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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Montana: Testimony suggests slander led Spokane woman to kill man

From our archives, 100 years ago

Shocking testimony in a Thompson Falls, Montana, inquest indicated that A.C. Thomas said the following to Edith Colby, a newspaper reporter: “I would not tell you anything. You … tell lies about me in the paper. I have seen women like you around Thompson Falls before. They call them red-light women, and keep them on the side streets.”

After this exchange, Colby angrily went back to the newspaper office and told the editor, “I was so mad I could kill Thomas.” The editor, named Manire, allegedly said, “Well, why didn’t you kill him?”

Colby then picked up a heavy print galley and said she would go hit him over the head with it. Later that evening, Colby came back to the office and showed Manire a gun in her purse. Manire told her that she should “walk down the street with someone and when they met Thomas, tell him that she wanted an apology.”

That’s close to what happened the next day, except Colby was alone when she confronted Thomas on the street. When he refused to apologize, she opened fire and shot him.

The inquest also provided other fireworks, indicative of the bitter political feuds in Thompson Falls that led up to the shooting. First, there was a dispute over who would handle the prosecution, the Sanders County prosecutor or an attorney from the state attorney general’s office.

Colby’s attorney, John T. Mulligan of Spokane, stood up and angrily declared, “If there is no one who can enforce common justice in this county, we might as well know it now. I withdraw from the case.”

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