Robbery suspects murder Seattle Police Officer Volney L. Stevens on January 14, 1921.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 5/23/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3812
On January 14, 1921, four robbery suspects murder Seattle Police Officer Volney Lewis Stevens (1874-1921) on Magnolia Bluff. The suspects kidnap Stevens's partner in their police car, but return the officer to where they left Stevens. The suspects are captured as they attempt to flee in a rowboat.

On the morning of January 14, 1921, Seattle Police Sergeant Edward Herald and Officer Stevens were dispatched from the Ballard Station to investigate a report of some suspicious men on Magnolia Bluff. The officers observed a car with four men near 32nd Avenue W and W Galer Street. Herald got out to talk to the men. Kreighton (sometimes misspelled Creighton) Dodge and C. A. Brown jumped out of the car and took Herald prisoner. Stevens exited his police car and engaged the suspects in a gun battle. Suspects Ward Daniels and Louis Madson joined the fight. Stevens was hit twice and fell to the ground.

The suspects could not start their car, so they took Herald hostage and stole the police car. Herald pleaded with the men to take him back to assist Stevens. When their escape was blocked by an open drawbridge, the suspects returned Herald to the scene and pushed him out of the car.

The suspects fled to the vicinity of 23rd Avenue W and W Newton Street and tried to convince a Mrs. Hundertruaeck that the two wounded men were sick and needed a place to stay. She managed to notify police of the situation. The suspects fled that location and made their way down to the beach at Smith Cove where they stole a rowboat, intending to go downtown. Pursuing officers ordered them to stop and got them to return to shore.

Stevens died that same day at City Hospital. The four men were implicated in armed robberies in Burlington, Enumclaw, Marysville, Bellingham, and Arlington. Kreighton Dodge, also wounded in the gunfight, died at City Hospital on January 19, 1921. He confessed to having fired the shot which killed Stevens.

In February 1921, Daniels, Brown, and Madson were all convicted of Stevens's murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment at the Washington State Penitentiary. The defense appealed the convictions, but the verdicts were upheld by the Washington State Supreme Court in April 1922.


Sources: Michael D. Brasfield, "An Examination of the Historical and Biographical Material Pertaining to the Violent Deaths Involving Seattle Police Officers (1881-1980)" (Undergraduate thesis, University of Washington Library, 1980), 39;  "Bandit May Not Recover from Injuries," Bellingham Herald, January 15, 1921, p. 1; "Efforts to Save Slayer’s Life futile," Ibid., January 20, 1921, p. 1; "Murder Verdict Against Trio Stands," Ibid., April 14, 1922, p. 1; "Three Duelers Get Life," Oregonian, March 25, 1921, p. 2; "Slayers Lose Appeal," Ibid., April 14, 1922, p. 7; "Murderers of Seattle Officer Are Found Guilty," Fairbanks Weekly News-Miner, February 18, 1921, p. 8.
Note: This essay was expanded on January 17, 2011.

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