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  • hot potato

    Hello. I find it astonishing that Mr. Monro has no thread. Pity.

    In particular, I am fascinated by the remark concerning his notes that they contained "a hot potato."

    What, precisely, was that bit of private information regarding the Ripper? Why was it a hot potato?


  • #2
    I thought it was a comment by Monro to his son, at least as claimed by the son, rather than 'notes'?

    Hard to say what, if anything the 'hot potato' was referring to? Warren's resignation perhaps? Or, Druitt and/or Kosminski being found too late? That Scotland Yard had been fruitlessly chasing a murderer who was actually dead, or fled, or locked-up, for two years -- as shown by the desperate failure of the case against Tom Sadler.

    Since it 'seems' to have been a judgment Monro made during the 1888 -- 1891 Ripper hunt, perhaps it referred -- as others such as Stewart Evans have suggested -- to the embarassment of Scotland Yard's Tumblety fumble.

    In my opinion, for what it is worth, Tumblety, the flamboyant fabulist, the very opposite of the modern conception of the serial killer as a nobody who blandly blends in [eg. like Druitt?] is the great 'what if' of the whole mystery.

    A contemporaneous suspect whose very absence from British police sources [except of course Littlechild, in private and in old age] is like a black hole sucking eveything into its vortex.

    For example, did Macnaghten want to write Druitt, Kosminski and ... Tumblety but, over-ruled by Anderson, he had to rope in Ostrog the Unlikely, as a poor, poor substitute for the real foreign, flim flam medico?

    Is the 'Drowned Doctor' Super-suspect of Griffiths, and especially Sims, really a mythical overlay to hide not just Druitt but also, or even mainly Tumblety? That the police debacle over the suspicious, Irish-American Quack, becomes, by Sims, the super-efficient Ripper sleuths practically pushing a deviant, affluent, middle-aged, under-employed, male-friends-only, 'English' doctor into the Thames? That the Ripper murders actually ended with this doctor's 'exit' after the Kelly horror, and before the last day of 1888.

    Was Druitt really a tragic, innocent man, who killed himself due to an hereditary mental instability? Was his identity appropriated by Macnaghten to write about Tumblety without seeming to? A front to hide the Tumblety disgrace? [Was Macnaghten, in fact, mistaken or misled into thinking that Druitt WAS Tumblety? But how could he confuse a Yank with an Englishman? Would Anderson and Swanson lie so blatantly to mislead an insufferably nosy subordinate?]

    Anyhow, was Tumblety the 'hot potato'?

    That the cops had the best Ripper suspect of all actually in their hands, arrested and in a cell, but without evidence and/or a confession they had to let him go. Within 48 hours the most horrific murder was committed. Tumblety was rearrested, and this time charged with homosexual offences, which they would stick.

    Of course Dr T jumped bail. In NYC Inspector Andrews discreetly liaised, I theorise, with NYC police and discovered that any chance that perhaps their homicide detectives would take an interest in Tumblety was not forthcoming.

    From that moment on Scotland Yard began putting the toothpaste back in the tube where Tumblety wad concerned. They had already prevented any local coverage of this suspect, by Fleet St. tabloids, by pushing the national security button.

    He was never to be mentioned in any document pertaining to the Ripper inquiry. It may have even been put about that he was dead, and by his own hand.

    If the above is correct then that's all pretty hot?


    • #3
      fairly good family

      Hello Jonathan. Yes, those remarks were to his son and concerned, if I am not mistaken, his personal notes. He was worried over their final disposition.

      Those are some interesting theories. I wonder if the "hot" part had to do with a situation, reflected in some remarks by Abberline (?), that one would need to look for the Ripper far up in society? Of course any hint of scandal concerning a "fairly good family" might represent a "hot potato."

      The best.


      • #4
        Hot Potato could mean they suspected James Kelly, Broadmoor escapee at large, but didn't tell anyone. After all, police went looking for him when Monro took charge.

        Sink the Bismark


        • #5
          Hi Jonathan

          In NYC Inspector Andrews discreetly liaised, I theorise, with NYC police and discovered that any chance that perhaps their homicide detectives would take an interest in Tumblety was not forthcoming.
          Andrews never got within 500 miles of New York City and he wasn't after Tumblety. His trip to Canada was apparently connected with gathering evidence for the Parnell Commission.



          • #6
            More on Monro/James Kelly

            After Kelly escaped in Jan 88, Monro inquired to Broadmoor about him. So Monro was aware of him, And police went to Cottage Lane looking for James Kelly right after the Miller's Court tragedy, although we don't know which branch of detectives. But it doesn't matter. The secret, sensitive case of the lunatic wife murderer at large, and Monro being fully aware of it, and taking steps to find him, could, in all likelyhood be his Hot Potato - no matter how you garnish it.

