Thursday January 3rd, 1884
SUSPECTED MURDER AT STOKE NEWINGTON.
An occurrence is reported from Stoke Newington which
tends to show that a foul murder has been committed. It
appears that on Tuesday afternoon a boy named William
J. Johnson, of Ufford-house, Lordship-road, Stoke
Newington, found a man's hat and coat on a piece of waste
land at the rear of Queen Elizabeth's-walk, in that
parish. He communicated with Police-constable Davey,
83 N., who, believing that someone must have got into
the New River reservoir close by, procured a boat, and,
with Police-constable Dowty, 536, and some of the New
River Company's watermen, dragged the reservoir until
dark, but without any result. They renewed their search
yesterday, and about 11 o'clock found the body of a well-dressed man, who was afterwards identified as Mr. John
Broom Tower, of 109, Dynevor-road, Stoke Newington-road,
an underwriter at Lloyd's.
The deceased was about 22 years of age. The last time he was seen was about 12.30 on New Year's morning, when he parted from a friend named Ernest Cobden, with whom he had attended a watch-night service in a church in the Green-lanes. At that time the deceased was in the best of health and spirits and expressed his intention of going home.
Round the deceased's neck there was a handkerchief tightly tied with several knots at the back, and the clothing appeared to be so disarranged as to indicate that a desperate struggle must have taken place. Deceased was accustomed to wear two diamond rings. The glove on one hand was found ripped up and the ring torn off, and an attempt to pull off the other ring had evidently failed. It has been rumoured that the deceased had in his possession £20 when last seen by his friends, but it has been ascertained that this was not the case. Where the body was found there were footmarks as if a struggle had taken place, but nothing in the shape of money or jewellery, or, indeed, of any other property, was found. The body of the deceased was taken to the Stoke Newington mortuary, where Dr. White, of Lordship-road, made made an examination, but was not able to state definitely the cause of death. The police, however, have very little doubt that the man was foully murdered. The case is in the hands of Mr. Inspector Glass, of the Criminal Investigation Department, and Mr. Inspector Moore, of Scotland-yard, who are pursuing their inquiries. It is not yet known whether they have a clue to the supposed murderer or murderers. The coroner has also been communicated with and the inquest will probably be opened to-morrow
Another account says :-
About 11 o'clock yesterday morning the dead body of a
young gentleman, engaged as an underwriter in the City,
was found in the reservoir of the New River Company at
Stoke Newington, under circumstances which appear to
show that he has been the victim of a deliberate and brutal
murder. About 8 o'clock on Tuesday morning one of the
workmen employed at the reservoir saw a hat lying near
the embankment, but the circumstance did not arouse his
suspicion, and he neither examined the hat nor called
attention to the matter. Between 12 and 1 o'clock, however, on the same day, a boy picked up the hat and also a
coat and collar, which he found lying beside it. These he
at once handed over to the police, and it was immediately
suspected that they belonged to someone who had fallen
into the reservoir and got drowned. A further examination of the articles of attire gave rise to suspicions that the
owner of them had been murdered. The hat, although a
comparatively new one, was damaged, the collar had apparently been torn from the neck of its wearer, and the
coat had suffered equally rough treatment. Two of the
buttons were gone, and the corresponding button holes
were torn as if the coat itself had been wrenched off in the
course of a struggle. A search was at once made and the
reservoir was dragged, but without result until yesterday
forenoon, when the body of the unfortunate youth was found. He was afterwards
identified as Mr. John Broom Tower,
20 years of age, who was employed in an underwriters
office in Winchester-street, and lodged at 109, Dynevor-road, Stoke Newington. His parents reside at Stockton-on-Tees, and
he had not been long resident in London
When the deceased was found in the reservoir a handkerchief was wound round his neck, and tied tightly in three
or four knots at the back, besides which his clothing was
otherwise so disarranged as to indicate that s struggle had
taken place. Further evidence to the same effect was
afforded by the discovery of the footmarks of several
persons on the banks of the reservoir, and Mr. Tower's
boot fits one set of these footmarks. Two or three spots of
blood were found in the front part of the handkerchief or
scarf tied round his neck, but the body was not much
marked by any wounds or bruises which would alone have
accounted for death.
From inquiries which have since been made, it appears that the deceased, who was a young man of quiet and steady habits, attended a watch-night service on Monday in the neighbourhood, and was then accompanied by a friend, whom he left in the Green-lanes at Portland-road, about half an hour after midnight. When he so left his companion there was no reason to suppose that Mr. Tower had any other intention than that of going straight home, and in order to rest his lodgings he would in ordinary course pass one end of the reservoir in which his body was afterwards found. At one side the reservoir is enclosed with a low fence and quickset hedge, but the side next Queen Elizabeth's-walk, where he would be most likely to pass, was enclosed by a low railing, which, however, could soon be crossed by any grown-up person. The first report of the supposed murder stated that the deceased had £20 in his possession when last seen by his friends, but this has not been authenticated.; indeed, it is now believed not to be the fact, although it is said a payment of that amount should have been made to him in the course of Monday. He is believed, however, to have had some money in his purse on Monday night, whereas when his body was found yesterday only two or three coppers were found in his possession, but a halfpenny was found lying on the reservoir embankment near where the fatal struggle is believed to have taken place.
No apprehensions of the supposed murderers have yet been made, but the police, although naturally reticent on the point, believe that they have some clue which, when followed up, may assist to clear up the mystery. When the matter was first reported at the Stoke Newington Police Station the particulars were received by Inspector Pope, by whom the information was at once transferred for further inquiry to Inspector Glass and Inspector Moore of the Criminal Investigation Department, who now have the case in charge. Mr. Collier, deputy-coroner for the district, has ordered a post-mortem examination, and it is probable that either he or Sir John Humphreys, the coroner, will hold an inquest to-morrow. One circumstance which seems to confirm the suspicion that plunder was the motive of the crime is that a ring had been stolen from one of his fingers, and the glove ripped up as if in a hurried attempt to get another diamond ring which the deceased wore upon one of the fingers of his other hand. The body was removed to the mortuary, where the post-mortem examination will at once be made.
Times, 3 January 1884
Friday January 4th, 1884
THE MURDER AT STOKE NEWINGTON
All the facts which have come to light with regard to the body of John Broome
Tower, found in the Stoke Newington Reservoir, as reported in The Times of
yesterday, point to a brutal murder. There are many circumstances involved in
doubt, and some are a mystery ; but it is at least clear that there was a
struggle on a lonely spot ; that the young fellow was throttled by his own neck
wrapper, which was twisted and tied tightly behind his neck ; that then his body
was lifted over a fence and carried up an embankment, carried over a potato
patch, and actually carried into the water of the reservoir, down the shallow
bank, in order to be thrown into a depth where it might not be discovered. Moreover,
it is seen that he was robbed, for his pockets were turned inside out, with the
exception of one, in which a penny and some letters were found, and his watch
and chain were stolen. It is also to be seen, in the evidence upon the ground,
that the assailants were in fear of disturbance, inasmuch as they left some of
the plunder, in the shape of shillings, upon the ground ; and, too, they were
violent robbers, since the bar of the watch
chain was broken off, the bar being found upon the ground.
The first mystery in the matter is the question of the reason which brought the unfortunate man on this lonely spot, which is an open space just outside the western reservoir of the New River Company. The company has two large reservoirs here, distinguished by the names "Eastern" and "Western," the one separated from the other by a small stream of the usual New River width. From the western reservoir the water is pumped into the mains for the supply of London. Mr. Cogden, who lives at Finsbury-park, north-west of the reservoir, states that he left Tower, who had been with him to a "midnight service" at a place of worship in Highbury park, at the Portland and Gloucester roads, and Tower's way to the Dynevor-road, Stoke Newington-road, where he lodged, was in another direction from that in which the first struggle evidently occurred. To reach this lonely spot Tower certainly went out of his way, and even if some fancy led him to go the longest way round, by Queen Elizabeth's-walk, which deflects round on the other side of the field, he deviated away still further from his home when he crossed from the roadway to the skirts of the reservoir, on the field where he evidently met his death.
The whole neighbourhood here is a very lonely one. It is undergoing the change from country to town seen in all the outskirts of London, and the spot where the struggle occurred is a space of about 700ft. long by about 250ft. deep. The palisading of the reservoir is on one side, the roadway of Queen Elizabeth's-walk on the other, the backs of some houses on the east side, and a block of unfinished houses on the western side. A clump of fine old trees, of great bulk, stands half-way between the eastern and western ends, and close to the palisading of the reservoir. The deceased man was lured by some means to these trees, by whom or under what pretence is at present unknown. It may have been that he was allured there in the name of charity. It is significant to remark, as indicating the view which is taken, that the police are said to have found an earring and a woman's brooch, and it may be added that they are aware that women of exceedingly bad character infest the neighbourhood at night.
