Author photo

By Olivia Harnack
Whitman County Gazette 

Man fakes death to avoid brutal mob

Series: Crime Corner | Story 3

Gazette | File Photo

The old Colfax Courthouse can be seen on the left from this photo from Feb. 25, 1948.

COLFAX - On January 7, 1898, a mob of 20 to 30 men stormed the Whitman County Jail, in Colfax, with the intent of lynching two murder suspects. One suspect is lynched, but the other successfully fakes his own death and escapes with little injury.

The two men in question were none other than Charles Marshall, known as "Blacky," and Robert McDonald, known as "Dakota Slim."

The events leading up to the storming of the Whitman County Jail started with the murder of Orville Hayden and the robberies of passersby in the town of Farmington.

In the early fall of 1897, Marshall and McDonald robbed t...

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