Sheriff William T. Cate

Sheriff William T. Cate

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Tennessee

End of Watch Thursday, September 14, 1882

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William T. Cate

Sheriff Cate and Deputy Sheriff John Conway were shot and killed when a prisoner they were transporting escaped.

Sheriff Cate and Deputy Conway were on a train transporting three prisoners who had just been convicted of murder. When the train stopped in Sweet Water, Tennessee, three men entered the train car. One man was the brother of one of the prisoners. He approached Deputy Conway from behind, drew a pistol and shot and killed Deputy Conway. The suspect then took the keys from Deputy Conway's pocket and unlocked his brother and the other two prisoners. Sheriff Cate rushed the men, but was shot several times and killed.

The three men who entered the train and the brother then jumped into the engine car, and at gunpoint, ordered the motorman to start moving the train. The train went through three towns without stopping before the four suspects jumped from the engine and fled on horses.

When the train stopped at Knoxville, the other two prisoners, who were not involved in the escape, surrendered to officers.

The killer was recaptured and executed in 1883.


  • Age 53
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; Pistol
  • Offender Executed in 1883

escapee, transport

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Rest in peace always and know that no passage of time will ever erase your service and sacrifice.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

September 14, 2020

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