Patrolman Donald Harold Crittendon

Photo of Patrolman Donald Harold Crittendon
End of Watch: Tue, Mar 21st, 1961
Date of Incident: Fri, Mar 10th, 1961
Cause of Death: Gunfire (Intentional)
Service Time: 2 years
Age: 24


His wife and two daughters.


Patrolman Crittendon and Auxillary Sergeant Herbert L. Goss were shot when they stopped two escaped convicts in a stolen car. Sergeant Goss was shot to death as he reached the drivers window. Patrolman Crittendon was shot in the abdomen by the other convict as he walked to the passenger side of the vehicle. Patrolman Crittendon died from his wounds at Southeast Missouri Hospital eleven days later.

Both convicts along with a third convict had escaped from a jail in San Luis Obispo, California, on Febuary 28, 1961. Before reaching Missouri they robbed a supermarket and a liquor store in New Mexico and Kansas. The third suspect was left behind at a supermarket they were about to rob in Cape Girardeau when they were spotted by Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss. After they shot the two officers they stole a car from a group of college students at Southeast Missouri State College. Still later they beat up a farmer in Glen Allen, Missouri, and took his car. They then exchanged gunfire with the Greenville, Missouri Sheriff and a State Trooper before escaping. All of these events took place the same day Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss were shot.

The next day State Troopers arrested one of the suspects at a service station near Cape Girardeau. Hours later the second suspect was captured in a wooded area near Grassy, Missouri.

Both suspects were convicted of murdering Patrolman Crittendon and Sergeant Goss. One was sentenced to life in prison. The other one was executed in the gas chamber on July 26, 1963.

Patrolman Crittendon had resigned from the department and was serving his last shift. He was murdered 90 minutes before his shift ended. He was a U.S. Navy veteran.

Information obtained from the Officer Down Memorial Page.


Cape Girardeau Police Department Patch
40 South Sprigg Street
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63703
(573) 335-6621
Chief James Blair


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