Detective Lieutenant William H. Jessie
(EOW 12/30/64)

William H. Jessie


A 20-mile high-speed pursuit of a stolen car ended the life of Lieutenant William Jessie. It was around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 30, 1964, when patrol officers spotted a stolen car leaving a gas station on Rockville Pike near Randolph Road. They pursued the vehicle north on Rt. 355 and were joined by other units, but, at speeds nearing 100 miles per hour, the suspect elluded apprehension. Although not required to participate, Lieutenant Jessie heard the chase over his radio and managed to maneuver his cruiser in behind the stolen car as it raced north on the old, narrow two-lane road. Nearing Hyattstown, Lieutenant Jessie lost control of his 1964 Plymouth detective cruiser as it topped a slightly curving hill and ran off the roadway. The cruiser overturned and caught fire. Seconds later, patrol officers arrived on the scene and were able to extricate Lieutenant Jessie from the wreck. He was transported to Suburban Hospital where he died at 7:05 p.m. of multiple injuries. The stolen car was located abandoned on Route 109 near Comus. A canine team tracked to another abandoned car in the field where the 17-year-old suspect was found hiding in the trunk.

The 43-year-old lieutenant, a ten year veteran of the force, was in charge of the Rockville Detective Bureau and had been named Policeman of the Year in 1963.