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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

A murder mystery was unfolding near Fort Wright.

Charles Semmler, 74, a retired soldier, was found dead in the yard of his little cottage just northwest of Fort Wright. He had been beaten in his kitchen with a pickax and had his throat cut. Then he was dragged out into the yard. The cottage was ransacked.

“It was rumored in the neighborhood that the old man was wealthy, and robbery is believed to have been the motive for the killing,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle.

If anything was taken from the cottage, the deputies were unable to tell. He lived alone. His young niece had once lived with him, but she had left a month ago.

Semmler had been in the army for more than 30 years. About seven years earlier, he bought land near the fort in a little settlement next to the fort. He was well known to the army men and had continued to be “interested in the army and the different regiments stationed at Fort Wright.”

An inquest was underway.

From the joyriding file: Morris Higgins, 17, stole an auto from a garage and took some girlfriends on a joyride for several hours. Then he abandoned the auto on the street.

However, several envelopes with his name and address had fallen from his pocket onto the floor of the auto. Police tracked him down and charged him with larceny.

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