Deputy Sheriff John Dennis Morton

Deputy Sheriff John Dennis Morton

Webster County Sheriff's Department, West Virginia

End of Watch Monday, January 12, 1920

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John Dennis Morton

Deputy Sheriff John Morton was shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant on a man charged with passing a $500 bad check to a car dealer in Summersville, West Virginia.

Deputy Morton saw the subject on a street in Cowen and arrested him without incident. While the deputy was walking him to the jail, the man asked him if he could stop at his sister's house to get some extra clothing. When the deputy turned around, looking for someone to get the clothing items, the man drew a handgun and shot Deputy Morton twice. One round hit Deputy Morton over his left eye, and the other struck him in his right lung. The man then fled to his sister's house.

The fatally wounded deputy was taken to the Central Hotel, and a doctor was called. After several hours, Deputy Morton was taken to his home, where he died approximately four hours later, at 5:00 pm.

Meanwhile, the town constable went to the subject's sister's home but was told by the man that he would also be killed if he tried to arrest him. The constable returned with several volunteers who stormed the house and arrested the man without any shots being fired.

Soon, angry crowds formed, and there was talk of lynching the man as Deputy Morton was a well-respected officer in that county, having served as a deputy for four years. There was an attempt to kill the suspect at a nearby railroad station; however, the pistol misfired five times before onlookers could disarm the attacker. The subject was tried on January 23rd, 1920, at Webster Springs. He was convicted and hanged at the penitentiary at Moundsville on April 30th, 1920.

Deputy Morton was survived by his expectant wife, two daughters, son, mother, four brothers, and one sister. His son and two of his grandsons went on to serve in law enforcement.


  • Age 32
  • Tour 4 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Executed in 1920

arrest, warrant

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Rest in peace Deputy Sheriff Morton.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

November 22, 2022

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