Long-time lawman turning in badge

Posted 12/9/99

“It took all the control I had to not come across the table at…

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)

Retires December 31

“It took all the control I had to not come across the table at him. …

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Long-time lawman turning in badge


“It took all the control I had to not come across the table at…

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)

Retires December 31

“It took all the control I had to not come across the table at him. Of all the cases I’ve had, this remains the worst.”

The “worst” was taking the confession of Larry Morgan as he sat in an interrogation room describing how he murdered nine-year old Anna Marie Emery.

Major Jack Dillon, who concludes a 25-year career with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department December 31, handled the investigation and admitted that “Morgan was most in my mind” from the start.”


Dillon explained he questioned Morgan at his Illinois residence and “I knew something wasn’t right. Every time I asked a question, he’d look at his son, then answered.” Then, the “son did the same.”

Morgan, now serving a life term in Fort Madison, confessed to the crime, admitting that he had his eight-year old son with him at the time.

Dillon said the “case bothered all of us and it really got to me. She was just a little girl.”

Which is why her photo remains on the wall at the Washington Safety Center and Sheriff Yale Jarvis keeps a framed photo of the child in his office.

“It was a bad case,” he said simply.

In his 25 years with Washington County, in a law enforcement career that spans 35 years, Dillon has been involved in every major case in the county. In fact, within a year of joining the department, the Wellman resident found himself covering the first murder ever committed in Kalona: the murder of Judy Adams by her husband, Richard who, at the time was the mayor of Kalona.

“That was a very strange case,” said Dillon, noting that Adams “turned himself in” immediately afterwards.

Then there was the Ruth Patterson murder followed by the arrest and conviction of Eugene Anderson and later the Mullet-Kemp murder and suicide.

But Dillon is the first to point out that most of the cases are not like those, although “there is more crime. Even here.”

The increase, he sees, as very much related to changes in the laws, especially regarding both domestic cases and substance abuses (including alcohol).

“There’s always been judgment calls,” Dillon said, explaining that officers have discretion to some extent. In fact, when he started his career, “sometime talking to a person, chewing them out, was all it took.

“I have always believed in the Golden Rule, have lived by it. When you arrest someone, take away their freedom, you should do it with compassion, with understanding.”

Which brought him to the number one problem that police face: attitude.

“There’s a lot of people who have a ‘don’t tell me what to do’ attitude, that the laws don’t apply to them.” Dillon explained.

He saw that years ago, “when I came back from the Vietnam War. There were a lot who came back from there feeling cheated. I felt cheated, too.”

Acknowledging that the system is not perfect, he stressed that “we are still far from a police state.”

However, he is well aware that the police are not all alike. A number of years ago, “I went to Los Angeles for training for a few weeks.”

The training involved patrolling in areas such as Watts, and Dillon rapidly learned “blacks were treated much differently. It was assumed all of them were a problem.”

He also found that “for the police there, food was free,” learning that “when another officer suggested going for food and I started to take out money and he stopped me.”

I told him “it was different in Iowa and he told me it must be a tough place.”

One of the areas of increased crime that bothers him is “more and more sexual endangerment, more sexual abuse involving children. We get one to two cases per week to investigate.”

He credits much of it to “more awareness and more reporting of them. Of course, there are a number of unfounded reports.”

He also sees the Department of Human Services as another factor, that it is not as involved as much as it has been in the past.

Dillon is also very aware that things are “not the same as when I went to school, that youth today is more educated, more aware of what the world is.”

As a member of and the current president of the Mid-Prairie Board of Education, “I have learned how different young people’s philosophy is from mine.”

Yet, at the same time, he sees youth as having more fears, more concerns about the future “because change is far more rapid today.”

Will he miss the work?

“I have enjoyed the work, but what I will really miss is the people. I won’t miss being out on the road.”


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