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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

August Paulsen, Spokane mining millionaire, received the following chilling letter in the mail: “Unless you send me $1,000 I will take your life or blow up your home with dynamite.” The letter also added, politely, “I will pay back the money with interest.”

Paulsen contacted police and then the writer of the letter, through a personal ad, agreeing to his terms. 

A second letter arrived telling Paulsen to put small bills in a bundle and then walk around the block near his house at a specified time and lay the bundle on the sidewalk.

That night, one undercover policeman hid in the brush in the middle of the block. A second officer dressed up as Paulsen and was preparing to stroll around the block with a fake bundle when a call came into the Paulsen house. The caller said he was changing plans and sending a messenger boy for the money.

A messenger promptly arrived at the door, took the dummy package and left. The officers tailed the boy and saw him hand it to George Barlet, 20. Both were arrested, but the officers quickly realized the messenger was innocent. Barlet was hauled to jail.

In a jailhouse interview, Barlet said he came to Spokane from Wallace, where he worked as a trammer and mucker in a mine. He said he was desperate for money to purchase a homestead in Canada. He said he had no intention of harming Paulsen. 

However, he did have a loaded .38 revolver.


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