Witness at Catherine Eddowes' inquest.
Born George James Morris on 8th February 1834, Teddington, son of John and Elizabeth Morris.
Joined Metropolitan Police on 22nd December 1856 and was PC 211 T-division (Hammersmith). He retired on 13th January 1882 owing to illness (stomach disease).
Morris was nightwatchman at the Kearley and Tonge warehouse in Mitre Square, going on duty at 7.00am on 29th September 1888. He occupied most of his shift by cleaning offices and looking around the warehouse. He had heard nothing out of the ordinary that night and claimed that 'if there had been any cry of distress, I would have heard it'. At 1.45am, 30th September, Morris was sweeping some steps inside as PC Edward Watkins knocked at the warehouse door, which was ajar (and had been for several minutes). Watkins said to Morris "For God's sake mate, come to my assistance". Morris got his lamp and went outside, asking "what's the matter?" to which PC Watkins replied "there's another woman been cut to pieces".
Morris went to the corner of the square where Catherine Eddowes' lay and shone his lamp on the body. He immediately blew his own whistle and ran along Mitre Street into Aldgate, seeing nobody suspicious as he did so. In Aldgate he was approached by two constables, PC James Harvey and PC Holland who asked him what was the matter. He told them of the murder and they accompanied him to Mitre Square before he went back to the warehouse.
Morris claimed to have been in the warehouse constantly between 11pm and 1am the following morning.
The day after the murder, Morris was interviewed by the press, adding some small titbits of information omitted from his original statement:
"Do you always take a look out into the square?"
"Every night in the week, barring Saturday night, I stand at this door and smoke my pipe from one till two o'clock. It is a habit with me, and the police on the beat know it well, but on Saturday nights I have some work to do inside that interferes with it."
"Did you see anything lying about that indicated what sort of man the murderer might be?"
"I saw the doctor pick up two studs out of the pool of blood and put them in the shell."
"But are there any signs of a struggle having taken place?"
"No, but the studs might have been worked out by the man's own exertions in using the knife."
Another press report highlighted the irony of a claim Morris had made to a police officer earlier that evening:
The strangest part of the whole thing was that he did not hear the slightest sound. As a rule he could hear the footsteps of the policeman as he passed on his beat every quarter of an hour, so the it appeared impossible that the woman could have uttered any sound without his detecting it. It was only on that night that he remarked to some policeman that he wished the "butcher" would come round Mitre square, and he would give him a doing; yet the "butcher" had come, and he was perfectly ignorant of it.
Rob Hills' article in Ripperologist 75 (cited here) suggests that George Morris may have been Jack the Ripper.
- Biographical information from Cat's Cradle, by Rob Hills, Ripperologist 75, Jan 2007
- Coroner's inquest (L), 1888, No.135, Catherine Eddowes Inquest, 1888 (Corporation of London Record Office)
- The Star, 1st October 1888
- Morning Advertiser, 1st October 1888