91 years later, murdered police officer finally gets grave marker

SEATTLE -- A Seattle police officers whose murder remains unsolved finally received a proper grave marker on Thursday, nearly a century after his death.

Charles Legate's granddaughter said she heard that her murdered grandpa was in a coffin and buried so fast that her grandmother didn't even get a chance to see the body.

After years of suspecting corruption and cover-ups, she said she just wishes her mom was alive to see Thursday's ceremony.

The somber sound of bagpipes surrounded Legate's grave, which became the fallen officer's final home 91 years ago.

"He was an honest officer, never on the payroll, that's why we think he got killed," said his granddaughter, Louise Christenson.

The 1922 murder case went cold decades ago, but Mike Severance, an officer with 46 years on the force, did some digging.

"It's obvious that he knew some other people were doing things because he had confided in his wife that he was pretty much scared to death, although he didn't tell her exactly what it was that he knew," Severance said.

Legate's family couldn't believe an inquest ruled the officer's death was as suicide, despite the fact he was found with two bullets in his head in the back seat of a car in a locked garage.

"There was corruption on the force at that time," Severance said. "I think to this day most people believe that another officer was involved in his murder."

A grand jury later ruled the death a murder, and the then-police chief blamed a bootlegger and an officer.

"In researching the officer's death and where he was buried, there was one sentence that his grave didn't have a marker," Severance said.

Severance visited Evergreen Washelli Cemetery and saw only grass where Legate was laid to rest.

"I was speechless," he said. "We cannot have one of our fallen buried in an unmarked grave."

On Thursday, almost a century later, Legate was finally honored.

Severance doubts Legate's murder will ever be solved, but he said at least a fallen brother won't be forgotten.

"I don't think we can ever forget them," he said. "We have to remember our history, good and bad."

Fifty-eight Seattle police officers have been killed since the department began keeping records in 1881, and many of the murders remain unsolved.