Girl's Head Severed While She Was Alive; Clue to Slayer Found
Autopsy Conducted by Three Physicians Shows That Fiendish Murderer Did Not Wait for Death Before Beginning Dismemberment of His Victim's Body.
No Mark of a Bullet or Any Sign of Poison.
Retailer Who Sold Six Pillow Cases Similar to One Wrapped About Part of Body Has Been Located and He Knows Purchasers' Names
That the victim of the Hudson River mystery was dismembered while life was still in her body was the unassailable finding of three doctors, who to-day performed an autopsy upon the two segments of a young woman's body found in the river on Friday and yesterday. Death was ascribed to the shock caused by the severance of her limbs and head.
Because of the absence of the murdered girl's head – now being dragged for over three miles of the river's course along the Jersey shore – the physicians could only guess that the victim of murderous fiends had been stunned either by a blow on the head or by inhaling some anaesthetic and that while she lay in a come the work of dismemberment was done. No mark of knife or bullet appeared on the torso – there was no trace of poison in the stomach.
New York Doctor at Autopsy
County Physician George W. King and his assistant, Dr. Arthur J. Haskins, were assisted in the autopsy by Coroner's Physician Dr. Timothy J. Lehane of Manhattan. Deacon Murphy, representing the office of District-Attorney Whitman, and Detective McDonald of the Hudson County Prosecutor's office were the lay witnesses of the autopsy. The cause of death was ascribed by the physicians as follows:
“Death due to hemorrhage caused by the severance of the femoral artery, abdominal aorta, cartoid [sic] and brachial arteries.”
The severing of these arteries represents the cuts made by the instruments of the murderer in preparing to dispose of his victim's body. The doctors also discovered that the victim had recently been expecting motherhood but that by artificial means the working of nature had been defeated. There was no evidence of a criminal operation.
A great step toward the solution of the mystery was made late this afternoon when the officials of the Robinson Reders Feather Company of Newark, N. J., who, it was learned, manufactured the pillow cases in which the two fragments of the body were stuffed, gave to the Hudson County authorities the name of the retailer who had bought six pillow cases of the peculiar size of those used by the murderer.
This retailer, as it was stated by one of the Newark manufacturers this afternoon, has been able to give to the authorities the named and addresses of the customers who had purchased these pillow cases from him.
How Dealers Traced the Pillow Cases
The manufacturers were aided in their search through sales records by the fact that the pillow cases were of an unusual size. The retailer was able through this peculiarity to remember to whom he had sold them.
Detectives of Hudson County began immediate work on these new clues aided by Headquarters men in Manhattan.
The discovery of the body of a stillborn infant on the shore a few hundred feet away from the spot where the lower portion of the woman's body was found yesterday was not overlooked by the authorities, eager to seize upon any scrap that seems evidence pointing to the solution of the mystery.
It was said by Detectives Charlock of the Hudson County Prosecutor's office and Lyons of the Weehawken ….. day that there were no external evidences upon the lower section of the woman's trunk – found near the Delaware and Hudson coal dock yesterday wrapped and bound in a manner similar to that of the upper half of the torso found on Friday – to lead to the assumption that an illegal operation had been performed upon the victim of the sensational crime now only beginning to be uncovered.
On the contrary there was every evidence to indicate that approaching motherhood, uninterrupted by illegal practices, established the motive for slaying the young woman and disposing of her body in separate packages in the river.
No Marks of Violence on the Body.
“That is positively no marks of violence upon either the upper or lower half of the body.: said Detective Charlock. “It is our opinion that the young woman was murdered and that the motive was the same as that in the “Billy” Brown murder near Herkimer. Had a criminal operation been attempted or death resulted from such a cause it would not need an autopsy to confirm that fact.”
The second telling circumstance in the sensational crime now pushing the agents of justice both in New Jersey and Manhattan to the utmost endeavor is the determination by the Weehawken and county authorities that the dismemberment of the body was not done by one unknowing in the ways of surgery, but at the hands of a person accustomed to the use of a scalpel and surgeon's saw. In the proof of this belief they point to the fact that the limbs were removed half way down the thigh instead of at the hip socket, because that would have been the quickest and the easiest method for one working under the goad of fear.
