November 11, 1908
ARTHUR S. SPENCER, ALIAS
Who is the murderer of Wong Chee Tock, the wealthy Chinaman found near Birmingham, Mo., last Friday morning with a crushed skull and a stab wound in his chest? The body was decomposed and from its position and the position of the overcoat, hat and shoes it looked as if he had been thrown from a northbound Burlington freight train. At least that was the theory of the Clay county authorities who investigated the murder.
Under arrest at police headquarters is Arthur S. Spencer, alias Harry S. Reardon, alias George H. Taylor, who came here a week ago and under the Reardon alias posed as "Official Interpreter of the Chinese language" for the courts of New York." Reardon immediately made himself persona grata with newspaper men, especially the police reporters on the different papers. He gave chop suey dinners -- at the expense of his Chinese friends -- and was a grand, high muck-a-muck among them.
"Reardon," as he styled himself here, was arrested Monday afternoon by Daniel Holmes, a crossing patrolman, at the insistence of Dr. Ho Ly Yuen, who alleged that the "official interpreter" was attempting to swindle the Chinese of the two Kansas Citys.
On the arrival in the city yesterday morning of Henry H. Moler of St. Louis, inspector in the United States immigration service, with his Chinese interpreter, Haw Lin Shuck, the past criminal record of the "official interpreter for the courts of New York" was learned. Fifteen years ago he was sentenced to McNeil's island, a government prison in Puget sound, Washington, for three years, for smuggling Chinese into this country. He admitted his full record when "sweated" yesterday morning by Lieutenant Harry E. Stege.
Four or five years ago Spencer -- that's his right name --served two years in the government prison at Pittsburgh, Pa., for impersonating a government official among the Chinese.
At the present time there is a suspended sentence of three years hanging over Spencer's head in New York city -- impersonating a government official again. He is virtually out on parole pending good behavior.
It was learned from the government officials that Spencer's graft has been to seek out Chinese who have no "chock chee," which is a certificate showing their right to remain in the United States. As he speaks the language fluently, he has no trouble in locating Chinamen who have been smuggled into this country. Then he is said to force them to pay him hush money. It is also said that he agreed to furnish a chock chee for $150 to any Chinaman needing one.
From Dr. Ho Ly Yuen of this city, who has caused the arrest of "Reardon," it was learned yesterday that the chock chee racked was being worked here with ease. The arrested man admits that he had been bad, but is now trying to lead a Christian life for the sake of his wife and children in New York. He says he is being persecuted and all the money he secured here was borrowed from the Chinese -- merely a loan.
The police now suspect Spencer with being connected in some manner with the murder of the wealthy Chinaman, Wong Chee Tock. He was one of the first to go to Liberty "to investigate," and it was he who learned the man's name and seemed to know all about him. That fact, and the further fact that Spencer is said to have been seen here with the murdered man, makes the police suspicious of him. When the body was found he claimed to have never seen the Chinaman before. He is being held at police headquarters while Mr. Moler and Haw Lin Shuck investigate the case.
Spencer speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian and is a well educated man. He says he was born in Hong Kong, that his mother was a Portuguese and his father an American.