Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland
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The Hossack Case

George Clammer (Prosecutor)

George Clammer, whose father was an itinerant Methodist minister, came from modest circumstances. Clammer attended Simpson College where he achieved recognition as a student, orator, scholar, and athlete. Although he was relatively small in physical size, he starred on the football team.

After reading the law, Clammer was admitted to the bar and, in 1898, at the age of twenty-five, elected county attorney. He was described by one newspaper reporter as a young attorney of marked ability with a bright future ahead of him. The Hossack murder, in 1900, threw Clammer into the public spotlight. Daily newspapers provided a blow-by-blow account of the testimony and arguments, and the Indianola courthouse was packed during the trial. Senator Berry was the older and more experienced lawyer, but Clammer was an able opponent. He was tough and effective in his examination of witnesses and equal to Senator Berry in his capacity to deliver a memorable closing argument to the jury. Clammer was rewarded by the jury's decision to convict Margaret Hossack of murder. Although he was not in public office two years later, when she was retried, he agreed to help the Madison County prosecutors argue their case against her.

Clammer left Iowa with his family soon after the outcome of the second trial and moved his family west. According to his wife, the Hossack case always weighed heavily on his mind. He gave up his political aspirations after his move, as well as the practice of criminal law. At the time of his death, in 1938, Clammer was a well-respected attorney in Manhattan, Kansas.

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Midnight Assassin copyright © 2017; Patricia L. Bryan and Thomas Wolf