Detective Cornelius J. McCarthy

Detective Cornelius J. McCarthy

Des Moines Police Department, Iowa

End of Watch Saturday, September 27, 1919

Cornelius J. McCarthy

Detective Cornelius McCarthy was shot and killed after arresting a burglar. He was working undercover with a local milkman investigating a series of burglaries. The burglar was entering houses while the milkman was making deliveries, using the noise as cover. The delivery driver pointed out a suspicious man and identified him as a possible burglar. Detective McCarthy, dressed in overalls, arrested the man and called for a patrol wagon to take him to jail.

While they were waiting the suspect asked to sit down on the curb. He sat down long enough to pull a .32 caliber pistol from his shoe and shot Detective McCarthy in the chest. He then began firing at the patrol wagon which was pulling up. The suspect was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, where he later died.

Detective McCarthy had served with the Des Moins Police Department for eight years. He was survived by his wife and seven children, ages seven to 15.


  • Age Not available
  • Tour 8 years
  • Badge 14

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .32 caliber
  • Offender Died in prison

Most Recent Reflection

View all 8 Reflections

Con is my Great Grandfather and his influence of my life is great. I never knew him but that did not stop the lessons of his life and dedication from being passed down through the generations of McCarthy's. Since I was a young boy I dreamed of becoming a law enforcement officer. I revered my Uncle who was not only the Chief of Police of the DMPD but now is in his second term as Polk County Sheriff. I entered the US Army to become a Military Policeman. I now serve as a Correctional Officer in Johnson County Kansas. I am so blessed and thankful to be Con's great grandson and Bill's nephew. What a tremendous history of selfless service to the public they and so many other McCarthys have shown over the years. God bless Con, Bill and all those that serve.

Officer Todd McCarthy
Johnson County Department of Corrections

February 20, 2014

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