Remembering those who gave all in service of Lane County during National Police Week

Remembering those who gave all in service of Lane County during National Police Week
Posted on 05/15/2024

This week marks National Police Week. This week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others while honoring those who commit themselves to the field of law enforcement. Our own county has had many deputies – and even a sheriff – lay down their lives in service to the people of our county.  Join us in remembering their sacrifice. 

Sheriff W. W. Withers

February 7, 1903 - Sheriff William W. Withers was killed attempting to apprehend Elliott Lyons, a horse thief, wanted in Jackson County. The slayer escaped, but a huge posse was formed and he was captured in Creswell under a train that was heading out of town.  In Eugene, Oregon, under the direction of Fred Fisk, a deputy under Withers and a Lane County Judge, witnessed the hanging of Lyons outside the Lane County Courthouse. This was the last public function of the kind in the state.  He was survived by his wife and son. 

Deputy C. Rollin Wicks

May 14, 1937 - Deputy Rollin Wicks was killed by a neighbor during arrest after the man shot and wounded another neighbor while engaged in a dispute. Deputy Wicks was unarmed at the time. Deputies surrounded the house for five hours while tear gas was rushed to the scene from Salem. The suspect later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after holding off deputies, state police officers, employees of the nearby Booth Kelly Mill and residents of Wendling.

Chief Criminal Detective David Hefner

July 13, 1957 - Chief Criminal Detective David D. Hefner responded to a family disturbance call in the River Road area. During the altercation, Detective Hefner was shot in the back.  Trooper Charles Sanders was shot and killed when he arrived on scene to assist. Detective Hefner spent four months in a local hospital before succumbing to the wound. The suspect was sentenced to 25 years, but was paroled after 9 years. Hefner was survived by his wife and five children.

Deputy Robert Riley

August 17, 1958 - Deputy Robert M. Riley was riding in an off-duty capacity with a Springfield Police Officer and merchant patrolman. While in pursuit of a speeding vehicle that was fleeing the scene of a reported alarm activation, an intoxicated driver turned in front of the patrol car. The officer used evasive measures to avoid the drunk driver, but in doing so ran into a car in a gas station lot and then a telephone pole. Mr. Riley, a Lane County reserve deputy, died as a result of the injuries suffered in the accident. Riley was survived by his wife and son.

Deputy Carlton Smith

July 6, 1965 - Deputy Carlton Smith was killed on his first night of patrol as a solo officer. While making a traffic stop in the area which is now the Valley River Center off ramp, he was shot by Carl Cletus Bowles and Wilford Gray, both escaped convicts. Carl Cletus Bowles escaped from Oregon State Penitentiary custody June of 1974 and was the focus of a huge manhunt in Eugene on June 14, 1974. He subsequently kidnapped a couple from South Eugene and later murdered them in Washington. He was recaptured and convicted of the homicides. Deputy Smith left a widow, Margaret Perdue, five sons and a daughter. Randy Smith became a Captain with the Lane County Sheriff's Office and another son, Don Smith, worked as a Eugene Police officer.  One of his step-grandsons is currently a patrol sergeant at the Sheriff’s Office. 

Detective Roy Dirks

April 11, 1975 - Detective Roy H. Dirks was investigating a drowning incident in the Blue River area when he was shot and killed by Belinda Lederer, a member of the Norman "Snake" Brooks family. Lederer was convicted of manslaughter and Brooks was convicted of hindering prosecution. The suspects belonged to a communal group that had prior contacts with Detective Dirks. Roy previously was a resident deputy in the Cottage Grove area.  He was survived by his four children.

Sergeant Carl Frazier

October 9, 1979 - Sgt. Carl L. Frazier died of a heart attack climbing a hill during a marijuana eradication investigation near Florence. Sergeant Frazier had served as the supervisor for the Florence outpost of the Lane County Sheriff's Office.

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