The Killing of Sheriff Moody
On this date in 1911, North Dakotans were relieved to learn that the killer of Richland County Sheriff George Moody was no longer a threat. The killing occurred at a farm owned by United States Marshal James Shea, seven miles south of Wahpeton. The farm had been unoccupied for quite some time.
Farmer Jake Steffes happened by and noticed the old farm house was occupied. A man later identified as Charles Moline had made himself at home. Steffes approached Moline and told him to leave. When he refused, Steffes went to Wahpeton to file a complaint.
Sheriff Moody and George Moore drove out to the farm in a buggy to serve an eviction warrant. Moody ordered Moline to come out. At first, Moline refused, but when he did come out, he carried a shotgun. Without warning, he fired both barrels, killing Moody. He took Moody’s buggy and fled at full gallop.
Moore rode back to Wahpeton and was nearly incoherent as he reported what had happened. The police chief quickly organized a posse. Virtually every able-bodied man turned out. They set out in cars and on horseback in pursuit. Mayor Eberly urged them to bring Moline back “dead or alive.”
One of the buggy’s rubber tires had come off, with the metal rim leaving a deep indentation in the ground – a clear trail for the posse to follow. It led to Hankinson, where more men joined the posse. Hundreds of men pursued Moline, catching up with him near White Rock, South Dakota. When he saw the posse, Moline opened fire, and the posse fired back. One of Moline’s horses was killed, and he abandoned the buggy. He plunged into a swampy area where cars and buggies couldn’t follow. The members of the posse on horseback continued the pursuit and were able to keep him in sight. He ran towards the shelter of some outbuildings. With night closing in, the posse was afraid he was going to get away. They opened fire. Moline fired back, wounding three of his pursuers.
A bullet finally struck Moline in the head, killing him instantly. When Moline was identified, they learned he was an escaped patient from the State Hospital in Jamestown.
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Bowbells Tribune. “Sheriff is Shot and Instantly Killed.” Bowbells ND. 12/15/1911. Page 1.
Hope Pioneer. “Posse Kills Sheriff’s Slayer.” Hope ND. 12/14/1911. Page 1.
Twice a Week Plain Dealer. “Posse Kills Sheriff’s Slayer.” Cresco, IA. 12/15/1911. Page 3.
Jamestown Weekly Alert. “Sheriff Moody’s Killer Run Down.” Jamestown ND. 12/14/1911. Page 1.