East Liverpool Historical Society

Officer Joe Mumford

One of the East Liverpool Police Department's own special officers was shot to death Nov. 16, 1956, by a jealous steel mill clerk who also wounded his girlfriend waitress.

Joseph Mumford was slain while on duty but drinking coffee in a McDonald St. home about 3:30 a.m. Seriously wounded was 18-year-old Ina Danner who rented a room in the home.

Taken into custody was Raymond Porter, 21, of W. Drury Lane who was found by police officers kneeling over his wounded girlfriend in the dining room. He was charged with firing nine shots from a .45 caliber automatic pistol -- six hitting Mumford and one striking Danner.

Mumford, 26, of W. Fourth St., father of three children, had been a part-time special patrolman since spring. He was a salesman for a used car lot on Broadway. At one time he had worked as a classified ad salesman for The Review.

The diminutive, brown-haired Danner was a waitress at the Instant Lunch opposite City Hall, frequented by police officers, and Mumford became acquainted with her there.

MUMFORD HAD PAID some modest attentions to Danner, walking her home from work at the end of her late shift, stirring Porters resentment. The latter had even telephoned Mumford's wife, telling her of husband's actions.

The officers presence at the home is unclear, although one fellow lawman said Mumford had approval from headquarters to be there during his coffee break. He was on foot patrol in the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, and apparently drove to McDonald St. in a dealer's car, after working some duty calls with Lt. John Russell.

Danner later testified she had gone to the used car lot in the evening, and talked to Mumford, inviting him during his break to have coffee with her at Mrs. Geraldine Young's house where she rented.

After the shooting, Mrs. Young immediately telephoned police, and Patrolman Charles Winters received the call at headquarters. He dispatched Patrolman Tom Walker who was at City Hospital where he had taken a woman hurt in a fall.

Walker found Porter bending over the wounded woman on the floor leaning against at wall. Mumford lay on the floor. Because the cradle telephone was broken, Walker went out to the cruiser to summon an ambulance and the Coroner.

When the officer returned, Porter was in the middle of the room, and as Walker went to comfort Mrs. Danner, Porter came toward him. Walker pushed him away, then struck him with his flexible blackjack. Porter quieted down, but when Walker went to place handcuffs on him, the suspect vehemently refused to allow him -"You can kill me but you'll never put them on," he shouted.

Walker sat him in a chair and went back to the cruiser to check on the ambulance. After he returned to calm the woman, Porter got up and started breaking things in the room. Walker said he ordered him to stop, but Porter came after him, and struck him on the head with Mumford's flashlight.

As the two struggled, Special Officer Paul Burson arrived, and pointed his gun at the suspect, warning he would shoot. Porter paid little attention, so Walker, who had brought a billy club from the cruiser, struck him on the head. The two then cuffed him and took him to jail.

The red and black Plymouth dealer's sedan Mumford drove was parked outside. Police said they assumed the officer had answered a summons to the home because "the women had threatened to call police when Porter was there earlier."

Mrs. Young indicated she had not telephoned, but Ina may have called from an upstairs phone.

Porter pleaded innocent to first degree murder at a five-minute arraignment before Municipal Judge George Brokaw. Although Ohio law provided for a specific charge for murdering a law officer in line of duty, with the death penalty mandatory, Porter was charged only with regular first degree murder for which law did not permit bond.

The city's police placed black mourning bands on the arms of their uniforms, and six officers were pallbearers for his services at the Dawson Funeral Home.

PORTER'S TRIAL began May 1,1957, at Lisbon with the defense claiming he was not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, that he had suffered a "mental lapse" when he shot the officer in jealousy.

A native of New Cumberland where he was an exceptional but solitary student, Porter had served in the Army where he was treated for psychiatric problems in Europe and in the states. He was judged borderline psychotic, and given a general discharge.

He attended Ohio Valley Business College for a while, then obtained a clerk job at Crucible Steel's accounting office in Midland.

Danner, a native of San Jose, Calif., and her husband had split up in Kansas City in 1956, and she came to East Liverpool where a sister lived. She met Porter at the restaurant, and began dating him.

