Transcribers note: The articles on the Tompkyns/Tonkin murder, change the spelling of names, without notice, for the first two days, Tonkin was spelt Tompkyns in the Post-Dispatch and 1 day in the Globe-Democrat, and then changed to Tonkin with no explanation, several other names are treated the same way. If at any point I have put a word description, or comment, it will be in these sort of parentheses { }. All spellings of words are how they were in the paper. Karen King - kleeking@mindspring.com

 

St. Louis Daily Globe – Democrat December 21, 1881 page 3

THE TONKIN TRAGEDY.

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A Clew from Which the Police Expected Last Night to Locate the Woman.

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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.

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The police labored all day yesterday upon the theories heretofore explained in connection with the Lucas place tragedy. The only clew in use for the most part was; figuratively speaking, a pair of "nippers," and ladies of questionable repute who happened to be the unfortunate possessor of a fur cap suffered the constant inconvenience of being under police espionage. Three or four women were arrested during the day, but whether or not they were charged with or suspected of having anything to do with the murder the police did not make public. The officers working upon the case declared that there was nothing new whatever. In fact, if anybody happened to meet around headquarters a man with a shrewd eye and countenance denoting disappointment and disgust, he might have guessed that the man was a detective, and that he was hunting a clew to the murderer of Tonkin.

THE SEALSKIN CAP

still remains in possession of the police, but it appears to be one of those caps with a general capacity of fitness. It is like hundreds of other caps. The fact has been very clearly demonstrated that it does not belong to Ora Francis, the heroine of he Martin bigamy case.

Late last evening the clew so long sought was revealed to the officers, who accepted it with a corresponding revival of spirits, and to them it looked as if the deep gloom would be lifted. Indeed, they hoped that the dawn of to-day would find the crime and the criminal unveiled.

The case has along been fraught with the greatest difficulty, and while the new theory suggested may be very good and clear, still there are several important steps to be found before the true facts of the crime are exposed. In regard to the circumstance last alluded to, Chief Kennett said last night that it gave him more confidence in the possibility of capturing the murderer than anything yet discovered.

THE CLEW.

The story told at headquarters last night is that one of the several male pedestrians, who saw the woman flying through the streets, had shadowed her through many turns and changes of her course until she had reached her own home. In doing this the man who played the part of detective had acted merely out of a desire to gratify his curiosity, and supposing that the whole mystery would be explained by the police had neglected until the last moment to make known what he alone could tell.

After learning the bare facts that a man had taken upon himself this important responsibility, the first step to be gained by the police was to learn exactly what testimony this man was prepared to give, whether he could point out the residence of the woman and swear to her identity as the woman who fired.

The discovery of this clew gives rise to an entirely new theory, but one that is still in perfect accord with the developments in the case as given in yesterday’s paper. One of the theories heretofore suggested was that the couple seen by Wash Grimble on Nineteenth street and Washington avenue had been followed by Tonkin to the church-yard where he had been shot by the woman for his insolent curiosity. This, of course, is based upon the idea that the couple who separated in sight of Wash Trimble had come together again.

THE NEW THEORY

is this: The man first seen with the woman by the colored man went off home without turning back. Tonkin having forced himself upon the woman got her into the church-yard and attempted to frighten her into a compliance with some request. Possibly he wanted her to reveal her identity. She had shot him in her desperation simply to get away from him. The man seen by Mr. Turner from the opposite side of the street to be nearest the sidewalk, was not the man from whom she had parted, but a chance witness. He ran away when the woman fired, and in her flight past the Turner mansion and down Seventeenth street the man was just in front of her. In this connection a part of

