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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago today: Laundry business owner’s poisoning likely from wine purchased from two women at roadhouse

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

The mystery deepened surrounding the death of A. Willis Hagey by apparent strychnine poisoning.

The well-known laundry business owner drank a little bit of wine at lunch time. He was stricken with convulsions and died an hour later.

Preliminary lab tests indicated that the wine bottle had traces of an alkaloid, probably strychnine. Hagey’s son, Raymond Hagey, admitted that he had purchased the wine several weeks ago at the Bungalow, a roadhouse west of Ft. George Wright.

Raymond said that two women at the roadhouse offered him a drink. He declined, but they offered to give him some to take home. He found an empty bottle, and the women poured the wine into it. It sat unused in a cupboard for weeks before his father took his fatal drink.

A number of questions remained unanswered, including whether the strychnine was in the original wine bottle, whether it was in the empty bottle and how it found its way into either bottle. The identity of the two women was also a mystery.

Even the nature of the poison was still not definitively confirmed. Chemical tests were still being performed on the wine and on the contents of Hagey’s stomach.

From the radio beat: Radio was still in its infancy in Spokane, but that was about to change. The city’s radio “amateurs” and electronics dealers announced that Spokane would observe National Radio Week in November.

Station KFIO, operating out of North Central High School, planned special programs every night that week. KFIO was still just a radio club for students, but it would later evolve into a full-fledged commercial radio station.

Within two years, several other powerful commercial stations would arrive, including KHQ and KFPY (the precursor to KXLY). They would soon make radio the most popular form of home entertainment in Spokane.