The two made plans for marriage after her divorce, but arguments developed, one over an engagement ring, and she finally refused to see him. Porter became depressed, defense Counsel Sam Chertoff told the jury.

Mumford, who generally worked the overnight shift., was often a customer at the Instant Lunch where he became friendly with Danner. In Prosecutor William Brokaw's opening statement, he said Mumford had walked her home a few times when she lived near the YMCA, and had been at least once to the home on McDonald St.

Danner testified Mumford told her he was not married, and suggested that she telephone his home and ask. She said she did so, several times, and the woman who answered said she was not "Mrs. Mumford."

But Mumford's widow later testified her aunt and sister answered the phone on three occasions when a woman called asking the question, then hung up.

The day before the slaying was pay day at Crucible, and Porter went to work at the Midland plant. He quarreled with a supervisor about having been absent, obtained his check and returned to East Liverpool.

Cashing the check, he had drinks at a Sixth St. bar then at a Third St. restaurant, Brokaw said. Here he met a friend, Cliff Humphrey, who was "pretty well intoxicated." Humphrey was told of the split with Ina, and he drove Porter to the Young home to try a reconciliation. Mrs. Young told him to leave or she would call police.

Ten minutes later, Humphrey phoned Ina, and she refused to reconciliation or an apology. She also apparently told him Mumford was coming to the house.

Cliff Humphrey then drove to near Porter's home, parked and fell asleep. Porter went into his house, picked up his pistol and a clip and went back to the car. He had Humphrey drive him back to McDonald St., removed his shoes so as not to alert Mumford, and went to the rear of the home.

Inside Mumford and Danner were at the dining room table with their coffees. Mrs. Young was sweeping up petals from roses Porter had sent two days before. Porter, outside, took aim through a rear window fired at Mumford, the first bullet splintering the handle of Mrs. Young's broom.

He fired two more times through the window, hitting his target. The wounded officer rose from the table, drawing his weapon and starting through the archway into the living room, but collapsed face down on the floor.

Porter then went to the front of the house, shot three times through the door's glass pane, and smashed his way inside, firing more three bullets. One hit Danner, and the rest struck the officer, one reportedly glancing off a pen in his pocket.

Porter later told police, "I wanted to make sure he was dead." Mumford's .38 caliber revolver lay on the floor fully loaded.

DANNER, LYING near the front door, was struck in the right abdomen, the slug passing through the stomach and lower intestines, exiting from the lower back. She remained in "critical" condition at City Hospital for several days.

She told the jury that Mumford had taken off his jacket when he arrived. (William Devon, then a Patrolman, recalled that it was his -- Devon's jacket, and it was riddled with bullet holes. He lent it earlier to the special officer when he came to duty on the cold evening without a coat.)

A ten-page statement signed by Porter was admitted as evidence, and he spent two and half hours on the witness stand, declaring he had been drinking and remembered nothing about the shooting.

Porter's statement had been written down by Lt. Charles Kidd about four and half hours after the shooting. When Lt. Kidd began asking the suspect clarifying questions, Porter declared he would not sign the statement if more questions were asked. Lt. Kidd stopped, and the suspect signed the papers "voluntarily."

While sitting at the defense table prior to his testimony, Porter became angry when Assistant Prosecutor Warren Bettis aggressively cross-examined his mother.

During her examination by defense counsel Chertoff, she told of her son's "spoiled" childhood, his day-dreaming, his lack of friends and his breaking things. She said she was advised of his conduct by Army psychiatrists, and she kept knives and forks hidden from him.

When Bettis asked Mrs. Porter, "How many times have you gone over this story with Mr. Chertoff?" the defendant jumped to his feet, grabbed his heavy wooden chair with one hand and threw it almost overhand at the startled Bettis.

I covered the trial as a Review reporter, and was taken by surprise when Porter, his face livid, hurled the chair which struck the floor at the Prosecutor's feet, as a deputy and defense lawyer seized the prisoner.

Mrs. Porter denied talking to Chertoff, adding she was glad that he was their lawyer.