TRIMBLE’S STATEMENT

becomes of great importance. He says that he saw the man and woman pass him twice on St. Charles street, near Nineteenth street, and saw Tonkin watching them. The evidently knew they were watched, and when they were in a vacant field near by he saw the man give the woman something which he thinks may have been a pistol. A moment after this movement Trimble saw the man and woman part. The man went south on Eighteenth street to Lucas place. Arriving there he walked east. The woman went north on Eighteenth street until she reached Washington avenue. At the moment of the separation Tonkin jumped out from behind the pile of debris and started east on St. Charles street. He was after the woman. Trimble still inquisitive, at Tonkin’s first move jumped from his hiding place and cutting across the vacant lot to the east side of the Woman’s Home, he ran northeast, and , coming out on Washington avenue, reached that thoroughfare just in time to see the woman enter it and then go east. A moment later Tonkin reached Washington avenue. Seeing Trimble, he asked, "Did you see that woman?"

"Yes," said Trimble.

"Which way did she go?" said Tonkin.

"There she is," said Trimble, pointing east to the person in question, who was tripping along the south sidewalk on Washington avenue, and that in a leisurely way.

"I’m going to catch on there," Tonkin said, and he half ran, half walked until he caught up with the woman. There was a word or two between them. The Trimble saw them lock arms and walk east past the University building as far on Washington avenue as Seventeenth street. Then they turned south. Trimble did not follow any further.

THE CHURCH-YARD SCENE.

Mr. Charles H. Turner says he was at the family residence on the southwest corner of Seventeenth street and Lucas place. He was standing upon the top step of his residence, which fronts on Lucas place getting a breath of fresh air and looking about him. He heard a noise that sounded like a horse stepping on a grating. A moment later he heard this noise again. The lamp on the northwest corner of the street named was lighted. It cast its bright rays upon the parties in front of Dr. Niccolls’ church. Right in under the lamp stood a man. Mr. Turner saw three figures. The man standing by the lamp, Tonkin, who stood on the terrace, and the woman, who stood west of him. Mr. Turner saw the woman fire a shot. He is positive that she fired it. At the report Tonkin staggered, but steadying himself he walked to the steps of the main entrance to the church and sat down. The man by the gas lamp, at the sound of the shot, darted across Lucas place on Seventeenth street and took the west sidewalk for it, running south and past the Turner mansion.

The woman, after firing the shot, darted down the stone steps. Mr. Turner says she ran like deer. As she crossed the street, following in the footsteps of the man who had gone before, she wrapped something about her head. She was a woman just below medium height. Her face was covered by the shawl.

Mr. Turner went into his house and got Mr. Arthur Lee, a friend, to cross the street with him to the spot where Tonkin sat groaning. Mr. Turner asked the wounded man how long had he been there, and he answered that he had just come, Mr. Turner said that he knew better than that, for he had stood on his doorstep for nearly five minutes and they had been there all that time. The Tonkin changed his tune, and said that he had been there about two minutes. He was passing the place, and had accidentally seen the two committing and immoral act. Mr. Turner was convinced that

TONKIN WAS LYING

and plied him with further questions, which resulted in that individual acknowledging that he had followed the man and woman from the rear of Art Hall.

At no time to his death did Tonkin tell the whole story. That he was reserving part of it was apparent to all who heard him.

With the above theory in mind, and to test ins correctness, a GLOBE – DEMOCRAT reporter started out on a tour of investigation yesterday, the result of which was to ascertain that according to the statements of Trimble and Mr. Turner, the man seen fleeing the scene of the shooting was very probably not the same man first seen with the woman near Memorial Hall – the man who handed something to her before they parted. The colored man says now of the person first seen with the woman, that he was about five feet eight inches tall, that he wore a high hat; had side whiskers, but no mustache. From where he stood he could see the man had on an overcoat, but he could not tell the color. Mr. Turner says that the man he saw looking on was probably 5 feet 8 inches in height, or about the medium; that he wore a dark cloth skating-cap and an overcoat reaching to the knees. He could not tell whether he wore whiskers or not. If the two are one and the same, the witnesses received very different impressions as to the head-covering.

TONKIN’S WIFE DANGEROUSLY ILL.

