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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Man threw acid in stepdaughter’s face then attempted suicide by swallowing mercury

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 4, 2020

 (S-R archives)
(S-R archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

A family dispute nearly turned deadly when a man threw carbolic acid in the face of his 19-year-old stepdaughter – and later tried to kill himself.

Daisy Fehlhaber suffered severe burns to the face, but doctors believed that her eyes had escaped injury.

The incident took place at the Reliance Hotel in Spokane, where Fehlhaber was meeting with a young man caller. Her stepfather, Thomas Ridout, 55, entered the room and asked the young man to step outside. Then Ridout demanded that she return home with him to Coeur d’Alene.

She refused. He suddenly took from his pocket a vial of acid and threw it at her. Some of it missed and landed on Ridout .

Distraught, Ridout then “attempted suicide by swallowing bichloride of mercury tablets which he had on his person.”

He fled by the time police arrived to treat Fehlhaber for her burns. He apparently wandered the city’s alleys for an hour, in increasing pain. Finally, he went to the police station in search of relief. His stomach was pumped and he was arrested on a charge of assault.

He remained in serious condition and doctors said it would be a day or two before they knew whether he would recover.

Fehlhaber told police she had been living in Spokane for several months because of her stepfather’s cruel treatment. Ridout, from his hospital bed, told officers that he had “been out of his head for the last day or two with worry over the girl” and that he did not care to live. He said he had intended to take her home with him “or die in the attempt.” He could not explain what made him throw acid in her face.

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