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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Our History

John Van Waters

Name:  John Van Waters

Date of Birth: 1876

Date of Death: 10/05/1922

Location of Death: Dade City, Florida

 

 

CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH

Prohibition Agent John Waters and Deputy Sheriff Arthur Crenshaw departed Dade City, FL, to conduct an investigation of an illicit distillery operating on a nearby farm.  Sometime later, their bullet-riddled bodies were found inside their Government automobile on a road near that farm. A thorough investigation by prohibition agents and Sheriff Sturkie identified the likely killers as members of the Overstreet Gang. Four members of the gang were later indicted for the murders of Agent Waters and Deputy Crenshaw, but at trial all were found not guilty.

However, according to local news accounts of the day, a different sort of justice prevailed.  Not long after the acquittal, a friend of slain Deputy Crenshaw drove into town with the dead bodies of two suspects in the back of his pick-up truck; which he deposited in the middle of the street.  He reported that they had tried to ambush him.  That friend was never charged.  A short time later, the other two suspects were shot and killed by Deputy Sheriff C. C. Waler as they approached a moonshine still.

BACKGROUND

Agent Waters joined the Prohibition Unit on 9/14/1922, with an annual salary of $1,800.  He was killed less than one month after joining the Prohibition Unit. Previously, he served as a Deputy U. S. Marshal.

PERSONAL

Agent Waters was born in Quitman, GA.  He was survived by his wife, Ellen and their five daughters; Grace, Nell, Alma, Leslie and Emma.

RESOURCES