Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland
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Residents of Indianola
Promenaded Past Her Cell
and Stared at the Lonely Woman.

INDIANOLA, April 9.--(Special)--Seldom, if ever, have the people of Indianola seen such an Easter Sabbath as Sunday. It was not so much the beauty of the day, for, although it began and finished with ideal Easter conditions, there has been many another as balmy, as full of the freshening vigor of spring. There were other elements at work than those of external nature; other influences beside those arising from the deep significance of the day. Blended with it was the spirit of tragedy, and it penetrated and permeated all classes and found vent in the intensity with which the questions: "Is she guilty?" "Will they convict her?" were asked.

It was the atmosphere of tragedy surrounding Mrs. Hossack who, shut in from the world in a narrow, padded cell in the gloomy interior of the county jail, listening throughout the day to the inspiring changing of church bells or catching the half lost strains of chanting choirs, which even heavy walls and iron-gated windows could not entirely exclude.

Spring had come and with it, as if by magic within a day, many an emerald spot, fresh and vigorous with the new life of summer, shown brilliantly against the sober brown, where winter yet reigns. But they were not for the eye of Mrs. Hossack.

In churches great banks of delicately colored flowers buried pulpits and adjacent aisles and exhaled upon the air a perfume that will linger in the vaulted roofs and shadowy pews until another Easter shall come. But they were not there for Mrs. Hossack to enjoy.

On the streets, especially those most remote from the jail, a throng of gaily dressed people enjoyed the warmth of an ideal Easter. Then they were merry; they laughed and chatted and walked; they talked and jested, but less as they approached the jail, until, when parading beneath its grated windows, a hush would fall upon them.

Was there something fascinating in those walls that they could so suddenly silence the gay interchanges of the day, or was it for the woman within, for Mrs. Hossack, invisible to the multitude, that they felt a sympathy, which no evidence could entirely destroy?

But about and beyond the jail, far enough away that it might not be heard within there was that buzzing of human voices which always accompanies public excitement, and in it could be heard that question which lingers on the lips of everybody here: "Is she guilty?" and the answer is lost in the discord, but the discord has an ugly sound.

Mrs. Hossack spent the day quietly. Other members of the family attended one of the churches during the morning and some of them visited the jail in the afternoon. They are remaining in town during the trial, perhaps they will never go back to the farm again. Wherever they went yesterday they were pointed out; they had become curiosities; they awaken speculation, and following each came those questions: "Is she guilty?" and "Will they convict her?"

Were it possible to obtain a consensus of opinion representing the entire community it might present Mrs. Hossack as an innocent woman, but that which can be gathered does not do so. That she has the sympathy of many people is certain; why, unless it be because she is a woman? When asked to express an opinion as to her guilt they refuse.

It is possible the general condemnation of the woman is due to the few who talk it so incessantly. Perhaps it is these thirteenth jurors who are responsible for the public verdict.

When the first week of the trial ended Saturday at noon it was difficult to understand how the defense had strengthened its case by the evidence introduced during the day. The impression was general the case of the prosecution had not been materially weakened by the testimony of the witnesses for the defense, although it was not thought the former had made out a case strong enough to relieve the minds of the jurors of reasonable doubt. That it had accomplished more than at first anticipated was generally conceded.

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