Richard Rivers
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sergeant Richard Rivers - Died April 27, 1936


Richard Rivers

Sergeant Richard Rivers, 44, was killed at 9:00 pm on April 27, 1936, in a gun battle with suspects seeking medical treatment for a wounded member of their gang at the home and office of Dr. E. E. Rose at 2153 Barth Avenue.

The suspects, later identified as part of the infamous Brady Gang, had robbed the Kay Jewelry Store in Lima, Ohio, earlier in the day.  During the robbery, one of the four suspects was shot in the leg.  Fleeing Ohio to Indianapolis, the gang made its way to the south side home and office of Dr. Rose at 5:00 pm.  Dr. Rose treated the man, but did not extract the bullet.  

The suspects told the doctor the wound had been inflicted by the husband of a woman to whom the man had been attentive.  Suspicious, Dr. Rose noted the license number of the vehicle and notified police after they left.  Follow-up investigation determined that men of the suspects’ description had held up the jewelry store in Lima.

Three of the gang members returned to Dr. Rose’s home at 8:50 pm on April 27.  One of the men entered the home and attempted to persuade the doctor go with him to see the wounded man.  Dr. Rose refused, and while he detained the man by arguments, Mrs. Rose ran out a back door to a nearby drug store and called police.  Neither the doctor nor his wife knew two other gang members were hidden outside.

Sergeant Rivers and his squad were a block away when they received the police broadcast.  They hurried to the physician’s home, not knowing that two of the suspects were in the shadows, in addition to the suspect in the office.  As the officers stepped out of their car, the two men outside opened fire as did the third suspect inside the home.  In the first burst, Sergeant Rivers was wounded fatally after firing two shots of his own.   He died shortly after having been shot.

The other two responding officers, Officer Chambers and Sansone, returned to their car in a spray of gunfire during which they emptied their service weapons.  The two suspects drove away at a high speed; one of them was believed to be injured.  The third suspect, who had been in the office, ran to the back of the physician’s home and escaped through a window.

Officers took chase of the fleeing vehicle, but were outdistanced when their car reached a speed of ninety miles an hour.  The suspects were lost at Stones Crossing, about fifteen miles south of Indianapolis.  A state-wide manhunt was begun, with broadcasts going out over city and state police radio and telephone, warning law enforcement everywhere to be on the lookout for the suspects.  A search was also begun for the suspect who fled on foot, with a watch put out to area hospitals and physicians as it was believed he was cut on glass from the window he broke to escape.

Members of the gang had committed approximately 150 hold-ups and at least one, possibly two, murders throughout the Midwest in the period from the latter part of 1935 to April 1936.  With their April robbery of the Lima, Ohio, store and the subsequent recovery of stolen property from the store in Indiana, they committed a crime that crossed state boundaries, and the FBI was brought in to the case.

Said to be more vicious and ruthless than the John Dillinger mob, the gang was heavily armed.  They eluded capture for several days, covering their trail by burning their get-away cars and listening to short-wave receiving sets installed in their vehicles to avoid police dragnets.  The entire organization of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency joined local, state, and federal law enforcement in the search.

Al Brady, a 25-year old farm hand turned gang leader, was arrested in a northern Chicago hotel with his common law wife and was returned to Indianapolis on May 1, 1936, by Deputy Prosecutor James Watson, Chief of Police Michael Morrisey, and four detectives.  Brady admitted the Lima jewelry store robbery which started the spark that resulted in the death of Sergeant Rivers.  He also admitted to be the man who was in Dr. Rose’s office when Sergeant Rivers was killed. 

Brady’s fellow gang members were subsequently captured.  Rheul James Dalhover was located in Chicago, Clarence Lee Shaffer in Indianapolis, and Charles Giesking, the last to be apprehended, in Henderson, Kentucky. 

Giesking was held in the Marion County Jail, and not having been involved in Sergeant Rivers’ murder (he was the gang member who had been shot in Lima), he was removed to Ohio and sentenced to 10 to 25 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary for the crime of armed robbery.

Brady, Dalhover, and Shaffer were transferred to the Hancock County Jail to await trial on November 23.  On October 11, 1936, during the breakfast hour they escaped, slugging the sheriff repeatedly on the head with a fifteen pound iron bar and shooting at a Greenfield resident who came to the aid of the sheriff.

Road blockades were ordered, but the fugitives escaped to continue on with their crime spree throughout several states.  Again heavily armed, they committed numerous violent and dangerous crimes.  Seven months later, on May 25, 1937, the gang killed Indiana State Trooper Paul Minneman while fleeing a robbery of the Goodland State Bank in northwest Indiana. 

Escaping that crime, the three were finally cornered by FBI agents at a sporting goods store in Bangor, Maine, after arousing the suspicions of store employees who had notified police.   In a gun battle at the store on October 12, 1937, Brady and Shaffer were killed by FBI agents.   At the time of his death, Brady had in his hand a .38 caliber revolver from which four shots had just been fired.   .32 and .34 caliber automatics were on his person.   The .38 revolver in Brady’s hand was the gun he had taken from the body of the murdered Indiana State Trooper, Paul Minneman.

Dalhover was captured and trial was set at the federal level for the murder of Trooper Minneman.  Dalhover pleaded guilty to robbery and murder in the Northern Indiana Federal Court in Hammond, and a Federal jury passed the death sentence.    His appeals of the sentence to higher courts were lost, and his request for executive clemency from President Roosevelt and a request for stay of execution from the Supreme Court were denied.  Dalhover was executed in the electric chair on November 17, 1938, at Michigan City Prison.

Sergeant Rivers was survived by his widow, Hazel, a son, and a step-daughter.   He was appointed to the department in 1922, and in 1934 was promoted to sergeant.  Born in Johnson County in 1892, he had lived in Indianapolis more than 20 years and was a member of the Masonic Order and Scottish Rite. 

Sergeant River’s death cast a cloud over the neighborhood in which he lived.  Residents of the 1900 block of Park Avenue remembered his pride in his home which he had just had painted and put in order, replacing an old porch with a new roomy one that he liked to sit on after it was finished.   Everybody in the neighborhood liked Sergeant Rivers and expressed sadness that they would never see him again.  The solemnity of children was reported as they learned that something had happened to the big kindly man they all liked.

Funeral services for Sergeant Rivers were held in Shirley Brothers’ central chapel on North Illinois Street.   After leaving the chapel, the procession passed police headquarters where more than 150 uniformed officers and detectives stood at attention, forming a lane through which the procession travelled on its way to Washington Park cemetery where Sergeant Rivers was buried.   As the procession passed headquarters, detectives were inside, interviewing Brady for Sergeant Rivers’ murder.

Sources:  The Indianapolis Star, April 28 – May 4, 1936; October 12, 1936; October 14, 1937; November 17-18, 1938.