The police yesterday had railed off the embankment up which the body was evidently carried. This embankment is at an angle of about 45 deg., and is composed of soft earth. The body was not found until mid-day on Wednesday. The place is so unfrequented that the fact of a struggle having occurred there was not discovered until at least twelve hours after, when the hat, cost, and cuffs were found upon the ground by persons employed by the New River Company. Little attention was at first attached to these signs ; but Inspector Glass, to whom the matter was reported, followed up the traces as far as the brief remains of the day would admit. The footprints were carefully copied out, and the way taken by those who disposed of the body was seen, for a bush hedge had been broken through. The huge reservoir is shallow for about 8ft. or 10ft. out, and lined with stones so as to lessen the pressure upon the sides, and it would seem as if those who had to dispose of the body were aware of this fact, for they waded out—the marks of their feet were on the stones —until they could push it into deep water. The body was dragged for, and was found under the "shelf " of this shallow. It was not found floating, as has been stated, but was discovered almost immediately opposite to the spot where the first struggle is seen to have occurred, and about 100 yards from the house of the reservoir-keeper, on the "Green-lanes " aide, as distinguished from the Lordship-lane side.
The body, when recovered, was delivered into the bands of the coroner's office, Mr. Foster, who states that the ring on the finger of the deceased man was very tightly fixed. There had been attempts to take this ring off either in life or immediately after death, for the glove of the deceased was torn near it ; but the attempt failed, and the fact that the attempt to obtain what looked like valuable booty was not persevered in is taken as a proof that the parties were in great haste. There is a path in side the reservoir grounds from the westward to the eastward for the enginemen and water keepers and others, and some of these are employed at night. On New Year's morning some of the dwellers in the houses nearest to the spot were making merry, but no indication has yet been received that they heard cries. In the struggle the deceased man had his nose injured, and there is a wound in the back of the neck.
The Coroner, Sir John Humphreys, yesterday ordered a post-mortem to be made, and Dr. White made this examination to ascertain the cause of death. As in all cases where criminal action is suspected, Dr. Bond was requested to be present , on behalf of the Treasury. The result is that the ascertained cause of death is "Suffocation by strangulation," showing that the deceased : man was murdered before the body was thrown into the water.
The divisional police are being assisted by Inspector Moore from Scotland-yard, and the whole ground is being diligently gone over. The watch of the deceased is a silver "Geneva." He had that day received his month's salary of £8, he being a clerk at a stockbroker's. He was a very spare young fellow, thin, and not more than 5it. 6in. in height. He came from Stockton-on-Tees, but was brought up in the neighbourhood of Stoke Newington.
The police have ascertained that, of the £8 odd shillings the deceased received on the last day of the year, he disposed of about 30s. He had, therefore, about £7 in money upon him at the time he left his friend at Portland-road. The watch stolen, No. 12871, is a common Geneva make, silver hunter, three-quarter plate, with horizontal movement. The chain is of the single-link pattern, 15 or 18 carat gold, with the bar broken off. This bar was broken away by the violence with which the deceased was evidently seized, and the haste in which the murderers did their work. Up to late last night the police had made no arrest. The belief of the most experienced officers is that the poor fellow was allured under some pretence or other towards the trees, under which some men were in ambush. The police also believe that it would require two strong men to carry a body like that of the deceased, who must have weighed 11 stone, over the fence and up the embankment. That two persons assisted at this hideous work is evident, they think, from the footmarks up the embankment of the reservoir. The deceased was not quite 20 years of age.
A letter was also found upon the body, which be bad written to his mother and not despatched, and which was couched in cheerful language, and dealt with topics only interesting to them.
Another correspondent writes :—
Up to the present time no arrests have been made in connexion with this murder although the detectives engaged in the case are making the strictest investigation. This morning Superintendent Green and Inspectors Pope and Glass, again visited the spot where the body of the murdered man, Mr. John Broome Tower, was recovered. After minutely examining the footprints on the embankment, which are still to be plainly seen, although during the night the rain which fell has partly obliterated them, they took a cast of one or two of the footprints, which were evidently not those of Tower, as they do not correspond with his boots. It is believed that these footprints will form an important link in the investigations which are now being busily proceeded with, and the police are now in hopes that what with these, and also the full description of the watch and chain which Tower had borrowed from his landlord, they will shortly be able to effect an arrest. The handkerchief which was found round Tower's neck was yesterday morning identified as being his own property, and this fact makes the we more mysterious than ever, as the police cannot understand how his assailant could have secured it, unless he had first dealt Tower a blow which rendered him senseless, or at any rate disabled him from offering any resistance. One theory which was put forth was that after Tower was attacked and robbed his assailants left him on the ground for dead, and that he afterwards partly recovered consciousness, and in endeavouring to find his way out of the piece of waste land, turned the wrong way, and so walked into the water. It is also further supposed that when he found he was robbed and had lost his collar and tie, he may have tied his handkerchief round his throat. If however, these theories were correct, Tower would have been found close to the edge of the embankment, and not some distance out and in deep water.
A correspondent had an interview yesterday morning with Mr. Haycroft, of the firm of Messrs. Haycroft and Gilfillan, underwriters, of 3 and 4, Winchester-buildings, Great Winchester-street, City, by whom Mr. Tower was employed. Mr. Haycroft stated that there were one or two inaccuracies in the already published accounts of the murder which ought to be corrected. In the first place, Mr. Tower was anything but a powerfully-built young man; and was not more than 5f. 4in. to 5ft. 5in. in height. It had occurred to him of late that Tower was in rather a delicate state of health, as he had complained of chest symptoms and also fainting attacks. Therefore, the theory that the unfortunate young man was able to offer a desperate resistance to an attack was doubtful. The statement that Tower's umbrella was missing was likewise not correct, as it was found in. the office where he was employed on Wednesday morning. Later on, the same day, Cogdon, who was the last person seen in company with Tower, came to the office and took it away with him. He (Mr. Haycroft) believed that Mr. Cogdon was the only intimate friend Tower had, and be also expressed great doubt as to whether the young man was really in possession of such a large sum as £20 when he met with his death, although it was true that he had only on that day drawn a month's salary. Tower, at the time of his death, had been in the employ of their firm for about six months, and was receiving a salary of £100 a year. Therefore, on Monday last be was entitled to a sum of £8 6s. 8d., which was duly paid to him. On Monday morning Tower received a cheque to cash for the usual monthly payment of salaries, and it has since been ascertained that he did so, and everything was quite correct. About 3 o'clock the same afternoon he had to go to Lloyd's to meet Mr. Haycroft, where he was given some cheques to pay in to the bank. That he also did as appears by the bank-book, but he did not again return to his office, and that was the last seen of him there. Finding he did not come to business as usual on Tuesday morning, and as they were very busy at the time, a telegram was sent to deceased's lodgings, 109, Dynevor-road, Stoke Newington, asking what was the matter, but no answer was received to the message, and the first intimation Mr. Haycroft had of what had happened was by seeing the report in the newspapers. Mr. Tower used to wear a fiat diamond ring, and also used to dress well, but not out of proportion to the position he held, and his usual time for leaving the office was between 6 and 7 o'clock at night. The place where he lodged was kept by Mrs. Grage, who had formerly been his nurse.
Yesterday afternoon Dr. White, assisted by Dr. Bond, of the Westminster Hospital, who was asked to be present on behalf of the police, made a post-mortem examination of the body, and although the result of that examination will not be known until the inquest, it has been stated that there was no water in the stomach, thereby showing that deceased must have been dead before he was thrown into the water. The mother of the unfortunate young man arrived in London from Stockton-on-Tees on Wednesday night.
Times, 4 January 1884
Friday January 5th, 1884
THE MURDER AT STOKE NEWINGTON
The Home Office authorities, in consequence of reports of the investigation made by Inspector Glass, of the N Division of Police, and by Inspector Moore,
of the Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland-yard, have, without waiting for the verdict of the coroner's jury, decided to offer a reward of £200 for information which will lead to the conviction of those who feloniously caused the death of John Broome Tower.
This offer at once sets at rest all the theories, started in sundry quarters, that the deceased was knocked down and robbed, and then, in a dazed state, walked into the reservoir. To have performed this feat the man would have had to lift himself over a fence, drag himself up an embankment in the dark, plod over a potato patch, and burst through a hedge. It is also proved that while in a fainting fit, owing to the struggle, he must, to make the theories consistent, have throttled himself with his own handkerchief, and then have walked out into the reservoir thrice, for there are evident marks of footsteps of more than one person. In point of fact, all so-called theories and suppositions have been set at rest, for in the coroner's inquiry, held yesterday, such evidence was given as proved beyond all doubt that a murder of an atrocious character was perpetrated in the death of this young fellow. Moreover, it can be foretold that the evidence forthcoming will indicate what, in the present stage of the proceedings, must be called "the manner of his death."
The Coroner for the Eastern Division of Middlesex, Sir John Humphreys, opened, at the Parish-house of St. Mary, Stoke Newington, the inquiry into the death of the deceased. He was described as John Broome Tower, aged 20, as his 20th birthday would have been on the 27th of the present mouth. A portrait of him shown in court represented a good-looking young fellow, with an intellectual face. His commercial character was excellent.
Superintendent Green, of the N Division, with Inspector Glass, of the same division, Inspector Chapman, and Inspector Moore, of the Detective Department, watched the proceedings for the police.
