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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Mrs. Mary Johnston was allowed out of the county jail to attend the funeral of her adult son, Raymond Johnston – the same son she was accused of murdering with strychnine.

Prosecutors believed that she gave her son, a young teamster, a dose of strychnine with his coffee at breakfast. Then, when he became violently ill, she made no effort to call a doctor.

When her adopted daughter and a neighbor insisted on a doctor, she told the physician that the boy had been “bitten by a horse.” Raymond himself, still alive but in agony, loudly denied being bitten by a horse.

Then, the day after he died, she went straight to the insurance adjuster at Raymond’s lodge, the Ben Hur Lodge, and tried to collect the $1,500 insurance policy. By then, however, an autopsy had confirmed that he died of strychnine poisoning.

At the funeral, she wept and said, “Oh, my boy! Oh, my boy!” 

She also told reporters she was innocent and that her “conscience did not trouble her at all.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1951: The U.S. conducted its first thermonuclear experiment as part of Operation Greenhouse by detonating a 225-kiloton device on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific nicknamed “George.”

1962: Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology succeeded in reflecting a laser beam off the surface of the moon.

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