Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Patrolman Theophil Joseph Seyller

Peoria Police Department, Illinois

End of Watch Saturday, November 3, 1894

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Reflections for Patrolman Theophil Joseph Seyller

No passage of time can ever erase your service and sacrifice. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

November 3, 2020

Patrolman Seyller,
On today, the 125th anniversary of your death, I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Peoria. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

November 3, 2019

I have just read of the policeman's murder, here,

and so I looked up his name and I found this memorial page.

Reid Welch

June 7, 2018

Dear Patrolman Seyller,

I wish I had known you as the man you probably were or wanted to be.We love Peoria, IL and cherish your memory of dedication to you fellow man.Witness

Darrick Lohman
Family Friend

May 9, 2016

The sometimes unruly citizens of Peoria will always remember each officer mostly the officers who have died in line of duty.

Darrick Kirk Lohman
Family friend

April 29, 2014

Rest in Peace, Patrolman Seyller. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.

Officer 11169

January 29, 2013

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 117th anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your service. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
mom of fallen officer Larry Lasater, eow 4/24/05

November 3, 2011

I just stumbled on to this web page when looking up a Joe Seyller I know on Google. I read the report and I am astounded that this event occurred in 1894! For a man to lose his life from a father over-protecting his kid over an alleged bicycle theft is as crazy as what we hear about in 2010!
I truly feel for Patrolman Seyller's family. My condolences.


March 2, 2010

You are remembered today and thank you Sir for your service

Pat Van Den Berghe, Manchester, NH
Neighbors for a Better Manchester, NH

October 31, 2007

Patrolman Seyller, today marks the 112th anniversary of your murder. It’s apparent that the boy who stole the bike had a wonderful influence in a parent. I only hope that the boy grew up to NOT be like his father and that scum did not breed scum. That information is lost to history.

You were only on the job a year and yet you probably had a great impact on the Peoria Police Department. I have no doubt that despite your physical absence; you still kept a close watch on, and were a great influence on your children.

God Bless you and may you continue to Rest in Peace, Brother.

Ptl. Jim Leahy, Jr.
Harvard University Police Dept.

November 3, 2006

We attended the services today at city hall that honored all the officers who died in the line of duty. He was my great grandfather and we (my family) did not knnow all of the details of how he died, until Norm Kelly contacted me about his case. Then Kelly researched further and found out he was the first officer in Peoria to fall in the line of duty. 19 of our family members attended the service today and we are very moved. -Joe Jochman of Peoria

Joe Jochman

May 17, 2006

An officer's tale

By Leslie Williams of the Journal Star

The name Theophil "Joe" Seyller doesn't mean much to anyone living today.

Not even surviving members of his family could have told the tale of how this Peoria police officer was killed more than a century ago in the line of duty.

But when Norm Kelly, a 73-year-old Peoria native, retired private investigator and author, started research for his next book about the city's tainted past of prostitution, he stumbled across the tragic story of Seyller.

"I write about murder, mayhem, mystery and Peoria's seedy side," Kelly said recently. "That's what I do. To be sidetracked by this was irritating. I had books to write, and yet I couldn't let it go.

"I realized I'm the only one who was going to get it done," he said. "It's a fascinating story. I want people to know Seyller. He was a wonderful man."

So Kelly, who is credited for discovering the names of four other fallen police officers who had over time been forgotten, went to work again to bring back the memory of a fifth.

For six months he pored over the archives in the basement of the Peoria County Courthouse and sifted through hundreds of old newspaper clippings dated 112 years ago.

Details of Seyller's death, accounts of his funeral and the drama played out in court during a murder trial made headlines on the front pages of the Peoria Herald and Peoria Evening Times, competing daily newspapers at that time.

He learned Seyller was a 40-year-old officer, assigned to the walking beat, whom the public touted as a solid lawman. He was married, a proud father of six, and he cared for his aging father.

On Nov. 3, 1894, while serving a warrant to 18-year-old Hausle Hopmeyer Jr., a young man thought to be involved in the theft of a bicycle, the officer was fatally shot by the youth's father.

Seyller had traveled to Bartonville in a horse and buggy to deliver the warrant because Hopmeyer lived with his parents at Jack Hill's Saloon, a small tavern owned by his family.

Hausle Hopmeyer Sr., the youth's father, and Seyller got into an argument about the warrant. The two exchanged heated words, with each agreeing that somebody would have to die if the younger Hopmeyer was going to jail.

Seyller then shoved the elder Hopmeyer up against the wall. Hopmeyer Sr. responded by firing four shots from his revolver into the officer, striking him in the chin, neck and back.

Hundreds lined up to mourn the death of the officer, and one newspaper noted Seyller's funeral to be one of the largest in recent memory. His casket, draped with a wreath adorned with a star, which represented his badge No. 9, and a ribbon bearing the words "Our brother," was lowered into a grave at St. Joseph's Cemetery, located in present-day West Peoria.

His weathered gray headstone still stands today, though it tilts to the right from being swallowed by the earth. Etched into the sandstone is his name, the date he died and how old he was at his death.

"He died so early in life," said 84-year-old Della Schindler, Seyller's last living grandchild, who lives in Bartonville but has never visited her grandfather's grave. "I knew he was shot, but that's all I knew. It was never discussed."

Kelly helped her fill in blanks and shared with her details of the coroner's inquest and the five-day trial that followed.

Hopmeyer Sr. and his son had both been arrested in connection with Seyller's death, but the coroner's jury recommended the father be charged for the murder. Three months later, Hopmeyer Sr. was on trial for the killing.

The newspapers wrote Hopmeyer Sr. didn't have a defense. Witnesses had seen him holding a smoking gun, he had admitted to killing the officer and even was brash enough to say he would do it again.

"It was just a matter of formalities before Hopmeyer would be convicted and most certainly sentenced to hang," Kelly said. "That was the consensus of opinion from the spectators and everyone else that had an opinion."

But that all changed when defense witnesses took the stand and painted a picture that Hopmeyer Sr. was acting out of self-defense to protect his son and wife from a bullying cop. A jury of 12 men sided with the defense and reached a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

Hopmeyer Sr. broke down in tears and cried, while several members in the crowded courtroom cheered. Seyller's family silently left the courthouse.

Hopmeyer Sr. even shook hands with each juror, thanking them for sparing his life. He then held an open house at his bar to celebrate his acquittal.

"I was really shocked to hear about the trial," said Schindler, happy to learn about a piece of her family's heritage. "He never did get insurance money. His death left his family out in the cold."

The Seyller family did manage to survive, Schindler said, adding each of them worked. Her father was 13 when Seyller died.

Kelly called the outcome of the trial "a terrible miscarriage of justice." He wrote a short story about Seyller, and when it was completed notified Peoria police of his findings.

"Having met (Seyller's) relatives, talked to them on the phone . . . it makes any writer feel good about themself," he said. "I made a difference in somebody's life because I brought something to them that they never knew they had."

April 16, 2006



April 5, 2006

Patrolman Seyller,
It has taken over 110 years, but you are finally being honored I would like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Peoria.


March 4, 2006

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