This man was arrested strictly on the basis of his looks — he looked so much like an accused murderer he had to be taken to Ephrata to prove he was not the wanted man.
Folks didn't have a photo ID so how do you prove who you are? While fingerprints were used in penitentiaries, it was in 1924 that an act of congress created the Identification Division of the F.B. I.. The fingerprint database came from the former National Bureau and Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas, which had begun fingerprinting inmates in 1904.
Fingerprinting reached Pasco in 1916, when an expert from Walla Walla penitentiary came to town, but that didn't help this man.
Chief Jack thought he had slayer
Never miss a local story.
By the The Kennewick Courier-Reporter
Published on February 21, 1924
Kennewick was afforded a real thrill Friday night when it was reported that Chief of Police Jack Dale had arrested at the N.P. depot, Owen Hudson wanted in Grant County for the murder of three people and the wounding of a fourth. Further investigation however proved that the man arrested here was not Hudson whose body was found yesterday near Coulee in Grant County.
The man arrested here gave the name of Joseph Houston and said he had spent the winter in Walla Walla, although when questioned further he was unable to give the names of any people who knew him nor did he show any knowledge of the town.
Houston answered almost perfectly the description of Hudson even to a scar on the side of the nose. He admitted that he was 47 years of age, which was Hudson's age. In fact he so closely resembled the Grant County slayer that after being taken to the county jail in Pasco he was identified as Hudson by Samuel DePew, who lived near and was well acquainted with Hudson. But when he was taken to Ephrata people who were well acquainted with Hudson, declared positively that the man in custody was not he.
Searchers found Hudson's body a short distance from where his trail was lost by his pursuers the day following the crime. He had shot himself through the right eye with a 30-30 rifle.
Houston is still a puzzle to the officers who questioned him. They are of the opinion that he is either slightly mentally deranged or is wanted somewhere for some other crime, hence his reluctance to talk. When arrested he said he was waiting to catch a train to Yakima. Chief Dale says he is the first man he ever arrested who had absolutely nothing in his pockets. Save for an accumulation of dust and lint his pockets were absolutely empty.