Special Agent Samuel Parkinson Cowley

Special Agent Samuel Parkinson Cowley

United States Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Government

End of Watch Wednesday, November 28, 1934

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Samuel Parkinson Cowley

Special Agent Samuel Cowley and Special Agent Herman Hollis were shot and killed by the infamous gangster Baby Face Nelson near Barrington, Illinois.

When two other agents had encountered Baby Face Nelson, his wife, Helen Gillis, and a male companion, John Paul Chase, driving down a road, a gunbattle ensued as both parties recognized each other. The agent's, with their windshields shattered, were forced off the road into a field but not before they had disabled the suspect's car.

As Agents Hollis and Cowley approached the scene and exited their car, they were met with gunfire by both male suspects. Agent Hollis, with massive head wounds, was pronounced dead upon arrival at a hospital and Agent Cowley died the following morning after surgery for his stomach wounds.

The suspects fled the scene in the agent's car and drove to a house in Wilmette. Baby Face Nelson, who had been shot nine times, died there later that evening. His body was discovered wrapped in a blanket in a ditch in front of a cemetery in Skokie. He had also been responsible for the murder of Special Agent W. Carter Baum seven months earlier.

His wife was later convicted of harboring a fugitive and served a year in prison. The male companion was the first person to be tried under a federal law allowing the death penalty for the murder of a federal agent. He was found guilty, but the jury recommended a life sentence which he served at USP Alcatraz Island until his parole in 1966.

Agent Cowley had served with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for five years. He was survived by his wife and two sons. He is buried in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Led by John Dillinger, the Dillinger Gang was a notorious group of Midwest bank robbers. Associates of the gang were responsible for the fatal shootings of 13 law enforcement officers in 1933 and 1934.

Two infamous members of the gang, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson, were shot and killed by law enforcement officers in separate incidents.

The other gang members were either murdered by criminals, shot and killed by law enforcement officers, executed for their crimes, or sentenced to time in prison.


  • Age 35
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Illinois
  • Incident Date Tuesday, November 27, 1934
  • Weapon Rifle; Machine gun
  • Offender The Dillinger Gang

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in peace Special Agent Cowley.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

June 21, 2020

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