Guard Lewis Washington Roper

Guard Lewis Washington Roper

District of Columbia Department of Corrections, District of Columbia

End of Watch Tuesday, April 3, 1917

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Lewis Washington Roper

Guard Lewis Roper succumbed to injuries sustained four months earlier during an escape attempt from the Occoquan Workhouse in Fairfax County, Virginia.

He was overseeing a work crew near the Workhouse's administrative building when one of the prisoners approached him from behind and struck him on the back of the head with a pick axe handle, fracturing his skull. Guard Roper then fell face first into a camp fire.

A second prisoner pulled him out of the fire and then grabbed Guard Roper's service revolver. That prisoner and five others then fled on foot through the woods and swampy area near the prison. Four of the six escapees were captured several hours later and returned to the Workhouse.

Guard Roper was transported to George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC, where he remained for several months. He was discharged in the end of March 1917 and sent to Florida to recuperate. Within days of arriving in Jacksonville, Florida, he experienced severe complications of his injuries and died on April 3rd, 1917.

Two prisoners were charged with Guard Roper's murder. The prisoner who struck him was convicted of felonious assault and received a $300 fine and three month prison sentence. The prisoner who stole his revolver was acquitted.

Guard Roper had served in law enforcement for approximately 17 years. He had previously served with the Sylvester, Georgia, Police Department and as a guard at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. He was survived by his wife and six children.


  • Age 46
  • Tour 17 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Location Virginia
  • Incident Date Friday, December 29, 1916
  • Weapon Blunt object
  • Offender Sentenced to 3 months

ambush, escape

Most Recent Reflection

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Guard Roper, Rest in Peace. Your service and sacrifice remain in our hearts.

D. Daniels

April 4, 2020

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