The first witness called was the mother of the deceased, who described herself as Mrs. Eliza Broome, living at No. 4, Raglan-terrace, Stockton-on-Tees, wife of John Broome, schoolmaster. The body she had seen was that of her son, John Broome Tower, the last name, she said, being that she held before marriage, the deceased having been born before her marriage. His age would have been 20 on the 27th of this month, He was clerk to a firm of underwriters in the City. She had not furnished him with any money, nor had he applied to her for any. She last saw him in the autumn, when she stayed in London. She knew nothing of the circumstances of his death.
Miss Alice Goodwin Drage, of 109, Dynevor-road, Stoke Newington, the adopted daughter of the landlady of the house where the deceased lodged, deposed that the deceased had lodged at the house of Mrs. Drage about five or six years. The family had known him since his birth, and his mother lodged with them some years ago. Witness was no relation to the deceased man or to the mother. The deceased left home on Monday the 31st, at his usual time of half-past 9 to 10 o'clock in the morning, and she saw him no more alive. He wore a watch and chain, the watch being that of Mr. Drage. The salary of deceased was £8 6s. 8d, each month, and she learnt that he received his last month's salary on the 31st. He paid £3 a month for his lodgings. He owed no arrears, and he was always very punctual in his payments, paying always the day after he received his salary. He was engaged to Miss Earle, of Waltham-house, Green-lames. Witness was sure he had had no difference with that young lady. No letters from any other lady were received by him that she knew of, and he was not at enmity with anyone. He was of exceedingly temperate habits. Witness and the deceased were brought up together. She knew nothing of the circumstances of his death.
There was some interest attached to the evidence of the next witness, who was the last person known to have seen the deceased alive. This was Ernest Sidney Cogden, of No. 9, Portland-road, Finsbury-park. He deposed,—I am a traveller and assistant to Julius Byfus and Company, general merchants. I knew the deceased well. On Monday last I saw him several times. The first time on that day I saw him in the building where he was employed, Great Winchester-street, City, at half-past 10 in the morning. After that I saw him at a quarter past 1, at luncheon time, and, thirdly, at a quarter to 4, when I met him in Moorgate-street. These meetings were not by appointment. Then he called at my office at half-past 6 or a quarter to 7, by appointment, the same evening. We then took the tramcar from Moorgate to the end of Portland-road, Finsbury, together. He went home with me, and we left the house together about 8 o'clock to go to Mrs. Earle's, Waltham-house. We both went into the house, where we stopped about two hours and a half. We left together with three other persons. We all five went to St. John's Church, in Highbury-vale. The three persons with us were Mrs. Earle and her two daughters. We remained at the church for the "Watch Service." It was, I think, exactly at 25 minutes past 12 o'clock when we left the church, and then we walked back to Mrs. Earle's, where we left the ladies. The deceased and myself then went to Portland-road. We parted there, and I went up my own road. We parted, the deceased and myself, at the end of that road where it enters the Green-lanes. It was about five minutes to 1 o'clock in the morning when we separated. We parted the beat of friends, and shook hands. The deceased did not say that he was going anywhere, and I did not ask him where he was going. He had on a watch and chain when he left me. He had money —I cannot say how much ; but I should think he had about £8. He spent about 10s. in the morning while with me. He was quite sober when we parted.
THE CORONER.—Do you think he was corresponding with anyone besides Miss Earle?
Witness.—I think he was corresponding with a young person named Maggie Waller, who lives in the north of England. I do not know when he last heard from her. I do not know how far this had gone nor anything of it more than that be corresponded with this person. He had shown me the envelopes—not the letters—from Miss Earle, and he has shown me—a long time since it is since he did so—letters from Maggie Waller. I should know the hand-writing of those letters. (Inspector Glass produced letters which the witness said were in the handwriting of Maggie Waller.) The deceased used to dress "fashionably"— after the style of respectable young men in the City. I. know nothing of any other correspondence. When we parted we agreed to meet next day—New Year's Day—at the usual luncheon time. The deceased said nothing about not going back to the office. I do not know that he had any pecuniary or other difficulties. I went to his office on Tuesday, the 1st inst, at about 20 minutes past 1. I used to whistle, and he used to come out. I whistled that day and a gentleman came out to say that the deceased had not "turned up." On Wednesday I heard that the body had been found in the reservoir, and at half-past 4 in the afternoon I went to his office to ask for his umbrella, which I knew he had left there, as he had told me so. When we left on Tuesday morning he was in excellent spirits. I do not know of the deceased spending any money in the evening of the 31st. We did not go into Mrs. Earle's after the "Watch Service." Between the time the two of us met in the evening in the City and the time we parted the deceased had nothing to drink except some claret or whisky at supper at Mrs. Earle's. The money he spent in the day was wholly on New Year's cards; none of it was on alcohol in any form. When he left me be seemed to be going down the Green-lanes towards Highbury —his way home ; but the spot were the clump of trees is (by the pallisading of the reservoir where the struggle occurred) was altogether out of his way. To get there he must have gone to the left instead of to the right. The way he usually went home after leaving we was down the Green-lanes towards Highbury to the Manor (or Lordship) Park to Queen Elizabeth's-walk on the right.
The spot was then examined on a plan, and it was shown that the clump of trees, the spot where the struggle occurred, was altogether out of the way of the deceased. There was no thoroughfare that way.
Mr. R. C. Whites of Stoke Newington, M.R.C.S., deposed,—I was called by the police to see the body of the deceased, which was then on the reservoir bank, at half-past 9 on the 2d inst. The deceased was lying on his back with his legs drawn up towards his stomach, and his right forearm was flexed on his chest. Be was fully dressed— boots, trousers, waistcoat, and morning-coat, all but his collar and tie. He had no great coat on (this was found on the sward). His gloves were buttoned on his hands, but the back part of each glove was split lengthways. He had waistcoat pockets turned inside out, and other pockets as well were in a similar condition. On examining the body on the reservoir bank I saw that the deceased had a small lacerated wound on the nose and an abrasion on the left ear. In my opinion those were caused in life. He had a handkerchief tied tightly round his neck, it being tied in three knots, which were tied in the nape of the neck. I helped the policeman to untie them. They were very tightly tied. The body was then removed to the mortuary, and I saw the body when it was stripped, and there was a mark upon the throat.
The witness Drage was recalled, and identified the handkerchief tied round the deceased's throat thus tightly as belonging to the deceased himself. The witness Cogden was recalled, and said that the deceased frequently went out at night, took out his white pocket-handkerchief and put it round his throat. Witness could not recall whether the deceased did this on the night after coming from the church.
Mr. Bond, F.R.C.S„and late lecturer on Forensic Medicine at Westminster Hospital, of the Sanctuary, Westminster, deposed,—By direction of the Director of Criminal Investigations I assisted Mr. White in making the post mortem examination of the deceased's body. It was in the mortuary stripped of all but the shirt. It was that of a well-grown and fairly muscular man. The rigor mortis was still present, and there was no sign whatever of decomposition. The face was red and suffused, and the mucous membrane of the lips was purple. There was a slight abrasion on the upper lip as if it had been pressed against the tooth. There was frothy mucous slightly tinged with blood issuing from the nose. There was a small lacerated wound on the tip of the nose, evidently done during life or immediately after death. There was no fracture of the nasal bones. There was an abrasion on the lobe of the left ear, and this abrasion also appeared as if done during life. The eyelids were closed, and there was no protrusion of the eyeballs. There was no congestion of the mucous membrane of the eyes, which were natural. The legs were partly flexed at the knee joints, and the hands were partly clenched. Around the front of the neck there was a its mark, not depressed, half an inch wide. It extended three and a-half inches back on the right and four and a-half on the left. On the left side there was also a depression at the extremity of the mark, as if by a knot, and red in the centre. The line on the neck was on a level with the lower part of the cartilaginous larynx, and it sloped slightly upwards at the back. There were no other external marks s of injury. I should mention there was above and below the white marks a "red rim" of congestion. The skin of the chest was purple and somewhat "mottled" or spotted. There were no other marks of injury on the chest. On opening the head I found the scalp exceedingly vascular, but there was no suffused blood under, nor any signs of a blow on the head. The membranes of the brain were intensely congested, and especially so were the veins. On removing the skull cap eight ounces of black fluid blood escaped. There was considerable arterial congestion of the brain ; but there was no fluid in the ventricles. There was no injury or fracture of the skull, and the substance of the brain was regular and healthy. On examining the neck we found the cellular tissue under the white line have mentioned bloodless and of a light colour, with "rim of congestion" above and below that white mark. This condition of the neck, in my opinion and in Mr. White's opinion, indicated that pressure had been made during life or immediately after death by a soft, thick ligature, like a neckerchief. The handkerchief I see here, wound tightly round the neck, would make such a mark as that on the body. On opening the chest I found the surface of the lungs much " mottled ' and very crepitant on pressure, There were light coloured patches scattered all over the surface of the lungs. These patches disappeared on pressure with the finger. These were caused by air bubbles from ruptured air cells underneath the pleura or investing membrane of the lung. This condition; is very marked, and is found after death from strangulation. The lungs were very congested through the whole substance, and full of frothy mucus. But there was no water in the lungs, and they were different from the lungs of persons who have been drowned. There was extravasation of blood into the substance the lungs. There was no disease of the lungs. There was no water in the lungs. I opened the bag of the heart and there was about a drachm of clear fluid in the cavity. The left ventricle was contracted, and nearly empty. The right ventricle was relaxed, and also nearly empty, but the pulmonary vessels were gorged with blood. The mitral valve of the heart was thickened and adherent nodules of old lymph were there, probably the result of rheumatism. Otherwise the heart was healthy. The stomach was removed, with its contents, which were poured out and measured. These consisted of about 11 ounces of semitransparent fluid, mixed with food which had been nearly digested. There were a few floating black particles, which, I examined with the microscope, but I failed to end any evidence of weeds or mud in the stomach. The content smelt strongly of alcohol, and have been kept for examination if necessary. The coats of the stomach were quite healthy. The kidneys and all the other abdominal organs were healthy. I took out the larynx. I found the nose and mouth full of frothy mucus. The back of the tongue was slighted congested, and the epiglottis was of a brick-dust-red colour from congestion. The mucous membrane or the larynx was much congested throughout. There was slight congestion of the bronchial mucous membrane. My opinion is that death was caused by "homicidal strangulation" or " homicidal suffocation.' The intense congestion of the brain and lungs indicates a slow death and violent straggling. The crepitant condition of the lungs was, in the opinion of Mr. White and myself, quite different from the appearances after death by drowning. There was no sign in the body of any blow to account for death, or even for insensibility. Mr. White agrees with me that two or more persons must have been engaged in causing the death. I should think, from the condition of the heart, that the deceased would probably have fainted after a struggle. Ho might have been then easily robbed of the handkerchief applied to the neck, and of anything else. I am not able to swear that the marks indicate that the pressure of the handkerchief was alone sufficient to cause death, but I am sure that the constriction of the neck, combined with pressure over the mouth and chest, would produce prolonged insensibility. Indeed, the constriction of the neck alone would do that, and if the person were then thrown into the water in this condition, he would, no doubt, die of suffocation without the usual symptoms of drowning. I do not think it at all possible that the death could have been the result of suicide.
