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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Strychnine death suspect likely destroyed evidence, police say

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 3, 2019

New evidence suggested that H.M. Delaney, suspected of the murder of a 22-year-old girl by strychnine poisoning, may have destroyed evidence following the her death, The Spokesman-Review reported on Jan. 2, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)
New evidence suggested that H.M. Delaney, suspected of the murder of a 22-year-old girl by strychnine poisoning, may have destroyed evidence following the her death, The Spokesman-Review reported on Jan. 2, 1919. (Spokesman-Review archives)

More information surfaced casting suspicion on H.M. Delaney in the strychnine death of Rosa Kempf, 22.

The doctor who treated Kempf told investigators that he asked to see the box of candy that Kempf ate just before she became ill.

The doctor said Delaney told him that the candy had been tossed into the wood stove.

The next night, however, police also asked for the whereabouts of the candy box. On that night, Delaney “appeared with what he said was the box of candy.” It was subsequently tested and proved to be harmless.

This new information indicated that Delaney may have destroyed the poisoned candy following Kempf’s death and replaced it with an uncontaminated box. (It had been previously reported, erroneously, that her father threw the candy into the stove.) The missing candy was considered a key to the case, since Kempf had remarked to her father, when eating one of the chocolates, that it tasted oddly bitter. The candy was a gift from Delaney, a would-be suitor.

Meanwhile, Delaney was grilled by detectives about his past. He admitted that he was from Montana, not Tampa, Florida, and had led “a wandering life.”

He also admitted that he had been convicted of robbing the Lolo, Montana, post office and spent six months in jail.

A cousin of Delaney also told police that he came to her home in Spokane recently and said that he owned a big ranch in Montana stocked with sheep.

She said that “his reputation for truthfulness was not good and that she did not believe everything he said.”

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