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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago: Arrest made in killing of mother, children

An Okanogan County mill worker was arrested for the murder of a mother and her two children. (Spokesman-Review archives)
An Okanogan County mill worker was arrested for the murder of a mother and her two children. (Spokesman-Review archives)

William Horner, an Okanogan County mill worker, was arrested for the murder of a mother and her two children – and was now a suspect in an earlier murder in Ferry County.

Horner had been sought by police for a week in connection with the murder of Nellie Bassett and her two children in Kelso. Suspicion had fallen on him earlier after it was discovered that he had accompanied them on a trip to the west side of the state, and that he was in possession of the deed to her farm. He had earlier claimed that she had sold him the deed and that he had no idea where Bassett and the two children were. He had left them, he said, in Kent, where they had departed in an auto with an unknown man.

Then, when their bodies were found in a tent in Kelso, the search began for Horner. The Okanagon County sheriff said they found him driving a horse-drawn wagon to the woman’s ranch.

“The officers came up behind him in an automobile and surprised him, disarming him quickly.”

Now, officials were giving new scrutiny to the 1914 death of the woman’s husband Fred W. Bassett. Bassett died of a gunshot wound while deer hunting with Horner. Horner testified at an inquest that he had separated with Bassett while hunting and when he returned to camp, he found him dead. An inquest at the time apparently ruled it an accident and no charges were filed. However, the coroner indicated the bullet entered his head from behind.

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