Deputy Sheriff Royce E. Cline

Deputy Sheriff Royce E. Cline

Saline County Sheriff's Department, Illinois

End of Watch Friday, August 14, 1925

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Royce E. Cline

Deputy Royce Cline was shot and killed from ambush while attempting to arrest a bootlegger near Carrier Mills.

On Friday, August 14, 1925 at about 8:45am, Sheriff Small sent Deputies Royce Cline, Silas Rude and Hubert Hawkins to the “Pond” settlement about two and a half miles south of Carrier Mills, where a large supply of alcohol was reported to be hidden.

The Deputies arrived at the “Pond” settlement about 11:00am and entered a thicket that was very dense with briars, brush and vines, with limited visibility. After a short distance, the deputies found a path and followed it to a small clearing where barrels of mash had been hidden by a bootlegger.

At about 11:30am, as the deputies lay in wait, they heard someone coming through the thicket. Deputy Cline rose and moved in front of Deputy Rude and crouched down on one knee with his Colt .45 pistol drawn. They waited for the party to approach. The man approached with a .12 gauge single barrel shot gun that was cocked and in both hands ready to fire. Just as the man saw the head and face of Deputy Cline he took aim and fired into his face. Deputy Cline fell back into the arms of Deputy Rude. The shooter dropped the gun and ran off; Deputy Rude fired at the fleeing suspect, but missed.

Deputy Cline was horribly mutilated. His mouth, nose and ears were torn off and he was blinded in one eye. Deputy Rude rushed to get help.

Deputy Cline was rushed to Lightner Hospital in Harrisburg where Drs. Lightner and Gaskins stopped the bleeding. Deputy Cline’s wife, Nellie, was summoned to the hospital and arrived just a few minutes before he died at about 2:30PM.

Harrisburg was in an uproar over the murder of Deputy Cline. Determined and angry men and law officers formed up in possies to capture the suspect. A man-hunting German police dog was brought in from Sebree, Kentucky to aid in the search. For two days and nights the hunt continued.

The suspect was finally captured in a corn field on the day of Deputy Cline's funeral. The suspect surrendered to Deputy Mitchell and asked for protection; Deputy Mitchell told him that he would protect him and the suspect was taken to the Benton jail and held there until brought back to Harrisburg for trial.

The suspect went on trial at the circuit court in Harrisburg with Judge A.S. Somers presiding. He was convicted and sentenced to fourteen years in prison at the Southern Illinois Penitentiary at Chester.


  • Age 45
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Apprehended

Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Cline's story was read in Richton Park Police Department's roll call on 11-4-17 to remember and honor him.

Sgt. James Galvan
Richton Park Police

November 3, 2017

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