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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 75 years ago

Eight desperate convicts, including four from Spokane, tunneled under the wall of the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, stole two cars and fled into the surrounding country.

The Spokane County sheriff immediately “spread a cordon around the city, with patrols on all main highways.” That’s because one of the most desperate convicts, Clarence Miles (alias Jimmy Arnston), had vowed to come back and kill the star witness in his burglary trial in Spokane.

Miles, described as “dapper” and “swanky,” had already proven to be a talented escape artist. He had attempted escape three previous times, once by picking the lock on his handcuffs and diving out the window of a speeding train (he claimed that “it didn’t take any nerve”); then by sawing his way out of a Spokane County “strongbox”; and again by crawling out of a ventilator pipe at Walla Walla. He was quickly recaptured each time.

Miles didn’t make it too far this time, either. He and three other escapees were recaptured later the same day, wandering in a stolen car “virtually lost” in the semi-desert country bordering the Snake River.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1940: British troops opened their first major offensive in North Africa during World War II.

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