Watchman Willis Shipman

Watchman Willis Shipman

Connecticut Department of Correction, Connecticut

End of Watch Saturday, September 1, 1877

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Willis Shipman

Watchman Willis Shipman was shot and killed by two inmates who were attempting to escape the Wethersfield State Prison. Watchman Shipman was working the night shift and was the only watchman on duty in the prison. Two prisoners, who were serving eight year sentences for burglary, planned an escape that night. One inmate had made a skeleton key that would open all the locks in the prison. As they made their escape they were confronted by Watchman Shipman, who ordered them to stop. When they refused, Watchman Shipman fired two shots. One of the men threw up his hands and yelled "Don't Shoot. I'm hit and killed." That threw off Watchman Shipman long enough for both men to attack him.

They took his gun, tied him up and gagged him. As the convicts were continuing their escape, Watchman Shipman was able to get his gag loose and call for help. When the convicts ordered him to stop, he refused. One of the inmates then shot and killed Watchman Shipman with his own gun.

Both inmates were apprehended and charged with first degree murder. A prison watchman was also charged with murder when it was discovered that the inmates had bribed him into giving them money and articles that they used in their escape.

The inmate that fired the fatal shot was executed by hanging for the murder of Watchman Shipman on May 28, 1880. The other inmate was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was later declared insane and sent to the Connecticut Insane Asylum in Middletown where he remained until his death in December of 1897. The watchman was convicted of murder and sentenced to life. He died in prison on January 30, 1899.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Executed in 1880

Most Recent Reflection

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... time will never diminish our sincere gratitude for your service and especially your ultimate sacrifice.
God Bless You Watchman Willis Shipman, your Family and the Connecticut Dept of Correction.

grateful civilian

September 1, 2015

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