Meet Francis Tumblety, a quack “Indian Herb” doctor who opened shop in the 1860s first in Brooklyn and then in Manhattan. Some Ripperologists think he may be the homicidal maniac who murdered at least 11 women in London’s East End in 1888.
Tumblety frequently traveled to England and was arrested there in November 1888 for “gross indecency” (Victorian-speak for homosexual acts). Supposedly he had been out on bail at the time of the final murder, so he could have been the killer.
His personal demeanor didn’t help him escape suspicion. He was notoriously eccentric, a hater of women, and had previously been linked to (but never charged with) patient deaths across the U.S.
And in an odd twist, his assistant in Brooklyn, David Herold, had been hanged two decades earlier for being in on the Lincoln assassination plot. Tumblety was arrested in 1865 on the same charge but was quickly deemed to be innocent.
So was Tumblety Jack the Ripper? We’ll probably never know, of course. After being released on bail in England in 1888 and considered a suspect in the Ripper murders, he fled the country, eventually making his way back to the states. He died in St. Louis in 1903.