Willis A. Martin

Willis A. Martin, Good Hope night policeman, was slain in the line of duty Sunday, February 27, 1921. His body was found in the rear of the Segal Shoe Store, 629 Good Hope, the same day with two bullet holes through his body. 

Just as to which hour Patrolman Martin was murdered is not known, but evidence brought out at the Coroner's inquest leads to the belief that he was killed between 3 and 4 a.m. Sunday with his body being discovered about 7:30 a.m. that morning.  An autopsy revealed that Officer Martin was shot in the back and was not killed instantly.  Patrolman Martin had died from loss of blood. 

Different theories are advanced as to how Patrolman Martin died.  One belief is that in making his rounds in the rear of the business on Good Hope, he found an open door of the Segal store and discovered that it was being burglarized. Some believe that he walked inside and was attacked by a burglar, whom he disarmed, and that a second burglar in the building then fired the two shots that killed him. This theory is advanced for the reason that a new revolver, identified as one stolen from the Taylor, Masterson & Linson Store some time ago, was lying under his body and his own revolver, with hammer back, was lying at his feet.

Another theory is that when Patrolman Martin discovered the open door, he realized a burglary was being committed, armed himself and walked inside. It is suggested by some that when he stepped inside the door, probably making his way to an electric light to turn it on, he was fired on by a person who had concealed himself near the door. This theory is advanced because both bullets struck Patrolman Martin in the back, one of them passing through his body at an angle that leads investigators to believe the person who shot was crouching. The other bullet passed through the body almost horizontally.

Patrolman Martin’s body was found by Anton Schaaf, his brother Lawrence Schaaf, and another man, Adolph Jerosik, after suspecting a burglary and peering inside the business.

Several suspects were arrested during the investigation, but later released.

Patrolman Willis Martin was 59 years old and had been a resident of Cape Girardeau 26 years. He moved to Cape Girardeau from Wisconsin where his parents had emigrated from England. He married Anna Vogelsang. She was survived along with five children: Mrs. Albert Bohnsack, Pearl, and Elmer, all of Cape Girardeau; Bertram, of Poplar Bluff; and Roy, of Tulsa, Oklahoma . He was also survived by three sisters and three brothers. 

Burial was in Fairmont Cemetery.