Sheriff Lawrence I. Smoyer

Sheriff Lawrence I. Smoyer

Boone County Sheriff's Office, Nebraska

End of Watch Thursday, June 17, 1937

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Lawrence I. Smoyer

Sheriff Lawrence Smoyer and Constable William Wathen were shot and killed near Akron while investigating a farmer's report of two suspicious men hiding behind haystacks in his meadow 23 miles northwest of Albion.

The two men opened fire when the officers approached them. Sheriff Smoyer died at the scene, and Constable Wathen succumbed to his wounds five months later.

The case remained unsolved until October 2017 when the child of one of the suspects contacted authorities and provided additional details of the crime. Authorities determined there was enough evidence to try both suspects had they still lived. Neither suspect was ever charged in the slayings, although Nebraska authorities obtained an arrest warrant for one of them in 1938. At the time the suspect had pleaded guilty to an unrelated bank robbery in Colorado and was sent to prison. Under the law of the time he could not be extradited to face more serious charges in Nebraska.

Sheriff Smoyer was a U.S. Army veteran of WWI and had served as sheriff for 11 years. He was survived by his wife and six children.

In 1965 a monument was erected as a tribute to both officers on the spot where they were killed.


  • Age 41
  • Tour 11 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Deceased, never charged

suspicious person

Most Recent Reflection

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RIP Sir, this was such a tragic story... in the fact that no one was ever held responsible for your death and the death of your co-worker. You have Never Been Forgotten...

Sue Nickerson
President Md. Chapter Concerns of Police Survivors

April 11, 2023

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