1am, September 30, 1888: Another murdered woman found

PUBLISHED: 08:59 03 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:24 03 October 2013

Murder most foul... Liz Stride's body found in Driffield's Yard in Berner-st, September 29, 1888

Murder most foul... Liz Stride's body found in Driffield's Yard in Berner-st, September 29, 1888


Horror strikes the East End of London again as yet another body of a murdered woman is found in the dead of night.

Elizabeth Stride... mortuary photographElizabeth Stride... mortuary photograph

This time, a witnesses recalls seeing her being attacked just minutes before.

She has been identified as the woman seen before the attack in Berner-street, off the Commercial Road—the latest victim of the Whitechapel Murders.

It is Lizzie Stride, known as ‘Long Liz’, a prostitute who was wearing a black jacket and skirt with a posy of a red rose in a spray of fern leaves and a black crêpe bonnet when Constable William Smith last saw her alive at 12.35am.

A witness named Israel Schwartz reports having seen her being attacked and thrown to the ground outside Dutfield’s Yard at 12.45am.

Dr Frederick Blackwell, first at scene of Lizzie Stride's murder in Berner-stDr Frederick Blackwell, first at scene of Lizzie Stride's murder in Berner-st

Stride may also have been seen by another witness, James Brown, rejecting the advances of a stout man in Fairclough-street earlier.

Her body is discovered in Dutfield’s Yard at 1am by Louis Diemschutz, the steward of the International Working Men’s Educational Club, a socialist club at 40 Berner-street. He drives in with a pony and two-wheeled cart, but the yard is so dark that he can’t see the body without lighting a match. Blood is still flowing from her neck, he finds.

Men leaving the club between 12.30 and 12.50am had seen nothing amiss in the yard. They had been to a debate on ‘The Necessity of Socialism Amongst Jews,’ followed by community singing. A woman living next door, Mrs Mortimer, was in the street listening to the singing, but saw no-one.

The police search the club and the terraces of cottages in the street, interviewing club-members and householders.

No money is found on Stride’s body. It is possible that her night’s earnings from prostitution have been stolen, either in the attack seen by Schwartz, or by her killer.

But robbery is not the motive. Stride’s murder occurs in the middle of the Ripper scare, yet she has no mutilations beyond her slit throat, unlike other victims Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman who both had their stomachs ripped open.

It is possible the killer, this time, has been interrupted before he has a chance to mutilate the body.

Local doctor Frederick William Blackwell is summoned from his surgery at 100, Commercial-road. He is first to attend the scene.

Then police surgeon George Phillips arrives. He reports that Stride’s left arm was extended and there was a packet of cachous in the left hand. Her right arm was over the belly, the back of the hand and wrist had clotted blood, the legs drawn up with the feet.

“The throat was deeply gashed,” Phillips reports. “There was a skin abrasion about one-and-a-quarter inches in diameter, stained with blood, under her right brow.”

Dr Blackwell’s post-mortem examination later at St George’s Mortuary finds mud on the left side of the face and matted in the head. There is a clear-cut 6ins incision on the neck, below the jaw, the arteries and other vessels all cut through. The haemorrhage was caused through the left carotid artery being partially severed.

The stomach contains partly-digested food—cheese, potato and flour or milled grain.

Stride might have been pulled backwards on to the ground by her neckerchief before her throat was cut, Dr Blackwell believes. She was likely to have been on the ground when she was killed by a swift slash across the neck. Bruising on her chest suggests she had been pinned to the ground during the attack.

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