Slaying of Augusta Police Department officer still unsolved

Investigators to take fresh look at 1958 cold case
Augusta Police Department Officer Frank Henderson Wall Jr. was gunned down Nov. 18, 1958. This photo was taken that summer, on Monte Sano Avenue.

 

Frank Henderson Wall Jr. was cruising his police motorcycle eastbound along Walton Way when the fateful call came across the radio.

On a cloudy, unseasonably warm No­vem­ber night, dispatch called for all cars to be on the lookout for a black-and-white Chevrolet, suspected to have been stolen on Monte Sano Avenue by a gunman who minutes earlier robbed Sheehan’s package shop on Wrightsboro Road.

Shortly after 8 p.m. Nov. 18, 1958, Wall stopped a vehicle in the 1300 block of Walton Way. Growing suspicious, the Augusta Police De­­part­ment patrolman drew his weapon from his holster. He barely had time to dismount his bike when the assailant emerged from the car firing a .32-caliber pistol.

Six shots rang out. Wall fell to the ground critically wounded.

The 33-year-old husband and father of three sons was taken to University Hospital, where he died two hours later, according to The Augusta Chronicle archives.

His slaying is the lone unsolved death of an Augusta-area law enforcement officer. Thirty-eight officers from Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties have been killed in the line of duty.

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree said earlier this month that he is asking investigators to reopen the cold case.

He acknowledged that finding any new leads on a nearly 55-year-old slaying is not likely but said taking another look at the file is a duty owed to Wall’s family and the community.

“It’s a shot in the dark. We know that,” he said. “Because it’s a fallen officer, it’s worth that shot.”

Accounts from the time say Wall recognized his killer but that the identity went with him when he died.

In a 1963 Chronicle story, Officer Thad Cal­houn recalled Wall saying in the emergency room: “I know that face, lieutenant. I’ll bet I’ve seen it a thousand times but I just don’t know his name. It’ll come to me in a minute, just give me a minute.”

In the immediate days after Wall’s slaying, little evidence emerged and police pushed the public to help find the killer. Detective Chief Bill Terry led investigators tracking hundreds of tips and interviewing at least 70 suspects without finding the killer.

Then, on Oct. 7, 1963, police charged Richard Hogan, a 30-year-old patient of the Len­wood Divi­sion of the Veterans Administration Hospital, in Wall’s death.

Hogan maintained his innocence and traced his whereabouts on the night of the slaying under oath.

Hogan and some others said there was a conspiracy to convict him. Hogan accused investigators of manufacturing evidence.

Hogan was found guilty by a jury March 5, 1964.

“They have put me in the vicinity of the crime but haven’t been able to prove I had anything to do with it,” Hogan said at a hearing.

Hogan’s lawyers, Franklin Pierce and Bill Fleming, appealed to the Georgia Su­preme Court. Hogan got a new trial and was acquitted.

When Hogan was released in the summer of 1965, Terry said he had no plans to pursue a new investigation into the slaying. The case went cold.

Roundtree learned about Wall’s case weeks ago when he was preparing for a May 15 luncheon honoring fallen officers on Peace Officer Memorial Day.

Investigators were tasked with locating Wall’s file, but Roundtree did not know whether it could be located. Many files before 1970 were lost in a flood.

Advancements in technologies that test blood, hair, DNA and ballistics can help solve a cold case, Roundtree said. Additionally, witnesses reluctant to speak might finally come forward.

November 19, 1958 Chronicle front page covering the shooting of Deputy Wall

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