Sheriff John L. Wormell

Sheriff John L. Wormell

Asotin County Sheriff's Department, Washington

End of Watch Wednesday, August 5, 1931

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John L. Wormell

Sheriff John Wormell was shot and killed after he and a deputy responded to a report of a burglary in a store at the intersection of 2nd Street and Cleveland Street at 1:15 am. The store owner had opened the door to the store and, along with the sheriff, entered the business.

The store owner proceeded down one aisle as Sheriff Wormell proceeded down the other. As Sheriff Wormell passed by a barrel the suspect, a 12 year-old boy, who was hiding behind it, fired a single shot from a .32 caliber pistol he had previously stolen. The shot struck Sheriff Wormell in the head, killing him instantly. The other deputy then took the boy into custody.

The boy was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison at Walla Walla State Prison. He was pardoned by the Governor at the request of Father Flannagan of Boy's Town after serving 10 years.

Sheriff Wormell had served with the Asotin County Sheriff's Department for 35 years and also served as an elected representative to the state legislature. He was survived by his wife, three sons, and daughter.


  • Age 64
  • Tour 35 years
  • Badge 1

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life

burglary, juvenile offender

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John Wormell was 67 or 68 at the time of his death according to his cemetery records.WORMELL, John L., b. 1863, d. 1931 (In Ramsdell family plot), (*Sheriff killed by Nichols boy , d. RW). Father Flanagan's request to have Herbert Niccolls released to his custody was denied by Gov. Hartley. Herbert Niccolls received a conditional pardon from Gov. Clarence Martin on January 7, 1941 at that governor was leaving office. My grandfather, Robert Lynn Ward, lived with the Wormell family for a short time in 1919 during the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Cynthia LeVeque
Writer and Researcher

March 3, 2023

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