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100 years ago in Spokane: ‘Confessed automaniac’ convicted after driving stolen vehicle to Spokane

“Had a mania for car theft” ran in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on June 27, 1922.

Charles Desch, a “confessed automaniac,” was sentenced to five years at McNeil Island.

He loved cars, but unfortunately, he had a taste for other people’s cars.

He was convicted of stealing a Ford in Portland and driving it to Spokane. He was caught in the act of filling up the car by draining gas out of the tank of a heavy truck at Browne and Riverside.

After his arrest, he confessed that he had stolen 19 cars in Portland in the space of one month. He said he stole the cars “as a matter of convenience” because he lived a long way from downtown.

Desch previously had been convicted of car theft in Colorado and served time at the state penitentiary in Buena Vista.

Adding to Desch’s woes in the current arrest was the fact that he had driven to Spokane with Mavis Bancroft. She said he promised to marry her, but then refused to follow through.

He was also convicted of a violation of the Mann Act – bringing a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. He drew a second sentence of a year and a day.

From the parks beat: The estate of John A. Finch, a wealthy Spokane mining man, was finalized by the courts. It included a donation of property that has shaped Spokane to this day.

In his will, Finch donated many blocks of land for parks purposes. Part of it would become the second nine holes of Downriver Golf Course. Another parcel would become today’s John A. Finch Arboretum.

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