Patrolman Donald Harold Crittendon

Patrolman Donald Harold Crittendon

Cape Girardeau Police Department, Missouri

End of Watch Tuesday, March 21, 1961

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Donald Harold Crittendon

Patrolman Crittendon and Auxillary Sergeant Herbert L. Goss were shot when they stopped two escaped convicts in a stolen car. Sergeant Goss was shot to death as he reached the drivers window. Patrolman Crittendon was shot in the abdomen by the other convict as he walked to the passenger side of the vehicle. Patrolman Crittendon died from his wounds at Southeast Missouri Hospital eleven days later.

Both convicts along with a third convict had escaped from a jail in San Luis Obispo, California, on Febuary 28, 1961. Before reaching Missouri they robbed a supermarket and a liquor store in New Mexico and Kansas. The third suspect was left behind at a supermarket they were about to rob in Cape Girardeau when they were spotted by Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss. After they shot the two officers they stole a car from a group of college students at Southeast Missouri State College. Still later they beat up a farmer in Glen Allen, Missouri, and took his car. They then exchanged gunfire with the Greenville, Missouri Sheriff and a State Trooper before escaping. All of these events took place the same day Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss were shot.

The next day State Troopers arrested one of the suspects at a service station near Cape Girardeau. Hours later the second suspect was captured in a wooded area near Grassy, Missouri.

Both suspects were convicted of murdering Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss. One was sentenced to life in prison. The other one was executed in the gas chamber on July 26, 1963.

Patrolman Crittendon had resigned from the department and was serving his last shift. He was murdered 90 minutes before his shift ended. He was a U.S. Navy veteran and was survived by his wife and two daughters.


  • Age 24
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge 23

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Friday, March 10, 1961
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Executed in 1963

Most Recent Reflection

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Don, you were my handsome older cousin that I admired so much. I remember the family reunion you brought Rosetta to Grandma's. I thought she was beautiful. I remember when the call came that you had been shot. I was at Aunt Bobbie's house. I stayed with their children while Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Jerome were at Cape with your mom. I remember the funeral and how sad I was...seeing your beautiful girls and knowing what they would miss by not getting to personally know what a great guy you were. I remember how pitiful Aunt Pauline was. You could see the pain was almost unbearable and Rosetta was like she was in another world. You were the 2nd cousin to leave us. proceeded by Aunt Von's baby daughter many years before. Even though it's been so many years ago I still think about you and wish things could have been different for you. We've lost many cousins since your going and it never gets easier. I just hope you're all having one of those great family reunions that we had on yearly basis, but now you can have one every day. I still love you cuz. I'm sure I never told you before but now I try to tell all my cousins that I love them, because I do. Though the years I have learned the meaning of Gone but not Forgotten.

You Cousin


January 28, 2015

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