the wall against which it had lain was stained black. The parcel seemed to have been there for several days,”


He says it was decomposed, not decomposing or partially decomposed, the wall was stained, this is important.
Several days can mean anything and is not helpfully

“The date of death would have been from six weeks to two months, and the decomposition occurred in the air, not the water.”


This is again important.


Mr. Charles Alfred Hibbert

A piece of paper was shown to me as having been picked up near the remains, and it was stained with the blood of an animal


Could be important.


Inspector Marshall

The corner from which it had been taken was pointed out to me, and I saw that the wall was a great deal stained. Examining the ground I found the piece of paper alluded to by the last witness, as well as a piece of string, apparently sash-cord. Dr. Hibbert handed me two pieces of material which had come from the remains. I at once made a thorough search of the vaults, but nothing more was discovered. On the following morning, with other officers, I made a further search of all the vaults, but nothing more was found nor anything suspicious observed. The piece of paper spoken to forms part of an Echo of Aug. 24.


The wall was a great deal stained.
The blood marked paper was 24th Augusts, if the blood was related to the murder it may give a hint as to the earliest deposition date.

However, there was no testing available to tell if the blood was human or animal, so this must be disregarded.


"From the stain on the wall I certainly thought several days, but the witness Edge told me he was sure it was not there on the previous Saturday."



There is the suggestion in this statement that he initially believes the body had been there longer than since Saturday, but his view is coloured by the statement of Edge.



So having now looked in depth at the report, and baring in mind that of course we are using newspaper reports and not the original we can make a few observations:

1. It was dark:
So dark in fact that an artificial light source was needed.
George Budgen, Charles Brown and George Cheney, all say a lamp was required.

Detective Hawkins says artificial light would be need to find ones way to the area if one were a stranger.

Charles Brown also says he was there on Monday, but noticed nothing, no smell, it was dark.

However Wildborn says he first saw the parcel on Monday morning, while searching for his tools, but did not think it important, thinking it was old clothes. He does not say what light source he used.

It was so dark, that even with a lamp, the discoverers had to move the body from the recess it was in to see what it was.

Edge says he went to get a hammer, it seems he knew where this was, has he only struck a match and did not need to search for it. It is entirely possible he did not see the parcel, or if he did only peripherally , not noticing it as he was not interested in it.


2. We seem to have a discrepancy with the testimony of Wildborn, he tells the coroner he went to look for his tools, however in the same testimony he says

"For some weeks until the last three weeks."

He also is at pains to distance himself from the cellar area

" I was not there for a week before."

He also says he finally told his foreman about the parcel on Tuesday at 1pm, having seen it 3 times previous to this, once with a friend lighting a match to look at it. (The friend is not named)

However according to Brown, when he was taken to see it, it looked like a coat with ham inside, he claims Wildborn lit a match and they looked at it. Did they not discus what they saw?
Did Wildborn not see what Brown saw?

Wildborn says they go to look at it after he tells Brown about it at 1pm. However the parcel is apparently not looked at properly until some 2 hours later, and Wildborn is not present.

Something here is wrong, it does not fit.



2a. Something is wrong with much testimony on the issue of the discovery.

Wildborn says he told Brown at 1pm and they went to look.

But says he was not present when opened.

Brown says Wildborn lit match and they looked at it.
Brown then got a lamp and the parcel was moved and opened

Cheney says Brown came to see him, they got lamp, but could not tell what the parcel was, so moved it into daylight.


However we are told it was dark even in the middle of the day, so how was daylight available?.


Budgen says he was told to examine it, at about 3pm, which he did, but needed to drag it into the light.

However Cheney and Brown suggest they moved and examined the parcel, so who did?


Why did it take 2 hours from Brown first being told of the parcel and going to look and it finally being check .


Budgen, and Cheney both say they move the parcel into daylight, Brown says “it was got out”

But the Police and Bond imply the body was still in the vault basement, which was dark.

Something here is wrong!



3. Several witness report no smell, this is very odd.
Even if freshly dumped there would be some smell, however both Bond and Marshall make it clear that the wall was badly stained, not just marked but stained.
I would argue that such would not happen in only one or two days, and for the wall to be stain, decomposition is taking place onsite.
There must be the smell of decomposition present.

Interestingly this lack of smell is only mentioned by those working on the site, not the Police or Medical witnesses.



4. Related to point 3 Bond says the body was decomposed, not decomposing.

He further gives his opinion that the body is up to two month dead.

It had not been treated, there are no deep freezer facilities. The body would smell in that case.

Are we to presume it has been kept somewhere else and then moved in the last few days?



