This Portland cop’s murder was never solved

Michael T. Connolly
Died 1930 at age 49

Greetings from Portland. Sweater weather is here. Every day this month I’m telling a story that bridges the gap between this world, and the next. I’m resurrecting the memory of Portlanders who’ve crossed over to the other side by posting one video each day, relating the tale of one, interesting “permanent Portlander.”

In the 168-year history of the Portland Police Department, only two cops have been killed on the job. One of them was Michael T. Connolly and his killer was never brought to justice.

His body was found in the sand below Fort Allen Park on the morning August 15, 1930. His hands were bound behind his back in his own handcuffs. His service revolver was in his right front pants pocket, though he was left handed and wore his holster on the other side. The coroner ruled his death a drowning.

Connolly was a native of County Galway, Ireland, and left behind a wife and five children.

These were the days of prohibition. The most likely theory — of many that were thrown around back then — was that he interrupted bootleggers rowing illegal booze ashore while making his rounds on foot. The night was foggy and the tide was high, ideal conditions for that kind of thing.

Connolly’s badge number was 71. Nobody’s worn it since then.

Today’s story is brought to you, in part, by Matthew Jude Barker and his amazingly researched Maine Irish Heritage Trail, along with an exhaustive piece written by Suzan Roberts Norton for her blog Likes2Write.

Disclaimer: I’m not a historian. I owe everything I know to the dedicated research of those who have come before me. These character sketches are assembled from multiple (often antique) sources and sprinkled with my own conjecture. I’m happy to be set straight or to learn more.

In the 168-year history of the Portland Police Department, only two cops have been killed on the job. One of them was Michael T. Connolly and his killer was never brought to justice. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

In the 168-year history of the Portland Police Department, only two cops have been killed on the job. One of them was Michael T. Connolly, buried in South Portland’s Calvary Cemetery. His killer was never brought to justice. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Troy R. Bennett

About Troy R. Bennett

Troy R. Bennett is a Buxton native and longtime Portland resident whose photojournalism has appeared in media outlets all over the world.