Patrolmen Roth and Crout responded on May 5, 1928, at about 2 p.m., to a call at a gravel pit near the American Rolling Mill Company (now AK Steel) on the outskirts of the city. They found father and son, Charles McCuller and George McCuller (25), bottling bootleg whisky. A third man was present, though it is not known whether the officers knew it. As the officers attempted to take the father and son into custody, George somehow gained control of Patrolman Crout’s sidearm and shot both officers. The three bootleggers ran off with both officers’ sidearms. The officers were transported to Middletown Hospital.
Patrolman Roth died at 9:30 that night of a bullet wound to the brain. He was survived by his wife, Serilda; two children; parents, Ivan and Grace Roth; and siblings, Maude Roth and Robert Roth. On May 8, 1928, he was buried at Elk Creek Cemetery in Middletown.
December 1926 to May 6, 1928 Patrolman Crout passed away at 1:45 a.m. the next morning, on May 6, 1928, of a bullet wound to the lung. He was survived by his wife, Myrtle Crout, and parents, Clem and Martha Crout. He was also buried on May 8, 1928, in Woodside Cemetery in Middletown.
We know of only 7 line of deaths of Middletown Police Officers during the 20th Century and 5 died during Prohibition.
All three men were captured a brief time later a couple of miles away in Amanda. They were taken to the Middletown Jail, but George McCuller was soon removed from there to the Hamilton jail when an angry mob surrounded the Middletown jail intent upon lynching him.
Later on May 6, about 1 p.m., as detectives were driving George McCuller back to Middletown, McCuller attempted to escape by throwing himself from the vehicle. He took off running, ignored warnings to halt, and Detective Jess Dennis shot him three times. McCuller was transported to Middletown Hospital for treatment.
The next day, May 7, about 1:30 p.m., while at the hospital and under a police guard, McCuller tried to take Patrolman William Rutledge’s sidearm. During the scuffle, Patrolman Rutledge shot him again. He died about 8 o’clock that night. Allowing McCuller to almost gain control of his sidearm under the circumstances was considered grievous enough that the Chief of Police terminated Rutledge’s employment.
We do not know the fate of McCuller’s accomplices.
If you know of any information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding these officers or incidents, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was last researched and revised on December 7, 2011 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with burial information researched by Cincinnati Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Historian. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.