Justice of the Peace John W. Saunders

Justice of the Peace John W. Saunders

Greensville County Circuit Court, Virginia

End of Watch Thursday, March 22, 1900

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John W. Saunders

Justice of the Peace John Saunders and Deputy Sheriff Joseph Welton were shot and killed while attempting to arrest a man involved in a string of burglaries in the Emporia area.

The two men and a citizen had tracked the group of suspects to a cabin near Skippers, Virginia.

As Justice Saunders and Deputy Welton entered the cabin one of the suspects immediately opened fire, killing Deputy Welton. Justice Saunders returned fire and turned to retreat but was shot in the back of the head and killed. The citizen who had accompanied them retreated and went to get help.

The shooter and another suspect were captured a short time later and taken to the county jail. The Virginia State Militia was sent to protect the prisoners for fear of lynching but was withdrawn by order of the governor. The county sheriff then turned the two prisoners over to the citizens and they were both lynched.

Justice Saunders was survived by his wife and several children.


  • Age 58
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Lynched by mob


Most Recent Reflection

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On this 121st anniversary of your death I’d like to say thank you for your service and please know that no passage of time can ever erase your sacrifice. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

March 22, 2021

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