Officer Paul F. Miller, 36, was shot four times by unknown assailants near 25th and Station Streets shortly before midnight on July 17, 1928. Seriously wounded, Officer Miller was taken to hospital where he was able to provide an account of the shooting. He survived the night, rallying slightly early the next morning; however, he lost his 17-hour fight for life, dying at 4:00 in the afternoon. The attending doctor reported Officer Miller’s last words to him were: “I hope they get them, Doc. I hope the get them before they shoot someone else."
During the evening of July 17, Officer Miller and his partner, Officer Roy Banks, had answered a holdup report at Schaller & Cole drug store, 2502 Station Street. Arriving at the scene, Officer Banks ran into the store where he was told two men had been in the neighborhood for some time and it was believed they might attempt a holdup at closing time. While inside, he heard two shots fired and ran back outside.
Officer Miller had driven their car to 2406 Stewart Street where the two officers had seen two men sitting on the porch steps. Arriving at the Stewart Street address, Officer Banks found Officer Miller lying in front of the car having been shot. The two men who had been on the porch were seen running north into an alley. Officer Banks gave chase, firing shots at the suspects. He believed at least one of the shots made contact, a belief later confirmed by investigators who found blood in the alley. Officer Banks then lost track of the suspects.
As the two suspects fled, they returned fire at Officer Banks, but missed. Officer Banks called for a near-by ambulance, and Officer Miller was transported to hospital. Relaying the events at the hospital, Officer Miller said he was shot by two white men, one of whom approached in front of him and the other from the rear. The man in front fired a large caliber revolver, the bullet striking him in the chest, and the impact causing him to fall. When Officer Miller was on the ground, the second assailant stood over him and fired several shots.
Officer Banks provided clear descriptions of the suspects and an intensive search was begun for them. The trail was picked up Wednesday afternoon after the suspects brutally attacked a woman who found them hiding in the loft of her barn at 2434 North Keystone Avenue, but was soon lost again. Hundreds of calls were received over the headquarters switchboard to tell of suspicious people seen loitering in widely separated communities within the city. Lights on the switchboard winked faster than the operators could answer the calls.
Police squads made personal investigations in as many cases possible, only to find them fruitless. They were aided by armed citizens with lanterns and flashlights as they combed through railroad yards, vacant homes, barnyards, fields, woods, and creek bottoms. Rifles and shotguns were issued to every motor squad, and a machine gunner was detailed to each of the city’s three emergency squads. Patrol officers were assigned to walk their beats in pairs. Railroad officials offered the assistance of their detectives, and the Indiana state police staff joined in the search.
In spite of the intensive manhunt, Officer Miller’s killers evaded capture. The murder remains unsolved.
Funeral services were held at the Olive Branch Christian Church. Hundreds of people paid their respects. The Police and Firemen’s band played the funeral march, and a police quintet sang at the 1:30 church service, prior to the pastor’s address. Flower girls holding beautiful bouquets sent to the family preceded the pallbearers. Following the services at the church, the funeral procession of more than 100 vehicles drove to Crown Hill cemetery, passing police headquarters on South Alabama Street where 60 police officers formed two lines of honor.
Officer Miller was born near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1892, and came to Indiana with his family when he was about 9 years old. He became a member of the police department on June 14, 1921, and had been assigned to the substation at Vermont Street and Sherman Drive for about two years, having previously served at the Broad Ripple substation.
Officer Miller was survived by his wife, Eulah, and his parents who were in their 70’s. Officer Miller was the 7th child they had lost. Only two brothers now remained from the once large family.
Source: Indianapolis Star, July 18 - 22, 1928.