Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland
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Mrs. Hossack Takes Stand in Her own Behalf and Tells Story of the Tragedy.

INDIANOLA, April 8.--The defense in the Hossack case rested at 11:45. Margaret Hossack took the stand at 10 o'clock in her own behalf. Her testimony on direct examination was given in a low but firm voice. It was not until she was called upon to mention the name of her son John that she showed any emotion. Then she broke down and her sobs were audible all over the court room. On cross examination she appeared to regain her composure, and although Attorney McNeil fired question after question at her he was unable to disconcert her or confuse her in her answers. When she left the stand there seemed to be the impression on the audience that she had told the truth.

Attorney Berry, for the defense, conducted the cross examination. He asked the witness if she remembered the hour of her husband's and Ivan's return on the afternoon of December 1.


"State when it was Mr. Hossack ate his supper."

"About 5 o'clock."

"Did the rest of the family eat at that time?"

"No sir."

"Why did he eat first?"

"Because he was hungry and I told the girls to get him his supper. He had had no supper. The family dined later."

"Then what did he do in the house?"

"He sat in the kitchen reading. Some time later he played with his whip for a while and then went into the sitting room."

"What did you do then?"

"I was patching and darning."

"Did you meet Ivan when you were in the yard that afternoon?"


"What did he say?"

"He said: ‘Ma and pa think it's always going to snow, and I am going to put the axe in the granary.'"

"Did he say any one told him to put it there?"


"How long was Ivan gone?"

"I don't know how long."

"What occurred in the house after supper?"

"After the girls got through with the work we went into the sitting room and Willie went to bed. Ivan got to fussing around and I sent him to bed so pa could go to sleep. Then the girls went to bed."

"When did Mr. Hossack go to bed?"

"About 8 o'clock."

"Then what did you do?"

"I went into the pantry to roll some butter, and when I came back into the room he was standing there pulling on his pants. I asked him what was the matter, and he said he could not lay abed awake. Then he lit his pipe and read."

"What time did you come in from the kitchen?"

"Don't know."

"Did you hear anything from the dog that night?"

"Yes sir; he barked around outside and I thought strange stock was on the place."

"When did you go to bed?"

"About 10 o'clock. I went to bed first. I don't know when he came to bed. I slept on the front part of the bed and lay on my right side, facing the east. He said nothing when he got in. I guess he thought I was asleep. When he first lay down he lay on his back and then turned on his left side."

"Did you go to sleep?"

"Yes sir."

"Now, what woke you up, and when?"

"I was aroused in the night. I cannot tell when, by hearing a noise like sticks struck together. I jumped out of bed, and when I got outside of the door I heard him breathing and choking and thought he was disturbed. I saw a light on the wall, and that the door was sent shut. I called Cassie and told her pa was hurt. She replied that I should go back to bed, and then I went back. Willie came down first and then the girls."

"Who lit the lamp?"

"I did."

"Who carried it?"

"Willie did."

"Who went in first?"

"Willie and I were leading."

"How were you dressed?"

"I had on my chemise and drawers."

"Did you go to bed that way?"


"After you had called the children what was done?"

"Willie went to lay the pillow down with his hand and pa asked what he was doing. Willie said that he was looking at him; that he was hurt. Pa replied that he was not hurt, and he was sick."

Rigid Cross Examination.

A rigid cross examination was begun, but failed to shake her in any of her statements except as to the time involved in rolling the butter. Attorney McNeil asked her when pa went to bed and she said 8 o'clock. He then asked her what she had done and she said she went into the pantry to roll some butter. He inquired as to when she left the pantry and she said about half past nine, and he then asked her if it took her an hour and a half to roll the butter.

This question somewhat confused the witness, but after hesitating awhile she stated that she did not go into the pantry until after the girls went to bed, which was about 9 o'clock.

She denied that Frank Keller had said anything about the axe on the night of the murder. She stated when asked if she struck her husband any blows with an axe or any other instrument that night she had not done so, and that she did not know who did or had she suggested to anyone that they should do so.

She was asked to describe the bedding on the bed on the night of the murder. She said there were two quilts, the pillows, the springs and mattress. She was then asked in what condition it was left when she got out of bed and stated that she could not remember, but recalled them as being rolled up.

She was then asked to describe the appearance of the light seen in the sitting room. She said it was a flash that lasted but a minute and was on the north wall about two feet below the ceiling, that it looked to her like a lantern shining through the glass door.

In other respects her testimony corresponded to that of the other members of the family.

Court adjourned at 11:30 to convene at l:30, when the introduction of the exhibits will be made by the prosecution.

Arguments Open at 1:30.

At 1:30 this afternoon court convened and County Attorney Clammer begun the arguments for the state. This argument will consume all the afternoon and at the close Judge Henderson will make the argument for the defense. He will be followed by Senator Berry along the same line. The close for the state will be made by Attorney Harry McNeil. It is likely that the arguments to the jury will last two days. It is felt that much depends upon the instructions of the court to the jury.

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