Ferndale – The Oakland County Sheriff's Office and the Ferndale Police held a memorial ceremony Saturday in remembrance of a slain deputy, whose murder is still unsolved 100 years later.
Oakland County Sheriff's Deputy Albert Anderson, a Ferndale resident, was on his way home from a shift on August 12, 1917 when he stopped to check on a suspicious person hiding in the shadows near Woodward and 9 Mile Road.
The suspect had stolen $3.80 in pennies from a nearby store and when Anderson tried to bring the suspect to a well-lit area, the suspect broke free and ran. When Anderson chased after him, the suspect fired a single shot with a .38-caliber bullet, hitting Anderson in the abdomen.
Anderson was taken to Harper Hospital and died on Aug. 15. He was 47 years old when he died leaving behind his wife Martha and ten children.
Ferndale Officer Patrick Lemke was at a local the historical museum one day when he saw an old wanted poster asking $500 for Anderson’s killer. He brought it to the attention of Chief Timothy Collins and Sheriff Michael Bouchard. They soon contacted Anderson's relatives.
“We want to be vigilant to protect, but also be careful to return home safely to our families,” Bouchard said Saturday at the ceremony . “A routine situation turned into a deadly situation. Things may be different now, but men and women face the same risk today."
On the 100th anniversary of his death, Anderson's two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and extended family members joined officers and city officials to dedicate a plaque to him in what officials called the "remembrance square".
The square sits on 9 Mile and Woodward Avenue. Anderson’s plaque was placed beside other plaques of fallen officers and honorable citizens like Vincent Chin, a 27-year-old killed on the eve of his wedding in Highland Park by two auto industry workers who racially profiled him.
Bouchard said 1917 was a different era when officers had to light several matches at night to see a suspect's face.
“This was when Ferndale was just a village of Royal Oak. America entered the First World War, and women didn’t have the right to vote,” Bouchard said. “Anderson was one of the first to sign the petition to make Ferndale a city. He was truly the heart and soul of Ferndale before there even was a Ferndale.”
Anderson volunteered as a school board treasurer, worked as a real estate developer and had been on the force for three years before he died.
One of Anderson’s grandsons, Doug Anderson, said the ceremony was humbling. He attended with his brother Albert and his nephew Kip. The family currently lives in Livonia.
“I thought they forgot about him. My dad used to tell the story all the time,” Doug Anderson said. “When he died, he had eight children and his wife was pregnant with twins. This is truly amazing.”
Ferndale Mayor David Coulter thanked the family, reminding them Anderson’s memory will live on.
“The story of your relative is so powerful. His spirit lives on. His commitment…reminds us of the workers that protect us today,” said Coulter. “I hope he would be proud of what the city is today.”