She was not listed as the canon five but she does show up as a consideration for a victim of Jack the Ripper so hey, I am going to mention her.
13th February 1891 – Police Constable Ernest Thompson was passing through the archway of the Great Eastern Railway. He hadn’t seen a body there on his patrol when he passed 15 minutes before and at 2.15am he heard a man’s footsteps walking away from him. He looked into the arch and shining his lamp in found the bloodied remains of a woman, she had a wound on her throat that ran from ear to ear. He called the officers nearby, PC Hyde and PC Hinton who were then joined by PC Elliott. He said that he had been nearby and was in plain clothes patrol. He was sure had she of made any noise it would have been heard.
The woman was dying when they found her, she had a faint pulse and was still warm. Sadly she was beyond help and Dr Oxley who arrived on the scene pronounced her dead upon his arrival. Frances Coles life had ended in a brutal murder and whilst they searched for signs of her killer her body was left on the scene as per the instructions of the 1888 murders, until someone of authority could come and take her to the mortuary. It was Dr George Bagster Phillips who conducted an on scene investigation and said the cause was due to he two cuts on her throat.
So why was she placed on the potential Ripper list? Fundamentally – the location, her character and her throat was slit. However the “two cuts” on the throat is a striking difference to the previous descriptions I found. Two cuts is often consistent with someone who has made a first attempt and then had to finish it off, not the work of an experienced serial killer.
The press however were very quick to link the murders together, well why not? After all Jack the Ripper had brought The Star to fame! The Times reported:
“The place, the time, the character of the victim, and other points of resemblance, recall in the most obvious way the series of crimes associated in the popular mind with the so-called “Jack the Ripper…”
The East London Advertiser put an article up Saturday 14th February 1891 admitting the injuries were not consistent but the time, location and character of the woman were. She was still not identified by this point, she was a woman unknown.
Frances Cole was identified by the people in the area who knew her, she had lived at the common lodging-houses in Thrawl Street and Flower and Dean Street, this was a local to the area of Ripper victims. The police had a name and could look into who might have killed her. Frances had been seen drinking with a man that evening and so they were interested in talking to him.
The companion was James Thomas Sadler, a 53 year old merchant seamen, and fireman, he had met her as he was a former client and they spent the night together. They went around on a pub crawl and were very drunk.
12th February 1891 – Around 7.30pm Frances turned up at a milliners shop and brought a black crepe hate, she was still very drunk. She went off with the company of a man who was picked out later on as Sadler. Later on that night Sadler was then attacked by a woman in a red shawl, two men came with her and robbed him of his watch and money. Frances failed to intervene and he told her that this has sparked an argument and he had left, he was still disgusted about that when police interviewed him.
Frances then turned up at the lodging house around 11.3-pm, still drunk she fell asleep in the kitchen. Not long after Sadler turned up and told the night watchman about the robbery, he was given some help to clan up but left as he had no money. At 12.30am (now 13th February) Frances was told to move on as she had no money to stay either.
She met with Ellen Callana who talked about how she was solicited by a violent man, Callana refused him and he punched her. Frances was approached by the same man and ignored her warnings. At the same time Sadler was trying to get back on the SS Fez and got a nasty scalp wound when he got in a fight with the dockworkers.
Sadler was arrested on the Saturday morning based on various witness descriptions. He offered no resistance and was taken for examination. He admitted to knowing her and having been in her company, however maintained he had nothing to do with her murder.
During the police enquiries they found a man named Donald Campbell had purchased a knife from Sadler the Friday morning for one shilling. He said the knife blade was stained and so washed the knife. He sold it on but could not identify who too.
Sadler was charged with Frances murder, the inquest drew it’s conclusion 27th February 1891. The jury felt that detaining Sadler was correct and that he was guilty, this led to further speculation that Jack The Ripper might well have been caught. However the case against him soon collapsed, he was able to prove he was mugged and he could show he had not been with her on those hours before she was murdered. The knife would have been too blunt as well so all in all it seemed like they had wanted him for an easy prosecution, did that leave Jack on the streets still? Sadler walked free along with friends who cheered for the release of their friend. And no doubt if Jack the Ripper was watching and the killer, he would have been silently cheering too.