Source: Evening Star
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Loquacious LaFon”
City of publication: Washington, DC
Date of publication: 13 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: 15148
|“Loquacious LaFon.” Evening Star [Washington, DC] 13 Sept. 1901 n15148: p. 6.|
|Charles F. La Fon; McKinley assassination (eyewitnesses); McKinley assassination (conspiracy theories); Robert H. Boardman; McKinley assassination (investigation of conspiracy: Washington, DC); Leon Czolgosz (connection with anarchists); Emma Goldman (at Buffalo, NY).|
|Robert H. Boardman; Leon Czolgosz; Emma Goldman; Charles F. La Fon [misspelled below and in title]; John E. Wilkie.|
Says He Saw Emma Goldman and Czolgosz in Buffalo.
“DON’T MISS YOUR MAN!” SHE URGED
Capt. Boardman Has a Visitor Who Wants to Be Pumped.
RESULT OF THE OPERATION
Dark and stolid he stood before Capt. Boardman in the off[i]ce of the [c]hief of detectives this morning.
After he had duly impressed the director of the local band of sleuths the dark man relaxed his stolidity a bit, and, leaning nearer to the captain, uttered in choked whispers:
“I am the one they want!”
Again he paused to see the effect his words might have.
Capt. Boardman looked puzzled and amused.
“Well,” he answered, “it’s a good thing we’ve got you, then, isn’t it?”
“T[h]e best thing that ever happened,” sa[i]d the man, and the few privileged persons present at the interview nodded their heads in silent astonishment.
A Man with a Mission.
Looking mysterious and important,
the stranger had presented himself at the detective bureau. To no one but the
head of the office could he impart the valued information which he brought.
He told every one he was a man with a mission. He wanted his presence felt.
The stranger spoke with an accent. He was evidently a foreigner, and it is now said he is well known in this city, having worked as janitor for a number of years in the folding room at the Capitol.
“I didn’t want to be picked up by any of your men,” he continued, “and so I came to tell you where I was. I am also going to the newspaper offices and let them know.”
The “man with a mission” did not intend that his light should be hidden beneath a half pint measure, to say nothing of the proverbial bushel.
“Well, what’s the meaning of all this?” queried Boardman.
“What’s the meaning?” repeated the visitor; “don’t you know I am the one?”
“No, strange to say. My ignorance, however, amazes me.”
“I know all about it. I’ve got the most damaging evidence. I am the one they want, and the only one.”
“Heavens, what is it? End this agonizing suspense.”
“I was in Buffalo.”
Everyone “histed” at this. Here was something doing for fair.
“I know all about the assassin and Emma Goldman. I’ve wired to Chicago to hold her, and have told Chief Wilkie of the secret service.”
Develop[s] Hi[s] Identity.
“What’s your name?” asked Capt.
Boardman. “We’d like to know you.”
“I am Prof. Ch[a]rles [F]. LaFon.”
“Professor of w[h]at?”
“Professor of languages.”
“Where do you do your professing when you are busy?”
“I clean up in the folding room at the Capitol most of the time, but just now I am employed at the government building at Buffalo.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I came away on leave to see some people here, but you can telegraph ’em at Buffalo that I am coming back in a few days, and they can rest easy.”
“What do they want with you in Buffalo?”
“You see, I am missing.”
“You aren’t missing now, are you?”
“No, but they don’t know it in Buffalo.”
“Go on, then, and hurry up with your story.”
“I don’t know whether I can tell you or not.”
“It’s so damaging and important.”
“Damaging to who?”
“To the man and woman.”
LaFon possessed a full realization of his self importance and it was evident his mission must be wrested from him. He would not tell his story in a commonplace way. He must of necessity be “pumped.” Capt. Boardman applied the pumping apparatus.
“What man and woman?”
A Bond of Symp[a]thy.
“Why, the man who assassinated
the President. I am a professor of languages but I can’t pronounce his name.”
A gleam broke out upon the sleuth-like countenance of Boardman. Here was a bond of union between him and the visitor. The captain has lain awake nights wrestling with alphabetic characters of the assassin’s cognomen.
“And what about the woman?” continued the catechizing chief.
“Why, Emma Goldman.”
“We would hear more.”
“It was this way,” began LaFon. “I was going to see my dentist the night between September 2 and 3 last in Buffalo, and when I got to the corner of Broadway and Jefferson street [sic] I saw a man and a woman and they were conversing together in low tones.”
“What did they say?”
“‘Make a good job of it,’ says she, ‘and don’t miss your man.’”
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” said Captain Boardman.
Saw Same Man in Temple of Music.
“Well, sir, the afternoon the President
was shot I was in the Temple of Music, and in the assassin I recognized the
man who had been standing on the corner and talking to that woman.”
“Are you sure?”
“How did you know the woman was Goldman?”
“I heard some men say so.”
“I don’t know. I heard several of them.”
“What did they say?”
“They said she was the ‘leader.’”
“The anarchist leader and lecturer, Emma Goldman.”
“Had you ever seen her before?”
“Yes, I saw her in Buffalo at the exposition August 29 or 30.”
Capt. Boardman and the others who
have talked with LaFon are of the opinion that his story will not hold water.
They are of the opinion that he is desirous of securing transportation back
LaFon left Buffalo Saturday last. If he had known all the fact then that he seems to know now the pol[ic]e believe he would have been only too glad to have imparted the information. His important information, they are inclined to believe, comes a trifle late in the game.
Capt. Boardman assured the man the police would let him know if they needed him.
LaFon afterward visited The Star office and in the greates[t] secrecy confided his story to a reporter. He said repeatedly that the story must not be mentioned, for it was too damaging to Czolgosz and Goldman.