Served: 13 Months
February 1, 1939 to March 16, 1940
Julius was born on December 27, 1915 in Cincinnati to a lithographer, Julius E. Mayer, Sr., and Clara (Hackstedt) Mayer. He graduated from Woodward High School and attended night school at the University of Cincinnati.
As a boy, Julius worked for 4 years as a news carrier. He then worked as a Bookkeeper for a year and then clerked for the J.H. Day Company for 3 years. He lived with his parents at 538 Milton Street.
Julius joined the Cincinnati Police Division on February 1, 1939 as a Police Recruit. On March 21, 1939 he was transferred to District 6. He was promoted to Patrolman on May 1, 1939. Five months later, on August 1, 1939, he was transferred to District 1. He was the youngest in the district and fellow officers nicknamed him “Bud.”
On the night of Friday, March 15, 1940, Patrolman Mayer attended choir practice at the Salem Reformed Church before going into work at 11 p.m.
Walter F. Whitaker was born about April 28, 1911 and lived a criminal’s life. At 21 years of age, during a holdup in Falmouth, Kentucky, he and two others shot Frank Begel, Jr., the son of a former Newport Police Chief. He was sentenced to only five years in prison. Six years later, during 1938, he was sentenced to five years’ probation for the Burglary of the Putman Candy Store on Race Street. There is no indication as to why he was treated so lightly, but by March 1940 he was spending all his money on whiskey, sleeping in box cars, and on March 15, 1940, breaking into another downtown Cincinnati business.
Shortly after midnight on the 16th, Patrolman Mayer and Lieutenant Merrill Surber were patrolling Court Street. They saw a man’s form dimly outlined on a fire escape in the rear of Western Auto Supply Company at 920 Race Street (about 921 Baldwin Alley). Lieutenant Surber ran to the front of the building on Race Street. Patrolman Mayer ran into Baldwin Alley where he found Whitaker and chased him. Lieutenant Surber saw the two dart across the street, apparently running through Pendery Alley. He tried to cut them off by running to 9th and Elm Streets when he saw Patrolman Mayer struggling with Whitaker just west of Race and heard two shots ring out.
At 107 W. 9th Street (at Race Street), Patrolman Mayer had caught Whitaker and during the ensuing struggle, Whitaker shot Patrolman Meyer with the officers’ own .38 Special revolver. Whitaker ran south on Race Street and a citizen came to Patrolman Mayer’s aid from 119 W. 9th Street.
Lieutenant Surber chased Whitaker who threw the revolver onto a roof at 809 Race Street (at Weaver Alley). Lieutenant Surber commandeered a vehicle from Fireman Clifford Ader and chased Whitaker to Seventh Street near Vine where he cornered and arrested him.
Patrolman Mayer was rushed to the General Hospital. At 5:45 a.m. he died on the operating table from inter-abdominal hemorrhaging from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Patrolman Mayer was survived by his parents and sister, Wilma Mayer (12). On March 19, 1940, at 2 p.m., funeral services were held at the Salem Reformed Church at Orchard and Sycamore Streets, where Patrolman Mayer was also a Sunday school teacher. From there, he was taken by Patrolmen Orville Backus, Stanley Carle, Howard Hilgeman, Joseph Prues, John Ritter, and Warren Wetterstroem to Vine Street Hill Cemetery and buried.
INVESTIGATION AND JUSTICE
Sergeant William Burks interrogated Whitaker. He admitted to the Burglary and removing three radios valued at $50 to the fire escape. He said, “I fell on 9th Street and the officer grabbed me. We started to struggle and both fell. I took the officer’s gun from its holster. It told him to let me go because I didn’t want to hurt him. He held on. He was only doing his duty. I shot him twice and hit him three or four times on the head with the gun to make him release my legs. Then I ran.”
Whitaker was charged with the willful act of Murder while in the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to Life Imprisonment during 1941. On October 25, 1953 Whitaker escaped from the London Prison. He died in Franklin County, Ohio, possibly in the Ohio State Prison, on May 30, 1979.
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 October 19, 2015 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, including research provided by Cincinnati Fire Lieutenant Justin Peter, Cincinnati Fire Museum Historian. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.