Served: 8 years
September 9, 1913 to November 13, 1920 Cincinnati Police Department
February 1935 to May 20, 1935, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office
Walter Leslie Francis was born in Adams County, Ohio. As a young adult, he moved to Cincinnati and joined the Cincinnati Police Department. He served with the department more than seven years and resigned. By 1935, he decided to go back into law enforcement and set his sights on running for Sheriff of Hamilton County. During January 1935, his friend, George A. Lutz, Sr., was elected as Sheriff and appointed Walter Francis as one of his new deputies. At 6’9½”, he was the tallest law enforcement officer in Hamilton County.
On May 20, 1935, shortly after 3 a.m., Deputy Francis, of 1618 Walnut Street, Deputy Conrad Bradford, and Lieutenant William Wiggeringloh investigated an assault and robbery of a couple in a Lockland subdivision park at 81 Independence Avenue (now Matthews Drive). The male, John Donaldson, was tied to a tree with wire and the female, Jessie Jamison, was attacked by two males armed with a revolver and shotgun. The suspects left with $16.18.
Deputies Francis and Bradford immediately arrested one suspect, Lee Jones (40,) and took him to the Lockland Police Headquarters. They returned to the scene to search for the second suspect, Amos Cartwright (30). At about 4:15 a.m., Deputy Francis went to the trunk of his patrol vehicle to retrieve a shotgun. As he pulled the shotgun by the barrel, it discharged into his abdomen. He was taken to Cincinnati’s General Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival.
Captain Charles Coddington, Patrol Commander, investigated, found the hammer of the shotgun broken, and surmised that when Deputy Francis pulled the shotgun, the hammer caught on some tools in the trunk, broke, and struck the primer on a loaded shotshell.
Deputy Francis was laid out at Dunkmann & Dalbert Funeral Home at Glenway and Rosemont Avenues. On May 24, 1935, his funeral was held at the Island Creek Methodist Church in his hometown of Manschester, Ohio, and that is where he is buried. So many attended the services that some were asked to leave in fear of structural damage. He was survived by eight siblings and numerous nieces and nephews. One nephew, Albert Estele Francis, was a Cincinnati Patrolman at the time of his uncle’s death. Then, he also was killed almost exactly ten years after Deputy Francis.
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 revised December 7, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.