Russell Baldwin was born on November 11, 1929 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Harvey and Elsie Baldwin. Russell attended New Market School where he played basketball and baseball. He served in the Army between the years 1948-1952. After returning from the service, he married Mary Lou McMurray. They had two children, a son, Eugene (Po) and a daughter, Carolyn Sue. Baldwin applied to the Crawfordsville Police Force in 1962. He was promoted from Patrolman to shift Lieutenant in only 12 years.
On August 27, 1974 Baldwin responded to a call concerning the robbery of the ‘Grab-It-Here’ store. Baldwin stopped a car that fit the description given from the robbery. William Gaddis, a convicted felon who previously served time for a bank robbery, approached Baldwin’s cruiser. Gaddis had a gun hidden behind his back: he shot Baldwin twice.
Gaddis led police on a chase that resulted in a car crash. He fled the scene on foot. Nearly 80 officers joined the local police in an effort to capture him. Mrs. Nina Curtis, a citizen of Crawfordsville, used her radio to broadcast descriptions of the suspect to truck drivers passing through the area. Because of her efforts, a tip was called in by a semi driver who saw Gaddis hitch-hiking. That call led to the arrest of William Gaddis. Eventually, he was given the death penalty, but died in prison in 2009.
Fundraisers were arranged over the ensuing weeks to help Mary Lou Baldwin with financial responsibilities. The community, which was deeply affected by Baldwin’s loss, had raised $6500 within two weeks.
Russell Baldwin was described as a hard worker, friendly, polite, and a solid family man who was concerned about his community. He knew that being a police officer could require the ultimate sacrifice. He told Reverand Homer Cochran that he was “ready to do his duty for the community and the ones he loved.” Russell Baldwin was only 44 years old when he died.
In 1974, Mayor David Gerard declared September 14th and 15th Russell Baldwin Appreciation Days to celebrate the fallen officer. The Crawfordsville community continues to honor Lt. Baldwin over 40 years after his ultimate sacrifice.
Members of the community processed their grief over the killing of Lt. Baldwin in different ways. For local resident Dan Bell, he felt compelled to write a song in memory of the fallen officer, who was an acquaintance. Amy Seibert Smith assisted with the music, and both provided vocals for the track.