Creamery Robbery Turns Deadly

You are now standing where a murder weapon was disposed of in 1935 only to be rediscovered in 1989 solving the oldest active murder case in the nation.

In 1935, Newport City Marshall George Conniff was shot and killed while trying to apprehend three men who were attempting to rob the Newport Creamery.

During this decade of economic despair, butter was an expensive commodity and creamery burglaries had become common. Marshall Conniff discovered three men attempting to break in to Newport Creamery, when he yelled for them to stop he was met with a hail of gunfire. Conniff sustained wounds during this shootout which he died from the next day but the thieves got away unscathed.

The Spokane police conducted a quick investigation before they passed the case off to the Pend Oreille sheriffs. A man named Acie Logan was arrested and suspected of being involved in these creamery burglaries but Sergeant Daniel Mangan forced the ending of the investigation and never allowed anyone to question Logan about the crimes. Later though, it came out that Logan had admitted to his part in the crimes and also pointed the finger at Spokane detective, Clyde Ralstin. It seemed that Ralstin was being protected by the code of silence in the Police Deparment.

The case was stagnant until the 1980s when Tony Bamonte, Pend Oreille County sheriff, became interested in the case. When he approached the Police Department, they told him they did not have "employment records for any of the people and officers" and that most of them were dead now anyways. Dan Mangan stepped forward though, now 86 years old. He confirmed the suspicion that Ralstin was involved in a lot of illegal activity, including the creamery burglaries. Mangan even told Bamonte about the Post Street Bridge, where he had disposed of Ralstin's murder weapon in 1935. Bamonte found the weapon in 1989 and it was the same caliber as the murder weapon, a .32 revolver and its condition was consistent with being in the water for 50 years. You can see the rusty murder weapon today in a display case outside the Joel E. Ferris Research Room at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.

Ralstin died in 1990, in Montana, and he was still a free man.

Images

George Conniff circa 1933

George Conniff circa 1933

Courtesy Tony Bamonte View File Details Page

Clyde Ralstin circa 1935

Clyde Ralstin circa 1935

Courtesy Tony Bamonte View File Details Page

Tony Bamonte finding the murder weapon near Post Street Bridge

Tony Bamonte finding the murder weapon near Post Street Bridge

Courtesy Tony Bamonte View File Details Page

Murder Weapon After Over 50 Years Under Water

Murder Weapon After Over 50 Years Under Water

Courtesy Tony Bamonte View File Details Page

Video

Newport Creamery Robbery and Murder

Breaking Blue - Timothy Egan
History Link
Tony Bamonte, Tornado Creek Publications View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Keith Shelton, “Creamery Robbery Turns Deadly,” Spokane Historical, accessed July 28, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/202.
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