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

100 years ago: Details emerge and confession is made in murder of mother, children

William Horner brokenly confessed to the murder of Nellie Bassett and her two children. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Okanogan County mill worker William Horner declared brokenly, “I did it! I did it!” when shown photos of the bodies of Nellie Bassett and her two children, 13 and 11.

Horner had been arrested earlier for the murders and was being interrogated when he apparently spilled the entire story.

“We were sleeping in the tent (near Kelso) when she woke up in the middle of the night and insisted on my marrying her,” he told investigators. “I refused and we got to quarreling. I remember seizing the rifle and shooting all of them as they lay in their beds.”

He was said to have “collapsed physically before finishing his story.”

However, Horner stoutly denied having shot the woman’s husband, Fred Bassett during a hunting trip in 1914 in Ferry County. Horner maintained that Bassett had shot himself accidentally. However, the coroner indicted the bullet had entered Bassett’s head from behind.

Horner was taken to the jail in Kalama, where he was charged in the triple-murder. Authorities were concerned because local people had threatened to “do him violence,” but so far there had been no demonstrations or incidents.