Served: 1+ years
1924 to February 27, 1926
During 1926, a very popular Marshal Knapp was enjoying his second term in office. During the prior year, he had successfully investigated the murder of Edna Boswell (14), an Addyston schoolgirl. James Henry was arrested, convicted, and on January 9, 1926 executed for the crime.
A week or ten days into February 1926, Marshal Knapp arrested Anna Robinson (25) in a boarding house in Hopkinsville, a settlement of the United States Pipe and Foundry Company, for possession of alcohol and fined her $100. It was not a major arrest, but it would lead to his death.
During the morning of February 27, 1926, Marshal Knapp went to the same boarding house with a warrant for the arrest of George Patterson. Robinson saw him coming toward the house. Fearing he was coming after her again, she said to Clarence Warner (22), another occupant, “Here comes Knapp. I’m going to kill him with this glass jar!”
When Marshal Knapp came through the door, she hurled the jar at him. She also pulled a revolver on him and held him a bay. She then told Warner to retrieve another revolver from a dresser drawer, which he did. Together, they disarmed Marshal Knapp and ordered him from the house. Unarmed, Marshal Knapp chose to leave.
Robinson, apparently intent on embarrassing Marshal Knapp, ordered him back at gunpoint and took his badge and Patterson’s warrant. This was more than Marshal Knapp would take and when he protested Warner shot him with his own revolver. The bullet entered his forehead and ran the circumference of the interior of the skull to the rear. Freeman and Warner then fled the house.
Deputy Marshal Richard Rupe was the first to respond. He found Marshal Knapp’s badge and revolver, with one round fired, and Patterson’s warrant on the kitchen table. He took Marshal Knapp by automobile to his home where physicians examined him and initially determined that while the wound was serious, it was not dangerous.
News of the shooting spread rapidly and scores of citizens formed a posse to find the perpetrators. Deputy Marshal Isadore Chinn, half a mile away and unaware of the shooting, saw Warner running with a revolver in his hand and took him into custody just as the posse arrived. They then took him to the Addyston jail and locked him up.
Patrolmen from Cincinnati and other village searched for Robinson.
Citizens began surrounding the Addyston jail and it was thought they would break in and lynch Warner. Hamilton County Sheriff Richard B. Witt was notified and dispatched Chief Deputy Sheriff Fred Sperber and three deputies. After conferring with Mayor William Gray, Warner was removed to the Hamilton County Jail.
Chief Sperber also questioned Warner and while he initially admitted his presence, but denied firing the revolver, he later admitted shooting Marshal Knapp.
Late that night, Marshal Knapp’s condition began to deteriorate and he was transported to Bethesda Hospital in Cincinnati where he succumbed to his wounds two weeks later on March 14, 1926.
Marshal Knapp was survived by his wife, Norma (43) and three children; John (10), Henrietta (8), and Elton (7). He was buried in Section 1, Lot 182, Grave 7 of Maple Grove Cemetery, Cleves, on March 17, 1926.
Eventually Robinson was captured. She and Warner were tried and convicted of Murder and sentenced to life in prison.
If anyone has information, artifacts, archives, or images of this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Director@police-museum.org.
This narrative was revised on November 27, 3014 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with research assistance from Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Historian, and SORTA Operations Superintendent Philip Lind, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Registrar. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.