UA Journey

Part 2 The Suspect, The Chase

The Suspect
Meanwhile, several people told the marshal that Lavor had been seen with William Dempsey on the night of Aug. 25. Also damaging was the testimony of another acquaintance who identified the bloody clothing found in the outhouse on B Street as those Dempsey had been wearing on the night in question. He had not been seen since the day after Lavor's disappearance.

The authorities set out to find him. To find work or catch a steamer outside, Dempsey would probably have to go to Seward. Marshal F.R. Brenneman asked deputy marshal Isaac Evans in Seward to keep an eye open for the murder suspect.

The investigators' work paid off. On Sept. 1, still three days before Lavor's body would be recovered from the well, Dempsey was arrested near the Seward Post Office. A number of citizens witnessed the arrest, and that Dempsey made no effort to resist. He quietly accompanied Evans to his office and the deputy superficially searched him for weapons. On leaving the office for a walk to the federal jail, only a few feet away, Dempsey stopped to pick up a bundle of clothing he had been carrying.

From the bundle he pulled a .38 caliber automatic pistol and fired four shots at Evans at close range. The first shot mortally wounded the deputy, while the others went wild, fired as Dempsey ran for safety.

Evans still managed to pull his weapon and sent two shots after the fugitive before he passed out.

The Chase
Dempsey ran down the railroad tracks and found a handcar which he mounted, and "pumped frantically," and sped north toward the Resurrection River. An employee of the Alaska Engineering Commission tried to stop the handcar by throwing a plank across the track, but under high speed, the car jumped the obstruction and held to the rails.

Later, a posse of 25 well armed men found the handgun abandoned above Resurrection River. Dempsey had held up a lineman, D.C. Brownell, relieved him of a .45 caliber Colt automatic pistol, and fled into the woods. Although they were hot on his trail, the posse had been eluded.

While the chase for the murderer continued, the physicians attending Evans issued a Bulletin that the deputy, though weak from the loss of blood, would probably recover because of his splendid physical condition. Bulletin or not, Evans died early on the morning of Sept. 3.

The shot fired at such close range had torn through his lungs and brought on internal bleeding. Evans had been well-liked and Seward citizens who mourned his death were determined to bring in the killer.


Part 1 The Victim, The Investigation                                                  Part 3 The Capture, The Confession

Back to Top