Joseph Coleman ‘Colie’ Dawson

Owensboro Police Department
Saturday, June 1, 1912

Incident Details

Cause of Death:
Date/Time of Incident:
Saturday, June 1, 1912
08:45 pm
Incident to Death Duration:
Same day
Incident Location:
Near Rockport, Indiana
Incident County:
Incident Township:
Weapon Used:
Suspect Disposition:
Died in prison
Burial Place:
Rosehill Elmwood Cemetery
Owensboro, Kentucky

   Patrolman Coleman Dawson was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a suspected horse thief, near the Marsden School house in the Ohio River bottoms five miles south of Rockport, just across the state line.

   The man had brought a horse, stolen in Indiana, to Owensboro and sold it, investing part of the proceeds in two revolvers. Upon his return to Indiana, the Spencer County sheriff called for assistance from Owensboro officers. Soon after their arrival, the sheriff heard several shots and found the body of Patrolman Dawson and his wounded partner on a country road nearby.

   Despite initially eluding a posse organized by the sheriff, the 42-year-old suspect was captured two weeks later at a rooming house in St. Louis, Missouri, and returned to Indiana. Authorities had learned of the suspect’s location from a letter he sent which was intended for his girlfriend that revealed his identity, a parolee with a lengthy criminal record.

   In November 1912, he escaped along with three other prisoners from the Vanderburgh County Jail in Evansville. He was captured four years later and charged with second-degree murder. He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison where he died in 1931.

   Patrolman Dawson, 45, had served with the Owensboro Police Department for 15 years. He was survived by his wife, daughter, son, parents and brother.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial – Panel 60E, Line 13
Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial – Section Center, Panel 2, Row 2

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