Edward R. Tilskin, aka Eddie the Stilts, aka Rupert Stiltskin, aka The Rumpler, aka Stumple Riskin, died Wednesday at the state correctional facility. He claimed to be 90 years old.
Although no birth record has ever been found, Tilskin was the name used at the time of his trial on multiple counts, including fraud and kidnapping. It is the name that appears in his prison records. Many aliases were entered into the transcript during the trial, the above list being only a sample. However, the most common name used by his criminal associates was Eddie the Stilts, clearly an ironic nickname given his diminutive stature.
Due to the confusion regarding his true identity, little can be confirmed about Tilskin’s early life beyond consistent reports that he was known as a grifter even as a teenager. Several people who claim to have known him when he was a young man say he spent most of his years before age 40 in prison. He then had a run of good luck selling get-rich-quick schemes, not all of which were obviously illegal. He even appeared in a series of early infomercials inviting viewers to invest in hay farms for a near 100% profit overnight.
For reasons that remain in dispute to this day, Tilskin kidnapped the child of one of his get-rich-quick-with-hay customers, a well-known heiress. The investigation following his arrest revealed the scam behind his operations. Though he often made reference to being “blackmailed” as his motivation for kidnapping the child, who was returned safely to her parents, he never provided details.
The inconsistencies around Tilskin’s case spawned a small cottage industry of conspiracy theorists who gather online to discuss trial transcripts and what Tilskin’s real name might be. He had no known family.