3.30am latest, August 31, 1888: Mutilated body of woman Polly Nichols in Buck’s Row horror!
PUBLISHED: 03:30 31 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:58 03 October 2013
The body of the woman Polly Nichols is found mutilated today at 3.30am, August 31, 1888, on the cobbled carriageway in front of a stable entrance at Essex Wharf in Buck’s-row, behind Whitechapel railway station.
She is discovered by a cart-driver who gives his name to police as Charles Cross, who lives in Duveton-street, off Cambridge Heath-road, six minutes away. He is on his way to work at Pickford’s depot behind Liverpool Street station when Polly is slain.
Another cart-driver on his way to work, Robert Paul, approaches and Cross points out the body.
They go in search of a policeman and find Constable Jonas Mizen at the corner of Vallance-road, then continue on their way to work.
Constable Mizen approaches the body in Buck’s-row, while another officer is coming from the other direction, Constable John Neil. A third officer also arrives at the scene.
They knock on doors hoping to find witnesses. Three horse slaughterers from a knacker’s yard close-by in Winthrop-street on night-work hear or see nothing before Polly Nichols’ body is discovered. Nor do the families living in the terraced workmen’s cottages along Buck’s-row.
Surgeon Henry Llewellyn arrives at four o’clock and estimates the woman has been dead 30 minutes. Her throat had been slit twice, her abdomen mutilated with one deep jagged wound with several incisions caused by a 6ins or 8ins blade.
The small amount of blood at the crime scene surprises him, about “enough to fill two large wine glasses, or half-a-pint at the most.”
Death was instant and the stomach injuries would have taken less than five minutes to carry out by her killer after she was dead, he estimates.
Press reports the next day link Nichols’ killing to Martha Tabram’s murder at George Yard Buildings on August 6, and possibly Emma Smith’s death in Osborn-street back on April 3, suggesting it might be the dastardly work of the same gang.
Smith had lived long enough after she was attacked in Osborn-street to tell police she had been set upon by three thugs, but the link is soon ruled out.
Nichols’ murder is initially investigated by detectives from Bethnal Green Road police station, inspectors John Spratling and Joseph Helson, who have little success.
Suspicions of a serial killer at large in the East End results in senior Scotland Yard detectives being drafted in by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to coordinate the manhunt, led by Inspector Frederick Abberline, backed by inspectors Henry Moore and Walter Andrews.
But they are no nearer to tracking down the killer, soon to be dubbed by the press ‘Jack the Ripper’.