William R. Ramsey

1903 - 1938

On May 3, 1938, Special Agent William R. Ramsey died from wounds he sustained while attempting to arrest suspects in a Lapel, Indiana bank burglary that had taken place the previous December.

The FBI had begun an investigation—and based upon information received by the Indiana State Police—Joe Earlywine, John Hulett, and Fred Steffler were developed as suspects. Through a physical surveillance of Earlywine’s Penfield, Illinois home, Earlywine and Hulett were determined to be present at that house. On May 2, 1938, Special Agent Ramsey, another FBI agent, and local officers arrived at the farm, where they immediately identified John Hulett and took him into custody. Earlywine was identified in the house and was advised that he was under arrest. Earlywine then drew a gun and shot Special Agent Ramsey several times. The injured agent returned fire, and a bullet struck Earlywine in the forehead, killing him instantly. Special Agent Ramsey was mortally wounded by Earlywine’s bullets and was immediately taken to a local hospital, where he died the following morning.

Special Agent Ramsey was born in London, Kentucky in October 1903. In 1933, several years after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he entered on duty as a special agent of the Bureau of Investigation. Special Agent Ramsey eventually worked in various field offices, including Oklahoma City, San Francisco, and Peoria.