Memorial to James Roche

End of Watch: June 30, 1962
Rank: Detective Sergeant   Badge No. N/A
Age: 52   Years of Service: 20 years
Location of Death:  U.S. Capitol
Duty Assignment:  U.S. Capitol Detail



Detective Sergeant James Roche suffered a fatal heart attack as he and other officers attempted to control a crazed who had entered the United States Capitol without permission.

Detective Sergeant Roche was a native of Newtownbarry, in Ireland’s County Wexford, but had lived in this country since 1929. He arrived in Washington in 1935 and after serving in the U.S. Army he became a policeman in September 1941. He had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for 20 years, mostly assigned to the Robbery Squad. He had been on a temporary protective assignment at the U.S. Capitol for six months at the time of his death. During his career he received 43 commendations. He was survived by his wife and young daughter. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.


Two Charged With Operating Numbers Racket in Hospital

Nothing like playing a few numbers to take your mind off a broken leg. Or maybe a healing scalpel wound. And, police claim, this was just the idea which occurred to Roy T. Horne, 41, and Herman B. Harris, 30, employees at Freedman’s Hospital.

Police arrested the pair yesterday and charged them with conducting a lottery headquarters in the hospital storeroom.

Inspector Tipped Off

Inspector Oscar J. Letterman said he had been tipped off that number’s slips were being sold in the hospital. Through the cooperation of the hospital, police placed an undercover man in the institution, and he gathered sufficient evidence to obtain warrants for the arrest of Horne and Harris.

Horne is employed in the hospital storeroom and Harris is an attendant in the operating room. Both live at 5709 Gates St. NE. Police said $366 in cash was seized at the time of the arrest.

James Roche, plainclothesman who figured in the arrests, rounded up another alleged numbers peddler while taking Horne and Harris to the 13th precinct. He spotted Leroy Brockmond, 33, of 938 T St. NW, with his foot on the running board of a truck in the 800 block of V St. NW.

“What you doing, boy?” asked Roche after stopping his car.

“I’m writing a single action play,” the grinning and unsuspecting Brockmond told Roche, according to police.

He joined Horne and Harris in the car.

All three, charged with operating a lottery and possession of lottery slips, were arraigned before U.S. Commissioner Needham C. Turnage.

The case of Horne and Harris was continued until Friday and they were released in $1500 bond each. Brockmond was held in $1500 bond for action by the grand jury.


Caught In a Raid, Suspect Blames Friday the 13th.

Bernard Dunham, 26, of 921 Golden St. NW, told police he knew he should have “stood in bed” on Friday, the 13th. Detective James Roche and Robert Weaver armed with a warrant arrested him when he answered their ring on his doorbell.

Dunham, along with Carey Weaver (no relation), 58, and Theresa L. Davis, 21, all of the Golden St. address, were taken to the stationhouse, charged with operating an illegal lottery and possession of numbers slips. All were released under $5000 bond for a hearing today before United States Commissioner Needham C. Turnage.

In a second gambling raid, yesterday, Annie West, 40, of 935 ½ F St. NW, was similarly arrested, charged and released for a hearing today.



Police Arrest Woman Holding Policy Numbers in Clothing

A District woman got caught with padding in her brassiere and panties yesterday.

It’s not against the law, but police take a dim view of the practice when the padding is done with numbers slips.

Detective James Roche and R.D. Weaver of the antigambling squad have been suspicious of Mrs. Geraldine Chapman, 49, of 112 H St. SW, for more than a month.

Mrs. Chapman had no numbers slips—showing. So, they took her to the Fourth Precinct station and called for assistance from the Women’s Bureau. Policewoman Rose Richards searched Mrs. Chapman and found the hidden slips.

Mrs. Chapman was released in $1500 bond after being charged with operating a lottery and possession of lottery slips. She will be arraigned before United States Commissioner Needham C. Turnage tomorrow.

Roche and Weaver made a second numbers arrest after that……..and did not need the services of a policewoman. They arrested Thomas A. King, 41, of 481 G St. SW, in the 1600 block of C St. se and charged him with operating and possession. He was released in $1500 bond pending appearance before Turnage tomorrow.



Robbery Suspects Arrested In 2 Minutes; Convicted in One

The police were fast, but the jury proved faster.

Two minutes after the Greystone Cleaners, 1314 21st St. NW. was held up and robbed of $87 on January 24, police arrested Jack H. Schowers, 31, of 1015 3rd St. NE, and Raymond Thomas, 31, of 1605 7th St. NW.

Less than one minute after a District Court jury received the case against Schowers and Thomas, the jury members returned to court with a verdict convicting both men.