The CORONER.—The immediate cause of death,was?
Dr. Bond.—"Suffocation" or "strangulation."
Mr: White was recalled, and gave his agreement with this testimony.
Miss Drage, recalled, stated that the deceased was subject to fainting fits when excited and this bore out Dr. Bond's evidence.
The CORONER said that the jury need not hasten to give a verdict in order to give the Government cause for offering a reward, as one was already offered. The inquiry would then be adjourned until Monday.
The police are suggesting to the New River Company that, in the interests of the public and i' the interests of public justice, the reservoir in which the body was found should be run off. It is possible that one of the persons who threw the body into the reservoir, if they did not know very intimately the condition of the shelving banks might have been drowned. Moreover, the watch and might have been thrown in, and the police would be saved seeking for these if they were found in the reservoir.
Times, 5 January 1884
Murders are not so rare in London that each one is certain to be the subject
of much attention.
Crime is altogether too common, and the interests
of life are too fleeting and varied, to admit of the
public noting in a great city very carefully every
deed of violence which ends fatally. But there are
murders which, for some reason or other, appeal to
the popular imagination, and are remembered after
a hundred subsequent crimes, perhaps equally
atrocious, are forgotten. One of this order of impressive, long-remembered crimes is the murder
at Stoke Newington, for information as to
which the Government, in accordance with
general expectation, have offered a reward of
£200. That TOWER was foully murdered was
plain from the narrative which we published yesterday, and this view is borne
out by the statements made yesterday at the coroner's inquest.
Witnesses well acquainted with his habits and
character showed that there was no reason why he
should have committed suicide, even if the circumstances in which the body was found
had been at all
consistent with this idea. He was not in difficulties as to money. He had no serious private troubles.
He was sober when he parted with his friend COGDEN, the last person known to have seen him
alive, and he was then in excellent spirits. The
medical evidence not merely totally destroyed the
theory of suicide, but went far to show how the
murder was, in fact, committed, MR. WHITE and MR. BOND stated that there was no mark of a blow
on the head or any sign of serious external injuries. Their examination conclusively showed that though
the body was found in the water of the reservoir young TOWERwas not drowned. The marks round
the neck satisfied the doctors that he had died of
strangulation or suffocation; the handkerchief—which was proved to be his own
—tied tightly round his neck with three
knots behind at the nape had, no doubt,
been the instrument of his death, The position in
which the body was discovered and the marks of
the struggle tell something more as to the sad
story. By some one or otter he had been lured out
of his usual and natural way home to a clump of
elms near the palisade of the New River reservoir. There he seems to have been
attacked by assailants, who, perhaps finding him a troublesome antagonist, did
not stop their work until they had strangled him. It would be the natural sequel
to their foul deed to seek to hide the evidence of it by dragging the body over
the fence, up the embankment of the reservoir, and trying to push it into deep
water. The marks on the ground, the violence plainly used in seizing what
booty was to be got, and the medical description of the body, form a mass of
circumstantial proof that TOWER was enticed out of his path home and pounced upon
and murdered by at least
The whole story cannot but diffuse a sense of insecurity. Thousands of Londoners have from time to time legitimate reasons of pleasure or business for being abroad as late as the hour at which, it is probable, TOWER met his fate. Policemen are not always at hand, and there are plenty of spots in the suburbs quite as lonely as the neighbourhood of the Stoke Newington reservoir. Every one recollects how, after the murder of MR. BRIGGS there was a marked reluctance on the part of any two persons, strangers to each other, to travel by themselves in the same railway carriage compartment, and what a ludicrous state of suspicion grew up. The fact that several burglars, interrupted in their nefarious work, lately used revolvers in making their escape gave rise last autumn to almost equal uneasiness and we should not be surprised to learn that this murder has made many people timid in going out late at night. To return from a ball or the theatre will seem, for a week or two, while the recollection of this murder is still quite fresh, an adventure to denizens of lonely suburbs. And, no doubt, with all our police arrangements, the risk from crimes of violence is a substantial element in London or any great town. Statisticians have not yet accurately determined the precise proportion which "the homicidal class" bears to the rest of the community. But in a large community there are always men and women who do not kill when their passions are aroused mainly because they have not the opportunity. Each experienced detective could tell of two or three criminals in his beat quite capable of committing a crime such as that which has been perpetrated at Stoke Newington. But they lack the courage or the chance ; they are suspicions of each other, or stupid or timid ; or they have very often in a vague but real way present to them the strong sense of the power of society to punish them. They are, as a rule, law-abiding perforce ; and hence we know that, though the dangerous classes may be numerically strong, and the police, ready to cope with them is small and scattered, a daring crime such as that which we recorded yesterday is not likely to be soon or often repeated. There is no adequate ground for regarding London after dark as dangerous because a youth was murdered last Tuesday morning at a lonely spot in Stoke Newington.
If the matter were carefully examined in the light of figures, it would be found that the perils from deeds of violence in London are infinitely less than those ascribable to recklessness and carelessness of a common-place character. For one slain by the garroter or burglar there are dozens killed by the fast bowling hansom cab, the demon vans, the butcher's fleet relentless cart, and all the other vehicles driven along our streets with reckless speed and contempt for the lives and limbs of those on foot. In our correspondence from Paris to-day attention is drawn to the terrors to foot-passengers in that city. With traffic nowhere comparable in volume to that with which we are familiar, the dangers in Paris are greater. There is no effectual police control. Cabs and carriages break the rule of the road with impunity, and pull up where it seems good. Refuges are by no means so plentiful as could be wished, and the risks at crossings from drivers going full speed over them are very serious to old or nervous people. Every one familiar with Paris will recognize the accuracy of the description of the traffic; and the police of that capital might get a few useful lessons from studying for a few hours the regulation of the congested traffic in Cheapside or near the Bank. But we ourselves have very much to learn in this respect. Scarcely a day passes without some inquest bringing to light the fact that many cab and omnibus drivers still adhere to the dangerous superstition that a foot-passenger has no business off the pavement, and that the roadway belongs exclusively to wheeled vehicles. This doctrine, though often authoritatively condemned, dies hard ; and while it survives, and magistrates are ready to give ear to an excuse for a driver who runs over, kills, or mutilates some one not alert or agile enough to get out of the way, the common-place dangers of London streets will immeasurably surpass in gravity the risks from crimes of the daring and atrocious character of that which is now attracting public attention. A scare as to the perils of the street is never heard of ; but, all the same, they are more to be dreaded than the garroter or the assassin.
Times, 5 January 1884
...A correspondent writing on Thursday states a different
opinion is now beginning to prevail in the minds of the detectives engaged in
this case as to whether it is really one of murder or not, and some of then have
openly expressed their opinion that it is clearly a case of suicide. In support
of this theory they now state that there is only a slight bruise on the nose of
the deceased which might easily have been occasioned by coming in contact with
the gravel. In support of the supposition of suicide they also mention that the
gold links on the shirt cuffs and studs in the shirt were not broken or
disarranged, which would sure to have been the case had there been a struggle.
