FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Springfield Police Department will host a memorial ceremony in honor of the service and sacrifice of the late Deputy Constable Andrew J. Russell at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13 at Springfield Police Headquarters in the south lawn.
Information regarding Russell’s line of duty death was recently discovered in a newspaper article from the Springfield Weekly Patriot dated Sept. 17, 1874, by SPD’s Cpl. Rob Schroeder. Russell’s name has since been added to the Springfield Police Officers Memorial in front of Police Headquarters which was established in 1995 to honor Springfield police officers killed in the line of duty. The date of Russell’s death is the oldest on this memorial.
Russell had been a Springfield police officer from 1868 to 1869 and was the Marshal of North Springfield in 1870. At the time of his death in 1874, he was the Deputy Constable for Campbell Township in Greene County.
On Sept. 13, 1874, Russell, age 36, accompanied a Constable from Texas named Thomas Ragsdale and Special Officer Charlie Means to Douglas County. The three law enforcement officers were attempting to arrest two of the Lakey brothers who were wanted for stealing horses in the state of Texas. They located the Lakey residence and saw people inside it as they approached. The Lakey brothers fled out of the back of the residence with the law officers in pursuit. As gunshots were exchanged between the law officers and the brothers, their father fired from inside the residence and struck Russell. A newspaper account of the incident reported that Russell was taken to the Sheriff’s Office in Ava, Missouri, but succumbed to his injuries on the same day.
Russell’s body was returned to Springfield and buried at a family cemetery on the following Tuesday. He left behind a wife, Sarah Ann, and four children, Cornelius, Edwin, Mattie and Charley. Russell’s burial location has been lost in the 142 years that have passed. His name is on the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial and the SPD has submitted his name to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., for inclusion on the national memorial.
"Honoring an officer who has lost their life in service to their community is vitally important,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams. “If such a sacrifice is not recognized when it occurs, it is our duty to do so when that oversight is discovered, regardless of how much time has passed. It is my honor and privilege to be able to do that on the 142nd anniversary of Constable Russell's death."
A display of historical documents and articles discovered regarding Russell’s death and other events from the late 1800s will be available for viewing at the ceremony.
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Media Contact: Lisa Cox, Public Affairs Officer
Release authorized by: Chief Paul Williams