Lieutenant William Nelson Thomas

Lieutenant William Nelson Thomas

Illinois Department of Corrections, Illinois

End of Watch Saturday, July 22, 1978

William Nelson Thomas

Lieutenant William Thomas, Correctional Officer Stanley Cole and Correctional Officer Robert Conkle were killed during a riot at the Pontiac Correctional Center.

Around 9:00 am, about 500 inmates were returning to their cells in the North Cell House when a riot erupted. The inmates set fire to several buildings in the complex resulting in an estimated $4 million in damages. Lieutenant Thomas and Correctional Officer Conkle were stabbed with shanks numerous times shortly after the riot began. Correctional Officer Cole was stabbed with a screwdriver.

Correctional center staff and Illinois State Police troopers were able to restore order and return the inmates to their cells 11 hours later. Seventeen inmates were charged with the murders of the correctional officers, but none were convicted.

Lieutenant Thomas had served with the Illinois Department of Corrections for four years and was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War.

Bio

  • Age 49
  • Tour 4 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Weapon Edged weapon; Shank
  • Offender Acquitted

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in Peace, Lieutenant Thomas. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.
as well when you served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Jim CONKLE
BROTHER OF FALLEN OFFICER BOB CONKLE

July 22, 2013

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