Sheriff Lawrence I. Smoyer

Sheriff Lawrence I. Smoyer

Boone County Sheriff's Department, 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 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.

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

The case remained unsolved until October 2017 when the child 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 been living. Neither suspect was ever charged in the slayings, although Nebraska authorities went as far as obtaining an arrest warrant for one of them in 1938. But by then, the suspect had pled 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 survived by his wife and six children.


  • Age 41
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

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

suspicious person

Most Recent Reflection

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Quite an amazing story, I would encourage anyone visiting this brave officer’s story here to research and read about it. Rest in peace always and know that no passage of time will ever erase your service and sacrifice.

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

October 3, 2020

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