Sheriff William Fred Sweet

Sheriff William Fred Sweet

Washington County Sheriff's Department, Iowa

End of Watch Wednesday, June 25, 1930

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William Fred Sweet

Sheriff William Sweet and Marshal Aaron Bailey, of the Washington Police Department, were shot and killed after arresting a man wanted for stealing a car in Ottumwa.

The officers had spotted the stolen car and stopped it near the city of Washington. They arrested the driver and took him to the county courthouse. When Sheriff Sweet began to search the suspect, the man suddenly produced a .38 caliber revolver and opened fire, striking Marshal Bailey twice and Sheriff Sweet three times.

Another policeman, whom the officers had picked up while en route to the courthouse, exchanged shots with the suspect but did not hit him.

The suspect fled the scene and remained at large for four years. On January 6, 1934, the suspect and several other criminals were shot and killed in Illinois by members of the Chicago Police Department. The man was suspected to be an associate of the Barker-Karpis Gang and responsible for several other murders.

Sheriff Sweet had served with the Washington County Sheriff's Department for nine years. He had been appointed as sheriff only 7 months earlier after the former sheriff resigned. He was survived by his two sons.

The Barker-Karpis Gang committed violent crimes throughout the American Midwest in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Members and associates of the gang were responsible for the murders of at least ten law enforcement officers.


  • Age 59
  • Tour 9 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Not available

prisoner custody, stolen vehicle

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Please know that your memory, service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Rest in peace always.

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

June 25, 2020

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