Dakota Datebook

Sheriff Moody Killed

Monday, December 10, 2007

Law enforcement is and always has been a dangerous occupation. Every day our police and other law enforcement officials put their life on the line. On this date in 1911, Sheriff George F. Moody of Wahpeton became another name in a long list of officers killed in the line of duty.
Jake Steffes was renting the old Shea farm seven miles west of Wahpeton. After he came home, he saw a stranger inside his house and immediately told him to get out. The stranger refused to leave, and Steffes quickly rode off to Wahpeton in search of the sheriff.
Steffes, Sheriff Moody and a deputy soon returned along with the driver of the team to the Shea farmstead. The stranger was still inside the house and still wouldn’t leave.
Angry words between Sheriff Moody and the stranger ensued. The stranger claimed to be a Pinkerton Agent by the name of Weldemeir. Sheriff Moody then said, “If that’s so, then come on out.”
As soon as he appeared on the porch, the stranger leveled his rifle at the sheriff and pulled the trigger. At almost the same time, the sheriff also managed to fire a shot, which grazed the stranger’s hand. Sheriff Moody took one more step toward the intruder and fell dead to the ground.
Jake Steffes quickly jumped on his buggy and tried to leave the scene, only to be overtaken by the murderer. He pushed Steffes off the buggy, stole his rifle, and took off heading south.
Posses were immediately rounded up and the pursuit was on. They picked up his trail south of town, and followed him into and through Elma Township. Eventually he was spotted by another group looking for him south and east of Vernon.
The posse eventually killed the fugitive’s horse, and then began chasing him on foot across a field, firing shots back and forth. The chase went on for another four miles before they had the outlaw surrounded. The fugitive was eventually shot by a member of the posse from Hankinson.
The murderer’s identity at the time had been shrouded in mystery. It is likely he was Charles Moline, an escaped insane convict who had killed his father in Pierce County.
Sheriff Moody was not the first, and no doubt will not be the last law enforcement official killed while performing his duty.

By Dave Seifert

Hankinson Centennial Committee, “Sheriff Moody Killed”, Hankinson, ND Centennial, June 26-29, 1986, J & M Printing, Inc., Gwinner, ND, 1985. pg. 41.

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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