5. Of the workers Wildborn and Brown say it would have to be someone who knew the site, that the body could not be planted by a stranger, Detective Hawkins agrees



6. All except Edge go to some length to say they have not been there in over a week until the discovery.


To sum up

The cellar area was dark, it was easy not to see things unless you were looking for them (Wildborn and Brown) the body could have been missed.

The body was according to Bond decomposed, and had been there long enough to stain the wall.
The comment about no smell is just not medically possible, so why say that?

The work force were suggesting it was dumped by a non stranger- one of them.

Edge gives some very strange testimony when he is first called.

Wildborn gives conflicting testimony on the storage of his tools.

Everyone else goes to lengths to say they had not been there often over the previous weeks, only Edge saying it was visited daily.

There is a tendency to evade, to distance themselves from the vault before Monday. Apart from Edge who locked up on Saturday.

There is a further tendency to obscure the actual finding of the torso.
The evidence given about moving and opening of the parcel, Seems confused at best, and possible intentionally misleading.


So I wonder, surely this has been seen before? What are others views?




Regards

Steve
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:06 AM
jerryd jerryd is offline
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Hi Steve,

Thanks for starting this thread. There is a lot of ground to cover, but let me start by posting another inquest report of the testimony. We had a discussion on the other forum about this very topic and it was quite interesting.

Morning Advertiser, 23 October 1888

William Brown was the first witness called. He stated, in reply to questions from the coroner, that on the 22nd ult., when engaged with two others in making out the quantities of completed work, he visited the vault where the remains were found subsequently, and in the particular corner, though he made measurements, he did not notice anything particular or observe that the earth had been disturbed. If there had been a parcel there at the time he must have trod upon it. Light was afforded by a paraffin lamp, and the trench in the vault to which frequent reference had been made was dry so far back as the middle of June. He had made a ground plan of the several vaults and of the road leading to them. He saw, on Tuesday, the vault after the discovery of the remains, when the earth was lower in the corner than in the other parts.

Mr. Robert Erant, clerk of the works, said that on the Saturday previous to the finding of the trunk of the body he was on the premises up to three o'clock, but did not go into the vault that day. He had done so, however, the previous day, and did not then notice any parcel there. There were about the place a few rags which the workmen used for rubbing brickwork with when it was pointed.

Richard Lawrence, labourer, 40, Sterndale-road, Battersea, stated that on the Saturday he placed for safety, at the end of the vault, on a mortar board, until the following Monday morning, a basket of workmen's tools, and on the latter day, at ten minutes past six o'clock in the morning, he fetched them out. On neither occasion did he notice anything extraordinary. The tools had not been disturbed in the meantime. A fellow workman (Young) had asked him to take the tools there. About half-past three o'clock that afternoon he saw, for the first and the last time, the parcel of remains as it was brought out into the light. The body might have been there at the time he groped in the dark into the vault, but he was strongly impressed with the idea that it was not.

Alfred Young, carpenters' labourer, stated that on the Saturday, about twelve o'clock, before the finding of the parcel of remains, he went to the vault, taking with him a basket of workmen's tools, and placed it on the mortar board to which the last witness had referred, but he noticed nothing particular in this place. There was no light or lamp.

Mr. A. Franklin, surveyor, stated that on the Friday he had been to the vault measuring work. He did not actually go into the corner where the remains were found, and he noticed nothing in that direction beyond rubbish and some old bricks and stones. If there were a parcel there he certainly thought he should have noticed it, especially if any smell pervaded the place. But he found no offensive smell. Still it was just possible that a parcel which did not give out an offensive odour might have escaped his observation.

Henry Edge, labourer, said he was the last person in the vault on the Saturday before the discovery of the body, and did not see any parcel, though he happened to look specially into the corner, believing that the tools he went to fetch were there; but when he struck a match light he discovered his mistake, and found them on a mortar-board at the corner of the vault, to the left of the trench as one entered.

I particularly like William Brown's testimony. He was in that corner making measurements AND had a lamp and saw nothing about a week before the torso was discovered. He even noted the ground condition before and after the discovery. Work had halted on the vault for a time before the discovery also, which I think is important to take into consideration.


I'll try to tackle more of your post later. Thanks again, Steve
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:28 AM
Elamarna Elamarna is offline
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yes jerry, it is interesting, what month does Browns 22nd allude to, August or September?

steve



Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryd View Post
Hi Steve,

Thanks for starting this thread. There is a lot of ground to cover, but let me start by posting another inquest report of the testimony. We had a discussion on the other forum about this very topic and it was quite interesting.

