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

100 years ago in Montana: Woman newspaper reporter “incited” by editor to shoot and kill another man

 (The Spokesman-Review archives)

From our archives, 100 years ago

The lawyer for Miss Edith Colby, 43, admitted that she did, in fact, shoot and kill A.C. Thomas on the streets of Thompson Falls, Montana.

However, he portrayed her as the “victim of a factional political quarrel,” and was “driven” to her murderous act by men who “incited” her.

“Miss Colby will be cleared when the facts are placed before a jury,” declared her Spokane lawyer, John T. Mulligan. “The sentiment has already swung around in her favor since the truth has begun to leak out. Public feeling at Thompson Falls is running high against men believed to be involved in the case. The first night I was here, I heard talk of trying to lynch some of these men who are believed to have incited Miss Colby to the killing.”

In fact, John L. Manire, who was editor of the paper for which Colby worked, was already in jail as an accessory to the crime. His paper had published bitter political attacks against Thomas, who was top county Republican official, and Colby told police that Manire encouraged her to shoot Thomas.

The exact nature of the political feud in Sanders County, Montana, was not specified, but it appeared to pit one Republican faction against another.

Colby had recently moved from Spokane to Thompson Falls to work as a reporter for Manire’s paper.

“She was there in the position of a defenseless woman, trying to make an honest living,” said Colby’s lawyer. “The real criminals are those who took advantage of her by carrying to her manufactured stories reflecting on her character.”