Guard Merritt W. Hayden

Guard Merritt W. Hayden

Hampden County Sheriff's Office, Massachusetts

End of Watch Wednesday, October 25, 1933

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Merritt W. Hayden

Guard Merritt Hayden succumbed to injuries sustained three days earlier when two inmates attacked him while escaping from the old Hampden County Jail at the base of York Street along the Connecticut River.

Two inmates hid in a room next to the recreation yard. As soon as Guard Hayden climbed down from the guard tower, one struck him on the head with a club. The two inmates, 21 and 24, escaped. One was captured two hours later, and the other was apprehended in Roanoke, Virginia, five weeks later. Both were serving a short term in jail for carrying concealed weapons.

The 21-year-old was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life. Governor Paul A. Dever pardoned him on November 25, 1952.

The 24-year-old was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. During his trial, his brother, 26, ran into the courtroom and threw two bombs at the Hamden County Sheriff. When they failed to go off, he produced a revolver and shot the sheriff in the leg. Another officer subdued the suspect, who was convicted of several charges, including attempted murder, and sentenced to 25 years. On May 29, 1934, the inmate escaped again but was captured a few months later. He was executed on February 19, 1935.

He was survived by his wife and three daughters.


  • Age 47
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Incident Date Sunday, October 22, 1933
  • Weapon Blunt object
  • Offender Executed 1935

correctional Facility, escape, prisoner custody

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On today, the 90th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Hampden County. There’s no tougher job in Law Enforcement than that of a Corrections Officer.


United States Border Patrol

October 25, 2023

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