At 1.44am PC Watkins turned out of Leadenhall Street, strolled along Mitre Street, and veered right into Mitre Square. Almost immediately he saw a sight that sent him reeling back in horror.
Catherine Eddowes was lying on her back in a pool of blood, with her clothes thrown up over her waist.
Racing across the square Watkins burst into Kearley and Tonge's warehouse where he knew retired police man, George Morris, was working as a night watchman. "For God’s sake mate," cried Watkins "come to my assistance…here is another woman cut to pieces."
Pausing to get his lamp, the night watchman followed Watkins to the square's south west corner, took one look at the body, and raced off along Mitre Street towards Aldgate, blowing furiously on his whistle as he ran.
In Aldgate he met PC James Harvey and PC Holland and brought them back to the square. Holland went immediately to fetch Dr George William Sequeira, from his abode on nearby Jewry Street. Sequeira was at the scene by 1.55am and later told the inquest that the place where the murder had occurred was probably the darkest part of Mitre Square, although there had certainly been enough light for the miscreant to perpetrate the deed.
Death, he said, would have been instantaneous once the murderer had cut the windpipe and the blood vessels. Significantly, he was of the opinion that the murderer possessed no great anatomical skill - in other words he had only a basic knowledge of anatomy - and when asked by the Coroner if he would have expected the murderer to be bespattered with blood, replied "Not necessarily."
But at the scene of the murder in the early hours of that morning, Sequeira did little more than pronounce life extinct and decided not to touch the body, preferring instead to await the arrival of the City Police Divisional Surgeon, Dr Frederick Gordon Brown.
Meanwhile police officers were converging on Mitre Square from all over the City. Inspector Edward Collard arrived from Bishopsgate Police Station and ordered an immediate search of the neighbourhood instructing that door to door inquiries were to be made of the area around Mitre Square.
Next on the scene was Superintendent James McWilliam, head of the City Police Detective Department, who arrived with a number of detectives, all of whom he sent off to make a thorough search of the Spitalfields streets and lodging houses.
As the officers began to fan out through the streets several men were stopped and questioned, but to no avail. The killer, it appeared, had simply melted away into the night.
It is probable that he made his escape via the adjacent St James’s Place where there was a Metropolitan Fire Escape Station. Yet the firemen on duty had seen or heard a nothing.
Neither had City Police Constable Richard Pearse who lived at number 3 Mitre Square, where his bedroom window looked across at the murder site.
George Morris, the night watchman, whose whistle had first alerted the police at large to the atrocity, expressed himself totally baffled as to how such a brutal crime could have been committed close by, without him hearing a sound.
As the Illustrated Police News reported:-
...He could hear the footsteps of the policeman as he passed on his beat every quarter of an hour, so that it appeared impossible that the woman could have uttered any sound without his detecting it. It was only on the 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.”
Stranger still was the fact that at the exact moment that Catherine Eddowes was going with her murderer into Mitre Square, three City Detectives, Daniel Halse, Robert Outram and Edward Marriot, were busily orchestrating plain clothes patrols of the City's eastern fringe.
Yet the murderer had, apparently, managed to slip past them undetected and then had headed back into the streets of the East End.
Halse was over by St Botolph’s Church when he learnt of the murder at just before 2am.
Hurrying to Mitre Square he gave instructions to the constables present to search the neighbourhood.
Halse then set off to make his own search, heading first for Middlesex Street from which he turned into Wentworth Street, where he stopped to question two men. Both though were able to give him a satisfactory account of their movements and he allowed them to continue on their way.
He then passed through Goulston Street at around 2.20am, where he had noticed nothing untoward, and then headed back to Mitre Square.
Here he found that the body had been removed to the Golden Lane Mortuary.