Testimony was read from Dr. R. E. Bushong, psychiatrist at Toledo State Hospital and former chief of Lima State Hospital where Porter had been taken for a two- month mental evaluation after the killing. Dr. Bushong was ill, and his deposition was taken by a court reporter during a one-day recess of the trial.

The defendant, in Dr. Bushong's opinion, was mentally ill, displaying schizophrenic tendencies before and after the crime. He was sometimes abusive and violent with women he dated and with his own family, and had twice tried to commit suicide, Dr. Bushong said.

Another dramatic moment came when the slain officer's widow spent six minutes on the stand telling of a telephone call from an unidentified man who told said her husband was walking Ina Danner home from the Instant Lunch. Mrs. Mumford, dressed in black, carried their 11-month old blonde daughter into the room. While testifying she turned the child over to Patrolman Walker, friend of Mumford who accompanied her to Lisbon.

After the state rested its case, Atty. Chertoff asked for a dismissal of the indictment, saying no ballistics tests were taken to link the weapon to the death. Judge Raymond Buzzard said Porter's own account and the testimony from Mrs. Young indicated the pistol was the weapon.

THE DEFENSE pointed to Dr. Bushong's opinions on Porter's mental condition, along with testimony by Dr. R. M. Croissant of Lima State Hospital who also examined the defendant.

Dr. Croissant said Porter was very immature when he went into the Army, and showed emotional disturbance, was unable to evaluate reality. "He had been generally unhappy since his father returned from the service. He had delusions people were against him, and had auditory and visual hallucinations."

Brokaw asked, "Would you say Porter knew right from wrong on Nov. 16?" The doctor said his ability to recognize right from wrong was seriously impaired, "but we physicians don't concern ourselves with moral principles such as these, we deal more with methods and treating long-standing attitudes."

Porter on the stand swung back and forth in his chair, some times flip and sarcastic, other times seemingly remorseful and close to years. He declared he did not remember anything from the time he left the Naples Restaurant until he read of his indictment while in the County Jail

He recounted his Army hospitalizations at Camp Breckenridge, Ky., Ft. Stevens, Mass., Stuttgart and Frankfurt, Germany, and Valley Forge, Pa.

Porter described his relationship with Ina, meeting her at the Coffee Shop, going steady, planning marriage. They had "intimate relations," and at one time she told him( she was-pregnant, then-denied it.

He said he saw her "holding hands" with Mumford, and followed them one night to the McDonald St. house. A few nights before the shooting he said he met them on Sixth St. and tried to talk to Ina. He said he "slapped her," then "Joe butted in."

Porter said he asked Mumford if he wanted to fight, and the officer replied, "As long as I have this badge and gun, don't bother me, sonny boy."

Prosecutor Brokaw pressed the defendant on cross-examination, asking him if he knew what a "gold brick" is, suggesting he didn't like to work, shirked hard jobs, played hookey from school.

Brokaw questioned him about his suicide attempts. "You didn't try very hard." Porter replied, "Give me a .45 and I'll blow my brains out in front of you." As for his forgetting the shooting, Brokaw asked, "Do you remember the gun?" Porter answered, "I didn't see it -- I own a .45 though."

Brokaw replied, "Oh, I'm not going to show it to you; you'll just put on another show for us."

"Do you think it was right," Brokaw demanded, "for you to sneak up and from behind a window shoot a man, then go in and shoot him again to make sure he was dead? "What's wrong with it?" the witness replied.

"You won't answer this. You're pretty smart, you won't answer questions that will indicate you know right from wrong. You'd like to get away with this, wouldn't you?" Porter responded, "I can't answer that."

Brokaw: "Do you think you can fool this jury?" Porter: "I'm not trying to fool anybody."

On May 10 the jury of five men and seven women deliberated for two hours and 45 minutes before returning a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.

THE PANEL, HOWEVER, recommended mercy, changing the penalty from death in the electric chair to life imprisonment, subject to parole after 20 years.

His mother, barred from the courtroom during the eight-day trial because she was a defense witness, sat in the front row.

Porter sat with his head in his hand after the verdict was read. He smiled slackly when led out by Sheriff deputies.


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