Warden Clarence Larkin

Warden Clarence Larkin

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California

End of Watch Friday, September 24, 1937

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Clarence Larkin

Warden Clarence Larkin and Officer Harry Martin were stabbed to death during a prison escape attempt at Folsom State Prison.

Approximately 40 inmates had been waiting to talk to Warden Larkin concerning upcoming parole hearings when seven of the inmates suddenly attacked him. As they took him into the yard, other guards started firing. In the commotion that followed, Officer Martin and Warden Larkin were both stabbed to death. Officer Martin died at the scene, and Warden Larkin died of his wounds five days later.

One of the seven inmates who attempted to escape was wanted for the murder of Officer James Hill, of the Marlow, Oklahoma, Police Department, on April 20th, 1931.

Two of the escaping attempts were shot and killed during the incident. The remaining five were all sentenced to death and eventually executed. Two suspects, including the one who had murdered Officer Hill, were executed in the gas chamber on December 2nd, 1938. Two others were executed on December 9, 1938, and the leader of the group was executed on December 16th, 1938.

Warden Larkin was a California National Guard veteran of WWI who had served as the Folsom Prison Warden for over one year and had served with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for 22 years. He is survived by his wife, stepson, two brothers, and seven sisters.


  • Age 46
  • Tour 23 years, 5 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Incident Date Sunday, September 19, 1937
  • Weapon Edged weapon; Shank
  • Offender Executed in 1938

correctional Facility, escape attempt, prisoner custody

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Warden Larkin was memorialized in the 08/18/1949 radio episode of "Dragnet". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTsPgxT5hJs

Special Agent Howard B. Oller (retired)
Federal Bureau of Investigation

June 2, 2022

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