His attorney blamed the shotgun murder on a “gnawing conscience” and called the killer, Charley C. Hanes, a religious man who loved his family and who had already paid for the crime with his eye.
On Dec. 29, 1954, Hanes received an even stiffer penalty: life in prison.
Hanes, 68, was described by a news writer as “crazed with jealousy” when he gunned down Eula B. Retherford on Sept. 12, 1954. Accounts of the murder suggest the two had a romantic relationship; Hanes had helped Retherford, 47, buy her small house at 2231 W. Falls, near the north bank of the Spokane River.
But a story that ran in The Spokesman-Review in December 1954 noted that Retherford had been married three times before and had a record of arrests for “vagrancy and drunkenness.”
Hanes blasted a 12-gauge shotgun seven times, killing Retherford and wounding Ed E. Olson, 72.
Hanes and Retherford had argued earlier that day about her relationship with Olson. Hanes promised the victim she’d be sorry before he went to his home to drink vodka. He returned and ambushed Retherford and Olson, who was there helping Retherford stack firewood.
Retherford and Olson were drinking coffee in her home when Hanes showed up with a shotgun. Two of Retherford’s dresses were draped on the barrel.
A headline in the Sept. 13, 1954, Spokesman-Review read: Elderly Man Goes Berserk; Kills Woman With Shotgun.
Olson was shot in the shoulder and survived. Retherford died of multiple gunshots. Two shots – one to her stomach and one to her head – were inflicted after she fell to the floor, police said.
Hanes survived a self-inflicted gunshot to his face but lost an eye.
A retired railway worker, Hanes underwent a psychiatric examination and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.