Friday, April 07, 2006

Brick Lane

PC Barrett rushed to the scene, and sent immediately for a doctor, Dr Timothy Killeen of 68 Brick Lane. Much of Brick Lane today has been rebuilt, and this building is no longer standing, but this photo shows some of the buildings which would have been around at the time.

Killeen was a young man, almost fresh out of medical school, and most likely had never experienced anything of this nature before. He pronounced Martha dead and estimated the time of death at around 2.30, which from the other evidence seems likely to be correct. He found 39 stab wounds in her body, ranging from her neck down to her genitals and legs. All but one of these he said were quite shallow and could have been made with a penknife, but one wound in the chest was deep and had been inflicted with a strong, long bladed instrument which he thought could have been a dagger or a bayonet.

Inspector Edmund Reid, the head of the local CID for H Division (Whitechapel), took charge of the case. Reid was a fascinating character. Not only was he a highly experienced career detective, he was also variously an actor, a singer and an adventurer who has gone down in the history books for making England's first ever parachute descent from a balloon in a thousand feet in 1876, and breaking the balloon altitude record in 1883. He was also immortalised in print in a series of novels by Charles Gibbon under the name Detective Dier.

But there was very little he could do to elucidate this particular case. There were simply no clues as to who the perpetrators could be. PC Barrett and Pearly Poll were taken round various barrack houses to see if they could identify the respective soldiers they had seen, but Barrett was unable, and Poll turned out to be a most unreliable witness. The case fizzled out, and the general feeling was that it had probably been a punishment killing meted out by one of the gangs who made a living through extortion.


Blogger Philip Nyman said...

68 Brick Lane is still standing. The building has been in my family since 1960.

12:02 pm  

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