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Living History Presentation on WSP's Youngest Inmate


April 25, 2019

Courtesy Image

Actual photo of Herbert Niccolls Jr. as a WSP inmate (1931). From "The Boy Who Shot The Sheriff: The Redemption of Herbert Niccolls Jr." by Nancy Bartley (2013).

WALLA WALLA-The life of the youngest inmate to be incarcerated at the Washington State Penitentiary will be explored at Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road.

On Sunday, April 28 Chuck Hindman will portray the adult Herbert Niccolls Jr, reflecting on his early days, the terrible crime that changed his life, and his eventual redemption. 

The presentation will begin at 2 p.m.

Niccolls will tell his harrowing story to visitors in front of the museum's penitentiary exhibit, showing them the inside of a cell not unlike the one he occupied at the penitentiary. He was born into a troubled family, caused problems in foster homes, and was sentenced to the Idaho State Industrial School. In 1931 at the age of 12 he was a runaway, with nothing but the ragged clothes on his back and a stolen gun. While trying to rob a local store, the sheriff found him. Panicking, Niccolls shot and killed the sheriff.

The boy found himself locked away in the Washington State Penitentiary, the youngest ever to receive a life sentence. But his story doesn't end there. Thanks to the support of several advocates, he would eventually receive his diploma from Wa-Hi, receive a pardon, and go on to become a productive member of society.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. 

Admission is free to members and children under 6, $4 for children ages 6-12, $8 for seniors 62 and older and students, and $9 general admission.

For more details, call 509-525-7703 or see


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