Morning Advertiser, 23 October 1888

William Brown was the first witness called. He stated, in reply to questions from the coroner, that on the 22nd ult., when engaged with two others in making out the quantities of completed work, he visited the vault where the remains were found subsequently, and in the particular corner, though he made measurements, he did not notice anything particular or observe that the earth had been disturbed. If there had been a parcel there at the time he must have trod upon it. Light was afforded by a paraffin lamp, and the trench in the vault to which frequent reference had been made was dry so far back as the middle of June. He had made a ground plan of the several vaults and of the road leading to them. He saw, on Tuesday, the vault after the discovery of the remains, when the earth was lower in the corner than in the other parts.

Mr. Robert Erant, clerk of the works, said that on the Saturday previous to the finding of the trunk of the body he was on the premises up to three o'clock, but did not go into the vault that day. He had done so, however, the previous day, and did not then notice any parcel there. There were about the place a few rags which the workmen used for rubbing brickwork with when it was pointed.

Richard Lawrence, labourer, 40, Sterndale-road, Battersea, stated that on the Saturday he placed for safety, at the end of the vault, on a mortar board, until the following Monday morning, a basket of workmen's tools, and on the latter day, at ten minutes past six o'clock in the morning, he fetched them out. On neither occasion did he notice anything extraordinary. The tools had not been disturbed in the meantime. A fellow workman (Young) had asked him to take the tools there. About half-past three o'clock that afternoon he saw, for the first and the last time, the parcel of remains as it was brought out into the light. The body might have been there at the time he groped in the dark into the vault, but he was strongly impressed with the idea that it was not.

Alfred Young, carpenters' labourer, stated that on the Saturday, about twelve o'clock, before the finding of the parcel of remains, he went to the vault, taking with him a basket of workmen's tools, and placed it on the mortar board to which the last witness had referred, but he noticed nothing particular in this place. There was no light or lamp.

Mr. A. Franklin, surveyor, stated that on the Friday he had been to the vault measuring work. He did not actually go into the corner where the remains were found, and he noticed nothing in that direction beyond rubbish and some old bricks and stones. If there were a parcel there he certainly thought he should have noticed it, especially if any smell pervaded the place. But he found no offensive smell. Still it was just possible that a parcel which did not give out an offensive odour might have escaped his observation.

Henry Edge, labourer, said he was the last person in the vault on the Saturday before the discovery of the body, and did not see any parcel, though he happened to look specially into the corner, believing that the tools he went to fetch were there; but when he struck a match light he discovered his mistake, and found them on a mortar-board at the corner of the vault, to the left of the trench as one entered.

I particularly like William Brown's testimony. He was in that corner making measurements AND had a lamp and saw nothing about a week before the torso was discovered. He even noted the ground condition before and after the discovery. Work had halted on the vault for a time before the discovery also, which I think is important to take into consideration.


I'll try to tackle more of your post later. Thanks again, Steve
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:31 AM
jerryd jerryd is offline
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Steve,

Ult means the month preceeding, as I'm sure you know. His testimony was given in October so that would mean September.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:36 AM
Elamarna Elamarna is offline
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Jerry

it is obvious there are discrepancies between the reports, some may be minor such as Edges first name, and this ones gives more apparent details than the Telegraph version.
I would prefer 2 sources saying much the same.

Do you know which source that is by any chance?

I assume we do not have the official report, yet again?

Steve
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:38 AM
jerryd jerryd is offline
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I posted it in my first post. Morning Advertiser, 23 October 1888

Unless I'm not sure what you're asking?
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:40 AM
Elamarna Elamarna is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryd View Post
Steve,

Ult means the month preceeding, as I'm sure you know. His testimony was given in October so that would mean September.

Jerry,

sorry I missed it. just read 22nd.

If he is correct, we have a possible gap of 10 days, that would allow for the staining.

steve
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:43 AM
jerryd jerryd is offline
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Steve,

In that stage of decay the torso was sticky and the skin "melting" for lack of a better word. I personally think that once the torso touched a surface like the wall, it would have transferred an immediate stain. Then as you say, give it 10 more days and I would think a definite stain would be apparent.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:55 AM
Elamarna Elamarna is offline
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Jerry

sorry

I am obviously having one of those non reading afternoons, it put it down to having spent 5 hours working on the thread, but more to the fact i am watching the England v Sri Lanka test on tv

Steve
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:03 AM
jerryd jerryd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elamarna View Post
Jerry

sorry

I am obviously having one of those non reading afternoons, it put it down to having spent 5 hours working on the thread, but more to the fact i am watching the England v Sri Lanka test on tv

Steve
No problem Steve,

Another thing to take note is the body was thought to be covered in Condy's fluid, which would help mask some of the smell. But only for a period of time, unless it was applied more than once.
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