Police Chief Martinson receives congrats, travels to national meeting, is reappointed

Bismarck Police Chief Chris Martinson is generally considered to be the one who solved the crime involving the murders of seven members of the Jacob Wolf family and their hired boy. In the story accompanying Henry Layer’s confession, The Bismarck Tribune reported:

“The solution of the mystery, which had been baffling the authorities, handicapped as they were because no clue had been left by the murderer and two days had elapsed between the time the murders were committed and the bodies were found, was in a large measure due to Chris Martineson, chief of the Bismarck police department, who has been working on the case together with Sheriff Ole Stefford (sic) of McLean County constantly since the murders were discovered. Chief Martineson was the first to suspect the guilty man, who was finally arrested Tuesday and by more than eight hours of continuous examination last night, forced the confession from him.”

In a story the next day, the Tribune quoted from a statement by John Williams, state’s attorney for McLean County:

“Chief Martineson deserves all of the credit possible in the solution of this terrible mystery. Without his keen judgment and marvelous intuition, neither Sheriff Stefferud or myself would have been able to bring Layer to justice so quickly. Martineson has made a splendid record in this case and deserves the thanks not only of the residents of McLean county, but of the entire state as well.”

In June of 1920, two months after the murders, Martinson attended the International Association of Police Chiefs in Detroit, Michigan. After the convention, he was asked to provide a complete history of the case for the New York police history of crimes of the country. The story below is from The Bismarck Tribune.


The following story, also from The Bismarck Tribune, Saturday, April 29, 1933, reports that Chief Martinson has been reappointed chief of police for Bismarck. The story lists seven major crimes that he either conducted or assisted in, including “Murder of Wolf family of eight members by Henry Layer near Turtle Lake.


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