Constable William Wathen

Constable William Wathen

Boone County Constable's Office, Nebraska

End of Watch Sunday, October 3, 1937

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William Wathen

Constable William Wathen and Sheriff Lawrence Smoyer 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.

Constable Wathen was survived by his wife and two daughters.


  • Age 54
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Thursday, June 17, 1937
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Deceased

suspicious person

Most Recent Reflection

View all 9 Reflections

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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