On November 19, all Vandalia police officers wore mourning bands in remembrance of fallen Vandalia Police officer Orville E. Rosenstengel, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 19, 1960.
Officer Rosenstengel was shot and killed after arresting a man for creating a disturbance. He was off duty and eating dinner when he received reports about a man who drove into a private driveway and began to create a disturbance in Ralls County. Officer Rosenstengel put on his police cap and badge, but left his gun, and went to the scene in his own car, as his police cruiser was in the shop for repairs. Once there, Officer Rosenstengel apprehended William Thompson, whom he did not know was a criminal, as he didn’t have a police radio in his personal vehicle. He then drove Thompson to the Vandalia City Hall in the suspect’s car.
When Rosenstengel ordered Thompson out of the car, Thompson grabbed a hidden gun and shot Officer Rosenstengel in the chest, killing him instantly. Thompson was later apprehended and charged with murder and was sentenced to life in prison, where he eventually died.
Unfortunately, Officer Rosenstengel’s family was not provided full death benefits following this tragedy because he was off duty at the time and left the city limits and Audrain County to help a Ralls County resident.
Officer Rosenstengel had served with the Vandalia Police Department for five years. He was survived by his wife, two sons, daughter, two grandchildren, mother, and five siblings.
Interim Chief of Police Logan Benjamin stated, “Mourning bands are a way to honor and respect fallen officers. Officer Rosenstengel is memorialized by a plaque at the entrance of the Police Department, additionally a photograph of him in full uniform is proudly displayed within our department and of course he is memorialized with a section of Highway 54 dedicated to his memory…Members of the Vandalia Police Department are reminded everyday of Officer Rosenstengel’s service to the Vandalia community as well as his ultimate sacrifice in the service of others. We are proud to be members of the same department Officer Rosenstengel once served and will continue to honor his memory by working diligently to protect and serve the community he once called home. We kindly ask residents to keep the memory of Officer Rosenstengel’s sacrifice alive and well in their own respectable way and should anyone wish to learn more about Officer Rosenstengel, they are encouraged to visit the Vandalia Area Historical Society Museum, where many items relating to his law enforcement service are on display.”