Town Sergeant John Smith

Town Sergeant John Smith

Foster Police Department, Rhode Island

End of Watch Thursday, June 21, 1832

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John Smith

Town Sergeant John Smith was killed as he attempted to arrest a man who was wanted by Connecticut authorities for being a debtor.

The Connecticut authorities had tracked the man into Rhode Island, where he had taunted and threatened them with a weapon. Rhode Island authorities swore out a warrant for the man on the charge that he threatened the officers, and Town Sergeant Smith and a small posse went to enforce the warrant.

When Town Sergeant Smith approached the wanted man, however, the man attacked him with an ax. The man struck Town Sergeant Smith between the shoulder blades, killing him, and then struck him again in the back of the neck.

The assailant then attacked the posse and fled the scene. He was later arrested at the house of a local resident after he bragged about his crime.

The assailant was tried and convicted of killing Town Sergeant Smith. He was sentenced to death and hanged on December 27, 1833.

Town Sergeant Smith was around 83 years old at the time of his death. He had served as the Town Sergeant of Foster for over 40 years, and also acted as a deputy sheriff. He was survived by his wife and two children.


  • Age 83
  • Tour 40 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Edged weapon; Axe
  • Offender Executed

Most Recent Reflection

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Sergeant Smith, MY GOD, when any of us would have been enjoying (or struggling with) retirement, you were still working and it took this animal two blows with an axe to finally kill you. YOU are the epitome of tough and the truest example of hero.

Your murderer was hanged, justice was served, but that did not bring you back. I have no doubts that you are patrolling the streets of Foster to this day, you proved that you will NOT give up.

I pray that your descendants know of your courage and celebrate it and honor you.

God Bless and may your eternal rest be EVER peaceful, Brother.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Department

June 21, 2018

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