Kennett Square Cops Assassinated


On November 15, 1972, tragedy struck the tiny Kennett Square (PA) Police Department. Two of its members, Police Officer Richard Posey, and Police Officer William Davis were both assassinated as they returned to the stationhouse at about 1 a.m. The officers were each shot one time with a .308 caliber rifle bullet. The were both found dead next to each other right outside of their car. Police Officer Davis apparently was hit first, the bullet going through his body and then shattering the window on the driver’s side of the patrol car. Police Officer Posey, apparently ran around the back of the car to help Patrolman Davis, probably was struck as he bent over his comrade.

The State Police took over the investigation from the 8-man Kennett Square Police Department and solicited the help of local police departments and Philadelphia homicide detectives. After 5 days of investigation, the detectives got their man. Ancel Hamm of Kennett Square was arrested and charged with the murders of Patrolmen Posey and Davis. Hamm had been arrested by Patrolman Davis on numerous occasions and many believed Hamm had a vendetta against him. On September 21, 1972, the two officers had arrested Hamm for a suspended license and resisting arrest. Hamm was a member of the notorious Johnson Gang. This gang had terrorized Southeast PA for years. They were a larceny and burglary crew that was known for intimidating witness and are believed to be responsible for some half dozen homicides.

The detectives determined that on the night of November 15, Hamm hid in the darkness 100 yards north of the police station. When he saw the officers, Hamm fired the two deadly shots from his .308 rifle. In a highly-publicized trial held in Dauphin County, District Attorney William H. Lamb prosecuted Hamm using largely circumstantial evidence. Hamm has filed numerous appeals to his two consecutive life sentences, but to date, has been unsuccessful.

Christopher Flanagan


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