Patrolman William Howard Deiters | Cincinnati Police Department

Age: 35
Served: 13½
March 20, 1905 to August 29, 1918


Late at night, on August 28, 1918, 5th District Patrolman Deiters, of 2139 Loth Street, had just begun his shift and was walking in the area of Liberty Street and Freeman Avenue. Frank Lutmer, a Night Watchman, saw two men approaching Liberty and Freeman. The two men went up to Patrolman Deiters. Suddenly, one of them pulled a revolver and put it to Patrolman Deiters’s head and announced their intent to rob him of his revolver. He searched the officer’s pockets and found a hard, metal object, but pulled out a flashlight. With that, Patrolman Deiters attempted to grab his own revolver from his holster. The robber shot him in hischest. Both men ran.

Lieutenant Ringer and Patrolman Busan, of the 1st District, happened by on a street car and saw the shot fired. They jumped off the street car and gave chase but lost them Poplar Street and Rieder Alley.

Patrolman Deiters was rushed to General Hospital. The shot had gone through his chin, down through his pericardium, and into his stomach. He died the next day, August 29, 1918.

Patrolman Deiters was survived by his wife, Sarah Deiters; two children, Howard Deiters and Marien Deiters; and mother, Rosa Deiters. Services were held on August 31, 1918, at 3 p.m., at the Reformed Salem Church at Orchard and Sycamore Streets. He was buried in Carthage Road Cemetery (now Vine Street Hill Cemetery). Sarah died at 78 in 1960, having lost two sons and a husband during her life. She was survived by her daughter and a granddaughter, Antoinette Cianciolo.

Police Chief William Copelan furnished descriptions of the suspects to police departments in nearby states. Ludie Clifford (AKA: James) Shelton (20) and William Chandler (19) matched the description and were found in Altoona, Pennsylvania. They were apprehended and one was found to be carrying a bullet in his pocket similar to that which killed Patrolman Deiters. Shelton gave an address of 747 Carlisle Avenue in Cincinnati. Williams gave an address on Kenyon Street. Detectives Hall and Thomas brought them back to Cincinnati on September 3, 1918.

On September 5, 1918, after Coroner Bauer’s inquest, Shelton admitted killing Patrolman Deiters, stating, “I didn’t mean to do it. I was nervous. I sought to get Patrolman Deiters’s revolver and empty it of shells so he could not harm me.” Williams agreed that Shelton did the killing.

The two were tried separately and Williams was convicted of Robbery on November 23, 1918. He was sentenced to the Ohio Reformatory.

Shelton was convicted of Murder and Robbery on March 31, 1919, without a recommendation for mercy. He was thereafter sentenced to be electrocuted on July 16, 1919. He received two stays of execution and was again scheduled to die on March 7, 1920. But, with only hours to spare, he was granted another stay so that the Supreme Court could look at his case. When he was advised of this, he shouted, “I’m tired of fooling around!” The Supreme Court ordered a new trial on the grounds that the defense attorney was not permitted to plea to the jury for mercy.

His second trial was to begin on June 16, 1891, but it was discovered that William Chandler, now a witness, was already released from the reformatory and was living in Knoxville, Tennessee. The second trial began during July and, on August 8, 1921, he was found guilty and sentenced to die December 2, 1921. This was the first time in Hamilton County that a man was convicted twice of Murder. There were more stays based on more appeals, the fifth being in March 1922. He was finally electrocuted on January 26, 1923, 4½ years after the murder.

Patrolman Deiters was the 50th City of Cincinnati law enforcement officer to die as a result of his vocation, but Shelton was the first person executed for the murdering a Cincinnati officer.

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This narrative was researched and written August 27, 2012 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired). All rights are reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.