In 158 years, 4 law enforcement officers have died on duty in Mason Co

September 13, 2013


Mason County has been in existence since 1855. In that time, four law enforcement officers have died while on duty in the county. They include Ludington Police Officer Arlo Slagle, Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy Max Leonard Altman, Manistee County Sheriff’s Deputy Robin Ann Arnold and, just this week, Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield.

– Patrolman Slagle was shot and killed when he and two other officers responded to a report of a disturbance at The Grand tavern on South Rath Avenue on July 20, 1958. Two men, Charles Hanna and Benjamin Davis, both of Chicago, were attempting to force a waitress to leave with them. The two appeared to be leaving peacefully when told to do so by the officers. Then, Hanna produced a pistol and shot Patrolman Slagle. Hanna fled amid shots from the other officers, Davis surrendered at the scene.

Hanna was captured three days later in Valdosta, Georgia. He was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison on October 17, 1958. He was released from prison on December 1, 1966.

Slagle, a Korean War veteran, was 27-years-old. He left behind a wife, son and daughter. The former Ludington Police Station, located on the southwest corner of Rath Avenue and Loomis Street (now the location of West Shore Bank) was named in honor of Slagle. His son, Duane, later went on to become mayor of Scottville.

Altman – Deputy Max Leonard Altman was killed on March 12, 1966, after he was struck and killed by a vehicle while manning a roadblock at the intersection of U.S. 31 (now Pere Marquette Highway) and U.S. 10 in Pere Marquette Township. The vehicle that struck him was fleeing from other police units.

Deputy Altman, who was 32-years-old, had only served with the sheriff’s office for 3 months. He was survived by his wife and three children. He also was a veteran.



– Detective Deputy Robin Arnold was 38-years-old when she was killed in an accident Feb. 4, 1994. Arnold was returning from a training when her cruiser struck another vehicle on an ice covered North Quarterline Road in Grant Township. She was survived by her husband and two step-sons.



– Trooper Paul Butterfield, 43, was murdered Sept. 9, 2013, during a routine traffic stop on North Custer Road in Free Soil Township. He was engaged to be married. The suspect, Eric Knysz, 19, of Luther, is expected to be arraigned today in 79th District Court on multiple charges, including homicide. The murder suspect’s wife, Sara Knysz, 20, has been charged with accessory to murder and unlawfully driving away an automobile.


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