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Attorney General to announce ‘case resolved’

Some of the Wathen family descendants with the new Smoyer-Wathen monument on the courthouse grounds.
Some of the Wathen family descendants with the new Smoyer-Wathen monument on the courthouse grounds.

Nebraska Attorney General’s office plans an announcement in early October that resolves an 80-year-old murder mystery in Boone County.

William W. Black, chief investigator with the Attorney General’s office, met with Boone County Commissioners on Monday, Aug. 14, to discuss plans for an Oct. 3 press conference in Boone County to announce a resolution of the Smoyer-Wathen shootings that occurred June 17, 1937, in a pasture north of Akron at the county’s western edge.

The date of Oct. 3 was selected because it marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Constable William Wathen, who along with Sheriff Lawrence Smoyer was gunned down by two assailants. Smoyer died at the scene, but Wathen lived for nearly four months before he passed away as a result of his wounds.

The 80th anniversary of the shootings was recently commemorated in Boone County, and a new monument to the fallen officers was dedicated on the courthouse grounds.

Black said all evidence was compiled and reviewed, and a family member of one of the two suspects in the shooting aided the investigation, giving prosecutors enough certainty that they would prosecute the case under today’s standards.

The complete case, including all new information, will be revealed at the 1 p.m. press conference on Oct. 3., Black said. Invitations have been sent to all living descendants of the Smoyer and Wathen families to attend the press conference.