Local news

Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Dr. Mary Latham, 60, Spokane’s pioneer female physician, was discovered bound hand-and-foot to her bedposts with a pillow containing chloroform tied over her mouth. She survived.

She told police that two unknown men entered her room, ransacked it, demanded money, knocked her out with a heavy blow, applied the chloroform and left her for dead.

Adding to the intrigue was this detail, from The Spokesman-Review story: “(She had been) a sensational figure in the courts a few years ago.”

That’s because Latham, besides being a beloved physician and one of the founders of the Spokane Public Library and Spokane Humane Society, was also a convicted arsonist. She had been arrested in 1905 for burning down her late son’s general store in Mead after a particularly messy inheritance dispute. She was sentenced to four years in prison.

While out on bail, pending appeal, she led authorities on a manhunt when she tried to flee into Idaho. She then served her time and was back practicing medicine in Spokane.

Puzzled police authorities were still investigating the chloroform incident, saying it “contained many mysterious features.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1963: Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper blasted off aboard Faith 7 on the Project Mercury space program’s final mission.

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