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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Police identified the ‘chicken house’ murder victim as they pieced together new leads in killing

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Police finally came up with several leads in the Chicken House murder mystery, which stemmed from a gruesome discovery a week before outside of Cheney.

First, they identified the victim as J.F. Olson of Elk, Wash., a bachelor of about 58-60 years and “a drinking man” who carried “plenty of money.”

Police now believed an unspecified bootlegger lured Olson to the abandoned Graham farm on the pretense of a liquor delivery.

When Olson got to the farm, he was lured out to the chicken house, shot and robbed.

Police believed the bootlegger called two Graham farm neighbors the day before the murder and asked whether the Graham place was occupied. When told it wasn’t, the bootlegger fixed on that as the site of the planned murder, according to a police theory.

No arrests had been made, but police believed a Spokane lodging house was the headquarters of the bootlegger or bootleggers. They believed Olson had gone to the lodging house the night before and was told to meet the bootlegger at the Graham farm the next day.

Olson’s employer at an Elk lumber company told police that Olson “liked his liquor, but couldn’t stand very much … liquor made him quarrelsome.”

Also on this date

1963: John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was shot to death during a motorcade in Dallas; Texas Gov. John B. Connally, riding in the same car as Kennedy, was seriously wounded; suspected gunman Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president.

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