It has all the elements of any proper murder mystery — a young, beautiful victim, a backdrop of political intrigue and violence, scores of possible suspects and shifting rumors circulating with a fury around a small town.
The killing of Laura Law could easily be a movie, but it was all too real. On Jan. 5, 1940, Law was found dead in her 1117 East Second St. home in Aberdeen by her mother Sally Luoma. She had been bludgeoned to death, her skull smashed open in four different places and stab wounds, possibly from an ice pick on one of her breasts.
The killing sent shock waves through the community, but has never been solved.
On Saturday at the Southwest Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives John Hughes an expert on the case and a former publisher and editor at The Daily World, along with Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin, a reporter at The Vidette in Montesano, will make a presentation about the case. The presentation, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., is free and open to the public.
The murder was “one of the most sensational unsolved mysteries in Washington State history,” said Hughes, now the chief oral historian and author of several books on Washington historical figures for the Secretary of State’s Legacy Project.
The Law killing happened during a time of great political turmoil in the nation and in the Harbor. World War II, still in its infancy, was raging through parts of Europe and the Pacific. In the States, which had yet to commit troops, a political war was going on between the right wing and leftist elements in the country, and tensions between business and labor interests was roiling.
Working in the middle of this was Dick Law, a local union leader and firebrand. As a labor leader, Law was the focal point for many of the hostilities of anti-union groups. At the time, union busters played for keeps. Violence and even killing was used to break up labor groups.
When Law was called from a union event to the scene of the slaying, he is reported to have said, “Why did they do this to her, a poor innocent kid?” upon seeing her body.
As her husband, he became one of the suspects and was questioned several times.
Numerous other groups were suspected in killings, but the murder was never solved.
Laura Law was buried in Fern Hill cemetery in Aberdeen. A little more that 13 years later, despondent over the slaying of his wife, Law would commit suicide in a hotel in Olympia.