During the trial, Robbery Squad Detectives James Roche and Thomas A. Herlihy testified they were in the neighborhood when the call came over the police radio that the cleaning establishment had just been robbed. The detectives walked into the store, got description of the suspects and flashed it over the air. A police scout car two blocks away spotted the men and arrested them.

Assistant United States Attorney B. Michael Landesman said a witness incriminated Thomas and Schowers signed a written confession.




A 24-year-old gunman identified as the same man who held up a Fairfax County minister last week was shot to death here late yesterday by a Metropolitan Police robbery squad detective.

He was shot as he reached for a gun when police attempted to arrest him in front of 1315 Park Road NW, shortly after 6 p.m., detectives said.

The gunman was identified from his auto registration card as Joseph Henry Woodworth, of Pawtucket, R.I.

Woodworth was killed instantly by a single shot fired by Detective Sergeant. Thomas J. Herlihy
at close range as Herlihy grappled with the gunman, Inspector Aubrey Tolson, assistant chief of detectives, reported.

Tolson said the slain gunman was the same man who held up the Rev. Newton Gordon Cosby, his wife and another Fairfax couple in their Mount Vernon (Va.) homes on two separate occasions last week.

Dr. Cosby’s watch, bearing his initials, was found strapped to the wrist of the dead man, police said. The minister later positively identified Woodworth as the holdup man.

Herlihy said just before the shooting, which came after Woodworth attempted to escape from a parked automobile in which police trapped him, the gunman warned him:

“I can get you just as quick as you can get me.”

With that, Herlihy said, Woodworth slid out from under the wheel of the car and jumped out through the right door.

Herlihy raced around the front of the car and wrestled with the gunman briefly, during which time, Herlihy said, he felt the “bulge” of a revolver in Woodworth’s pocket.

When Woodworth tried to draw his gun during the struggle, Herlihy said, he pulled his own gun and fired.

The bullet struck Woodworth under the left arm and pierced his chest, police said.

A search of the fallen gunman revealed a fully loaded .32 caliber nickel-plated revolver in his trousers’ pocket.

Police late last night disclosed that Woodworth was an Army veteran and that his discharge papers showed that he was bounced out of the Army for “bad conduct.”

They did not disclose the date nor the Army post issuing the discharge.

Fairfax County police revealed that the license numbers to Woodworth’s automobile were picked up during a routine check on the night of May 5 when the empty auto was spotted in a wooded area near Mount Vernon.

The automobile from which Woodworth attempted to escape bore the same Rhode Island license plates, Q-6470, listed by Fairfax County police in their lookout following the two robberies.

Police said that Dr. Crosby tried for four hours Wednesday night to dissuade the gunman from robbing him in the study of his home in Mount Vernon.

Description of the gunman and his automobile was given to police early Saturday by Mr and Mrs. Barney Gollinger who reported they were robbed after also pleading unsuccessfully with the holdup man for five hours in their home Friday night.

Dr Crosby, pastor of the Church of Our Savior Ecumenical, 2025 Massachusetts Ave. NW, viewed the gunman’s body last night at the District Morgue and positively identified him as the man who robbed him of his watch and $15.

Gollinger backed up the identification after also viewing the body. Gollinger, police said, identified a pair of cufflinks worn by the dead man as those Woodworth took from him Friday night.

Gollinger said that after he and his wife begged Woodworth to reform, he drove Woodworth to his automobile in the belief that their pleas had worked.

Dr Cosby said that he had sought to counsel Woodworth Wednesday night and that Woodworth departed telling him, “Maybe I’ll do what you say.”

Police said the gunman’s automobile, which also matched the description put out by Fairfax authorities, was spotted about 4:20 p.m. yesterday by three Tenth Precinct policeman.

When they noted the empty automobile, parked in front of 1315 Park Road NW, carried the wanted license plates, Pvts. W.O. Edwards, Bernard J. Beckmann and H.F. Bader reported it to the robbery squad.

Detective Sergeants James Roche and Herlihy “staked out” the parked car from a position in a police cruiser half a block away.

Herlihy said that Woodworth approached the automobile shortly after 6 p.m., walked by casually, then turned and entered on the right side.

As Roche waited in a nearby fire department station, Herlihy drove up to the gunman’s car. When he approached the driver’s side, Woodworth then made his threat to shoot and jumped out, Herlihy reported.

In line with police procedure, Herlihy was placed technically in the custody of his commanding officer, Capt. Richard F. McCarty, head of the robbery squad, pending a coroner’s inquest into the shooting.

Police early today were still seeking to locate a Washington address for Woodworth.

They reported that a search of his automobile revealed several shotgun shells and two pocketsize books entitled, “Gunflame” and “Trigger Vengeance.”

In the bizarre holdup of Dr. Cosby and his wife last week, Dr Cosby said Woodworth portrayed himself as an embittered Army veteran.

