Sergeant Cornelius A. O'Donnell

Sergeant Cornelius A. O'Donnell

New Jersey State Police, New Jersey

End of Watch Monday, July 16, 1945

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Cornelius A. O'Donnell

Sergeant O'Donnell was shot and killed as he and another trooper escorted a prisoner back to New Jersey. The 30-year-old prisoner, a former mental patient wanted in Newark for murdering his wife with an axe, had been arrested in Pennsylvania and had agreed to turn himself in to New Jersey authorities.

Sergeant O'Donnell and another trooper met the suspect on the Pennsylvania side of a railroad bridge and began to walk the suspect back across the river. As they got to the midpoint of the bridge the suspect attempted to jump over the railing, but was stopped by Sergeant O'Donnell.

During the ensuing struggle the suspect was able to grab Sergeant O'Donnell's revolver and shot him twice in the abdomen, causing fatal wounds. He also shot the other trooper who later recovered from his wounds. He was captured later that night in a wooded area near the scene.

On September 19, 1945, he was convicted of Sergeant O'Donnell's murder and sentenced to life. Four months later he was declared insane and the trial for his wife's murder was put off indefinitely. He died in prison December 18, 1962.

Sergeant O'Donnell had served with the agency for 17 years. He was survived by his wife.


  • Age 42
  • Tour 17 years
  • Badge 367

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Died in prison

Most Recent Reflection

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Sgt. O’Donnell,
On today, the 75th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of the state of New Jersey. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

July 16, 2020

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