Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chief Armstrong and 100 degrees of separation...

ChiefArmstrong1 In 1911 Denver Police Chief Hamilton Armstrong stated he believed the murders in Colorado Springs had been carried out by a woman.  Why?  I have no idea.  Chief Armstrong had been appointed in 1908 in an effort to clean up the Denver Police Department.  This was not his first stint in that position and it was a promotion from Chief Detective.  Hamilton Armstrong has the distinction of being the first sheriff of Denver county, which in 1902, the year of his appointment, was the same position as Chief of the Denver Police.  In 1904 the sheriff became an elected position and he won the election but was later removed due to some technicality.  He became the chief license inspector for the city & county of Denver until his re-appointment to Chief of Police in 1908.

Hamilton Armstrong was a first generation U.S. citizen born to Irish parents in Jackson, Mississippi.  He was a bookbinder by trade and moved out to Denver in 1880.  In 1892 he won a term as state senator and when his term was up in 1894 he began his first, short term as police chief, resigning in June of 1895.  He went to work at a newspaper in the bookbinding department until 1897 when he was appointed chief detective.  Nothing in Armstrong's background made him particularly qualified for his law enforcement positions but that was very common in those days.  His assessment of the crime scene in Colorado Springs  would certainly be considered reckless today and might have been seen that way in 1911 if the case weren't so botched already.  Besides his brief involvement in the Colorado Springs investigation, Chief Armstrong had a loose connection with the crime in Villisca.  If you recall in my post about the Pfanschmidt murders two of the investigators on the Villisca crime traveled to Illinois in order to ascertain whether the two crimes might be related.  Well, in 1892 Hamilton Armstrong married Mary Jennie Ruckman, formerly of Quincy, Illinois.  Kevin Bacon has nothing on me.

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