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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Our History

William John Sheehan

Name:  William John Sheehan

Date of Birth: 1900

Date of Death: 06/02/1955

Location of Death: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH

Special Agent William Sheehan was traveling from Chicago to Milwaukee in his government vehicle on official business.  When he did not arrive in Milwaukee as scheduled, a massive search was undertaken by agents and local police. Three days later, Agent Sheehan was found dead inside his vehicle in South Milwaukee, WI.  His death was attributed to a pulmonary embolism.

BACKGROUND

Agent Sheehan joined the Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU) on 7/1/1936, and assigned to the Chicago Field Division.  During his career, Agent Sheehan gained significant prominence as a handwriting and fingerprint expert.  Later, he was appointed as the agent in charge of the Chicago fingerprint section.   He worked on many locally famous cases of the day, including several major narcotic cases, in which he matched latent fingerprints from envelopes and containers with prominent suspects.  A relatively new law enforcement technique at the time.

One of his most famous handwriting cases involved the case of Eugene Sullivan, who was falsely accused and convicted of robbing the Northern Indiana Public Service Company.  Mr. Sullivan spent nine years in jail before the investigation by Judge William Murray and the examination by Agent Sheehan proved that he was innocent.  As a result, Mr. Sullivan was released from prison. During his career, Agent Sheehan received numerous letters of commendation and appreciation from other law enforcement agencies for his professionalism and expertise. Agent Sheehan received his LLB from San Francisco Law College (1923) and worked for several different government agencies before joining ATU.

PERSONAL

Agent Sheehan was born in San Francisco, CA.  He was single and survived by two sisters, Mary Sheehan and Catherine MacLachlan.