Served: 1 yr
1943 to October 21, 1944
Elmore was born in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio was a laborer until 1941, at which time he lost his first wife, Maggie Pressley, to Tuberculosis. By the end of 1941 he was a Special Policeman with an unknown agency or municipality and married a widowed minister, Ellie Willie Lee. During 1943, he was appointed as a Hamilton County Special Deputy and they resided 933 West Seventh Street in Cincinnati.
On October 18, 1944, Deputy Pressley was assigned to Valley Homes, an unincorporated Lockland subdivision and now a part of Lincoln Heights. That night, he responded to 9885 Douglas Walk to assist two boys (11 and 14 years old) locked out of their home. While assisting them, a man was loudly whistling from across the street. Deputy Pressley asked him to stop and the man replied, “I will whistle if I want and no one will stop me!” Deputy Pressley warned him that he would be over to talk with him when he was finished assisting the boys.
Deputy Pressley could not get the boys into their home, so he walked to the Valley Homes office and retrieved a duplicate key and unlocked the door. The disorderly man was gone.
Having completed his task, he continued his foot patrol, going south on Douglas Walk. At the intersection of North Leggett, at 10:05 p.m., the disorderly man suddenly burst forth with a .22 caliber rifle and yelled, “Throw up your hands, God damn you, for I am going to shoot you!” Instead, Deputy Pressley pulled his sidearm. The man shot and the bullet entered Deputy Pressley just above the navel and exited his back, traversing his liver and a kidney. Deputy Pressley returned fire at the running man. One shot misfired and he later recounted that he believed the other four missed.
Houston & Sons, a Lockland ambulance service, transported Deputy Pressley to Good Samaritan Hospital. Almost immediately, at 11:19 p.m., he was transferred to General Hospital. Emergency surgery repaired the liver and kidney, but he died three days later, at 3 p.m. on October 21, 1944, from peritonitis of the upper abdomen.
Special Deputy Pressley was survived only by his wife, Ellie Pressley. He wasburied in a single grave, without a marker, in the Union Baptist Cemetery.
The ensuing investigation found that the shooter first ran to 9887 Douglas Walk and tried to force his way into the home. Later, investigators found the rifle at a pawn shop and that it had been pawned by Curless Ammons of 1133 Jackson Street, also in Valley Homes. Ammons told police that Clarence Griffin, also known as John Dudley and James Shaw, came to his home on the night of the shooting and told him that he had just shot a police officer. According to Ammons, Griffin left the rifle outside the home. Investigators determined that the rifle fired the bullet taken from Deputy Pressley’s abdomen.
Five months later, on March 19, 1945, Gary (IN) Patrolmen attempted to arrest a man who was later tentatively identified as Clarence Griffin. The man resisted and the officers were forced to fatally shoot him. A few days later, Griffin’s wife and mother and Special Deputy Sim Thompson traveled to Gary to identify Griffin. On April 3, 1945, his body was exhumed and identified and the Pressley homicide case was closed.
Ellie Pressley never remarried. She died in Drake Hospital 44 years after the murder on January 16, 1988, at the age of 76, and was buried in Vine Street Hill Cemetery.
During April 2010, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Registrar, Philip Lind, found newspaper articles written at the time of the original incident, thus starting our research and Deputy Pressley’s due recognition. Most of the rest of the research was completed by former FBI Special Agent Stephen Barnett, then Communications Director for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
On October 4, 2010, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office submitted an application to the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial to have Deputy Pressley’s name added to the Memorial Wall. The Greater Cincinnati Police Museum found no living relatives and arranged with Schott Monument Company for a headstone at no cost.
At 1 p.m. on May 4, 2011, Deputy Pressley’s grave and new monument was rededicated at a ceremony hosted by the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society and attended by Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis and Interim Cincinnati Police Chief Michael Cureton and 150+ Hamilton County Sheriff’s Officer and Cincinnati Police Department personnel.
On May 13, 2011, Deputy Pressley’s name was added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.
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 March 20, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer, Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President with information included based on research by SORTA Superintendent Philip L. Lind (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Registrar, and FBI Special Agent Stephen Barnett (Retired). All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.