Served: 6 years
March 19, 1931 to April 12, 1937
Arthur Sponsel, a World War I veteran of 884 Forrest Avenue, during the early morning of April 12, 1937, had just returned his police cruiser in the Hamilton City garage on North Third Street and gotten into his personal vehicle to go home. At about 3 a.m., he saw something suspicious at a restaurant in the 500 Block of North Third Street. He stopped his car to speak to two men that he saw in front of the restaurant.
There were actually three men and they were burglarizing the restaurant. At least one was armed and a gunfight ensued. Patrolman Sponsel’s car was found at 4:45 a.m. in the middle of the street with its lights on. Four shots had been fired from his revolver which was found four feet from his lifeless body. He had been shot once and the bullet pierced his heart, stomach, and spleen.
Patrolman Sponsel left a wife, Minnie F., and two sons. He was buried on April 14, 1937, in Greenwood Cemetery.
Three men, William Hobbs (32) and John Agnew (33), of Hamilton, and Vincent Rose (24), of Metamora, Indiana, were arrested on April 20, 1937. All three were charged with and convicted of 1st Degree Murder. Hobbs, identified as the gunman, was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair in the Ohio Penitentiary July 6, 1938. Agnew and Rose received life sentences.
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 on April 10, 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.