The Police Cases of 1950

This is an archival image of Clyde Wesley Boyce,
26 year old Colon resident who was murdered by a
Secret Police Agent in 1950.

Part of the undercurrent of Panama’s caste system was the gradual criminalization of Westindian youth. Boys, particularly, got caught up in the institutional manifestation of racial hatred leaving them few avenues for defending themselves. Police murders and other homicides targeting Westindian men and youths were all too frequent in the barrios of the big cities by 1950.

The following case was a very tragic as well as lamentable police case that would be remembered for quite some time for its stark and vicious message to the Silver People of Panama’s barrios. We’ve reprinted it below from the front page article of the time entitled “Colon Community Aroused Over the Shooting by Secret Police Agent of Clyde Boyce.

The Police Murder of Clyde Wesley Boyce

Colon: One of the most wanton and brutal crimes to have been committed in many years took place on Monday evening , 24 April, 1950 at 8th Street and Central Avenue when Eusebio Murillo, a sub-inspector chief of the Secret Police, shot and fatally wounded Clyde Wesley Boyce, 26 year old Panamanian, resident of that city. 

Murillo, who was said to have been on a drinking spree on that day, approached Boyce, who he declared he had suspected of peddling marijuana, and searched his person.

Boyce, who had voluntarily submitted to the search, is reported to have asked Murillo the reason why he had searched him, and at this point the detective officer landed Boyce two uppercuts, causing Boyce’s hat to fall.

As Boyce stooped over to pick up his hat, Murillo kicked him and then drew his 38 caliber service revolver and deliberately aimed at and shot Boyce in the back and his head.

Murillo, who has admitted having shot Boyce, told investigating officials that Boyce attacked and cut him with a knife, after he had placed him under arrest.. Murillo’s wound is believed to have been self inflicted, as the shirt and coat he wore showed no marks of bloodstain.

On duty near the vicinity Police Lt. Alejandro Stephens and Sub-Lt. Dudley Waldron, rode to the scene of the murder, where they found Boyce lying unconscious. They took the dying man in their jeep car to Amador Hospital where he died a few minutes later.

After the killing, Murillo walked to Secret Police headquarters a block away from the crime, gave up himself to Inspector Chief Carlos Rowe, and made a confession. Held in protective custody, Murillo was turned over the following day to the National Police.

Shortly after the incident, District Attorney Santiago Rodriguez started an investigation. Twenty-three persons up to Thursday evening, including a police officer and an Amador Guerrero hospital doctor, gave sworn statements against the detective officer and several more witnesses were subpoenaed to testify.

Chief Rowe Expresses Regret

Inspector Chief Carlos Rowe expressed surprise and regret over the fatal shooting by his subaltern, as he had acted contrary to instructions which he had been given from time to time. Rowe has instructed members of his force to be polite and courteous to all, and not to apply brute force in effecting arrests. “You can be assured that Murillo will be punished,” Chief Rowe told the Tribune when questioned relative to the shooting.

Family prepares protest

The family of the deceased was preparing this week a protest to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Government and Justice.


Funeral services were held Thursday evening at Salem Mission Church, 3rd Street and Central Avenue. Rev. W. Rodgers, Pastor, officiated and read the last rites for the dead. The funeral procession was headed by Colon’s Concordia Band and attended by persons from every walk of community life.

Thousands formed a queue from 3rd Street to 16th Street and Amador Guerrero Avenue, where the funeral passed and partly every person’s eyes glistened with tears as the cortège wended its way to Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Demonstration of Protest

Following burial rites, thousands marched in protest of the unprovoked shooting by Murillo, and again demanded justice. Several speeches were given, including one from Alcalde Jose D. Bazan. The paraders gathered at the mayor’s office at 6th Street and Amador Guerrero Avenue and later at Dunbar Model School.

This story continues.


One response to “The Police Cases of 1950

  1. I was a young man at the time, but the memory of this sad event is -and will always- remain with me. I remember my parents, neighbors, friends, and community,being very angry and agitated about this wanton murder. It was indeed dangerous to be black of W.I. parentage and English dominant youth back then. Those Canal Zone Southern 'redneck' racial infirmities and attitudes were being imbued infecting the psyche of the inept local authorities. In those times it was probably safer living in Selma, Alabama.