            Sink the Bismark


            • #7

              Hello Roy. Your potato theory has great a peel--I mean appeal (you got ME doing it--"garnish"? Sam Flynn must be about!)

              Seriously, the scenario you describe would be very embarrassing to SY. It would represent a hot potato.

              The best.


              • #8
                To Wolf

                Yes I have read your articles demolishing the idea of any kind of a Scotland Yard pursuit of Tumblety to NYC.

                I think they are excellent.

                A question.

                Why do you think that British papers [except for 'The Pall Mall Gazette' and not using Tumblety's name] did not mention Tumblety as a Ripper suspect when the American newspapers made a meal of it?

                I mean, even to say, for example, that they were quite wrong about Tumblety. That he was not a Scotland Yard police suspect and it was all a trans-Atlantic tabloid invention?


                • #9

                  Hello All. I was wondering if perhaps there was a connection (not to be confused with a "recent connection"--couldn't resist) between Monro's "hot potato" and the evidence which Sir MM admitted to destroying?

                  The best.


                  • #10
                    Hi Jonathan.

                    Actually the Thanet Advertiser, 5 January, 1889, also without mentioning Tumblety by name, gives the same information as the Pall Mall Gazette. The Advertiser doubts that Scotland Yard believes that the Ripper had fled to America, however.

                    Why didn’t the majority of the British press report on Tumblety? That’s the 64,000 dollar question. Timing might have had something to do with it. The attack on Annie Farmer and the murder of Rose Mylett after Tumblety had left London (which kept the Ripper scare going in the press although the police investigation was winding down) might have coloured things.

                    There is also the question if Tumblety was ever arrested for the Whitechapel Murders at all. Tim Riordan has stated that he doesn’t believe he ever was. I believe he was but for a some trifling reason (Tumblety himself stated it was merely because he fit a description the police were using) and that he was questioned and then soon released. It possibly wasn’t until later that someone (Littlechild?) put arrest + foreigner + doctor + sexual psychopath (i.e. a Victorian understanding of any sexual proclivity beyond what was considered “normal”) = Jack the Ripper. In short, the British press, other than the Pall Mall Gazette and the Thanet Advertiser, might have felt there was actually no real story there.

                    Was this, therefore, Monro’s “hot potato?” Possibly, but only if there is a lot more evidence to show that Tumblety was generally considered a serious suspect at Scotland Yard.



                    • #11
                      Thanks for that Wolf. I didn't know about that other newspaper reference.

                      For what's it worth I find this explanation that the English Ripper-driven tabloids would not report the story of the American suspect because they had moved on, unconvincing.

                      It maybe what happened, but we can only go on probabilities. I do not think it probable.

                      I would expect them to devour the story of the American fugitive from British justice even if it was to say that the Yanks had it all wrong. It was still a great story. It seemed to include a British detective watching the suspect's home. Who cares if it's not true?

                      I also have to respectfully disagree with the idea that no police hunt to NYC [which Littlechild never mentions, nor does he claim Tumblety was arrested for the murders -- nor that he was sadist] weakens Tumblety as a suspect.

                      I think, for what it is worth, that Stewart Evans finding the Littlechild Letter and R J Palmer finding the Tumblety interview are two of the greatest and most fascinating primary sources of the entire mystery.

                      Where I perhaps differ from those brilliant writer/researchers is that I see some kind of fusion of Druitt and Tumblety to propagate to the Edwardian public that there was a super-efficient police hunt which nearly nabbed the deviant doctor. That this myth cunningly -- and effectively -- covered over an acute embarassment regarding the investigation of 1888, perhaps the 'hot potato'.

                      Until the Littlechild bombshell -- which had no sequel until 1993.

                      Since Major Griffiths published his senior-police driven 'scoop' in 1898, Sims embraced and enlarged upon it from 1899: the 'Drowned Doctor' Super-suspect. A suspect who conveniently has no family to offend, and no friends to offend [they already knew] and no patients to offend [he had been an unemployed recluse for years].

                      Knowingly or not, Littlechild shredded Sims' pompous profile! Yes, there was a major, contemporaneous suspect, who was indeed a dodgy medico, but he was this Tumblety, an Irish-American homosexual, who vanished, 'believed' to have suicided.

                      In other words the great George Sims is being alerted that his top police contacts have perhaps ... misled him?

                      The titanium strength of Littlechild is that he was a senior, highly regarded policeman of 1888, who was never publicly associated with the Ripper case and thus had nothing to prove -- no rep' to rescue.

