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Applestell, Agent William
End of Watch:
Wednesday, December 19, 1917
No. Pacific Railway P.D.
On Tuesday, December 19, 1917 at about 2030 hours, Railroad Policeman William Applestiel of the Northern Pacific Railroad was shot and killed after interrupting burglars that were stealing liquor from a train. Patrolman Applestiel was found by T. M. Schuler and William Brannon, still clenching his pistol in his right hand. He was unable to fire on the suspects before being killed.
The incident occurred in the Northern Pacific Transfer Yards in Auburn where there had been a chronic problem with liquor thefts. The suspects in the thefts were either current or former railroad men who knew exactly which cars contained consignments of liquor.
On the night in which Patrolman Applestiel was killed, he was actually lying in wait for suspects to break into a particular rail car.
King County Deputy Matt Starwich and Deputy Herman Beebe arrested John Porria and S. L. Fowler the night of the murder. They were eventually moved downtown to the King County Jail for questioning, but were later released. Porria was the getaway driver, but had no connection to the murder. Both men were released on bond, but were eventually convicted of burglary and theft in connection with other liquor and copper thefts in the Auburn area.
On Wednesday morning, Deputy Starwich and Deputy Beebe, joined by Auburn patrolmen, arrested S. L. Graham and J. E. Casey. The murder weapon, an automatic revolver, was recovered from Graham’s Auburn home.
Graham was eventually convicted of murdering Applestiel.