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Ex-convict Richard H. Lee murders Officer Thomas L. Roberts on April 10, 1898.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3801 : Printer-Friendly Format

On April 10, 1898, Seattle Police Officer Thomas L. Roberts (1862-1898) is murdered by ex-convict Richard H. Lee near 18th Avenue and Jefferson Street. Officer George E. Deigh is wounded in a gunbattle with the killer.

Officers Roberts and Deigh were walking a foot beat on Jefferson Street near 18th Avenue at approximately 2:15 a.m. The weather was cold and Officer Roberts had replaced his uniform with civilian clothes. Officer Deigh wore a civilian Mackintosh with his star pinned on the outside and his police helmet. The officers saw two men and stopped them for questioning. One of them, Richard H. Lee, drew a .44 caliber revolver and shot Roberts. Deigh and the suspect exchanged 10 shots until their weapons were empty. Lee fled (his companion ran at the first shot).

Deigh remained with his partner and went door to door to find a doctor and to summon help. Roberts died later.

Richard Lee fled Seattle to the shore of Lake Washington where he stole a rowboat. He made his way to Houghton and burglarized a home on Meydenbauer Bay. He was last seen in Woodinville.

Rae Anna Victor, Century of Honor: Excellence and Valor in Washington State Law Enforcement (Bloomington, IN: 1st Books, 2000), pp. 203-204; 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), 8.

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