Date of Incident: Wednesday, January 11, 1950
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Released from prison
Chief Mathew Mantoni was shot and killed after responding to a disturbance at a local bar at 0030
hours. As he entered the bar one of the patrons opened fire and struck him. Chief Mantoni returned fire
and wounded the suspect. A female bystander was also shot and killed in the exchange of gunfire. The
suspect was convicted of both murders, served his 35-year sentence, and was released.
Chief Mantoni was survived by his wife, son, and three daughters. He was born in Italy and is buried in
Swandale Cemetery, Mendon, Worcester County, Massachusetts.
Police Chief Mathew Mantoni Memorial Dedication Address to the People of Mendon by Lindsey
Kempton, May 15, 1999
Members of the Mendon Police Department
The Board of Selectmen
The Mantoni Family
Honorable Senator Moore
Honorable State Representative Parente
Retired Chief Townsend
And all in attendance.
About six weeks ago, Chief Grady asked me to participate in this ceremony, a Memorial Dedication for
Mendon Police Chief Mathew Mantoni.
He asked me to look into the events that resulted in the tragic shooting death of Chief Mathew Mantoni
on January 11th, 1950.
I did this and in doing so, stepped back in time.
The Mendon Police Department of the 1950's was a different world than today. Funding was minimal.
Mendon didn't own any Police cruisers.
The Chief and his Officers used their own cars and purchased their own uniforms. They worked on a
part-time basis -- and were paid hourly.
Communications were by telephone only. Two-way radios were still in the future for Mendon. Police
Chiefs worked out of their homes and often times their wives took the calls.
Mathew Mantoni served the town as a deputy fire chief, was elected to the position of Constable, and
appointed, by the Board of Selectmen, as Chief of Police. In order to support his family, Chief Mantoni
had to work another full-time job.
If an emergency occurred while the Chief was at work a part-time Officer would be called until the Chief
could arrive. But at night it was the Chief who answered and responded to the calls.
He responded to both the frivolous and the dangerous, usually without any backup. It was in this way
that Mendon Police Chief Mathew Mantoni got up out of bed and responded to a call during the early
morning hours of January 11th, 1950.
The owner of a local tavern (The Red Rooster), here in town, was called every night by his wife to chat
and see how things were going. The owner and his wife shared a secret code word if things were not
That night the word was spoken, his wife called the Chief and Mendon Police Chief Matthew Mantoni
responded -- the rest is history.
Public service is a Calling. It was then, and it is now.
The times have changed, Mendon has changed.
Our police department is better funded; we have full-time police officers, cruisers, and radios. Mendon
is a wonderful town. But then as now there were good guys and bad guys.
Mathew Mantoni is a true Mendon hero.
He took the Oath of Office, served our town, and paid the supreme price.
In honoring Chief Mantoni, who gave his life in the line of duty, we also honor all who have served the
Town and worn the Uniform.
We pray that this never happens again.
May 15, 1999
Mendon, who had been indicted for murder of the Mendon Chief of Police, as well as a patron in a
shooting at the Red Rooster in Mendon. Mr. Ward was found innocent by reason of insanity, spent
many years in facilities for treatment of his disorder and was eventually released back to the
news stories from papers in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Missouri and the pictures below. Thanks to
Doug Taylor who assisted Paul with information for this page. I had to print the Milford Daily News
articles in pieces at the Milford Library. It was a bit tricky trying to put them together here, and I realize
that they are none too clear, but I think enough can be read for you to follow the story. For anyone who
wants to read all the articles, the Milford Daily News in on microfilm at the Milford Library.
Mendon Police Department Mendon Menu
Among the witnesses expected to be called at the murder trial of Harold Ward are Lawrence Griffin of Upton, wounded in the
gun battle that killed his fiance, Miss Catherine Brady of Uxbridge, Miss Josephine Pitasi of Mendon, waitress at Hensel's Red
Rooster cafe, Aubrey Hensel of Mendon, bartender and co-owner of the cafe,and Otis Duvall of Mendon, cook at the cafe.
Miss Pitasi was wounded in the arm in the gun-fight that took the life of Police Chief Mathew Mantoni of Mendon, who
wounded Ward, the accused killer, as he fell dying to the floor.