On Saturday, February 25th 1888 a thirty-eight-year-old widow named Annie Millwood, who lived in White's Row, Spitalfields, was admitted to the Whitechapel Workhouse Infirmary suffering from stab wounds to her legs and the lower part of her abdomen.
According to the 7th April edition of the East London Post and City Chronicle, Annie Millwood:-
...stated that she had been attacked by a man who she did not know, and who stabbed her with a clasp knife which he took from his pocket.
No one appears to have seen the attack, and as far as at present is ascertained there is only the woman’s statement to bear out the allegations of an attack, though that she had been stabbed cannot be denied.
After her admission to the infirmary deceased progressed favourably, and was sent to the South Grove Workhouse, but while engaged in some occupation at the rear of the building she was observed to fall, and on assistance being given it was found that she was dead...”
At her subsequent inquest it was apparent that her death was not related to the injuries she had sustained in the assault, and the jury returned a verdict of death from natural causes.
That does not, however, preclude her from being an early victim of Jack the Ripper.
Her attacker had certainly targeted her lower abdominal region as would happen with Martha Tabram, a later victim of a viscous and fatal attack, and as would happen with three of the later canonical victims.
The problem is that the information concerning the attack on Annie Millwood is sparse and what we know of it is based solely on her account of what happened an account which, it has been suggested, may have been a fiction intended to conceal the fact that her injuries were self inflicted.
SUDDEN DEATH AT THE WHITECHAPEL WORKHOUSE. An inquest was held on Thursday at the Baker's Row Infirmary, touching the death of Annie Milwood, aged 38.
Thomas Radenek stated:- "I am the master of the Whitechapel Union Workhouse , South Grove. The deceased was admitted to the workhouse on the 21st ult., and on Saturday the 31st ult. my attention was drawn to her as she was then laying down in the corridor, apparent in a fit.
I immediately telephoned to the infirmary for medical aid, and finding the case to be one of great urgency I procured the services of Dr. Wheeler, of Mile End-road, who came at once and pronounced life to be extinct.
Dr. Arthur arrived shortly afterwards from the infirmary, and corroborated Dr. Wheeler, and I then placed her in a shell, and sent the body to the mortuary.
She had never complained of feeling unwell, but on the other hand she seemed always in excellent spirits."
Richard Sage, employed as messenger at the workhouse stated:- "About 11.40 a.m. on the 31st ult. I was standing at the door conversing with the deceased, and my attention being called in another direction I turned my back to her, and after a space of three minutes I returned to find her lying down with her face on the step.
I acquainted the porter, who had her carried into the corridor."
Dr. Arthur, assistant medical officer at the infirmary, having given evidence of the result of post mortem examination, the jury at once returned a verdict of death from natural causes.
Source:Tower Hamlets Independent and East End Local Advertiser - Saturday 07 April 1888