4 December 1888
HE ARRIVED SUNDAY UNDER A FALSE NAME FROM FRANCE
Francis Tumblety, or Twomblety, who was arrested in London for supposed complicity in the Whitechapel crimes and held under bail for other offenses, arrived in this city Sunday, and is now stopping in East Tenth street. Two of Inspector Byrnes's men are watching him, and so is an English detective who is making himself the laughing stock of the entire neighborhood.
When the French line steamer La Bretagne, from Havre, came to her dock at 1:30 Sunday afternoon two keen-looking men pushed through the crowd and stood on either side of the gangplank. They glanced impatiently at the passengers until a big, fine-looking man hurried across the deck and began to descend. He had a heavy, fierce-looking mustache, waxed at the ends; his face was pale and he looked hurried and excited. He wore a dark blue ulster, with belt buttoned. He carried unders his arm two canes and an umbrella fastened together with a strap.
He hurriedly engaged a cab, gave the directions in a low voice and was driven away. The two keen-looking men jumped into another cab and followed him. The fine-looking man was the notorious Dr. Francis Twomblety or Tumblety, and his pursuers were two of Inspector Byrnes's best men, Crowley and Hickey.
Dr. Twomblety's cab stopped at Fourth avenue and 10th street, where the doctor got out, paid the driver and stepped briskly up the steps of No. 75 East Tenth street, the Arnold House. He pulled the bell, and, as no one came, he grew impatient and walked a little further down the street to No. 81. Here there was another delay in responding to his summons, and he became impatient that he tried the next house No. 79. This time there was a prompt answer to his ring and he entered. It was just 2:20 when the door closed on Dr. Twomblety and he has not been seen since.
Many people were searching for the doctor yesterday and the bell of No. 79 was kept merrily jingling all day long. The owner of the house is Mrs. McNamara who rents out apartments to gentlemen. She is a fat, good-natured, old lady and a firm believer in the doctor who is an old friend. Mrs. McNamara at first said the doctor was stopping there. He had spent the night in his room, she said, and in the morning he had gone downtown to get his baggage. He would be back at 2 o'clock. The next statement was that the doctor had not been in her house for two months; that he was abroad, poor dear gentleman, for his health; she had heard some of those awful stories about him, but bless his heart, he would not hurt a chicken! Why he never owed her a cent in his life, and once he had walked up three flights of stairs to pay her a dollar!
The revised story, to which Mrs. McNamara stuck tenaciously at last, was that she had no idea who Dr. Twomblety was. She didn't know anything about him, didn't want to know anything about him, didn't want to know anything and could not understand why she was bothered so much.
It was just as this story was being furnished to the press that a new character appeared on the scene, and it was not long before he completely absorbed the attention of every one. He was a little man with enormous red side whiskers and a smoothly shaven chin. He was dressed in an English tweed suit and wore an enormous pair of boots with soles an inch thick. He could not be mistaken in his mission. There was an elaborate attempt at concealment and mystery which could not be possibly misunderstood. Everything about him told of his business. From his little billycock hat, alternately set jauntilly on the side of his head and pulled lowering over his eyes, down to the very bottom of his thick boots, he was a typical English detective. If he had been put on a stage just as he paraded up and down Fourth avenue and Tenth street yesterday he would have been called a caricature.
First he would assume his heavy villain appearance. Then his hat would be pulled down over his eyes and he would walk up and down in front of No. 79 staring intently into the windows as he passed, to the intense dismay of Mrs. McNamara, who was peering out behind the blinds at him with ever-increasing alarm. Then his mood changed. His hat was pushed back in a devil-may-care way and he marched to No. 79 with a swagger, whistling gayly, convinced that his disguise was complete and that no one could possibly recognize him.
His headquarters was a saloon on the corner, where he held long and mysterious conversations with the barkeeper always ending in both of them drinking together. The barkeeper epitomized the conversations by saying: "He wanted to know about a feller named Tumblety, and I sez I didn't know nothink at all about him; and he says he wuz an English detective and he told me all about them Whitechapel murders, and how he came over to get the chap that did it."
When night came the English detective became more and more enterprising. At one time he stood for fifteen minutes with his coat collar turned up and his hat pulled down, behind the lamp-post on the corner, staring fixedly at No. 79. Then he changed his base of operations to the stoop of No. 81 and looked sharply into the faces of every one who passed. He almost went into a spasm of excitement when a man went into the basement of No. 79 and when a lame servant girl limped out of No. 81 he followed her a block, regarding her most suspiciously. At a late hour he was standing in front of the house directly opposite No. 79 looking steadily and ernestly.
Everybody in the neighborhood seemed to have heard of Dr. Twomblety's arrival, and he is well known in all the stores and saloons for several blocks. One merchant who knows him well said:
Mrs. McNamara is a queer old lady, very religious and kind-hearted. The doctor began stopping with her years ago and he has lived there ever since he was in New York. He used to explain his long absence at night, when he was prowling about the streets, by telling her he had to go to a monastry to pray for his dear departed wife.
Even in the saloons where he often went to drink he was spoken of with loathing and contempt. He must have kept himself very quiet on the La Bretagne, for a number of passengers who were interviewed could not remember having seen any one answering his description. It will be remembered that he fled from London to Paris to escape being prosecuted under the new "Fall of Babylon" act.
Inspector Byrnes was asked what his object in shadowing Twomblety. "I simply wanted to put a tag on him." he replied, "so that we can tell where he is. Of course, he cannot be arrested, for there is no proof in his complicity in the Whitechapel murders, and the crime for which he was under bond in London is not extaditable."
"Do you think he is Jack the Ripper?" the Inspector was asked.
"I don't know anything about it, and therefore I don't care to be quoted. But if they think in London that they may need him, and he turns out to be guilty our men will probably have a good idea where he can be found."