A Nineteenth Century Murder Mystery

 From St. Louis Newspapers

The Tonkin Murder Case, Transcribed by Karen King.

Illustration from an 1871 letterhead of St. Louis looking west from the east side of Eads Bridge. Contributed by Rolf  Maschwitz.

Note the following articles are in regard to the Tompkyns/Tonkin murder case. The name was spelled either as "Tompkyns" or "Tonkin" depending on which paper covered the story.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 19, 1881:

Slaying A Spy (Fred Tompkyns Shot at Night on a Church Step. His Paul Pry Propensities Bring Him to Death’s Door. To-Day’s Developments in the Midnight Tragedy in Lucas Place.)  [Picture of 2nd Presbyterian Church at left where crime occurred]



St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 19, 1881: 

A Midnight Tragedy: Fred Tompkyns Receives a Mortal Wound in a Mysterious Manner. Seventeenth Street and Lucas Place the Scene of the Shooting – A Man and a Woman Seen Running Away.

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 20, 1881:

Tonkin Trapped: Horse-Clipper Owes His Death to a Mania for Shadowing People. Developments in the Church-Yard Tragedy – The Shot Fired by a Woman – Descriptions of the Unknown Couple – A Witness to the Movements of the Followed and the Follower – Arrests on General Principles and Releases on Alibis.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 20, 1881:

Still A Mystery.  No Solution Yet Offered of Sunday Night's Murder.  Fred Tompkyn's Death at the Hospital Last Night.

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 21, 1881:

The Tonkin Tragedy: A Clew from Which the Police Expected Last Night to Locate the Woman. Her Movements Followed fraom Almost the Commencement of the Flight, Until She Was Housed – The Affair Beginning to Assume Phases Very Different from the First Version of It.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 21, 1881:

The Tonkin Murder. Kitty Lamont and Billy Scharlow Arrested. As Interview with the Woman in the Case.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 22, 1881:

The Tonkin Tragedy Latest Developments In Unraveling the Mystery.Kitty Lamont Tells Her Story on the Stand.Scenes at the Coroner’s Inquest To-Day.Wash Trimble’s Testimony – Weaving the Woof {wool?} Around Kitty and Billy Scharlow.

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 22, 1881:

Did Sharlot Shoot? The Only Element of Mystery Left in the Tragedy of Sunday Night. Kitty Mulcahy the Woman in the Church-Yard – Her Contradictory Stories Convicting Evidence of Alibi Offered for the Man Suspected – A Boy on a Lark Sees It All – The Arrest of Mollie Maloney – What She Says.The Woman Tells Half the Secret./ What Kittie Told a Reporter. /Thomas Campher Corroborates Scharlot./ Scharlot Makes His Statement./ At the Restaurant./How the Arrest Came To Be Made./The Boy Who Saw the Shooting./The Arrest of Mollie Maloney. . [Sketch of Kitty Mulcahy at left]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 23, 1881:

Who Was She ? A New Witness in the Tonkin Murder Case Discovered

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 23, 1881:

Scharlot's Alibi The Prisoner’s Defense Weakened by the Inquest, but Strengthened by His Friends. Kitty Mulcahy’s Suspicious Anxiety to Shield Him – The Statement of the Girl Who Went to Warn – John Buckley Recollects the Meeting Near Memorial Hall – How the Prisoner’s Father and Mother Recollect the Hour

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 24, 1881:

Kitty Confesses The Secret of Lucas Place Tragedy Out, After Much Persuasion.An Unknown Man Supplies the Weapon – The Woman Levels and Pulls the Trigger – Scharlot and Campher Relieved of Suspicion – The Description of the Supposed Accomplice.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 24, 1881:

Who Shot Tonkin ? Kittie Mulcahy Claims That She Did. A Long Confession of Guilt by the Woman.A Loop Found in the Tangled Skein of Evidence.

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 25, 1881:

The Tonkin Tragedy Kitty Mulcahy Clings to Her Confession of Firing the Pistol.Her Companion’s Identity Still a Mystery – A Reward Offered for the Pistol – The Girl’s Story of Going Astray.

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 26-29, 1881:

Dec 26: Tonkin Taken to the Tomb Obsequies of the Victim of a Sunday Night’s Shooting – The Confessed Murderess and Her Christmas Cheer.

Dec 26: The Prisoner's Christmas

Dec 27: Kitty Sees Ghost The Murderess of Tonkin Can't Sleep. An Unavailing Search For an Alleged Husband

Dec 28: A Criminal Cornundrum The Police Puzzled to Decide What to Do with the Girl Who Shot Tonkin

Dec 29: A Warrant for Kitty Mulcahey

St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 26-30, 1881:

Dec 26: Haunted: Billy Scharlow Chats About the Mulcahy Family and the Murder.Kittie Mulcahy Says She is Afraid to Sleep. And Dashes Cold Water in Her Face When She Becomes Drowsy.

Dec 27: Why Kittie is Detained: She Can Secure Her Release if She Desires to.

Dec 27: Kittie Mulcahy: A Pen Sketch and Engraving of the Murderers of Fred Tonkin. Kittie Still Sticks to the Truth of her Confession – A talk with her.

Dec 28: "I AINT’T AFRAID": "And Will Go to H—l or the Pen With My Billy." Kittie Mulcahy Charged With Murder in the First Degree.

Dec 30: Kittie Mulcahy's Picture

Miscellaneous Articles From  Dec 19-28, 1881, St. Louis Post Dispatch. (Not About the Tonkin Murder)

Transcribed by Karen King.


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