The story of murder in Granger and the fitting tributes to two brave law enforcement officers

Bob Shelton

Editor’s Note: Granger Police Chief Bob Shelton graduated HPD Police Academy Class No. 70 and worked in Central Patrol, Southeast Patrol, Westside Patrol, Special Thefts and Major Offenders before retiring in July 2000. He joined the Blanco County Sheriff’s Department as an investigator and retired in June 2014 as a lieutenant. He was named chief of the Granger Police Department on Aug. 20, 2014.

One of the most cherished memories of my long law enforcement career is the early education of tradition and responsibility that each of us have to those who have gone before us.

I learned this first-hand while working as a Houston police officer and experienced the tradition we have of remembering our fallen brothers and sisters.

It is also further reinforced by the deaths of the five Dallas officers in July 2016.  I did not know in 1975 that I would be involved so closely in the remembrance of two fallen law enforcement officers that time forgot.

I started my third career in law enforcement after two retirements as chief of police in Granger, Texas, in August 2014.  This was a badly damaged police agency with a poor reputation in the community.

The 1934 Tragedy

One of the first tasks that needed my attention was transforming the police station into an operational office again. While cleaning, I noticed an old black and white photograph hanging on a back wall and it had a metal label on the frame which read, “Henry J. Lindsey, Served 16 Years as Granger City Marshal, Killed February 15, 1934.”

Since Marshall Lindsey is my direct ancestor in office, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about him and his career.  I researched his death using online resources and found that Williamson County Constable Sam Moore also was killed in Granger on the same date. I found no one in today’s city government who could explain why and how this happened.

I then contacted a local historian, Mr. Steven Raby.  He had written an article about this case in 2011 and was willing to share this story with me.

Late in 1933 Ludvik “Louis” Cernoch began bothering a local widow for some money owed to him by her deceased husband.  This was during the Great Depression and money was hard to come by.  His constant pestering finally attracted the attention of the local justice of the peace and the judge ordered Cernoch to cease his stalking of the window for this debt.

However, this did not deter this persistent stalker. Finally, on the cold winter day of February 15, 1934, the judge ordered Cernoch to appear before him in his courtroom, located in the 200 block of West Davilla Street in Granger.  Marshal Lindsey, who was said to be a large man who normally didn’t carry a sidearm, escorted Cernoch into the courtroom.

Williamson County Constable Sam Moore also was present as was his custom on court days.

Cernoch’s attitude and his utterances in court caused the judge to order him held in the city jail for three days. Marshall Lindsey was leading Cernoch out of the courtroom door and Constable Moore was following when tragedy struck.

Cernoch had served in the United States Army during World War I in France.  He had brought home a cherished war trophy – a German 9mm pistol.  It was loaded and in his jacket pocket as he was leaving the courtroom.  He pulled out the gun and opened fire on Marshal Lindsey, chasing him into the street and firing until he was down.

Cernoch then turned to engage Constable Moore, who had retreated to protect the citizens and the judge and his courtroom staff. The shooter fired several more rounds, wounding Constable Moore, who returned fire with his service pistol, a Colt .45 single-shot revolver.

Cernoch was hounded by several local citizens who had gathered and he stopped to reload his pistol.  At this point, one of these bystanders, Dan Marinets, a 14-year-old, grabbed a lead window weight off of the ground and came up behind Cernoch.

Young Marinets struck the killer on the back of his head, knocking him out.  Some men in the crowd then picked him up and locked him in the jail.

Swift Justice and Fitting Memorials

The aftermath of this scene was a terrible sight to behold. Marshal Lindsey lay dead in the street.  One of Cernoch’s shots had wounded Constable Moore, who was taken by private car to the nearest hospital in Taylor, about 15 miles away. Constable Moore succumbed to his wound later that day.

Both law enforcement officers were widely loved and their funerals drew crowds. Marshal Lindsey was interred in Granger’s city cemetery, while Constable Moore’s final resting place was a family plot in a private cemetery about five miles outside of town.

Meanwhile, Louis Cernoch was picked up by the Sheriff of Williamson County and driven to Georgetown to stand trial for the murders of Lindsey and Moore.  The trial in the district court there was held on March 12, 1934. A jury found Cernoch guilty of murder in the deaths of both Lindsey and Moore. The presiding judge ordered a death sentence to be carried out on July 17, 1934.

Mr. Raby, the historian, was able to find the return on the execution order from the warden of the Huntsville Prison System. It was dated July 12, 1935 and stated that this execution was carried out in the electric chair.

In all, only about six months passed from these murders to the execution of the defendant.

I worked with local resources and located the granddaughter of Constable Moore, Bitsy Strong of Dallas. I also found the granddaughter of Marshal Lindsey, May Sue Lindsey of Austin.

On September 12, 2015 in Granger in front of the Granger National Bank Building, the former site of the Justice of the Peace Offices, the entire Granger Police Department, Williamson County Precinct 2 Constable’s Office and other local and outside agencies, including the honor guard of the Austin Police Department joined the local population and the surviving family members of the two fallen officers to dedicate a permanent memorial marker.

The marker – in granite stone – is located near the spot where both officers lost their lives defending the citizens of Granger.

In addition, markers also were placed at each officer’s cemetery plot.  Each of these three markers were donated and placed with the support of the City of Granger to commemorate the bravery of Marshal Henry J. Lindsey and Constable Sam Moore.

May they rest in peace. We shall never forget them.