Among those who yesterday surveyed the ground which Tonkin traversed upon Sunday night, as pointed out by Wash Trimble, were Robert Suddaby, better known as "English Bob," who was Tonkin’s partner in the horse clipping line, and Robert Fey, the man who Tonkin before death expressed a wish to see, promising to tell him all.

Suddaby had been out to Eureka, Mo., on a hunting expedition, and the first he knew of Sunday nights occurrence he learned upon his arrival home yesterday morning. He was considerably cast down at the death of his partner. He said Tonkin came here from Newcastle, Eng., ten years ago when he was but 17 years old. He married a girl named Kate Burns, Suddaby said – adding that he had just left her – and that she was in critical condition. Suddaby said she was at her mother’s home, on Biddle street, near Broadway, but inquiry there developed the fact that she was at her own home, on Orange street, near Seventeenth street. Her mother is with her there. The shock of a husband’s death occurring as it did, would under ordinary circumstances be hard for a wife to bear, but when the woman is in a delicate condition as is the case with Mrs. Tonkin, the shock is a terrible one, and in this instance may result fatally. At midnight she was alive, but in a dangerous condition.

THE CHANGE OF THEORIES.

The statement of Wash Trimble, the colored janitor of the Manual Training School attached to Washington University, which was published in yesterday’s GLOBE – DEMOCRAT, was clutched at by the "detectives." Until they read it they were sublimely ignorant of the fact that a witness existed who had seen Tonkin and the woman meet and walk down Washington avenue. The witness, Trimble, was found by a reporter of this paper on Monday. Yesterday all the reporters of all the other papers who were at work on the mystery, all the detectives, the police officers of the beat, a score of Tonkin’s friends and other interested parties invaded Mr. Trimble’s stamping ground and plied him with all sorts of questions. He had but one answer to make. That was, "Buy the GLOBE – DEMOCRAT. My statement appears in it. That’s the whole story."

This did not satisfy the more inquisitive, however, and Trimble was compelled to come out in the rain and go over the ground he went with the reporter on Monday night.

His statement was clear upon its second rendering as upon its first, and it had one effect, and that was the changing of the theory first held by the "detectives." They had argued that a man an woman were in the church-yard. Tonkin surprised them. The man, sooner than have the woman exposed, shot and killed the man who sought to expose her. Mr. Turner’s opinion the detectives accounted for by saying that he was mistaken. The man had fired the shot, not the woman.

But now they changed their tune. Mr. Turner was right. The woman had fired the shot. Tonkin had gone into the church-yard with her. they had either quarreled in there, and she had backed him out at the pistol’s point and then shot him and she had shot him almost immediately upon their arrival there. But who was the man upon the corner? He might have been the person who Trimble first saw with the woman, or he might not have been the same person. Her first paramour, may have really left her alone with Tonkin. The latter may have taken the woman to the church-yard. Arriving there, there may have been a quarrel. The who Mr. Turner saw under the lamp may, in the light of the latest developments, alluded to in these columns, have been passing the church at the time of the quarrel and stopped and listened to it. Upon hearing the shot which ended it, he may, not caring to be mixed up in the affair at all, have taken to his heels, and the woman in her excitement not noticing the way the man had run, took his very course. This being the case, it may be that he really changed his mind after a little run and instead of keeping up the race stopped, waited for the woman to pass, and then followed her. This may be the man through whom the police expect to locate the woman and furnish a complete chain of evidence.

THE INQUEST.

The body of Tonkins was transferred from the City Hospital to the Morgue yesterday. His mother, hearing that it was there, came and tried to persuade the officials to let her take it away for private burial, but of course the request could not be granted at that time. She was told, however, that she would be allowed to have it after the inquest to-day. She insisted upon having it placed in a private ice-box for better preservation, and as this did not carry with it the necessity of removal the favor was granted. The post-mortem examination will be held this morning, and the inquest has been arranged to take place at 1 o’clock this afternoon.