This view is also borne out by Mr. Forster, the coroners officer, who stripped
the body, and who expresses on opinion that there was a certain fixed look, a
determination about the face, which he had always noticed on persons who had
A correspondent at Stoke Newington states:— The various theories which have been suggested and dealt with may be fairly said now to have all merged into the one definite idea of robbery and brutal murder; and as the facts are gradually sifted and every circumstance closely examined there is very little doubt that John Broome Tower was early on New Year's morning lured on to the piece of waste ground in Queen Elisabeth Walk, and there set upon, robbed, stunned, choked, and thrown into the New River Reservoir. The theory of suicide has been altogether cast aside, and mysterious as the circumstances are, there seems some probability of the solving of several of these circumstances. The neighbourhood of Green Lanes, like many other suburban localities, is pestered to no inconsiderable extent with fallen women, and there is no doubt whatever that the piece of ground on which the hat and great coat were found was used by them for their vicious purposes. The supposition. now is that the murdered. man was, decoyed by a woman to this deserted spot, and by a discovery which is reported this afternoon to have been made, this seems to be very strongly borne out. The hour that this occurred, if it did occur, was evidently at the darkest time of the morning, for when the body was carried up to the fifteen feet high embankment leading on to the reservoir it was carried, not over a lot of grass which was close by, but over loose mould, which showed very distinctly every footmark, and this theory of extreme darkness is further supported, by the fact that the hedge—a thick one about four foot high—was broken through, when there was only a few yards away a large gap which would have rendered this unnecessary. But the important fact which adds strength' to the theoryof the deceased having been lured to the place is the statement made this afternoon by the police that a commonly-made woman's brooch and one earring have been found close to the place where the struggle evidently took place - that is, just on the spot where the only clump of trees anywhere near stands. Those who saw the body pulled out of the water and who have been interviewed, state that it had a white scarf or wrap tied very tightly round the throat, and knotted four or five times behind. There were on the body boots, trousers; waistcoat, and morning coat. Both pockets of the waistcoat were turned out, one pocket of the trousers was turned out, and in the other pocket, which was evidently untouched, were a penny piece and some letters.
The Press Association yesterday says : The public interest in the circumstances surrounding the death at Stoke Newington of the young man Tower has been manifestly increased to-day by the proof afforded by the post mortem examination that the occurrence was certainly murder. There' is now every reason to believe that the deceased went voluntarily out of his way to reach the spot where he was killed, and the attention of the police is being particularly given to the reason , which impelled him to do this. Rumours are persistent that a woman's brooch and earring have been found on the scene of the murder. The authorities will neither confirm nor contradict this ; but it is positively asserted that they have even a stronger clue in their possession in the shape of a portion of a women's linen cuff found in the dead man's hand. This also has not yet been confirmed, the police being naturally very. reticent; but it is now thought certain that a woman was engaged in the crime.
A later telegram from the Press Association says: The police have not yet succeeded in effecting any arrest in connection with the Stoke-Newington murder. Their diligence in the case has of course been stimulated by the certainty of the surgeons that it was one of murder. The police deny that any article of female apparel or ornaments has been found on the vacant ground near the reservoir. They admit that a boy had picked up an old earring, but he had cleaned and polished it before handing it to them.
Manchester Times, 5 January, 1884
Monday January 7th, 1884THE STOKE NEWINGTON MURDER
The body of John Broome Tower, the victim of the
atrocious murder at the Stoke Newington reservoirs of the
New River Company, was buried on Saturday at the
adjacent cemetery of Abney-park. The unfortunate young
fellow's parents and immediate friends were present.
The western reservoir of the New River Company was
diligently searched on Saturday by a skilled diver at the
spot where the deceased's body was found. The reservoir
is of an immense extent, and what it may or may not contain cannot be ascertained by a mere examination by a
diver on a brief day in mid-winter. The result was merely
negative, but, as no other body was found, it is inferred
that the person or persons who were associated with the
death of young Tower were well acquainted with the
shelving character of the reservoir and its shallowness
within eight or ten feet of the bank, and, while disposing
of the body, were able, by their previous knowledge, to
keep out of danger.
Mention was made in The Times on Friday of articles of jewellery said to have been found on the ground where the first assault is believed to have occurred, outside the palisading of the reservoir. An earring was found, a common imitation silver one; but this was so dirty that the police have not decided that it has any association with the crime. However, they are anxious that no clue shall be overlooked, and inquiries have been set on foot in certain quarters respecting women who had been seen to wear articles of a like pattern. It is significant to remark that a clue as slight as this brought home Mr. Briggs's murder on the North London Railway to Muller.
The manner of the death of the victim is still exercising the minds of many, and it is now believed that possibly only one man may have been concerned in the crime. The two medical men, Mr. Bond and Mr. White, considered that it would have required two men to carry the body of the deceased up the embankment after lifting it over the palisading. A different complexion might be put upon the affair by supposing that Tower, when seized by his overcoat under the trees, threw it off, dropped his hat, and made a dash over the palisading, quickly followed by his assailant ; that there was it hand-to-hand struggle up the embankment and across the potato patch; and that the deceased burst through the hedge. And here, it must be observed, that the appearances indicate that one person only at a time burst through this frail obstacle; when, probably, the weakness of the heart to which the deceased was subject overcame him and he fell. Probably Tower's handkerchief, worn round his neck, had been seized and tightened round his throat, and the ruffian, making short work of the crime, tied the knots and carried the body into the reservoir, after hastily turning out the pockets. Of course, the experienced officers in charge of the investigation, who have made the most painstaking examination of every point, will have formed an opinion on the subject ; but of that they will not speak until examined today before the coroner. There were rumours published that a man and woman, who could be identified, came to a public-house in the neighbourhood of Abney-park with their clothes wet. Unfortunately for the truth of this reported clue, no "night-houses " are in the neighbourhood, and the police have no information on this subject.
The reward bills will be published to-day, offering £200 for information concerning the murderer.
Times, 7 January 1884
The funeral of the murdered man took place at Abney Park Cemetery at 10 A.M. on Saturday morning, this hour having been chosen to prevent any demonstration. Very few persons were present. During yesterday many thousands of people, mostly respectably dressed, visited the neighbourhood of the murder, though there was absolutely nothing to repay them for their trouble, the police preventing sightseers trespassing upon the piece of waste ground where the elm trees stand, and where the hat and other things were picked up. The bank has also been raked over, so that even the footprints are gone.
The Pall Mall Gazette, 7 January, 1884
The funeral of the murdered man took place at Abney-park Cemetery at ten o'clock on Saturday morning. Mr. and Mrs. Broone, Mr. Cogdon, Mrs. and Miss Alice Dradge being among those who followed the deceased to his grave. Only a few persons were present, but the deceased's late schoolmaster and some of his old schoolfellows attended. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. Mr. Haslem of Holy Trinity Church, Dalston. Several wreaths were placed upon the coffin.
The Morning Post, 7 January, 1884
Tuesday January 8th, 1884
THE STOKE NEWINGTON MURDER
The inquest held by Sir John Humphreys on the death of John Broome Tower was
yesterday brought to a conclusion, and the jury found that the deceased man was
wilfully murdered. How the murder was probably effected is detailed in the
evidence. The remarkable evidence
given by the painstaking police inspectors fully bears out the view given yesterday in The Times—that the young
man was assaulted in
the open ground—that he escaped, after a struggle, over the palisading on to
the New River Company's grounds—that he was followed there, and that a
continuous struggle occurred, which ended ins the young fellow fainting. He
fell upon his knees, as the condition of his clothes showed, and then he was throttled. The robbers were in haste to rob him ; but what they obtained proved
to be a poor return for their labour, for the jewellery was common, the chain supposed to be gold proving to be imitation, the ring they attempted to get
only an imitation diamond, the watch was a very common one, and even in regard
to money it is now known that of the £7 the deceased wits supposed to have bad
left of his monthly salary of little mote than £8 he had sent £2 2s. to a
tailor. Hence the robbers only obtained about £4.
The resumed inquest was opened by Sir John Humphreys in a little house in Church-street, Stoke Newington, which has to do duty for a vestry-hall. The place was doubtless sufficient when the "New Town" was a hamlet, but it is altogether too small for the wants of a large population.
Mr. Superintendent Green, and Messrs. Green and Moore, the inspectors, represented the Commissioners of Police.
The first witness called on this occasion was William Parker, living at New River-cottages, Lordship-road, engineer's assistant, in the employ of the New River Company, who deposed that on the morning of Tuesday, the 1st inst., he went to his work at a quarter to 6 by the "front path " of the reservoir. It was dark then, and he did not see anything. At 8 o'clock he left the engine-house for break fast, and returning by the "front path " he saw a hat and coat on the grass just outside the company's fence—about ten yards from the fence, near the elm trees. He had seen old clothes, hats and shoes, there before, so he did not take any notice of them. He had walked the ground for three-and-twenty-years, three or four times a day, and had seen so many things there in the course of that time that he took no notice of the things. His cottage was 250 or 300 yards from the spot and he was occasionally on night duty. He had been in the employ of the company for 28 years, and he knew the formation of the reservoir. At the place opposite the elm tree; the reservoir sloped off and got deep at about 12 feet from the bank. The stones went out about 14 of 15 feet, and the probable depth was, as near as he could say, perhaps seven feet—it might be more. He could not say that the stones were slimy and slippery—they might be slimy in a small degree. Later in the day he saw the policeman take the hat and coat, and told him of his seeing them.
