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100 years ago in Spokane: 10-year-old twins were being questioned in the drowning death of a boy they reportedly had bullied

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Two 10-year-old twins, playmates of William McLachlan, 8, told police that William went swimming of his own accord in the Spokane River, where he subsequently drowned.

William’s mother did not believe them.

Why?

“Because William was afraid of the water,” she said. “He has frequently visited the Sinto swimming pool, but never went into the water above his knees. I often joked with him about coming home with his bathing suit completely dry.”

And she had other reasons.

“William has had many differences with the Bafaro boys (the twins),” she said. “They were continually fighting him, and we had to watch for his protection. If he would get in a scrap with one, the other would pitch in. … The Bafaro boys are known throughout the neighborhood as being troublesome.”

Police returned to the Garfield School once again to question the Bafaro twins, and one of them told the following story: They had caught some frogs in a pond near the Broadview Dairy, and they decided to put the frogs in the river. William told them he was going swimming “and we told him not to, but he went anyway.” Then he “went out a little ways and then down.”

The other twin said William was swimming backward in the river and tried to grab on to a limb. But the limb broke and he went down. He said he called out to William, but got no answer.

Neither boy said anything about trying to save the drowning boy. One of them, in fact, told police that his brother had gotten in a fight with William two weeks earlier.

Neither boy had an explanation about why they didn’t tell authorities earlier about the drowning. One of them told his teacher “that he had forgotten.”

The boys had actually told several stories about where they last saw William, which is why police searched a nearby sandpit. They led police to the spot of the drowning only after they were “offered money,” the Chronicle wrote.

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