One of the most infamous serial killers ever might have come to St. Louis. Jack the Ripper, the serial killer that terrorized London could have been an American and he might have died here in St. Louis.
In 1903, St. John’s Hospital stood at the corner of 22nd & Morgan Streets. On May 28 of that year a man came here to die. Many believe that man was really Jack The Ripper.
Francis Tumblety lived in St. Louis in the 1860s. “Casebook.org” a website dedicated to “Jack The Ripper” states “Tumblety moved to St. Louis, setting up his ‘medical’ practice, and again promenading himself around the city with arrogant splendor. It was here that another aspect of Tumblety’s character emerges — his paranoia. He was arrested in St. Louis for wearing military garb and medals he did not deserve, but Tumblety himself took it as persecution from his medical competitors. Soon after her traveled to Carondelet, Missouri and was again imprisoned for a time on the same charge.”
In the 1880s he was living both in the U.S. and Europe.
“He evidently lived in London and lived in a boarding house. There are some witnesses who say they saw him coming and going at suspicious times and behaving suspiciously around the time these murders were taking place,” said Missouri History Museum Librarian Emily Jacox.
On November 12, 1888, Tumblety was charged on suspicions of being the “Jack The Ripper” killer. He secured bail four days later. A December 10 trial date was set, but Tumblety didn’t wait around. He fled to France under an alias and eventually boarded a steamer for New York City.
Casebook.org says, “New York officials knew of his impending arrival in the city and had the ports watched for the suspect, but to no avail. New York City’s Chief Inspector Byrnes soon discovered Tumblety was lodging at 79 East Tenth Street at the home of a Mrs. McNamara, and he had him under surveillance for some days following. Byrnes could not arrest Tumblety because, in his own words, ‘there is no proof of his complicity in the Whitechapel murders, and the crime for which he was under bond in London is not extraditable.”
Before Christmas of 1888, Tumblety disappeared again, surfacing again Rochester in 1893. He would die a decade later in St. Louis at St. John’s Hospital.
Tumblety’s further connection to the Ripper case emerged nearly 90 years later when author Stewart Evans acquired what has now become known as the Littlechild Letter.
In 1913, Chief Inspector John Littlechild of Scotland Yard, in response to some questions asked of him by a British journalist, wrote in a letter that Tumblety as ‘a very likely suspect,’ and provided the first insight into a Scotland Yard suspect whose name was lost for 105 years. From KSDK’s series on St. Louis history.