Patrolman Donald Harold Crittendon

Patrolman Donald Harold Crittendon

Cape Girardeau Police Department, Missouri

End of Watch Tuesday, March 21, 1961

Add to My Heroes

Donald Harold Crittendon

Patrolman Crittendon and Auxillary Sergeant Herbert L. Goss were shot when they stopped two escaped convicts in a stolen car. Sergeant Goss was shot to death as he reached the drivers window. Patrolman Crittendon was shot in the abdomen by the other convict as he walked to the passenger side of the vehicle. Patrolman Crittendon died from his wounds at Southeast Missouri Hospital eleven days later.

Both convicts along with a third convict had escaped from a jail in San Luis Obispo, California, on Febuary 28, 1961. Before reaching Missouri they robbed a supermarket and a liquor store in New Mexico and Kansas. The third suspect was left behind at a supermarket they were about to rob in Cape Girardeau when they were spotted by Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss. After they shot the two officers they stole a car from a group of college students at Southeast Missouri State College. Still later they beat up a farmer in Glen Allen, Missouri, and took his car. They then exchanged gunfire with the Greenville, Missouri Sheriff and a State Trooper before escaping. All of these events took place the same day Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss were shot.

The next day State Troopers arrested one of the suspects at a service station near Cape Girardeau. Hours later the second suspect was captured in a wooded area near Grassy, Missouri.

Both suspects were convicted of murdering Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss. One was sentenced to life in prison. The other one was executed in the gas chamber on July 26, 1963.

Patrolman Crittendon had resigned from the department and was serving his last shift. He was murdered 90 minutes before his shift ended. He was a U.S. Navy veteran and was survived by his wife and two daughters.


  • Age 24
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge 23

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Friday, March 10, 1961
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Executed in 1963

Most Recent Reflection

View all 16 Reflections

Patrolman Crittendon,
On today, the 60th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just for your Community but for our Country as well when you served with the USN. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Fair Winds And Following Seas

United States Border Patrol

March 21, 2021

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.