Deputy U.S. Marshal William Francis Degan, Jr.

Deputy U.S. Marshal William Francis Degan, Jr.

United States Department of Justice - United States Marshals Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Friday, August 21, 1992

William Francis Degan, Jr.

Deputy Marshal Bill Degan was shot and killed in Boundary County, Idaho, while conducting surveillance on a rural cabin owned by a man wanted on a federal bench warrant for failure to appear.

Deputy Marshal Degan, along with two other deputy marshals, were scouting out the cabin and surrounding acreage in order to prepare operational plans to serve the warrant. As they neared the cabin the homeowner's dog alerted to their position. The homeowner's son and an adult friend then followed the dog into the woods as the deputy marshals retreated and took up a defensive position.

As the two groups encountered each other the deputy marshals identified themselves but were immediately fired upon. Deputy Marshal Degan was struck by a shot from a .30-06 rifle, killing him instantly. The homeowner's son and dog were killed by return fire while the subject who shot Deputy Marshal Degan fled and returned to the cabin.

Following a standoff in which the homeowner was wounded and his wife was fatally shot by an FBI sniper, the man's other family members and the subject who shot Deputy Marshal Degan were taken into custody. The man who shot Deputy Marshal Degan was later acquitted of federal murder charges in connection with Deputy Marshal Degan's death.

Deputy Marshal Degan was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He was survived by his wife and two sons.


  • Age 42
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Idaho
  • Weapon Rifle; .30-.06
  • Offender Acquitted

Most Recent Reflection

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I will never forget the first time I met Bill Degan. He reported aboard for his first drill weekend at H&S Company, 1st battalion, 25th Marine regiment-495 Summer Street, South Boston. He was a "boot" second lieutenant and led the unit on a twenty mile force march at Myles Standish State Forest. Typical boot "second lieuy" or butter bars, he directed some wrong turns and twenty miles became a thirty mile march. Bill took full responsibility and stated that in the future he would delegate more authority to his seasoned staff. I had entered the unit in 1973, after having served two years of active duty and a deployment to Viet Nam. I believe Bill had arrived in 1974. The unit later relocated to Camp Edwards/Otis Air Force Base at Cape Cod. Bill, Sgt. Mike Dubois, and I would run the S-2 intelligence section and the Scout Target Acquisition platoon. In 1979 Mike Dubois and I transferred to N.A.S. South Weymouth and initially served as military police officers. We were later joined by Bill Degan. As we rose in rank, MSgt, Dubois would work in the intelligence section. Major Degan and I (1StSgt O'Donnell) worked in the Operations section. Two months before Bill's murder, he had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became the Commanding Officer of our Marine Wing Support Squadron!
I also recall Bill Degan as a rookie Marshall. I began my criminal justice career in 1973 as a jail officer at the Suffolk County (Charles Street) Jail. The jail had a government contract to house federal marshal prisoners. In 1976 I was forced into a resignation due to my exposing corruption within the jail. A month following my resignation the Sheriff was indicted and would resign. I would also see Bill frequently while I was employed in the U.S. Federal Protective Service in Boston (1979-1981). In 1981 I became a Police Officer in the City of Melrose and retired in 2018. I retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1999.
Rest In Peace Bill, you were truly the best.....Semper Fi!

1STSGT William O'Donnell-retired
Melrose Police,Badge 1 retired

April 22, 2018

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