William Prowse Johnson, a lad, living at Ufford-house, Lordship-road, Stoke Newington, deposed that be lived at home with his parents, and on Tuesday, the 1st inst., he was on the open space opposite Queen Elizabeth's-walk by the elm trees, and saw a hat, a collar, two fingers of a glove, a necktie in two pieces several address cards, half a key ring, and half a sleeve link (a whole sleeve link, matching, was found by some one else). These were all under the elm trees. This was about 12 o'clock on Tuesday. He took the things home, and then took them to the police-station. The hat produced—a very much battered one, as if kicked and trodden on, but apparently new —was the hat on the around.
Edward George Long, a little boy, living at 6, Church-road, Stoke Newington, a boot cleaner when at work, said that on Tuesday, the 1st inst., be was playing at "cat" on the grass near the elm tree, opposite Queen Elizabeth's-walk, when he saw a boy, who was playing with him, named Brace, stoop, and then put something in his pocket. The witness looked on the ground too, and found a watch key, the bar of a gold watch chain, an earring, and a pearl pin. Witness gave these to the other boy, whose name was "Jim Brace." Witness also found a penny, which he spent.
David Brace, another little boy, nine years of age, living at 3, Howard-road, and working with a milkman, was examined as to his knowledge of the nature of an oath. He was somewhat hazy on the point at first, but be proved to have the requisite knowledge, and was then sworn. He stated that he was playing with the last witness on New Year's day at the elm trees, opposite Queen Elizabeth's-walk. and found keys, a scarf pin, a ticket purse, a complete sleeve link (matching with the half found), and a fancy cigar cutter (produced). These things "were all scattered on the grass." Witness also found 6d. in silver and 5d. in coppers. The money he spent ; but the other things he gave to his elder brother, who handed them over to the police. He had pointed out to Inspector Glass the exact spot where he had found the things near the elm trees.
A third boy, William Lambert, living at 11, Church-road, Stoke Newington, 11 years of age, was examined first as to his knowledge of an oath, and he said he went to school, but not to church or chapel. If he did not speak the truth he should be punished. Asked by whom, he first said by "Mr. Jones," then added "My father," but followed this up by showing that he had a belief in future punishment. Sworn, he said that on Tuesday, the lst of January, he was playing with Long and Brace near the clump of trees in the space opposite Queen Elizabeth-walk, when he found the coat produced. [This coat, an overcoat, light in weight, had the sleeves turned inside out, and on one of them was a patch of blood. The coat had evidently been taken violently from the wearer, for two of the buttons were torn off, and a third was torn up with the material. A piece near the neck was torn out.] Witness said he folded the coat up as it was and took it home to his mother, who conveyed it to the police-station. It was in the same condition at that moment as it was when he found it.
William George Newton, in the employ of the New River Company, engineers' department, said that on Tuesday, the lst inst., he found two shilling-pieces (produced) inside the reservoir grounds opposite the elm trees, between the palisading fence on the boundary of the New River Company and the water. It was about 20 minutes to 2 o'clock in the day when he found the money.
Miss Goodwin Drags was here recalled, and identified the two pins, the keys, the bar of the watch chain, the cigar-cutter, the ticket purse, and the sleeve link and a half as belonging to the deceased man. The hat and the coat found on the ground she also identified as belonging to him. The fingers of the gloves found were like the gloves the deceased usually wore.
George Jaggers, living at 2, George-place, Stamford-hill, labourer, in the employ of the New River Company, said that on Wednesday the 2d inst., he used the drags in the reservoir, and found the deceased's body. He described the place where the body was found as "almost directly opposite " the elm trees and the gap in the hedge, and about nine or ten yards (or 30ft.) from the bank, in the deep water. The stones in the reservoir extended out about 6ft. The sediment from the water would make the stones somewhat slippery ; but as they were laid roughly, persons would not slip in going over them.
The CORONER.—If a body were laid on the side, would it be likely to roll off into the deep water?
The witness replied that he did not think this would be possible. The incline on the stones was only about 3ft. in six and if is body were placed a few feet out on the stones and pushed, he believed it would then roll into deep water. He had noticed that some of the "settlement " or sediment on the stones had been disturbed from this spot, but whether by the dragging or not he did not know. Witness had dragged since, but had not found anything else. The body of the deceased was found after an hour's drugging, on the morning of the 2d inst.; but others had dragged the previous night.
The CORONER.—Do you think that a person, to put this body in a spot where it could roll off into the deep water, must have had a knowledge of the construction of the reservoir and where the deep water commenced?
The Witness.—I cannot say
The CORONER.--I will put the question in another form. Do you think it possible that any persons, having the desire to conceal this body in the water, could have so placed it in the water as to conceal it without going in themselves?
Witness.—I should not think the body could have been placed in a spot where it could roll into deep water without the persons going on to the stones some way.
The CORONER.—Then for a person to have gone in the dark sufficiently far in to have sent the body into deep water, must not that person have had a knowledge of the construction of the reservoir?
The witness replied that he could not tell, and he should not like to say. He further deposed that the body was handed over to the police in the same condition in which it was found
Nichols Micbaelston, a police-constable of the N Division, said he was on duty on Wednesday morning, about 9 o'clock, and from information he received, he went to the bank of the reservoir, and saw the body of the deceased man Tower. The body had boots, trousers, under coat, and white shirt on ; it had neither collar nor tie on, but a white linen tie was round the neck, tied very tightly with three knots. [The handkerchief was here produced, and the witness tied it round his neck in the manner in which it was found tied on the dead body.] The knots, which were at the back, were untied with difficulty. Three waistcoat pockets and the left side trouser pocket were turned inside out. None of the coat pockets were turned out. Some of the buttons of the waistcoat were torn out, but the lower buttons were fastened. All the clothes were seemingly very tight in fit. The coat the dead body had on was torn on the cost tail—ripped up—and there was also a tear at the third button in front. In the clothes were found a penny and a letter to the dead man's mother (produced). The gloves produced were on the hands of the body. They were fastened round the wrists, but were torn as then shown, and two of the fingers missing. One of the gloves appeared to have been cut or torn up to reach the ring finger. A ring was tightly on the finger. (This ring contained an imitation diamond.)
William Charles Waterman, an assistant to the coroner's summoning officer, was next called, and described himself as a carpenter. In his capacity as assistant to the summoning officer he assisted Mr. Foster in stripping the body. The boots were very tight fitting, and, in fact, the whole of the dress throughout was very tight. The waistband of the trousers indented the waist. There were some marks caused on the body by the fact that the braces had been put round the arms to keep them together after the body had been found. That trousers were not undone in any way.
Police-constable Frederick Davey,83 N, said he was on duty on January 1 in Lordship-lane, when he was called about 1 o'clock by the lad Jobson to Ufford-house and was told of the hat and other articles having been found. He at once went to the spot and got over the fence, and saw certain footmarks up the bank of the reservoir. He traced these up the bank through to the quickset hedge to the path by the reservoir. He subsequently pointed the footmarks out to Inspector Glass. The footmarks, he should think, were those of more than one person.
Police-constable William Munsey 304 N, was next called and stated that on the night of the 31st of December he was on duty in Queen Elizabeth's-Walk. He heard no noise or scuffle, and he saw no one about whom he thought of suspicious appearance. He "doubled" the spot in question about once every hour—that was, went up one one side and down on the other. He went on duty at 10 p.m. on the 31st ult., and came off duty at 6 a.m. on the 1st of January.
Police-constable Seth Griffiths, 632 N, stated that he was on duty on the night of the 31st ult. patrolling the banks of the reservoir from the bridge in Lordship-road, through Queen Elizabeth's-walk to the Green-lanes. He passed through Queen Elizabeth's-walk about every half hour, sometimes more frequently. He saw no suspicious persons, and he heard nothing. His duty of patrolling the bank was extra duty.
Inspector Glass was hest called and stated,— I am an inspector of the N Division. On Wednesday morning, the 2d inst. I received instructions from Superintendent Green, and took charge of the case. I went to the piece of ground near Queen Elizabeth's-walk, and saw a fence or palisading between the ground and the reservoir 4ft. 6in. high, with two palings 6ft apart, both broken away at the bottom, but the nails were good on the top. The pailings were sharp—in fact, brought to a point. I went round to the other side by the reservoir, and on an embankment, altogether 38ft. 6in. in length, at an angle of 45deg., I saw some footprints that had been already roped in. I examined them carefully. They were very indistinct, and the mould, being tort, had fallen back on the imprints. Marks about 6in. apart had been made by a thin and sharp-pointed boot. The marks on the ground made it appear as if some one had been pulled back us he was struggling to go up, and that endeavours were made to prevent his going up. On the right of these footprints of the narrow, sharp-pointed boots I saw the imprint of a broad foot at right angles with the embankment slopes evidently the imprint of some one going up it. The toe of that boot had made very little impression on the soil. Further on, 16ft. distant from the quickset hedge on the top (shown in a plan presented to the coroner) I saw the imprint of a sharp-pointed toe, and at 16ft. 2in.from the fence and quickset hedge I saw another of a similar kind of footprint. These were about 6in. apart. Some distance in front of the toe marks I saw marks of knees—not: quite touching. There is no doubt they were marks of the imprints of knees. Still further on in a direct line the dirt had been flattened slightly, but I could not judge whether this had been done by hands or by elbows, To the right of these marks the ground had been trodden down considerably. I saw Sergeant Helson pick up a halfpenny where the ground was trodden down before we came away. The distance from the edge of the reservoir to the quickset hedge is 21ft. 6in. I have seen the witnesses who have been called, and have taken them to the waste ground. I have there had pointed out to me the place where the earring was found, 13ft. from the first tree on the plan produced, and 13ft. 4in. from the second tree. The keys were all found within a radius of 7ft. 6in. I found the hedge broken through directly opposite where I saw the footmarks. I cannot say whether it was only one person or more than one who had passed through the hedge.
