Fallen officers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Donald Henry Crittendon: Patrol officer

Age: 24

Date of death: March 21, 1961

Badge number: 23

Crittendon died of wounds he sustained during a gun battle that occurred less than two hours before his resignation as a Cape Girardeau officer would have become effective.

Crittendon was born on April 14, 1936, in Piggott, Ark., and grew up in Kentucky. He later graduated from Kennett High School where he excelled in football and track. In 1955, he entered the US Navy and was stationed in Honolulu, HI, where he married Roceda Joyce Lillard, of Senath, Mo.

Before joining the Cape Girardeau Police Department, Crittendon worked at Davis Electric Co. and as a deputy juvenile officer. He also served for a time as a driver-examiner for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Crittendon had accepted another position with a private firm and was finishing up his last shift as a Cape Girardeau officer the evening of March 10, 1961. The shooting occurred on Kingshighway north of Arena Park when Crittendon and other officers were attempting to question fugitives Douglas Wayne Thompson and Sammy Aire Tucker. Crittendon had stopped a car driven by Tucker moments before the shooting, which caused the deaths of Crittendon and auxillary officer Herbert L. Goss. Tucker was sentenced to die for his role in the shooting and died by gas chamber in Jefferson City two years later.

Herbert L. Goss: auxilary officer

Age: 67

Date of death: March 10, 1961

Goss died as a result of the same fatal shooting that claimed the life of patrol officer Donald Crittendon. Sammy Aire Tucker was later executed for the murder.

Goss was born on Sept. 29, 1893, in Johnson, Ill. He married Mae Gerhardt on May 2, 1945. He worked for the Cape Girardeau city street department until about two years before his death.

Nathaniel Jefferson (Jeff) Hutson: police chief

Age: 49

Date of death: Oct. 7, 1922

Huston, to date the only chief of police ever killed in the line of duty, was gunned down after entering the home of a suspect while trying to serve an arrest warrant. The two patrol officers with Hutson at the time returned fire immediately and killed the shooter, Willie Willeford. Police were seeking Willeford since he had escaped from the custody of law enforcement escorting him to the Missouri Reformatory. Willeford confronted Hutson as the chief entered the 409 William St. residence through the back door. He immediately began shooting at Hutson, hitting him five of six shots. The patrol officers later said that the chief had been confident when he walked into the residence that Willeford would immediately surrender.

Hutson was born near Millersville, Mo., then his family traveled west, and he spent several years in Colorado and New Mexico. When he returned to southeast Missouri, he worked for three years as the city's Marshall and as a Cape Girardeau patrol officer, where he covered the "Haarig" beat, then believed to be the worst area of the city. He was elected chief of police in 1915 by an overwhelming vote and later went on to serve as sheriff for a time before returning to chief. As chief, Hutson enacted many reform measures that had lasting effects in the city's more troublesome neighborhoods like Haarig.

Willis A. Martin: Good Hope night policeman

Age: 59

Date of death: Feb. 27, 1921

Martin was in the early morning hours of his night beat when he was slain by a burglar he appeared to have interrupted in the midst of his crime. His body was discovered in the back part of a shoe store on Good Hope Street, about three or four hours after the coroner estimated he bled to death. He had been shot twice in the back, and his own weapon was found laying near his feet, but a revolver was discovered under his body. Several suspects were arrested during the course of the investiation but no one was ever tried for the murder of Martin. Martin was originally from Wisconsin, the son of British immigrants, but had lived in Cape Girardeau for 26 years. He worked i the dairy industry before beginning a foray into politics. He served as chief of police for several years, in addition to holding positions as the night policeman in Haarig and as deputy sheriff.

Albert Demortiers: patrol officer

Age: 39

Date of Death: October 27, 1917

Demortiers was killed in front of witnesses at the corner of Broadway and Middle Street after confronting a drunk man outside a local saloon. He was shot twice with a .32-caliber revolver, what witnesses described as a "plain case of cold-blooded murder," accoridng to news accounts. Demortiers was the first Cape Girardeau officer killed while in the line the of duty.