Sheriff Matthew L. Wann

Sheriff Matthew L. Wann

Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Alabama

End of Watch Tuesday, May 3, 1932

Add to My Heroes

Matthew L. Wann

Sheriff Matt Wann was shot and killed while serving a warrant on a man at a residence near Scottsboro. As he handcuffed the man, the man's brother immediately picked up a shotgun and fired once, the full force striking the sheriff in the back, killing him instantly. The 20-year-old suspect disappeared forever.

On March 25, 1931, Sheriff Wann took a major role in saving the lives of nine young black men, ages 13 to 17, who were arrested after being accused of raping two white girls, ages 17 and 21, aboard a freight train. The train was stopped by deputies in Paint Rock, Jackson County after several white youths accused several black youths of throwing them from the freight car leaving the two girls. This became known as the famous "Scottsboro Boys Case." Sheriff Wann stood inside his jail door and held off more than 100 members of the community and Ku Klux Klan members who wanted to lynch the suspects. The next day he received the help of 25 armed national guardsmen, who helped him subdue the mob.

To this day, several leading citizens then and now say the Ku Klux Klan and several law enforcement officials involved with them had Sheriff Wann murdered in retaliation for the role he took in the Scottsboro Case. His murder case remains a mystery that Scottsboro citizens call one big conspiracy.

In 2010 a research of Jackson County court records proved the following: Grand jury records for 1931 and 1932 were missing. There was never an arrest warrant issued for the killer. Sheriff Wann was arresting his killer's brother for non-support and army desertion, but both warrants were fakes, and no such warrants ever existed. Never told was the fact that four deputies witnessed the murder. A search for the suspect was minimal at best. A petition for Sheriff Wann's wife to succeed him was never sent to Governor Ben Miller.

Sheriff Wann and his wife had nine children. They were preceded in death by two. In 2013 one of their sons, a World War II Veteran, and others received France's highest award for their efforts in liberating France in 1944 and 1945.


  • Age 55
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun; 12 gauge
  • Offender At large

retaliation, warrant service

Most Recent Reflection

View all 16 Reflections

Sheriff Wann: You epitomize what all peace officers should aspire to. Despite the obvious dangers/risks/social beliefs of that era, which conflicted with the law, you stood tall for justice and preserved the right of those young people to receive a trial. Your disregard for your own safety and refusal to go-along to get-along reflects the highest moral and ethical standards of our profession and for that you deserve our sincere respect and humble thanks.

Asst. Sheriff Jim Lopey (ret)
Washoe County Sheriff (Reno, Nv) and NVDPS

May 3, 2021

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.