Private Ernest Lee Ripley

Private Ernest Lee Ripley

West Virginia State Police, West Virginia

End of Watch Thursday, November 18, 1920

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Ernest Lee Ripley

Private Ernest Ripley, Private Charles Kackley, and Private William McMillion were all shot and killed during a two-year battle with striking coal miners, known as the Second Mine War, in which over 50 people were killed.

The strike was finally put down with the help of the United States Army.

Private Ripley was killed in an exchange of gunfire with two labor agitators after being abducted in Vulcan, West Virginia. Private Ripley was returning from duck hunting on the Tug River when he encountered the two men on the Norfolk and Western Railroad tracks. The men pretended to be friendly until catching him off guard, at which point they drew revolvers and forced him to walk down the tracks with them. As they encountered a railroad work crew one of the men started shooting at him. He drew his revolver and returned fire, killing the subject, however, the second man shot him in the back several times and killed him.

The subject who shot him was convicted of murder and sentenced to five years in prison on December 18th, 1920.

Private Ripley was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of WWI and had served with the West Virginia State Police for only five months.


  • Age 22
  • Tour 5 months
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender One shot and killed

abducted, strike

Most Recent Reflection

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Private Ripley,

On this the 100th anniversary of the end of your watch, I want you to know you're not forgotten. The tears that fill my eyes are genuine. I'm so grateful for your courage, for the tremendous price you paid in service to our great State of West Virginia.

Dusti C. Snider, West Virginian

November 18, 2020

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