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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: The mysterious death of an oil stock salesman had police suspecting murder

 (S-R archives)
(S-R archives)

Police suspected murder in the disappearance of J.B. Bushnell, a 32-year-old Spokane oil stock salesman.

A small boy spotted his abandoned car in a gulch near the Downriver Park bridge. On the rear seat, police found a hammer with stains on it that appeared to be blood.

Police also found a cap, believed to be Bushnell’s, between the car and the river.

Bushnell’s wife said that he left to go to Fort George Wright to see a man there. He told her he would return early, in time to attend a Knights of Pythias banquet. She said he was in good health, had no serious worries and was not a drinker.

He was believed to be carrying $200 to $300 on him at the time, which might have been a motive for murder.

From the income tax beat: Internal Revenue tax collectors reported a last-minute rush of people paying federal income tax at Spokane’s federal building.

One of the tax collectors noted that his work was no longer a part-time job, but “a profession.” The year before, he had to work 18 straight hours as the tax deadline neared.

He said there was some humor in the job, however. One man came in and found that he owed only $4. Yet he wanted to pay it in four quarterly installments, as allowed by law.

“We tried to persuade him to pay it all now, but he wouldn’t,” said the tax man. “Our wish was to avoid bookkeeping.”

So he paid $1, and was scheduled to return every three months to pay the rest.

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