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Sunday, May 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Child abductor’s testimony – and claim to sanity – unravels in jailhouse interview

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

Cleopus Viens, 36, in custody for child abduction, gave a jailhouse interview describing the bizarre thinking that landed him in jail.

He said that he had known the Pluym family for years, working as a cook at their cafe, the Millionaire’s Club. He said he had bought gifts for Catherine Pluym, 11, for years. He said he finally “just got to thinking, I should do more for the girl.”

“I did not know why I did this, but I studied it over and did not know any way but to take Catherine with me and take care of her,” he said.

So he hired a horse and buggy and picked her up as she was walking to Sunday school.

He said he rented separate rooms for them at hotels along the way. One night, they camped in the woods and he said he kept watch by the campfire all night while Catherine slept soundly.

He claimed the girl “appeared to enjoy the trip,” but he admitted she once asked him what he supposed her mother was doing. He replied, “The washing.”

He also told her that if he was arrested, he “could shrivel himself up and escape between the bars.” He believed his “power of will” would also allow him to “shrivel up” his captor.

The deputy sheriff who found the pair said that Viens was “very peculiar and does not have a strong mentality” and was “prompted by poor judgment and a fatherly interest in the girl.”

The deputy interviewed Catherine, as did Catherine’s sister. The deputy said he was confident that no physical harm had been done the girl. He did say, however, that “she holds him in fear.”

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