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Deputy Sheriff Walter Leonhardt

Portrait photo of Walter Leonhardt.
End of Watch:
Monday, September 28, 1931

On September 28, 1931, Special Deputy Sheriff Walter Leonhardt was riding in his personal vehicle with his wife when they passed a vehicle that Mrs. Leonhardt recognized as being stolen from their neighbor.  Deputy Leonhardt caught up to the vehicle and ordered the two teen occupants to stop.  The teens continued for several blocks before finally stopping at NW 27th and NW Thurman.

The passenger told Mrs. Leonhardt that the vehicle belonged to his family and invited her to walk with him up the street to his house to speak to his parents.  The driver and Deputy Leonhardt remained at the scene with the vehicle.  A few minutes later Mrs. Leonhardt heard two gunshots and ran back to find her husband laying in the street. Deputy Leonhardt was unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Two men, Raymond Harvey and Ernest Newell, were arrested on September 30, 1931, in North Portland at Harvey’s home.  Newell told police that he and Harvey had been in the area planning on holding up a grocery store to get $25 to post bail for a friend being held at the county jail. Newell admitted to his role as the passenger, and Harvey confessed to the murder. Several witnesses positively identified both men as having been seen walking in the neighborhood in the minutes after the murder. A discarded sweater that was located in a woodpile in the neighborhood was also positively identified by Mrs. Leonhardt as having belonged to Harvey.

In addition to the First-Degree Murder charge, both men were charged with grand theft of an automobile. Newell was also positively identified as a suspect in an armed robbery of a grocery store in North Portland one week earlier. In January of 1932, Harvey was sentenced to life in prison at the Oregon State Penitentiary. The next month, Newell was sentenced to five years in prison at the Oregon State Penitentiary.   

Deputy Leonhardt was employed as a delivery driver for the Meier & Frank furniture company and was given a “Special Deputy Sheriff” commission so that he could be allowed to carry a gun while making deliveries for the company.  Deputy Leonhardt left behind a wife and four children.