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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: New twists in a baffling case of attempted suicide or murder

The Peter Olson Mystery Case, as The Spokesman-Review called it, took a new turn. Olson was a farm worker from Minnesota who was discovered by a passerby, lying in a pool of his own blood in the woods in northwest Spokane. (SR archives)
The Peter Olson Mystery Case, as The Spokesman-Review called it, took a new turn. Olson was a farm worker from Minnesota who was discovered by a passerby, lying in a pool of his own blood in the woods in northwest Spokane. (SR archives)

The Peter Olson Mystery Case, as The Spokesman-Review called it, took a new turn. Olson was a farm worker from Minnesota who was discovered by a passerby, lying in a pool of his blood in the woods in northwest Spokane.

He claimed he was chloroformed, slashed and dumped in the woods by strangers who picked him up in their car.

Now, however, police believed that his slash wounds were self-inflicted. No signs of a struggle had been found at the scene, and the slash on his left wrist indicated a suicide attempt.

Olson’s relatives, with whom he was staying in Spokane, reported that he had been “acting queerly.” They also reported that he had been brooding over the death of his wife last winter, and that he had become “deeply interested in spiritualism.”

Still, the mystery was far from solved. Olson, recovering at the hospital, continued to maintain that he had been attacked by strangers. Police admitted that they found some tire tracks and footprints at the scene, which tended to corroborate Olson’s story.

From the accident beat: A driverless, runaway auto careened down the hill on Howard Street, narrowly missing a streetcar and other autos coming up the street. It finally crashed into a tree in the parking lot of Lewis and Clark High School. The tree, 2 feet in diameter, was “cut nearly in two.”

The owner of the auto claimed that he had parked it at the curb at Seventh Avenue and that he had securely set the parking brake. He maintained that some children in the vicinity had climbed into the car and released the brake.

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