Patrolman Ralph T. Russell

Patrolman Ralph T. Russell

Lewiston Police Department, Idaho

End of Watch Monday, June 15, 1970

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Ralph T. Russell

Patrolman Russell was shot and killed while questioning two suspicious men in an alley behind a local business. During the questioning one of the men produced a handgun and shot him several times. Patrolman Russell was found with a draft card belonging to one of the suspects in his hand.

The suspect who killed Patrolman Russell had escaped from the Greenville, Tennessee Jail on April 8, 1970. He was being held for four counts of bank robbery, three in Tennessee and one in Bristol, Virgina. He and another Tennessee man fled to the Pacific Northwest where on May 29, 1970, they shot and killed a bartender at a tavern in Portland, Oregon. They were next heard from when they killed Patrolman Russell. On July 9, 1970, they robbed a post office in Malott, Washington. A week later they killed a 70 year old man in Okanogan, Washington by strangulating him, and then stole his car. Both suspects were captured a few weeks later.

The killer, 26, of Patrolman Russell was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison on June 16, 1971. He was denied parole for the fifth time in 2008. The other suspect, 22, was allowed to plead guilty to attempted burglary and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Both suspects were to be turned over to Oregon officials to be tried for murder in that state, when and if they were released from Idaho.


  • Age 31
  • Tour 7 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 17 Reflections

I have relived that night many nights and every June, I choke up wishing I could have been at that alley seconds sooner.
53 years and I still hear those shots ring out.
To all the friends and family sorry I could not have been a little quicker.

Former officer
NPCSO, Lapwai PD

June 22, 2023

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