Who is Washington State's Youngest Convicted Murderer?

In 1933, a tragic and shocking incident took place in Washington State that captured the nation's attention.

Right near my hometown of Clarkston, Herbert Niccolls Jr. killed a law officer becoming the youngest convicted murderer in Washington State.

How A 12-Year-Old Became The Youngest Convicted Murderer In Washington State

On a fateful night in 1931 in Asotin Washington,12-year-old Herbert committed a crime that would change his life forever. Breaking into a store for candy and tobacco, he ended up taking the life of Sheriff John Leonard Wormell.

This shocking incident not only made headlines across the country but also sparked conversations about juvenile incarceration and reform.

Despite his young age, Herbert was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Sheriff Wormell.

credit: Fort Walla Walla Museum
credit: Fort Walla Walla Museum

His arrest and subsequent trial captivated the nation, with many questioning how such a young boy could commit such a heinous crime.

Herbert entered prison, weighing only 80 pounds and dressed in ragged overalls.

Throughout his time behind bars, Herbert received special treatment from the wardens, he was kept under close supervision, away from the general population, and provided with tutors and mentors to help him further his education.

Despite his circumstances, Herbert thrived in this environment and later credited prison with saving his life.

credit: youtube
credit: youtube

As years passed by, Herbert's case attracted the attention of Father Flanagan of Boys Town fame and despite Father Flanagan's efforts to secure Herbert's release to live at Boys Town, he was never able to succeed.

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Herbert was released from prison after 10 years and pardoned by the governor.

Afterward, Hebert moved to California and became a successful accountant at the 20th Century Fox movie studios. He passed away in 1983 from a heart attack.

Sources: The State of Washington
Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation,historylink.org and essay writer Phil Dougherty

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