Inspector Henry Moore, of the Criminal investigation Department, Scotland-yard, deposed,—I have modelled three of the footprints in the ground, showing the models of the places where the toe-marks were, and two fit the narrow-pointed boots worn by the deceased, and one is of a broad boot mark.
The CORONER. —Inspector Glass, you have had divers employed mince in searching the reservoir. Has there been any result from this search?
Inspector Glass.—The result is negative so far as giving any evidence relating to the death.
The CORONER remarked he did not see that they could carry the case further. He thought this was all the evidence which could be brought before the jury in connexion with the death of this young man, and, before sending the jury to consider their verdict, he would briefly review the evidence which had been laid before them. After the evidence of the mother and the nurse a very important witness was brought before them in the young man Cogden. As regarded this witness's evidence as to the dress of the deceased, the Coroner remarked that it was represented to him by his officer, who stripped the body, that the foot of the dress being so tight in every part of the body might have been caused partly by the action of the water ; but it was likely the deceased was dressed so tightly in life that he was not able to make much resistance in the attack, or not so much as he might have done had he had free action of the limbs. Proceeding to read the evidence which had been laid before the Court, the Coroner said the witness who had been called that day, and who had spoken to finding the body, had not been able to speak as to the formation of the reservoir ; but the first employé of the New River Company who had been called seemed to know less about the formation of the bottom of the reservoir than the other, who had found the body. After reading all the evidence, the Coroner said,—This is the whole of the evidence, and every fact which could be obtained has been placed before you. Upon these facts, contained in this evidence I have just read to you, you will have to consider your verdict. I would point out to you that the deceased man passed the New Year's Eve very satisfactorily. He went to supper at Mr. Earle's, then he went to church, came back to Mr. Earle's, and then, with his friend Cogden, parted with the ladies and went towards Cogden's home. Then the two young men parted, perfectly good friends, and you have it in evidence that the deceased man was perfectly sober and in exceptionally good spirits. That is the last which is known of Mr. Tower alive. Nothing more was heard about him until he was missed. An investigation followed; suspicious circumstances led to the reservoir being dragged, and then his, body was recovered. The first difficulty which has to be contended with is how he came to be in that spot, because his usual way home was to the right, and not to the left of Queen Elizabeth-walk, and if he had gone to the right he would have been in his usual beaten track. But he was outside that beaten track, and there arises a difficulty. One question which, of course, arises first of all in our minds is, how did he get on to that piece of ground, which is unenclosed, but which is fenced off from the reservoir. It is a matter of theory whether he was lured to the spot by somebody, and pounced upon and assaulted under the trees. But it is undoubted that he was under the trees; he might have gone there for some reason or purpose, and there is no doubt that it was under the trees he was first attacked, where the first struggle took place, and where the tie was torn asunder, his coat torn off his back, and hat knocked off his head. The theory of the circumstances which happened after that—and it is a theory which is borne out by facts—is that he must have escaped from the held and made a flight over the fence. From the fact that he had on narrow, thin-pointed boots he would have been able to get across the fence quicker than any heavier man with a broader foot, because he would be able to put his foot between the rails and then spring over. Then it appears that he must have been overtaken, and it appears to me that as he went up the embankment he was being pulled back by his coat-tails, and that accounts for the splitting of the tail of the coat he had on, which we have seen to-day. Then you get the fact of the imprint of the feet, and there is no doubt that the deceased must have been on the other side of the fence on his feet and alive. Of course there was an idea in the first instance that he was maltreated under the trees, and then taken across the railings and through the quickset hedge, and disposed of in the reservoir. But I think it is quite manifest now that the deceased was on his feet and struggled up the embankment. There he was overtaken and subjected to . some injury. You will remember that Dr. Bond, in his evidence, refers to the lip of the deceased being bruised by pressure against the teeth. Mr. Towers, no doubt, would try to call out, but not being a strong man, and being, as you nave been told, subject to fainting fits, he fainted when a hand was put across his mouth to stop him making any noise, and he was put with ease into the water. There is now, I feel confident, no suggestion whatever that he went into the water voluntarily. There was, at first, a faint suggestion based upon a theory that as he was corresponding with two young ladies upon affectionate terms, and was really engaged to one at them to be married, he might have been led by his thoughts to commit suicide. But that supposition now is completely disposed of. His money and watch and chain missing, his pockets being turned inside out, his handkerchief thrice knotted round his neck all point to the fact that his death was not caused by suicide, but by homicide. I have referred to the condition of his health. The fact of his heart being partly diseased made him subject to fainting fits, and great excitement would very readily cause them. He would be able to offer very little resistance if he were in a half-fainting condition, and I think the last struggle must have taken place where the two shillings were found—on the top of the embankment. As to the remaining part of the murder, I think if any one had gone into the water, that person must have had full knowledge of the position of the stones, and how far he could enter the water without getting out of his depth. I do not think that this was likely, and I fancy the chances are that the deceased man was thrown into the water, the body being undoubtedly in an unconscious state from the struggle which had been going on, and from the facts of the fainting-fit and the handkerchief round the neck. Then the body rolled over these slimy stones into the deep water. Then comes the all-important question for you to consider, Who, if any one, caused the death. But upon this point there is not a tittle of evidence, and I can only suggest to you that you should leave that question open.
A juryman asked Inspector Glass, through the Coroner, if the marks of the narrow footsteps were side by side.
Inspector Glass said the steps were short ones, 6in. one way and 6in. another. They could not be traced very well, because the soft earth had fallen in upon them. They were very short steps such as a man would make if he were going up the embankment and were being pulled at from behind. A man evidently fell just where the money was picked up.
A juryman asked a question as to the finding of an earring.
The CORONER stated that the earring had gone to Scotland yard, in order that it might be photographed of copied in as engraving, and be reproduced on the bills to day.
The jury, after a brief deliberation, handed the Coroner a verdict to the effect " That on the 2d day of January the deceased was found in the waters of the New River Company, and that he was wilfully and maliciously murdered by some person or persons unknown."
Times, 8 January 1884
The Stoke Newington murder is likely on present appearances to take its place in the long list of London "mysteries" and the inhabitants of outlying suburbs must content themselves with such consolation as their courage or their transcendentalism may afford.
Pall Mall Gazette, 8 January, 1884
Thursday, January 10th, 1884
THE MURDER OF A STOCKTON GENTLEMAN
ARREST AT WATFORD (SPECIAL TELEGRAM)
The Watford police have arrested a man in connection with the Stoke Newington murder. It appears that prisoner, who is a man of gentlemanly appearance, arrived at Watford on Wednesday evening and put up at an inn in the Market-place. He had a black eye, a wound on the nose, and was wearing a chain similar to that worn by the murdered man. The police are very reticent about the affair.
The North Eastern Daily Gazette, 10 January, 1884
Friday, January 11th, 1884
THE STOKE NEWINGTON MURDER - AN ARREST.
The Press Association's Watford correspondent telegraphs- The Watford police
have arrested a man in connection with the Stoke Newington murder. It appears
that the prisoner, who is of gentlemanly appearance, arrived at Watford on
Wednesday evening, and put up at an inn in the Market-place. He had a black eye,
a wound on the nose, and was wearing a chain similar to that owned by the
murdered man. The police are very reticent about the affair.
In a later telegram the same correspondent says--A later inquiry as to the arrest of a man in connection with the murder at Stoke Newington shows that the prisoner is called H. B. Thompson, and gives the address of 10, Arundel-street, Strand. On Wednesday evening the prisoner arrived at Watford, and it seems that .tie immediately went to a jeweller's shop kept by a man named Simms and offered a metal chain resembling gold for sale. Mr. Simms, becoming suspicious, gave information to the police, and the prisoner was apprehended. The chain was compared with the one appearing in the picture published in the reward notice issued by the Scotland-yard authorities, and it was found to almost correspond, even including the broken part. The prisoner was searched, and on him were found numerous pawn-tickets in the name of Smith. 'These related to various articles. Among his papers was also found a cutting from a London newspaper of the Stoke Newington murder. When arrested the prisoner said that he knew nothing of the murder.
The Press Association says—There would be no difficulty in proving that Mr. Thompson could not possibly have been in the neighbourhood of Stoke Newington at the time the murder was committed. He spent New
Year's Eve with a friend in the neighbourhood of the Strand, and was in bed before two o'clock.
