Deputy Sheriff William Maxwell was shot and killed by one of five prisoners making their escape from the county jail in Le Mars.
Deputy Maxwell and his father, who was the sheriff, had entered the jail to feed the prisoners when one opened fire with a smuggled pistol. Deputy Maxwell was killed and his father was seriously wounded. All five subjects were captured near Maurice two days later.
A week later all five prisoners were convicted of Deputy Maxwell’s murder and sentenced to life. On December 25th, 1920, three escaped from Fort Madison Penitentiary. Two were recaptured and one was shot and killed. One died in prison on January 13th, 1943. One was paroled February 9th, 1939, and another was paroled in 1957. The subject who provided the pistol was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Deputy Maxwell was a WWI veteran. He went to work for his father as a deputy after being discharged from the Army in April of 1919. He was survived by his parents and two sisters.
Plymouth County Sheriff's Office
End of Watch: Nov. 14, 1919