Deputy Sheriff William Henry Rafford

Deputy Sheriff William Henry Rafford

Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, New York

End of Watch Wednesday, December 16, 1903

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William Henry Rafford

Deputy Sheriff William Rafford was shot and killed when he went to the home of a man to serve a civil court summons at a farm in Aquebogue, New York.

Deputy Rafford entered the suspect's home and presented him with a court summons. The suspect went into another room and when he returned he shot Deputy Rafford twice with a double-barreled shotgun.

The man then dragged Deputy Rafford's body outside. When other deputies arrived, the suspect refused to surrender. All the windows of the suspect's home were broken by deputies in an effort to freeze the suspect out. After an overnight standoff, the suspect surrendered. The suspect was later judged to be insane by the Lunacy Commission and sent to the Matteawan State Hospital for Insane Criminals.

Deputy Rafford was a military veteran. He had served with the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office for 15 years and also served as the warden for the Suffolk County Jail at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife and three children.


  • Age 48
  • Tour 15 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Committed

warrant service

Most Recent Reflection

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William Henry Rafford was my great great grandfather. His death changed the entire course of history for my family and forced his oldest son, my great grandfather Paul Rafford, Sr. to leave school at the age of 14 and go to work to support his family. There were no benevolent funds, insurance or support for officers and their families who were killed in the line of duty at the turn of the Century. My family struggled just to keep from starving and to recover from the loss of such a fine dedicated family man.

Michael Betteridge

May 20, 2019

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