Unsolved Murders

Annie Austin

Age: 28

Sex: female

Date: 26 May 1901

Place: 37 Dorset Street, Spitalfields, London

Annie Austen was killed at a lodging house in Whitechapel.

She had gone with a man to a lodging house at 37 Dorset Street around midnight on Saturday 25 May 1901 and got a cubicle on the second floor, cubicle 15. The man left in the middle of the night leaving the door to the cubicle open after which groans were heard to come from in the room.

When another regular female lodger went past the open cubicle early on the Sunday morning, 26 May 1901, she found Annie Austen writhing about on the bed. A newspaper article stated that she found a big strapping woman in great pain who was just able to say, 'I am bad, what can I do? Help me'. Another newspaper article stated that she had said, 'I have been stabbed', and when asked by who, she had said, 'The man I came here with'.

They managed to dress her and get her to the London Hospital but she died there on Monday 27 May 1901.

She had been stabbed in the lower part of her body, including the vagina and anus, with a sharp instrument.

No trace of the man that had been with her was ever found. He was said to be about 40, short, dark and thick-set with Semitic features and wearing a billycock hat.

The owner of the lodging house said that he had 72 cubicles under his control and that no one could leave until he opened the door at 5am and that he had been on duty all night.

Annie Austen was not well known in the neighbourhood. She was described as being somewhat respectably dressed and altogether above the type of woman usually to be seen in the lodging-houses in the locality.

The owner of the lodging house said that his house was registered under the Act and was subject to the usual regulations. He said that he knew that one of those was to the effect that persons of different sexes should not be allowed to occupy the same room unless they were married or were children under the age of 10 years old, but said that he did not carry it out as enquiries only led to insults.

On 24 May 1901 Annie Austen's husband was arrested at his lodgings in Battersea. However, the suspect was described as being dark and short whilst Annie Austen's husband was nearly six feet tall. However, the woman who had given the description said that when she saw the husband at the inquest she recognised his gait and confirmed that he was the person that she had seen on the Saturday night with Annie Austen. She went home to think about it and then told the police and the next day and picked him out from ten men in a police line-up. She said that he was even wearing the same ragged clothes as she had seen the man wearing on the Saturday night. Her evidence however was considered to be unreliable as it contradicted her original sworn statement. Annie Austen's husband was charged on 30 May with her murder but was not tried or convicted. It was also noted that when Annie Austen had said who had stabbed her she had said that she was stabbed by the man that she was with and at no stage referred to her husband. Also, at the hospital before she died she had said to the doctor, 'If I knew who he was I would give him over to the police'.

Annie Austen had been separated from her husband for the previous ten days.

Her husband said that he had spent part of the Saterday night in a van in Bridges Road, Battersea, but it was cold and he later walked about and at 7.30am he was on Battersea Bridge.

At the inquest the wife of the deputy at the lodging house said that Annie Austen's husband had arrived at the lodging house between 9.30pm and 10pm on the Saturday night with a woman that she had never seen before and had hired a double bed for the night paying 1s. 6d. She said that she showed the couple their cubicle and then went back downstairs and saw no more of them. It was on the basis of her statement that Annie Austen's husband had been taken into custody.

Another newspaper article described Annie Austen as being well known in the area and that she had two children and that her husband lived nearby in another lodging house.

It was considered a mystery as to how the murderer had left the lodging house as there was no other means of entering or leaving the building except by the front door which the manager had said was always kept secured when not under supervision.

Other newspaper reports stated that the surgeon had said that the wounds to Annie Austen had been caused by a large pocket knife and also suggested that Annie Austen had been under the influence of alcohol or some narcotic.

The inquest heard that the police were not informed of the crime until 36 hours after it was committed and that Annie Austin had not been seen at the hospital until 12 hours after admission.

The crime was noted for being within a stones' throw of the location where Mary Kelly had been murdered in 1888 and there was a lot of talk about its similarities to the Jack The Ripper murders of that year.

Dorset Street has since been built over, but was just to the north of White's Row off Commercial Street in Whitechapel.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.scribd.com

see Western Times - Thursday 20 June 1901

see Shetland Times - Saturday 08 June 1901

see Worcestershire Chronicle - Saturday 01 June 1901

see Dundee Evening Post - Wednesday 29 May 1901

see Penny Illustrated Paper - Saturday 08 June 1901

see Northants Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 28 May 1901

see Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Thursday 20 June 1901

see Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper - Sunday 09 June 1901

see Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 01 June 1901

see Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper - Sunday 02 June 1901

see Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Friday 31 May 1901

see National Library of Scotland

see Youtube