Some Preliminary Hypotheses Concerning Charles Allen Lechmere in Relation to the Murder of Mary Ann Nichols – Friday 31 August 1888

An Aside

It is entirely possible that as Lechmere entered into Buck’s Row from Brady Street that, as he heard Robert Paul approaching, he too was heard by the killer, and disturbing him (assuming it was a man and a single person), who then may have walked, under the cover of darkness, to the west. While PC Jonas Mizen (56H, Whitechapel) was on his beat in the area of Hanbury Street to the west, there are at least six different routes the perpetrator could have taken to escape the scene. In this scenario Lechmere did simply happen upon the woman lying at the gateway, but it fails to answer for the time he spent at the scene without raising the alarm. As the place was an area known for street prostitution, he may have had reasons for tarrying about the area – possibly explaining why he never gave his correct name and withheld his address. He was a married man with children.

If he was the killer it is possible that he solicited Mary Ann (‘Polly’) Nichols for sex in the locality and brought her to the darkness and seclusion of Buck’s Row or found her already there. In this second scenario, had he lied about the time he left home, then he had enough time to carry out the deadly assault, and had he told the truth he still had time to perpetrate the same. This latter case is greatly facilitated with the possibility of the victim being on Buck’s Row as Lechmere arrived. With Mary Ann subdued, and almost decapitated, he would have heard Robert Paul coming around the corner from Brady Street and would have had time to step back from the body and size up the potential threat from the newcomer. It is altogether possible that hewaited to see the reaction of Robert Paul before continuing on with the pretence of having discovered the body.

One other possibility is that both men – Lechmere and Paul – were in league with one another. This theory, although farfetched, is not as farfetched as it might seem. PC John Neil (97J, Bethnal Green) reports that he had seen two slaughterhouse-workmen at work in the area about a quarter past three in the morning, and again when he discovered the body of Nichols. Only seconds after Lechmere and Paul leave the scene Neil arrives, and before PC Mizen gets to him, two men wander towards PC Neil and the body of Mary Ann Nichols. May these two men be Lechmere and Paul? This would explain the confusion of Mizen stating that the two men told him that another policeman wanted him on Buck’s Row. This theory is not very strong at all, and is mentioned here only to highlight the logical possibility.