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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Montana: Prosecutor in Edith Colby murder case alludes to ‘master hand’ controlling her actions

From our archive, 100 years ago

Closing arguments began in the trial of Miss Edith Colby – and the prosecutor hinted Colby might have been merely a tool in a bitter political feud in Sanders County, Montana.

She was charged with murdering A.C. Thomas, the chairman of the county Republican Party, after he insulted her by calling her a “red-light woman.”

The prosecutor referred to the possibility of a shadowy “master hand” behind a larger plot to kill Thomas.

“It is improbable that he ever insulted that woman,” the prosecutor said. “No life is safe in Sanders County, if a woman can be brought in from Spokane to kill on this pretext. Always the ‘master hand.’ She was going to get Thomas under its guidance.”

From the demographics beat: A Spokane Daily Chronicle headline touted an astonishing statistic: “Death Rate Here Lowest in the World, Figures May Show.”

The word “may” was crucial. The paper’s estimate of the 1916 death rate of “approximately 6.43” (apparently, per thousand) was based on several guesses, including an estimate of the city’s population. Those estimates varied widely. Also, the year wasn’t over yet.

The average death rate in the U.S. at the time was about 13.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1791: Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna, Austria, at age 35.