The marks of the knife and saw are such as to preclude the possibility that any tools except the specialised instruments of the surgeon were used. No amateur under the stress of terror could have done his gruesome task with absolutely no bungling and haggling.
The detectives lean to the theory that the ten-pound piece of mica gneiss which was found yesterday as anchoring weight in the package containing the lower half of the trunk had been used as an anchor for a small boat – presumably a fisherman's craft on the Hudson.
Chunks of rock are usually used for this purpose, and in the opinion of the detectives the murderer used a small boat to distribute his packages. After sinking one of more his eye caught the rock anchor in the boat he used and he utilised that to sink the portion of the body which constituted a revelation of the motive for his crime.
Two Girls Saw a Hand and Arm in Water.
As the tide reached its ebb at 5 o'clock yesterday morning, Joseph Hagman and Michael Brennan, fishing for crabs [300?] feet north of the Delaware and Hudson Coal Dock, at Weehawken, saw a bundle in the mud. There was no way to determine whether it had floated in or had been dropped from the railroad tracks a few feet away.
Formation of Rock Points to Manhattan Crime.
A coarse, strong, two-strand rope and yards of fine copper wire wound with white silk were about the bundle. When the cord and wires had been cut and the paper removed a hemstitched pillow slip was revealed, around which was a section of the New York Times of Sunday, Aug. 31. There was also between the brown wrapping paper and the body a jagged piece of rock of the micaceous gneiss type found in Manhattan and the Bronx, but nowhere in New Jersey. The stone weighed about ten pounds and was eleven inches long and four inches across at the widest point.
It did not take long then to discover that part of a human body was inside the [illeg.]. Two Erie Ferry watchmen who were coming along took charge and notified the authorities at Weehawken. After a hurried investigation they notified Dr. George W. King, County Physician, at Hoboken.
Precautions were taken to preserve every possible clue that might be found about the package. The cords and wires were cut so as to save intact the knots for police inspection. The brown wrapping paper contained nothing promising, but the section of Times proved that the murder was committed on or after Aug. 31 – a week ago yesterday, and the fragment of rock indicated it was in New York.
The copper wire offered nothing in the way of a clue. It is the kind used by thousands of milliners, by electricians and by persons in many other callings. It was similar to that around the part of the body found three miles further up the Hudson on Friday.
The pillow slip, however, is expected to play an important part in subsequent developments. It is of good material, and is one of the kind used to cover a “day pillow.” About ten inches from the opening was a handworked design surrounding the capital letter “A,” embroidered in white linen. Such a design can be bought in any notion store. The work itself is not extra good, and indicates a service. The letter “A” was the only identifying mark on the slip as a microscopic examination showed. It had been hoped there might be a laundry mark, or the stamped name of some hotel, but nothing of the kind was found, which convinces the police that the slip was owned by a private family. Consequently they believe the woman was killed and dismembered in some private dwelling or flat in New York.
Quite a crowd had gathered about the fishermen as they were unwrapping the package guessing as to its contents. Hagman, who is a paper hanger, insisted that the package could not contain anything valuable, or it would not have been allowed to remain there so long, and as he peered in he shouted: “It's a human body. The upper part of the legs are here and some of the stomach.”
An attendant of the Hoboken morgue was sent in an automobile to get the package, and a superficial examination by Dr. King showed that the thighs had been cut from the part of the body already in the back room of the morgue. Then evidence was found that the woman would have become a mother in four months.
The new discovery added materially to the description the authorities re so anxious to make complete. The dimensions of the thighs proved the woman to be a bit heavier that was at first supposed. It is now believed that she may have weighed between 140 and 145 pounds instead of a maximum of 130. The estimate as to her age, however, remained the same. That the woman was of almost perfect proportions was proved. The she possessed dark brown hair, tinged with bronze, was also established. A clot of hair had been tossed into the pillow slip, and when dried was seen to be rich in color and exceedingly fine. It was such hair as is well cared for by its possessor.
Girl's Head Severed While She Was Alive; Clue to Slayer Found, The Evening World, 8 September 1913, page 1, column 5, and page 2, column 1.