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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Two brokers made a suicide pact over their embezzlement scheme, but only one went through with it

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 8, 2021

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

John B. Milholland and Jay E. Hough, Spokane municipal bond brokers, made a suicide pact when their $353,000 embezzlement scheme was discovered.

Milholland went through with the suicide, but Hough did not. He surrendered to authorities and confessed.

When Milholland learned that Hough had surrendered, he locked himself in his upstairs bedroom on West First Avenue as deputy sheriffs gathered outside to arrest him. A Spokesman-Review reporter knocked on the door and Milholland’s wife said her husband was in a locked room and she could not get in. Then she heard a noise and said, “Oh, I believe he is dead now.”

Deputies entered the house and forced the door, and found Milholland dead of a gunshot wound. Their two little girls were asleep in nearby rooms.

Hough had confessed to the scheme to embezzle huge amounts from a Wallace, Idaho, mining capitalist. Hough told police that he and Milholland had planned to meet at their office in two hours, at 11 p.m., to commit suicide. Upon learning that, deputies went to Milholland’s house to arrest him.

Later reports indicated that Milholland had attempted suicide previously and had once even threatened to kill Hough.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1776: Thomas Paine anonymously published his pamphlet, “Common Sense,” which argued for American independence from British rule.

1967: Massachusetts Republican Edward W. Brooke, the first Black person elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote, took his seat.

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