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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago today in Spokane: One of ‘Bluebeard’ Huirt’s many wives wanted him hanged for murder

From the May 5, 1920 Spokane Daily Chronicle (S-R archives)
From the May 5, 1920 Spokane Daily Chronicle (S-R archives)

Katherine Wombacher of Spokane, one of the many wives of Walter Andrew “Bluebeard” Watson (aka Huirt), demanded that he be given the death penalty.

Watson was cooperating with authorities under a plea deal in which he would receive a life sentence, but Wombacher said he deserved no mercy.

“I will continue fighting until I have brought him to justice, to his death by strangulation in the noose of the hangman,” she said in a statement she issued in Los Angeles. “The idea of the officials even thinking of compromising with such a murderer is outrageous.”

Wombacher was the key figure in Watson’s undoing. After she married him and moved to California with him, she became suspicious of his deceptive actions and the fact that he was gone from home so long. She approached Los Angeles police but was given “little satisfaction.”

So she hired private detectives and had him followed. They uncovered evidence of the multiple marriages and a possible bank robbery, but it wasn’t until later that the full extent of his crimes was clear. She worked with police to lure him home, where he was finally arrested.

What motivated her, she said, was “the fighting spirit of a woman scorned, a woman robbed of everything dear to a woman of honor.” Otherwise, she believed, she would have been one of the murder victims.

“Mercy!” she wrote. “He did not have any mercy on the poor women he murdered and betrayed. He did not hesitate to rob them of their life savings. He did not hesitate to kill them if he feared they would bring his career of crime to an end.”

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