★☆★ NIGHT MARSHAL CASPER ZWEIFEL ★☆★
By: Keith Dameron, Historian, Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial
Central Pueblo Marshal Casper Zweifel, 37, died after being stabbed by a young man he had arrested for passing counterfeit silver dollars at businesses along Union Avenue. Marshal Zweifel had been watching for such a person and captured him at Henderson’s Saloon, shortly after midnight on Friday, July 25, 1884. The Marshal was walking the subject up Union Avenue to the ‘calaboose’ when the man pulled out a pocketknife and stabbed the Marshal twice in the groin, once in each leg, then took off. Marshal Zweifel ran after him and fired several shots before collapsing after about 75 yards. Townspeople, hearing the shots, found the Marshal and carried him into the Bessemer Exchange Saloon where he died almost immediately. Dr. Taylor, the county coroner, examined the Marshal and determined the cause of death. It was found that the stab wound in the left groin had severed the femoral artery and Marshal Zweifel had bled to death very quickly. The other wound in the right groin just missed the femoral artery there. The knife w/a 4-inch blade was recovered at the scene where the Marshal was attacked.
A coroner’s inquest was held on July 25 while Marshal Zweifel’s body remained in the Bessemer Exchange. They examined several witnesses and determined that Marshal Zweifel came to his death from a loss of blood after being stabbed in the left thigh and that “said wound was inflicted by party or parties unknown, while deceased was performing his duty as Marshal of Central Pueblo, in attempting to arrest said unknown party for passing counterfeit money”. The counterfeit silver dollars were made of pewter which made them lighter than the real ones. The pewter ones also did not have a ‘ring’ to them.
The person that stabbed the Marshal was described as about 23-25 years old, 5’6” - 5’8” tall with a short mustache. He fled from town. The search began almost immediately but it was later in the morning when a reported sighting led Deputy Kelly and Mr. Henderson up Rock Canon along the Santa Fe coal branch. They tracked finally spotted the suspect and ‘seized and impressed’ the locomotive of the gravel train and pursued him. When they had almost caught up the jumped into the Arkansas River with Kelly and Henderson jumping in after him. The chase continued to the south side of the river along the D&RG tracks before the suspect again took to the water with his two pursuers in following back to the north side of the river. The suspect then entered the river for a 3rd time crossing back to the south side. Kelly and Henderson followed but Henderson struck something in the water and was injured requiring Kelly to have to rescue him. By the time the men got across the river the suspect had escaped. Deputy Kelly and Mr. Henderson then returned to Pueblo to rest and get new clothing and money. Other suspects were picked up then released when it was determined they were not the one being looked for. Another suspect was picked up near Ojo at La Veta, but he got away by exiting the train at the steelworks and walked through town. No one was ever caught for the murder of Marshal Zweifel.
Casper Zweifel was born in Switzerland in 1847. He had been in the United States for many years and had served in the Union Army in Missouri, fighting guerillas like the James Gang and other bands of rebels. He had lived in Denver and Leadville before moving to Pueblo four years earlier. He had just been appointed Marshal the first part of the week. He was survived by his wife. The funeral was held on Sunday, July 27, at the Marshal’s home, at the corner of Court and Second streets. The Daily Chieftain had the following announcement in the paper on that date:
“Attention, Policeman. All policemen of Pueblo and South Pueblo and hereby notified to attend the funeral services of the late Casper Zweifel, Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. (Signed) JOHN GILLEN, Marshal of Pueblo. CHRIS HAHN, Marshal of South Pueblo.
Several public notices and preparations were published in the paper. This included the order of the funeral procession which read as follows: “Marshals; Police; Band; Militia; Firemen; Concordia Maennerchor; Knights of Honor; hearse; family and relatives; city officers; friends.” Marshal Zweifel was laid to rest in Pueblo.EOW: 25 Jul 1884
Cause of Death: Stabbed