Description of a Man "Wanted."
The series of murders which now even the police believe to be the work of one man, is engaging the attention of a large force of plain clothes detectives. At eight o'clock last night the Scotland-yard authorities circulated a description of a man who, they say, "entered the passage of the house, 29, Hanbury-street, at which the murder was committed with a prostitute, at two a.m., the 8th." They give his age as 37, height 5ft. 7in., and add that he is rather dark, had a beard and moustache; was dressed in a short dark jacket, dark vest and trousers, black scarf and black felt hat; and spoke with a foreign accent.
Anyone know where this comes from? It sounds a lot like it's Elizabeth Long's description, but with Dr Phillips' ToD estimate. Which doesn't make a lot of sense.
This one`s complicated !!
Do you have Philip Sugden`s book ? He covers this comprehensively.
If I remember correctly, this is a bit of a mix up and is a description of the man Mrs Richardson saw sleeping on her stairs a month or so before Chapman. I may be wrong, but check it out in Sugden.
You're spot on, Jon G, many thanks! Pages 113-117 in my edition, if anyone wants to read it themselves. Essentially he suggests the police telegram was poorly phrased (or poorly reported by the press) and should have read something like "man who entered the passage of a house, 29 Hanbury Street (at which the murder of a prostitute occurred after* 2am on 8th)"
*2am being the last time Chapman was seen alive
I'm not totally convinced, but can't think of a better explanation. On reflection, it isn't actually as close to Mrs Long's description as I thought, and as Sugden's points out she didn't give her account until after this was circulated.
Jon S, I also got confused about Dr Phillips; I thought he'd given 2am as the time of death, when in fact he said she had died (at least) 2 hours before he examined her.
You may well be right there! Although Sugden seems to dismiss this possibility, the Echo 11th Sept has the following;
"Another man on whom a good deal of interested centered was arrested at Gravesend. Piggott, the man in question, was said to be covered with blood ; he admitted having been in Brick-lane, where he had a struggle with a woman, who bit his hand ; and the police thought it well to detain him. He, however, in no way answered the description of the man wanted, as published by the police. That description applies, as well as can be gathered, to the man who gave the woman Emily Walton two brass medals, or bright farthings, as half-sovereigns in a yard of one of the houses in Hanbury-street at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and who then began to ill-use the woman. The police attach importance to finding the man, but is not true that two farthings were found in the dress pocket of the murdered woman, which would haven an important corroboration of Walton's story."
And the Evening Standard 10th Sept carries a subtly different wording of the telegram, with a curious addition;
"At eight o'clock last night the Scotland yard authorities had come to a definite conclusion as to the description of the murderer of two of the women found dead at the East end, and the following is the official intimation sent to every Station throughout the Metropolis and suburbs:- "Commercial street, 8.20 p.m. - Description of a man wanted, who entered a passage of the house at which the murder was committed, with a prostitute, at 2.0 a.m., on the 8th. Age 37, height 5ft 7in, rather dark beard and moustache. Dress - Short, dark jacket, dark vest and trousers, black scarf, and black felt hat. Spoke with a foreign accent." This description has been arrived at after mature consideration on the part of the most experienced members of the detective police force."
Of course, the source of this description is a bit of mystery.
Via Mrs. Amelia Richardson (Mrs. Emilia Richardson, Evening News 8 September 1888), Evening Standard, 10 September 1888:
"The only possible clue that I can think of is that Mr. Thompson's wife met a man about a month ago lying on the stairs. This was about four o'clock in the morning. He looked like a Jew; and spoke with a foreign accent. When asked what he was doing there, he replied that he was waiting to do a 'doss' before the market opened. He slept on the stairs that night, and I believe he has slept on the stairs on other nights. Mrs. Thompson is certain she could recognise the man again, both by his personal appearance and his peculiar voice. The police have taken a full and careful description of this man."
It seems that the police had a conversation with Mrs. Thompson. It would theoretically be possible that Emily Walton met this man who looked lika a Jew. Maybe, the description she gave was not clear enough but it could have been the man who was seen by Mrs. Thompson - " This description has been arrived at after mature consideration on the part of the most experienced members of the detective police force."???-