Yesterday afternoon Thompson was brought before the county magistrates at Watford, charged with being
drunk, and was fined 5s, or seven days' imprisonment. The prisoner, who had no money, asked the police to telegraph to his friends, and up to the present he remains in custody. He accounts for the chain by saying that he had it given to him seven or eight years ago by an American. He does not know where he got the newspaper cutting. The police do not now believe he is connected with the Stoke Newington murder.
On Tuesday last a man named H. B. Thompson arrived at the Essex Arms, Watford, where he put up. He was respectably dressed, but had a black eye, an injury to the nose, and was carrying a abort stick. During his stay at the hotel he drank heavily, and ran up a "score" of 15s., and, when asked on Wednesday evening for payment by the landlord, stated that he had no money, and threatened to jump out of the window and make his escape.
Subsequently, however, he sent a metal chain which he was wearing to the shop of Mr. Simms, jeweller, offering it for sale. Mr. Simms was struck by the resemblance of the chain to that engraved in the reward bills as having been worn by Tower, the unfortunate victim of the Stoke Newington murder, and gave information to the police. Thompson, who was described at the time as being mad drunk, was then apprehended on that charge. The chain he was wearing was examined, and appeared to closely correspond with the engraving issued by the Scotland-yard authorities, even to the broken part; but close inspection showed that it was made of common metal, and was not worth threepence. Amongst papers found on the prisoner was a newspaper cutting of the Stoke Newington murder.
The police are making every effort to trace the perpetrators of the murder at the New River reservoirs. On Wednesday the placards were issued offering a reward of £100. A free pardon is offered to any person who was not the actual perpetrator of the murder, on that person giving information.
The Leeds Mercury, 11 January 1884
Saturday, January 12th, 1884
Illustrated Police News, 12 January 1884
It will be seen that the piece of waste land, where the deceased's hat and overcoat were found and where the marks of a struggle were seen is considerably out of the route to Dynevor-road. Between Lordship Park and Queen Elizabeth's-walk there are several short roads. By some means or other Tower seems to have been enticed or driven from his direct road up one of these by-streets into Queen Elizabeth's-walk. Between the walk and the reservoir, which lies immediately behind, there is a waste piece of land, belonging to the New River Company, and it was upon this, under four trees which stand in a group, that the hat and overcoat were found, as well as footmarks, as if a desperate struggle had taken place. Before Tower and his assailant or assailants could get within this inclosure they must have made their way through a strongly-formed fence of hedgerow and wooden palings which separates it from Queen Elizabeth's-walk. On the Lordship road side of the waste land are the gardens of the houses which look into the thoroughfare, while on the Green-lanes' side there are several houses. There are two cottages considerably under a hundred yards from the gap made in the hedge, and in one of them a woman was kept awake from two to four o'clock on New-Year's morning. Not a hundred yards distant, outside, two carriages were waiting, about one o'clock. Cabs were plying to a house where a party was given. About the same hour Mr. Limond's two boys returned from a watch-night service, and entered the reservoir domain from the Lordship-road end, where the night watchman's hut stands. But no one heard a sound of distress or alarm.
The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times, 12 January, 1884
Wednesday, January 16th, 1884
THE STOKE-NEWINGTON MURDER
The Globe of yesterday says:- In consequence of an examination made by the
employer of Tower of the books of which deceased was formerly in charge, very
serious discrepancies are found to exist, of which the latter must have been
cognisant. A cheque book has also been found to be missing, and it states that
upon 31st December Tower loft the office unusually early, and afterwards
obtained cash for a cheque, said to have been torn from the missing book. The
theory of suicide has, therefore, again been revived. It is stated that the
police had known for some time that Tower was a defaulter. They are still
pursuing an inquiry into the circumstances of his death.
The Press Association's representative, inquiring at the offices of Mr Haycroft, employer of Tower, could obtain neither confirmation nor contradiction of the report published yesterday that deceased was a defaulter, but was referred to Scotland Yard. On inquiring there, he was informed that the police had known for some time that Tower was a defaulter.
Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 16 January, 1884
Saturday, January 26th, 1884
THE STOKE NEWINGTON MYSTERY.
The authorities of Scotland-yard have, it is stated, now definitely come to the conclusion that Mr. John Broome Tower, who was supposed to have been murdered at Stoke Newington on New Year's Eve, actually committed suicide, and consequently they intend to take no further action in the matter. This opinion was arrived at after certain facts connected with Tower's life came to their knowledge; and it is reported that the detective officers who had the case in hand have been censured for the hasty conclusions they arrived at respecting the affair. It is also stated that Dr. Bond's evidence has been severely criticised by several prominent members of the medical profession on account of the positive statements made by him as to the cause of death, and that the police had had an interview with the Coroner, Sir John Humphreys, as to the best means of quashing the verdict given by the jury at the inquest.
The Leeds Mercury, 26 January 1884
Tuesday, January 29th, 1884
THE WATER SUPPLY OF LONDON,
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES
Sir,—In the course of the debate on Sir Richard Cross's Water
Bill in the last Parliament, an honourable member, Mr. Yorke I believe, observed
with regard to the quality of the water supplied to London "that it was only
question of thick and thin soup." This satirical remark in no way misrepresents
the actual condition of the water near the sources, whence seven-eights of the
London water is drawn at the present moment. A mere casual inspection of the
rivers to which the water companies pin their faith it sufficiently conclusive
on this point.
The stolid indifference of water companies at to the quality, purity, and wholesomeness of potable water supplied to London has probably never been more loathsomely exemplified than by the New River Company in the lamentable case of the death of the poor young City clerk, by murder and drowning, at Stoke Newington on New Year's night. The storage reservoir in which the body of the victim of this outrage was found covers, by the official report, about 42 acres of land, and has a storage capacity of 90,000,000 gallons of water. The bottom of the reservoir being thickly coated by mud and weeds greatly impeded, it appears, the work of the diver while engaged in searching for evidences of the murder. The body, it will be remembered, remained undiscovered nearly two days, and notwithstanding this fact that two days more were devoted to the work of the driver, the water company thought it quite unnecessary to have the water dawn off and the reservoir thoroughly cleaned out, although as one of the company's men said, on being spoken to, that "this could be easily done, but he saw no use in it," and. therefore, the disgustingly polluted water has since then been duly distributed to the customers of the New River Water Company. So shameful a proceeding on the part of a public body can scarcely be denounced in terms too strong. This, however, is by no mans a solitary case for only a few months before the Stoke Newington murder occurred, a person was found drowned in the Islingyon reservoir, another uncovered reservoir belonging to the New River Company, and one which I have a suspicion supplies this particular area belonging to the company. The New River Company, I believe, adopts filtration only to a limited extent, and we are without the consolation of knowing that the water actually passed through a sound filter before it reached our house cisterns.
At the outset the New River Water Company persists in doing as much damage as possible to the whole of its water, which is collected, in the first instance, from springs at Ware, by bringing it to London through an open channel 20 miles long, constructed in canal fashion, and exposed on every side to the contaminating influences of sewage works, effluent water, the surface drainage of the land, the resident population, and finally to storage in open reservoirs, where men and dogs drown and decompose. The upshot of all this is that, on the whole, New River water is less pure now than it was many years ago. Specimens of the water taken from the river and reservoir fully confirm this fact ; when examined under the microscope each specimen is seen to abound In living organisms and pollutions dangerous to health. Can the water examiner, who so carefully guards our home cisterns, do nothing to compel water companies to cover in their reservoirs, and prevent them from supplying us with "soup" horribly contaminated by the bodies of men and dogs?
I remain, Sir, your most obedient servant,
No.1, Bedford-square, Jan.24.
Times, 29 January 1884
Saturday, April 5th, 1884
[report on a lunacy case]
He said that he went to Yarmouth, and after looking for Mr. Scott for two days, served the petition on him on January 10. Mr. Scott asked witness if he had come to arrest him. Witness said no, to which Mr. Scott answered, "You seem straightforward, I think I can trust you, or else I would not hesitate to stick this knife into you." Mr. Scott produced the knife as he spoke. He also asked witness whether he knew who murdered Mr. Tower at Stoke Newington, and said that it was the police who had done it.
Times, 8 April, 1884
Tuesday, January 5th, 1886
THE STOKE NEWINGTON MURDER - The Grimsby police do not attach the slightest importance to the so-called confession of the young man Thackray, or King, which latter appears to be his real name. The story told by him of his share in the Stoke Newington murder they regard as altogether trumped up, and as based on a very inaccurate version of the circumstances of the tragedy picked up at the time, and probably on the spot, as he states that he was among the many thousands of visitors to the reservoir in which the body was found. The scepticism of the local police is fully shared by the metropolitan police officials, Assistant Commissioner Monroe having expressed the opinion to the superintendent of the Grimsby force that King's statements are improbable, or rather incredible, adding, however, that if so disposed the prisoner might give a more detailed account of the alleged following of the victim from Whitechapel-road to Islington. The explanation of the whole matter seems to be given by the mother of the prisoner, in a letter to Superintendent Waldron at Grimsby, in which she says of her son, "Poor fellow, he is much to be pitied, as at times he is not accountable for his actions. I hear he was confessed to being concerned in that murder in London. I know that is altogether false, as can be proved."
Times, 5 January, 1886