He said Woodworth talked about an “unjustified” Army court-martial and a year spent in jail awaiting a “break” that never came.

Dr Cosby, a 36-year-old wartime chaplain with the famed 101st Airborne Division, told police in reporting the robbery that he tried to convince the gunman that “the trouble he had encountered did not lie with society and the people around him but within his own soul.”





A 13-year-old boy has been charged with three counts of robbery in a purse-snatching spree which netted loot ranging from $1 to $130, detectives reported yesterday.

The youngster, arrested on description by Detective Sergeants James Roche and Thomas Herlihy, of the robbery squad, admitted grabbing three purses between June 29 and last Tuesday, all in the vicinity of Union Station, investigators said.




Boy Sleuths Get Their Man-Twice

Under some frantic last-quarter coaching by a couple of professionals, a trio of teenaged amateur sleuths early yesterday brought to book a real-life robbery suspect they had been using mostly for practice.

At the conclusion of the weird case, 21-year-old Donald M. Satterwhite, of Laystonville, Md., found himself in jail under $5000 bond pending grand jury action on a robbery charge.

Police said the victim was T/Sgt. James Pyles, 41, of Andrew Air Force Base. He said he was walking in the 700 block of 11th St. NW. about midnight when he was grabbed from behind by a man who wrestled him to the pavement and ran off with his wallet.

Alex A. Alexander, 16, of 1752 N. Troy St., Arlington; John S. Hackler, also 16, of Bowie, Md., and Harry L. Lane, 17, of 2712 Wisconsin Ave. NW, saw the attack and gave chase. They told police Satterwhite eluded them temporarily, so they went back to see what they could do for the sergeant. He told them about his missing wallet, so they resumed their hunt for his attacker.

Finding him, they ran him down and while two of the youngsters held him, the third retrieved– the wrong wallet.

The sergeant pointed out their mistake, so they overtook Satterwhite again and repeated the process, coming up this time with a wallet the sergeant was able to identify as his. Pyles and the trio of wallet-retrievers reported the incident to police at the Greyhound Bus terminal and Robbery Squad Detective Sgts. Frank Innocenti and James Roche were on the scene in a tinkling, chiding the youngsters for the fatal flaw in their policemanship.

“You’re not very good policemen,” Innocenti said, “why didn’t you hold on to him when you had him.”

Alexander replied, “Okay, you still want him–here he comes through the door.”

Detective Roche made the arrest, approaching Satterwhite quietly from behind. Police later disclosed with no enthusiasm at all that they had released the same suspect earlier in the evening after investigating his connection with a street fight.




Detective Sergeant Roche Of Police Department.

A fatal heart attack, suffered Friday while he was helping fellow policemen control a berserk Capitol Hill visitor, closed out the 20-year Metropolitan Police career of Det. Sgt. James Roche early yesterday.

The 52-year- old detective, who spent most of his police days with the Robbery Squad, amassed 43 commendations in the course of a career which had called on him often to cope with violence.

Det. Roche was a native of Newtownbarry, in Ireland’s County Wexford, but had lived in this country since 1929. He arrived in Washington in 1935 and after stints in the Army and with the Potomac Electric Power Co. He signed up as a policeman in September 1941.

He became a precinct detective five years later and was promoted to sergeant in 1948. With the exception of three months of Vice Squad service, Det. Roche served with the Robbery Squad until his transfer in January of this year to special duty at the United States Capitol.

His brief service with the Vice Squad nearly blighted an otherwise brilliant record. He was caught up in a police brutality probe in January 1949, but the grand jury refused to indict him, and a Trial Board exonerated him of charges that he had absented himself without leave from a Municipal Court trial of a case out of which had grown the brutality investigation.

In addition to his numerous other commendations for police work above and beyond the call of duty (including the arrests of two murder suspects), Det. Roche also held the Award of Merit for extraordinary judgement and initiative which led to the arrest of a holdup man in September 1950, while the suspect was fleeing the scene of the robbery.

Det. Roche made his home at 2826 University Terr. NW, with his wife, Helen, who survives him.




Keating Lauds Detective Who Died in Capitol Row

Sen. Kenneth B. Keating (R-N.Y.) Yesterday paid tribute in the senate to the “outstanding courage” and dedication of Det. Sgt. James Roche, 52, of the Metropolitan Police Department who suffered a fatal heart attack Friday night helping subdue a berserk man at the Capitol.

Keating said he has had personal knowledge of Sgt. Roche’s courage since an event a year ago. The police officer, on special duty at the Capitol, took a foot-long stiletto away from a deranged constituent who came to the Capitol for the purpose of doing away with Keating, the senator said.

Keating said he was “disturbed and sorrowed” by Sgt. Roche’s death, which occurred about six hours after he and five other policemen subdued the Capitol intruder on Friday.