Wayne L. Selle
On July 31, 1973, Officer Wayne L. Selle, was murdered while responding to a disturbance at the United States Penitentiary (USP), Leavenworth, Kansas. Forty inmates associated with the Church of the New Song, a pseudo-religious organization, planned and executed an elaborate disruption of operations at the USP. Institution officials heard rumors that something might happen and as a precaution, morning watch staff were held over and all off-duty staff were called to report for duty. A disturbance began in the inmate dining room at about 11:30 a.m. Simultaneously, hostages were taken from near and inside the laundry area, and a riot broke out in cell house A, followed by a fire in the industries complex.
In cell house A, when a large group of inmates refused to disperse, Officer Selle was instructed by the Number One officer to lock himself inside one of the utility corridors on 3 gallery; this was the last contact Selle had with staff. Cell house A was secured just before noon, only 30 minutes after the disturbance began, but too late to save Officer Selle who was found dead from stab wounds he received. Four staff hostages (two from Custody and two Laundry Foremen) were held in the laundry for a number of hours, but were released unharmed around 10:30 p.m. In all, 22 staff (including 8 non-Custody staff) suffered various injuries. No inmates were injured in these incidents and no use of force by staff was necessary to restore normal operations in the institution.
Inmate William Hearst was indicted for Selle's murder and committed suicide while awaiting trial. Four other inmates were charged and indicted in Officer Selle's death; but they were convicted of lesser offenses, including attempted riot, assault, and assault with intent to murder.
Officer Selle was a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving in Vietnam. He retired from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in 1972, where he had worked as a correctional counselor, then joined the Bureau. His wife Wilma, two sons, and one daughter survived him. Wayne L. Selle is listed in the National Law Enforcement Memorial on Panel 40, W-8. Wayne, you will never be forgotten.