Captain Walter Lee Peterson

Captain Walter Lee Peterson

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Monday, December 10, 1973

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Walter Lee Peterson

Captain Walter Peterson was beaten to death with a chair after being attacked by four inmates in the exercise room at Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh. He had just been promoted to captain three hours before the attack.

One of the suspects was in prison for murdering Officer Joseph Zanella, of the Verona Police Department, on September 19th, 1969. He hanged himself in his cell on December 6th, 1978.

The other three inmates were convicted of first-degree murder and got a life term added to their sentences. One had recently stabbed a fellow inmate to death. Another one was in prison for murdering two women near Bedford.

Captain Peterson was a U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War. He had served with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for 15 years. He was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 42
  • Tour 15 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Blunt object; Chair
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in peace always knowing that your service and sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten by your law enforcement brethren.

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

August 26, 2020

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