Patrolman Lawrence E. Murphy

Patrolman Lawrence E. Murphy

Newton Police Department, Massachusetts

End of Watch Monday, September 13, 1937

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Lawrence E. Murphy

Patrolman Lawrence Murphy and Patrolman Henry Bell were shot and killed by a robbery suspect.

While on patrol, Patrolman Bell and his partner noticed a gray sedan that answered the description of a getaway car used in a recent robbery. The vehicle was stopped on Watertown Street near the intersection of Capital Street. After questioning the occupants, their suspicion was aroused, and while Patrolman Bell stood by the car, his partner took the cruising car to the nearest patrol call box to check with headquarters on the registration.

At this same time, Patrolman Murphy called into the station and was sent to the scene on his motorcycle. Meanwhile, the female operator of the vehicle diverted Patrolman Bell's attention and disarmed him. She then handed the gun to the male passenger, a known criminal and jailbreaker, who put the gun in Patrolman Bell's back and ordered him to drive the car. As they drove away, Patrolman Murphy overtook the car and forced it to stop. As Patrolman Murphy dismounted from his motorcycle, the suspect opened fire on Patrolman Murphy, striking him. The suspect then turned his gun on Patrolman Bell, fired two rounds into his right side, and fled. Although seriously wounded, Patrolman Murphy rose to his knees and fired at the fleeing suspect, hitting him at least once.

Patrolman Bell died at the scene. Patrolman Murphy was removed to the hospital, where he died the following month from his wounds.

The female suspect was captured at the scene. A week later, the male suspect was captured in an apartment in Dorchester in a raid led by the Newton Police Chief. He was later found guilty of murder and executed.

Patrolman Murphy had served with the Newton Police Department for two years. He was survived by his wife and four children.


  • Age 33
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Sunday, August 22, 1937
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Executed

suspicious person, suspicious vehicle, traffic patrol

Most Recent Reflection

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My wife, Kelli's family has a long history in Newton, the city next to the town we live in. Her great uncle, Lawrence Murphy's story is part of the Murphy legend, and it isn't told often enough.

In 1937, Patrolman Lawrence Murphy was shot and killed by a robbery suspect. His colleague, Patrolman Henry Bell and Bell's partner came upon a gray sedan on Watertown St. near the intersection of Capital Street that matched the description of the getaway car from a recent robbery. They questioned the occupants and Bell stood by the car while his partner called it in.

Patrolman Murphy was immediately sent to the scene on his motorcycle.

Meanwhile, the female occupant of the car distracted Bell and disarmed him. She gave the gun to the male occupant of the car, who ordered Patrolman Bell to drive the car away.

Patrolman Murphy overtook the car on his motorcycle and forced it to stop. The suspect shot both Murphy and Bell. Patrolman Bell died on the scene. Murphy went down, but rose to his knees and shot the male suspect. The female suspect was captured at the scene. Murphy was taken to the hospital.

Patrolman Murphy died from his injuries a month later. He had served the citizens of Newton for 2 years and left a wife and four children behind.

The male suspect was captured a week later and was convicted of murder. He was later executed.

Today, Patrolman Murphy's niece and namesake (Aunt Lauren), his great-niece, (Kelli) and his seven year old great-great-niece (Jamie) saw the plaques honoring him in the Newton Police Department with my good friend and colleague, Lt. Bruce Apotheker, himself a tireless servant of that community. Chief Carmichael and two other officers were also there and gave us some of the paperwork and photos from the incidents surrounding his murder. We're going to scan them and pass them around to the cousins. Patrolman Murphy will not be forgotten any time soon.

Jimmy Morrison
married into the family

March 16, 2022

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