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The Boy Who Shot The Sheriff: Sound Effect, Episode 154.5


In 1931 in the small southeast Washington town of Asotin, a 12 year old boy named Herbert Nicholls Jr. shot and killed the town sheriff. 

Nicholls was starving and abused, and had run away from home and broken into the local store to steal some food. The sheriff came in to find him, and Nicholls fired the gun with the intent to scare him away. The bullet hit the sheriff in the head, killing him instantly. 

Nancy Bartley wrote the biography on Nicholls, titled The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff: The Redemption of Herbert Nicholls Jr.

It's a tale that goes from tragic to triumphant, and back to tragic again.


In this midweek installment of Sound Effect's podcast, you hear the story, an outtake that will make your heart catch, and some of the backstory from host Gabriel Spitzer and producer Kevin Kniestedt. 

Note: This is part of an experiment with Sound Effect’s podcast: We will feed a condensed version of the full show on Saturdays, withholding an especially memorable story. Then we’ll hear that segment, and some of the story behind the story, in a new weekly podcast installment that will be in your feed on Wednesdays. You can still always catch the full, broadcast-style version of the show on the web site (at the bottom of the page).


We’d love to hear what you think of the new podcast format -- give your feedback in the comments below, or email

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.

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