Alexandria Police Foundation

Profiles of Courage

Constable Elijah Chenault, 1823

On August 4, 1823, Constable Elijah Chenault was attempting to seize property from Elizabeth Williams when she resisted. They began to struggle and in defense, the constable struck her with a sword cane but it had little effect, and she was able to get the sword away from the constable. Then she grabbed a wooden stick and struck him on the head with it. The blow was fatal, killing Constable Chenault within minutes.

Williams was arrested and taken to jail. She was indicted for murder and in November, a jury convicted her of manslaughter. She was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $85. Constable Chenault had served for 14 years. He was survived by his wife Elizabeth and several children. His final resting place is unknown.

Constable Chenault’s murder is the earliest known line of duty death of a law enforcement officer in Virginia.

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