Fallen Officer

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Deputy Sheriff Fred Kiser

End of Watch: Wednesday, February 20, 1907
Tour of Duty:  Approx. 3 months

Gravesite: Mount Muncie Cemetery, Leavenworth, Kansas (exact location unknown)

On the night of Tuesday, February 19, 1907, Deputy Sheriff Fred Kiser was shot in the chest with his own revolver when he was attacked by two men in his bunk house at the Harqua Hala camp, over 100 miles west of Phoenix. He died the next morning.

Before his death, Deputy Kiser named Nicholas Chavez and Rafael Romero as his assailants and described them. He said that he was lying on his bed in the bunk house at about 7:30 p.m. when the two men entered and immediately attacked him. Kiser said that Chavez seized him by the throat and attempted to throttle him, while the Romero secured his gun. In the scuffle which followed, Romero got the gun close up to Kiser’s chest and fired. The men then fled the scene, and Kiser was able to stagger to the door to call for help, which came quickly, due to the shooting being heard throughout the camp.

Deputy Sheriff Frank Graham arrested Chavez and Romero, who both denied that they had anything to do with the shooting and there were no eyewitnesses. Justice of the Peace Hall impaneled a coroner’s jury whose verdict was that Deputy Kiser came to his death at the hands of the two men who had been arrested (Chavez and Romero) and were held over for grand jury. Deputy Graham transported Chavez and Romero to the Phoenix jail due to threats of a lynching by the Arizona cattlemen and friends of Kiser’s. Sheriff Gus Livingston traveled to Phoenix to transport the prisoners to Yuma for trial.

The trial for Nicholas Chavez and Rafael Romero for the murder of Deputy Kiser began on Monday, April 15, 1907. On April 17, 1907, the jury returned a verdict of murder in the first degree and sentenced Chavez and Romero to life in prison. Evidence was presented showing that Deputy Kiser had previously arrested Chavez and Romero for carrying concealed weapons and that they had told the deputy that they would get even with him.

Deputy Kiser was 25 years of age at the time of his death. He was survived by his parents, Samuel and Mary Elizabeth Kiser, who lived in Leavenworth, Kansas, his brothers Frank, George, Gerald, and Samuel Jr., and sister Harriet. Frank Kiser escorted Deputy Kiser’s body back to Leavenworth, Kansas where he was buried in the Mount Muncie Cemetery.

Following are newspaper articles found online regarding the shooting:

NOTE: In the process of researching the murder of Deputy Sheriff Fred Kiser, I found conflicting information regarding Deputy Kiser’s age, the day and time of the shooting, and the type of wound received (chest wound vs. shot in the back). The information above is pieced together from the newspaper articles listed and the Ancestary.com website.