Served: 10 years
April 25, 1908 to August 6, 1918
George Lentz was born in Ohio, along with two brothers and a sister, to Walter and Margaret Lentz who immigrated to the United States from Germany after they married. George began his adult life as a farmer and, for a time around 1900, he owned the farm with a partner. He married his wife, Emma, in 1906 and moved to 262 Walnut Street in Hamilton. George was appointed a Hamilton Patrolman when, in 1908, Mayor Thad Straub increased the Hamilton force by fourteen officers. Patrolman Lentz was also a member of the Loyal Order of Eagles, Monkey and Walnut Aid Societies, and the Police Mutual Aid Society.
John Ledford (35) had recently moved from Kentucky to Hamilton and took a job at the Mosler Safe Company. On the evening of July 20, 1918 Leford was out looking for trouble and carried with him a four-pound hammer as a weapon. During the early morning of Sunday, July 21, 1918 Patrolman Lentz deemed it wise to take the hammer from Ledford, who by then was highly intoxicated.
Ledford went to his home on Shuler Avenue near the Miami & Erie Canal, where he lived with his wife and six children, retrieved his Winchester .32-20 caliber rifle, and hunted down Patrolman Lentz. He stopped first at the Mosler Safe Company and inquired of the guard who had taken his hammer from him. When the guard replied that it had been Patrolman Lentz and Ledford informed the guard that he would “get” the officer.
Ledford found Patrolman Lentz at 1:20 a.m. on Shuler Avenue near the Fire Department’s Company No. 7’s Hose House. He approached Patrolman Lentz, stuck the rifle in his left side, and discharged the weapon. The bullet ripped through a lung and his diaphragm. Patrolman Lentz was able to strike Ledford, knocking him into a state of semi-consciousness.
Several firemen and citizens apprehended Ledford, though he resisted. The fireman and citizens turned Ledford over to Inspector of Police Dulle, Detectives Hetterich and Mueller, and Officers Leonard and Johnson. They locked him up in the Butler County jail fearing that Ledford would be lynched. Dr. Edward Cook was called and he had Patrolman Lentz removed to Mercy Hospital.
Initially, there was hope that Patrolman Lentz would recover. He fared well on his second day, later developed a fever, but then was able to sit in a chair within a week. However, he took a turn for the worse and, sixteen days after the shooting, on August 6, 1918, at 11:50 p.m., he died.
Patrolman Lentz left a wife, Emma F., two stepsons, Frank A. Seymore and Henry W. Seymore; two sisters, Mrs. Barbara Hafertepen and Mrs. Mary Leugers; a brother, Joseph Lentz; and step-brother, Nicholas Fries. His oldest brother, Fred Lentz, died suddenly just three months prior. Patrolman Lentz was held at his home at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, August 9, 1918, and at St. Joseph’s Church. He was buried in St. Stephens Cemetery in Hamilton. Mrs. Lentz was voted a pension of $25 per month, the highest permissible at the time.
Hamilton Police Chief, Charles Sticker, signed a warrant against Ledford on Wednesday, July 7, 1918, for Murder of the 1st Degree and he was arraigned on Thursday morning, July 8. On July 10, Coroner Edward Cook examined 15 witnesses at his inquest and determined that Patrolman Lentz came to his end through homicidal violence by Ledford. A Butler County Grand Jury returned and indictment of Murder of the 2nd Degree and, on November 11, 1918 a trial was held and Leford was convicted only of Manslaughter. We do not know why such a case would be reduced to Manslaughter or what sentence was given or served.
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 July 20, 2013 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, based on his research and research provided by Joyce Meyer, Price Hill Historical Society Historian, and Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Historianicide Detective Edward Zieverink. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.