Court Officer Richard J. Morris | Cincinnati Police Department

 

Court Officer Richard Morris
Court Officer Richard Morris

Badge: 458
Age: 33
Served: 14 years
July 15, 1881, to February 28, 1895

 

Appointed to the Department in 1881, Patrolman Morris, of 599 McMillan Street, ran the riverfront beat with Detective Billy Bulmer when it was one of the toughest places in the city. Patrolman Morris was noted and highly respected for his bravery. During the reorganization of 1886, the new medical team found him slightly visually impaired and unable to perform the job of Patrolman. He was one of the most efficient and popular officers of the day with many thrilling experiences and narrow escapes from death. Therefore, when he could not serve as a regular officer, he was offered a position as a Court Officer. He went to great lengths, sometimes not eating or sleeping, to serve his warrants.

Patrolman Fred Shafer, of 125 Fairfax Avenue, joined the Department during 1887 and served well, including as a sergeant for a short time. He was assigned to the First District and was an excellent shot with a revolver. On February 27, 1895, he was ill to the point of fainting at his home, but he went to work regardless.

Louis Stolzenberger was 23-years-old during June 1891 when he married 19-year-old Lizzie Fulcher Cook. They lived in a tenement house at 492 Central Avenue near 14th Street. The two had a child together, but the child became sick and died. Then, Lizzie became unfaithful with George Heintz. Stolzenberger found out about it and fixated on Lizzie, her sister Minnie Cook, Heintz, and a couple of neighbors. He was at his brother’s home the afternoon of February 27, 1895, lamenting over the affair. According to his brother, Stolzenberger was going crazy with the issue. Stolzenberger left his brother’s home and went looking for his wife.

Earlier, on the 27th, Lizzie went to police headquarters to report an assault by her husband that morning. The judge issued a warrant which was assigned to Court Officer Morris. She alleged that before leaving that morning, he threatened to come back and do harm to her and her sister.

Officer Morris went to the Stolzenberger home and, upon finding that Stolzenberger was not there, he stood across the street from the residence and waited. When Stolzenberger arrived home, Officer Morris followed him up to the second floor of the tenement and arrested him at the door to his flat. Stolzenberger said, “all right,” and went down the hall with Officer Morris.

As they arrived at the head of the stairway, Stolzenberger suddenly turned, pulled a .32 Colt revolver, put it to Officer Morris’s breast, and shot him. Officer Morris rolled down the stairway. Stolzenberger ran down the steps, jumped over the fallen officer, and ran to Taft Street and down Central Avenue.

Neighbors who saw the shooting ran to Patrolman John White’s home at 120 14th Street and told him an officer was down around the corner. Patrolman White ran to the scene and Officer Morris was able to name his attacker. Patrolman White called for a wagon and Patrol 5 came to take Officer Morris to City Hospital.

Meanwhile, about 3:55 p.m., on his way down Central Avenue, Stolzenberger spotted his sister-in-law, Minnie Cook at Charles Street. She saw him and began to run. He took two shots at her and missed both times.

Patrolman Shafer was walking his beat on the east side of Central Avenue at Elizabeth Street and heard and saw Stolzenberger shooting at his Miss Cook. Shafer chased him up Elizabeth and to 21 Elizabeth; the residence of George Heintz’s employer. Stolzenberger turned and pointed his revolver at Patrolman Shafer. Shafer yelled, “Don’t shoot!” and almost instantly a shot was fired by Stolzenberger; followed almost instantly by a shot from Patrolman Shafer. Stolzenberger yelled and collapsed to the ground; the bullet having struck his collar bone and deflected down through his lung. His shot had passed by Patrolman Shafer’s ear. Patrolman Shafer ran to and jumped on Stolzenberger and wrestled away his revolver. Almost immediately, a patrol wagon arrived, having been apparently called for by a citizen, but Stolzenberger was dead. It was then that Patrolman Shafer learned that Stolzenberger had shot another officer.

When Stolzenberger’s pockets were inventoried, officers found a new box that his revolver had come in; apparently purchased within the last 24 hours. Also in his pocket were notes written to various people that made it clear that he intended to kill everyone involved in Lizzie’s affair or die trying.

Dr. Castle and Police Surgeon French consulted and determined to observe Officer Morris. They treated him for shock and he appeared to be getting better. By 1 a.m. on February 28, 1895, Officer Morris was doing well and resting comfortably. Judge Gregg adjourned Police Court that morning as all in City Hall were concerned for Officer Morris. Telephone calls came into Central Station all day inquiring as to his condition. At 2 p.m., a call came from City Hospital informing the Department that he had died. Officer Morris was surrounded by friends, family, and priests from both Assumption and St. Xavier parishes.

Court Officer Morris left a wife of eleven years, Margaret. His funeral was held from his home and a Requiem Mass at the Church of Assumption in Walnut Hills at 9 a.m. on March 2, 1895. From there, he was buried in Section E, Lot 56 of Calvary Cemetery in Evanston. Pallbearers included Court Officers John Whittaker, Dennis Creed, John Thomas, Henry Kruse, Martin Brennan, James McCarthy, John Walters, and John Pfeifer. Citizens of Cincinnati began a campaign to assist Mrs. Morris and the mortgage to her home, but by 1896 she was living elsewhere and working as a dressmaker. She died 22 years after her husband during 1918 and was buried next to him.

If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.

 

This narrative was researched and revised on February 10, 2013, by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer, Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnat Police Historical Society.