Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Conservation Officer James Pitzer was shot and killed while investigating two men who were illegally hunting rabbit in eastern Jay County.
One of the men was a recent parolee and feared he would be sent back to prison. He then shot and killed Conservation Officer Pitzer, who died instantly from a single shotgun blast which struck him in the head.
Conservation Officer Pitzer's .38-caliber service revolver had been ripped from its holster and was not found at the scene, although there was no indication of a robbery.
The 52-year-old suspect had previously been sentenced to life for murder but had escaped from prison and was free for over five years. After being captured in Kentucky and extradited, he served a total of 25½ years before he was paroled.
He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison where he died in 1972. The 18-year-old suspect was exonerated by a grand jury.
Conservation Officer Pitzer was survived by his wife, son, daughter, three brothers, two sisters and mother.
The responsibilities of the Indiana Department of Conservation (1919–1965) are now under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.