★☆★ NIGHT MARSHAL CASPER ZWEIFEL ★☆★
By: Keith Dameron, Historian, Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial
Central Pueblo* Marshal Casper Zweifel, 37, died on July 25, 1884, after being stabbed by a man he had arrested for using counterfeit silver dollars at businesses along Union Avenue. Zweifel had been on the lookout for him and arrested him at Henderson’s Saloon at about 12:15 a.m. He was walking his prisoner up Union Avenue to the jail, holding his arm, when the man pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed the Marshal twice in the groin, once in each upper leg and then fled. Zweifel ran after him and fired several shots before collapsing after about 75 yards.
Townspeople heard the shots, found Zweifel and carried him into the Bessemer Exchange Saloon where he died within minutes. Dr. Taylor, the county coroner, examined him and determined the cause of death was a severed femoral artery from a stab wound in the left side of his groin. He had bled out too fast to be saved. The wound in the right groin had just missed the other femoral artery. The knife, with a four inch blade, was recovered at the scene of the attack.
A coroner’s inquest was held the same day while Zweifel’s body remained in the Bessemer Exchange. Several witnesses testified and a determination was made 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.” It was noted that the stab wounds must have been purposely aimed at the femoral artery, just at the place where it is closest to the surface of the skin. The counterfeit silver dollars were made of pewter and were lighter than real dollars. They also did not have a ring sound to them when dropped.
The person who stabbed Zewifel was described as about 23-25 years old, standing 5’6”-5’8”, with a short mustache. The search began almost immediately. Later that morning a reported sighting led Deputy Dan Kelly and W. S. Henderson up Rock Canyon, along the Santa Fe coal branch. After tracking him, they saw the suspect jump aboard a locomotive of a gravel train and continued after him. When they had almost caught up to him, the suspect jumped into the Arkansas River with Kelly and Henderson jumping in after him. The chase continued on the south side of the river along the D&RG tracks before the suspect again took to the water with his two pursuers following back to the north side. The suspect then entered the river a third time, crossing back to the south side. Kelly and Henderson again followed him, but Henderson struck something in the water and became injured, requiring Kelly to rescue him.
By the time the men got across the river the suspect was gone. Kelly and Henderson returned to Pueblo. Other suspects were picked up, released when it was determined they were not involved. One suspect was picked up near Ojo at La Veta but got away by leaving the train at the steel works and walking through town. By August the reward was up to $300 for information leading to the arrest of the murderer.
Johann Kaspar (Casper) Zweifel was born on April 3, 1847, in Switzerland, to Johannes (John) and Ursula Streiff Zweifel. He was the oldest of seven children. The family came to the United States prior to 1860 and lived in Independence, Missouri. His father ran a jewelry store and served as a lieutenant in the Missouri State Militia during the Civil War.
Casper Zweifel married Bertha Vogust on March 29, 1877, in Denver, where he worked as a barkeeper. By 1881 he and his brother John were operating a saloon in Leadville. He moved to Pueblo later that year remaining in the saloon business. He had been appointed Marshal two days before his death. He was highly esteemed by those that knew him. He was survived by his wife at the family home, his parents in Independence, Missouri; his brothers John, Jacob and Frederick; and sisters Louisa, Mary and Pauline.
The funeral was held on Sunday, July 27, at the Zweifel home, at the corner of Court and Second Streets. The Daily Chieftain had the following announcement, “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 other public notices were published in the paper. One was the order of the funeral procession, which read, “Marshals; Police; Band; Militia; Firemen; Concordia Maennerchor; Knights of Honor; hearse; family and relatives; city officers; friends.” Burial followed at the Pioneer cemetery in Pueblo.
A year later a suspect was finally identified. Sheriff J. C. Mee reported that he had a confession from John Carp who admitted killing the marshal. Carp was reportedly in prison in Arkansas serving a one-year sentence. The Daily Chieftain reported that when Carp’s sentence was up in November 1885 he would be returned to Pueblo. The grand jury had returned a “true bill” against Carp in May.
No other information has been found about this case, or about what happened to John Carp.
* Pueblo incorporated in 1870, South Pueblo in 1873 and Central Pueblo in 1882. They legally consolidated in March, 1886.
An earlier version of this story was published in the CSP Alumni Assoc. newsletter, Oct 2014
EOW: 25 Jul 1884
Cause of Death: Stabbed
Chief Luis Velez, Pueblo Police Department
Salvadore Torres, Pueblo Veterans Ritual Team; Extensive research
The Daily Chieftain: Jul 25-27, 29, 1884
The Daily Chieftain: Jun 19, 1885
Arkansas Department of Corrections
Ancestry – Library Edition