Deadly Tramps: Murder of Allan Shoemaker 1925

Murder Victim

Allan F. Shoemaker
36-year-old Special Officer
Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Police
Killed in the Line of Duty
Cause of Death: Gunshot
Motive: Avoiding Arrest

Murder Scene and Date

Railroad Yard
Missouri Valley, Iowa
Harrison County
End of Watch: May 17, 1925


By Nancy Bowers
Written June 2011

location of Missouri Valley, Iowa

location of Missouri Valley, Iowa

On Sunday, May 17, 1925, Special Officer Allan F. Shoemaker of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Police was checking train cars for tramps and troublemakers in the Missouri Valley, Iowa, rail yards.

His was a dangerous job, and peril often lurked in the dark cars where stowaways hid.

Allen Shoemaker, courtesy Officer Down Memorial Page

When he found nine men in a gondola car, he turned his flashlight on them and asked what they were doing.

One of the men drew a gun and shot Shoemaker, who fell injured towards the shooter. The man then fired three more times.

Allen Shoemaker, who was 36-years-old, died in the railroad office not long afterwards.

☛ Intense Investigation ☚

Missouri Valley railroad yards (University of Iowa Libraries Digital Collection).

Six of the tramps were arrested and taken to the Harrison County Jail at Logan.

Sheriff W.R. Milliman told the media that four police officers had been killed in Missouri Valley since 1898 and the perpetrator of each murder was caught. He vowed that the Shoemaker murderer would be apprehended, also.

The Chief of the Northwestern Railroad, W.T. Dineen of Chicago, ordered that the hunt for the killer be pursued until every clue was exhausted. To that end, he sent two Northwestern special detectives to Missouri Valley to aid in the investigation.

from the Davenport Democrat and Leader

Efforts to find the tramp who actually fired the fatal shots were unsuccessful; and in late September of 1925, a grand jury meeting at Logan returned a “Joe Doe Indictment” against the unknown person who killed Allan F. Shoemaker.

No one was ever charged with the murder and the case is unsolved.

☛ Allen F. Shoemaker’s Life ☚

Allen F. Shoemaker was born September 28, 1888 in Elgin, Nebraska, to Hanie P. and Mattie Shoemaker. He had two sisters, Edith M. Shoemaker and Florence M. Shoemaker Thede.

One source reported that Shoemaker was survived by a wife, although in the 1920 Census he was noted as unmarried.

During WWI, he drove an ambulance in the U.S. Army Hospital Branch.

Shoemaker worked as a Northwestern Railroad Police Officer for four years. Before that, he drove a cab and was Assistant Manager of the Omaha Taxicab Company.

In the Line of Duty

from Officer Down Memorial Page

Allan Shoemaker is one of 184 Iowa peace officers — as of September 2013 — to die in the line of duty and one of 104 killed by gunfire.

Click here to view the article “Iowa Department of Public Safety Peace Officer Memorial Page Remembers Officer Allan F. Shoemaker” or click here to view the page in Shoemaker’s memory on the website Officer Down Memorial Page.

In 2010, Allan R. Shoemaker’s name was added by the Iowa Department of Public Safety to the Peace Officers Memorial.

Please note: Use of information in this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.



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