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The Iowa Department of Public Safety Peace Officer Memorial Page Remembers . . .

Des Moines Police Department Patch


Detective Cornelius J. McCarthy

Detective McCarthy was shot and killed on Monday, September 29, 1919, after arresting a burglar. He was working undercover with a local milkman investigating a series of burglaries. The burlgar was entering houses while the milkman was making deliveries, using the noise as cover. The delivery driver pointed out a suspicious man and identified him as a possible burglar. Detective McCarthy, dressed in overalls, arrested the man and called for a patrol wagon to take him to jail.

While they were waiting the suspect asked to sit down on the curb. he sat down long enough to pull a .32 caliber pistol from his shoe and shot Detective McCarthy in the chest. He then began firing at the patrol wagon which was pulling up. The suspect was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, where he later died.

Detective McCarthy had been with the Des Moines Police Department for eight years and was survived by his wife and seven children, ages seven to 15.

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Created: 01-15-2009
Last Updated: 02-05-2010 (JLR)