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The Hossack Case

Don L. Berry (Journalist)

Don Berry was born October 8, 1880, in Indianola, Iowa, to William and Alice Berry. He was their only child, a bright and devoted youth who was home-schooled by his mother until he was old enough to attend college. At the time of the first Hossack trial, Don Berry was a student at Simpson College, and he was hired by the Iowa State Register to report on the legal proceedings. He had a seat in the gallery with other newspaper reporters, including Susan Glaspell. Don Berry was hardly an impartial or uninformed observer; his father was the lead defense attorney for the defendant. Not surprisingly, like his father, Berry thought the evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to prove Margaret Hossack guilty.

Soon after college, Berry took up farming, but he returned to newspaper work in 1919 and spent nearly forty years as editor and publisher of the Indianola Record-Herald. He did not reveal if he had ever talked to his father directly about the case, but he heard the stories, rumors, and theories about the case that circulated over the years. In 1953, he collaborated on a history of the county, and, in a footnote signed with his initials, he wrote that he did not believe that Margaret Hossack was guilty of murder. He had developed a theory of his own, which he never disclosed publicly. In 1970, however, he talked to his son, Thomas, about his memories of the case and revealed that he suspected that the murderer was one of the Hossack sons. Berry thought that Margaret Hossack had refused to name him in order to save him from a death sentence.

Don Berry, who was a prominent and revered citizen of Indianola, died in 1974 at the age of ninety-four.

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