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State Police Mark Anniversary Of Trooper Killed On Merritt In Trumbull

Connecticut State Trooper Ernest J. Morse was shot to death by suspected car thieves on the Merritt Parkway.
Connecticut State Trooper Ernest J. Morse was shot to death by suspected car thieves on the Merritt Parkway. Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

TRUMBULL, Conn. -- The Connecticut State Police is honoring an officer who was killed on the Merritt Parkway in Trumbull on Feb. 13, 1953.

Trooper Ernest J. Morse, 31, of New Haven was on patrol on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in New Haven on the evening of Feb. 13, 1953. He spotted a car that was reported stolen in Massachusetts and pursued the vehicle onto the Merritt Parkway, and stopped the car in Trumbull. As he approached the vehicle, a suspect fired a shot, striking Morse in the abdomen.

Minutes later, sailors from the Groton Sub Base found Morse lying near his car, still conscious. He whispered portions of a license plate to the sailors and directed them to use his radio to call for help. Fellow Troopers and an ambulance came to his aid, but Morse died less than an hour later at Bridgeport Hospital.

According to a story on the Connecticut State Police website, the suspect, John Donahue of Brookline, Mass., was apprehended in a one-car garage in Cos Cob but not before crashing through a road block set up on the Mianus River bridge during a chase. After abandoning his black sedan, Donahue stole another vehicle. After sustaining heavy gunfire from police, he then slammed the vehicle into a thick maple tree and clipped the side of Cos Cob Elementary school.

Donahue, a career criminal, was taken to the Westport State Police barracks and confessed after lengthy questioning. He was eventually convicted of fire degree murder and sentenced to death. He was executed on July 18, 1955.

Edward J. Hickey, the State Police Commissioner at that time said of Morse:  "He was an outstanding police officer and his distinguished record is a credit to the force. Moose (a nickname given to Morse by his fellow officers,) was one of the most likable guys in the department."

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