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100 years ago in Montana and Wallace: Journalist and ex-mayor on trial for murder in separate, sensational cases

Former Wallace, Idaho, Mayor Herman J. Rossi and Edith Colby, a newspaper reporter recently from Spokane, were on trial for murder, The Spokesman-Review reported on Oct. 6, 1916. (SR)
Former Wallace, Idaho, Mayor Herman J. Rossi and Edith Colby, a newspaper reporter recently from Spokane, were on trial for murder, The Spokesman-Review reported on Oct. 6, 1916. (SR)

From our archives,

100 years ago

Two sensational murder cases dominated the headlines.

The first involved the shooting death of A.C. Thomas, a prominent Republican politician in Thompson Falls, Montana, apparently at the hands of Edith Colby, a newspaper reporter recently from Spokane. Testimony from witnesses at the inquest indicated that she confronted Thomas on the street and said, “Now, sir, I want you to apologize for insulting me” or words to that effect. He refused, and she opened fire.

In addition, the sheriff said when he arrested her minutes afterward at the office of lawyer A.S. Ainsworth, she told him she was angry with Ainsworth for not supporting her after the fact. “Ainsworth told me to do anything I wanted to and he would support me,” she told the sheriff. “He is yellow.” Ainsworth denied he had authorized her to do anything more serious than “slap his face or horsewhip him.”

The second case was the trial of former Wallace Mayor Herman J. Rossi, for murdering Clarence Dahlquist.

Rossi had returned home early from a business trip and discovered that Dahlquist had apparently spent the night with his wife. Rossi then confronted Dahlquist in a Wallace hotel lobby and shot him.

Rossi’s attorneys revealed their intention to pursue an insanity defense, based on the idea that Rossi was “mentally irresponsible” at the time.

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