NB Provincial Police – Constable Russell Hayward

NB Provincial Police – Constable Russell Hayward, 34

What reads like a story from a Zane Gray western novel is the tale of one of New Brunswick’s first policemen killed in the line of duty.

What started out as a routine case dealing with the serving of a warrant, later turned into somewhat of a nightmare for the Fredericton detachment of the NB Provincial Police?

Nehemiah Hudlin charged with assaulting Carter McLean a millpond at Ripples, Sunbury County had been in trouble with the law on more than one occasion, as had his father, John Amos Hudlin and brothers Sam and William. William called himself Rev. William, and had been known as the local preacher.

McLean charged Hudlin had assaulted him on the railway right-of-way, and after the complaint had been laid a constable went to arrest him. Hudlin had different ideas, and the policeman was driven off with a rifle. Over the course of time, two more attempts were made, but Hudlin always eluded those who went after him.

On November 6, 1927, Sheriff Charles Bliss stated Hudlin had been wounded in a skirmish, but the following day, police were mum – there were no confirmations being made. Bliss declined to let the Provincial police go into the woods after the man. Hudlin ran towards the woods with his rifle and turned and fired twice from his hip. As he got to the woods, a third shot was fired.

At one time, Sheriff Bliss and a Provincial Policeman tried to get the man in question, who was engaged in digging. As the police jumped the bars leading to Hudlin, he picked up his coat and rifle and started for the woods. “I’m in a bit of a hurry”, was the reply to the sheriff’s invitation to let him talk to him.

On November 15, 1927, Constable Russell P. Hayward of the NB Provincial Police went along with several other officers to Ripples. The officers had been given instructions to shoot. Hudlin was located, and Hayward covered him with his rifle.

“Hold up your hands”, shouted Hayward! Hudlin’s reply was quick, “Hold up your own!” Hayward couldn’t bring himself to gun down the “colored man”, especially in cold blood.

It was useless for the law to chase after the wanted man. He had been engaged as a trapper and hunter for years and knew every inch of the woods surrounding his Coburn Siding shack. They decided to wait.

Constable Hayward was standing on the tracks of the Saint John and Grand Lake Railway talking with section foreman, Alfred McWilliam. When the bullet hit him in the back, by the iron of fate, Hayward was telling McWilliams he had Hudlin covered with his rifle some time before.

As the bullet struck, McWilliams threw out his arms and caught Hayward, but the Constable’s larger than usual stature slid through them to the ground. Others of the party who were trying to arrest Hudlin were standing about. They took cover immediately, fearing more bullets would come out of the woods.

An intensive search for Hudlin followed, but it was feared he made his way to Saint John and lost himself from the authorities. Descriptions of him were circulated, but it did little good. He was described as being between 35 and 37 years of age, 160 pounds, and 5’7″. He was clean-, and “will not look in the eye of the person to whom he speaks”. Hudlin was eventually captured in Hampton and brought to trial. The inquest of the shooting was completed November 29, 1927. The verdict brought down indicated Samuel and Nehemiah Hudlin were guilty of murder.

Constable Russell P. Hayward was a native of Waasis, and one of the original of the Provincial Police which had been organised only a couple of months previous to his death. The 35-year old constable had been a member of the 104th Regiment during World War I, and later transferred to the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. He had a splendid record of service overseas, and was survived by his parents, his widow and two small children.