Forest Ranger Rudolf Emil Mellenthin

Forest Ranger Rudolf Emil Mellenthin

United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations, U.S. Government

End of Watch Friday, August 23, 1918

Rudolf Emil Mellenthin

Forest Ranger Rudolf Mellenthin was shot and killed when he and two San Juan County, Utah, deputies tried to arrest an Army deserter in the La Sal National Forest.

When the officers located the man at a camp site Ranger Mellenthin advised him he was under arrest. The man appeared to cooperate but suddenly raised his rifle and shot Ranger Mellenthin twice at a range of only five feet. A friend of the suspect also opened fire, striking Ranger Mellenthin once in the chest. Although mortally wounded, Ranger Mellenthin was able to return fire and wounded the suspect.

The two deputies went for backup and a large posse was sent to the site. The two men were apprehended and charged with murder in Grand County after receiving a change of venue. The original suspect was sentenced to life but paroled after only six years. The second suspect was convicted but later had his conviction overturned.

Ranger Mellenthin had been with the agency for nine years and had previously served with the German army. He was survived by his wife and children and is buried in Grand Valley Cemetery, Moab, Utah.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 9 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Utah
  • Weapon Rifle
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

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Ranger Mellenthin, newspapers reported, shortly after your passing, that you were one of the most popular and well-liked men in the service. The love and respect felt by your fellow rangers still lives on in the hearts and mind of those who know of your bravery and dedication to duty.

Tina Lewis Rowe
Captain, Denver Police Department (ret.)
U.S. Marshal, Colorado (ret.)

February 24, 2017

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