May 2, 2013 — On a beautiful day in early May dozens of current and retired Wilmington Police Officers gathered in Cathedral Cemetery to pay their respects to an officer who was murdered in the line of duty 122-years-ago. They stood in a lonely corner of the burial ground, the potter’s field, near an unmarked grave where Patrolman Charles W. Schultz had been laid to rest in 1891. While the tragic death caused a sensation at the time, the loss of the lawman was soon forgotten after he was lowered into his grave as memory faded into the mist of time.
But recently a retired member of the force, Layman Grant, picked up some research I had done on the overlooked crime, taking an interest in seeing that one of their own was properly memorialized. The remembrance of the public servant and the dedication of a headstone was completed today.
Mournful notes from police bagpipes opened the service. After welcoming guests and providing a narrative about the tragedy, Layman Grant, the master of ceremonies noted the words of the loss in 1891 “still echo today.” The officer’s case was never solved. “Officer Schultz, along with nine other officers remain on patrol in the city of Wilmington. We honor Officer Schultz as we honor all our fallen brothers and sisters of Wilmington during this memorial.”
After additional remarks by the chief, chaplains, and others the honor guard aimed into the air firing a 21-gun salute as the sad notes of taps sounded over the cemetery on this sunny Thursday in mid-spring. Then a dispatcher’s voice crackled over the police radio with the final call, a law enforcement tradition. “10-4 Officer Charles Schultz you are out of service at 11:59 hours on January 30, 1891.” With the dispatcher’s voice fading, a police siren, somewhere off in the distance, broke the silence as the men and women of WPD reflected on the sacrifice of their slain comrade.
Thank you Wilmington PD retirees and current officer for making sure this public servant will never be forgotten.