                      In the shadow of Anderson's 1910 memoirs, which favoured a suspect as far removed from Tumblety as possible and who did not name the chief suspect or the reporter who made up the 'Jack' name, Littlechild bluntly does both. [The limitation of Littlechild is that he is writing 25 years later in a private letter in which he can write what he likes.]

                      Tumblety 'admits' to being arrested as the Ripper [even charged] and this maybe true as many men were arrested and not charged. On the other hand he is a con man, who is deflecting attention away from his real outstanding charges -- for 'perversion'.

                      Nevertheless, I think, that his hilarious bluffing and blustering expresses real anguish that he was, rightly or wrongly, targeted as a major Ripper suspect. Critically, I think it reveals that despite being a sociable eccentric Tumblety had no alibi for any of the murders [eg. in custody whilst Kelly was being eviscerated].

                      And that he fled as quickly as he could when he realized how determined the police were to get him into a cell and keep him there, on any charge that would stick.

                      Or, the police hoped that Tumblety, an affluent swine, would jump bail and flee back to the States?

                      I think that, subsequent to his fleeing, some kind of game seems to be being played here by the senior police regarding who they told, and what they did not say, or commit to file, about Tumblety.

                      That alleged comment of Macnaghten's, according to Doug Browne, about the Ripper being involved in an assassination plot against Balfour, is truly bizarre.

                      Is this ... Druitt?? I hardly thinks so. Or somebody else, whom Macnaghten later dropped?

                      Or, some garbled version of Tumblety's false arrest for the assassination of Lincoln? Did Anderson, the old spymaster, fictionalize this point to convince Macnaghten, his insufferable 'Ripper tragic' subordinate, to accept 'Dr Druitt' as the middle-aged, under-employed, 'sexually insane' medical man who killed himself at the end of 1888?

                      Anyhow, the CID silence on Tumblety is deafening.

                      But there are potential shadows of the American suspect in the early secondary sources: the unlikely Ostrog as a sort of poor man's Tumblety, the 'Drowned Doctor' of course -- and Sims' 1907 opus which also claims that the police's top alternative theory is a young American medical student.

                      The desperate 1891 lunge for Tom Sadler suggests that either they had concluded by then that Tumblety was not the Fiend, or they wanted [hoped?] somebody else to be it? This may explain the enthusiasm for Druitt [by Macnaghten] and Kosminski [by Swanson and Anderson] as the anti-Tumblety suspects who will forever nullify the enigmatic Quack.

                      By the way I agree with your argument that the American tabloid source on Tumblety having a collection of uteri -- and being once married to a pro' -- is terminally weak [I feel the same about the single, error-riddled source which claims Druitt was sacked.] On the other hand Littlechild does not make that claim either.


                      • #12
                        Hot potato

                        In the original game of 'hot potato', obviously the idea is that you pass the potato on before you get burned by it. Warren held on to it for too long, and it burned him.

                        I therefore think the term simply describes a 'case' that one would not want to have placed in one's lap. I don't think there's any 'conspiracy' or 'secret information' here.



                        • #13
                          destroying info

                          Hello Timsta. Why then did one of his sons advise burning his notes?

                          The best.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by timsta View Post
                            In the original game of 'hot potato', obviously the idea is that you pass the potato on before you get burned by it. Warren held on to it for too long, and it burned him.

                            I therefore think the term simply describes a 'case' that one would not want to have placed in one's lap. I don't think there's any 'conspiracy' or 'secret information' here.
                            I must say my suspicion is that Monro was simply saying that the Ripper case was a "hot potato" - in the sense of something very difficult to handle.

                            But on the other hand Monro's grandson, as reported by Howells and Skinner, said that it was Monro's theory that was a hot potato, not just the case itself. Then again, he was reporting a conversation at second hand, so there could have been some misunderstanding.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wolf Vanderlinden View Post
                              Hi Jonathan

                              Andrews never got within 500 miles of New York City and he wasn't after Tumblety. His trip to Canada was apparently connected with gathering evidence for the Parnell Commission.

                              Hi Wolf,

                              I had to pull out my A-Z when I read the above to be sure, ..but your comments do not jive with what is reported in that book.

                              It said that ..."The Telegraph noted, but dismissed, a hostile rumor that Andrews had been sent to collect material for the Parnell Commission."

                              In fact had he been involved in the States on business of the Commission held that winter, he would have also known of Tumblety's associations with Fenian interests, and likely, the suspicions by some in authority that he might have links with the Ripper murders as well, as per the Littlechild Letter. We also have speculation that The Ripper was a senior Fenian organizing the assassination plot on Balfour. I think to state empirically that Andrews was not in American on business that concerned the Ripper murders might be too strong....even tangentially, he may have been.

                              Best regards Wolf.