"Thank God:" Fallen Hartford officer's stolen hat recovered from retention pond

HARTFORD -- Hartford police announced Wednesday, November 15th a fallen officer's hat, allegedly stolen by a 31-year-old man, has been recovered from a retention pond.

According to a news release from Hartford police, the hat was located on Wednesday afternoon -- recovered from the bottom of the retention pond where the suspect, Scott Moen, reportedly discarded it.

Fallen Hartford police officer's hat recovered from retention pond (PHOTO: Hartford Police Department)

Hartford's Wastewater Treatment department facilitated the recovery. The majority of the more than 500,000 gallons of water in the retention pond was pumped out -- a task that took more than nine hours.

Hartford police said the director of the Wastewater Treatment Department was the first to spot it. He said he initially thought it was a plastic bag in the water about 15 yards south of the area where the suspect claimed to have thrown the hat. A closer inspection revealed it was the hat. It was covered with a thin layer of clay that was used to line the bottom of the pond when it was constructed. This likely made it undetectable when divers attempted to find it last week.

Officers took custody of the hat and took it in for professional drying and cleaning, which could take several weeks.

According to police, the hat's golden metal "POLICE" pin wasn't recovered -- but efforts are underway to have a duplicate fabricated.

Police said the hat was badly soaked, but the cloth material and leather bill were completely intact, and they're hopeful it can be fully restored.

Restitution is being sought from Moen for all of the costs associated with this case.

Hartford police announced Tuesday Moen was identified as a suspect. Police said Moen turned himself in on Tuesday morning.

The identification of the suspect was possible thanks to a tip from an individual who informed police that the hat was seen in a home on Hartford's south side as recently as late October.

The uniform hat belonged to Marshal Scherger. Scherger was killed in the line of duty on May 27th, 1904.

Marshal Scherger

"There was a disturbance at one of the old depot yards. He had the depot manager in his choir group and they went to check it out. Next thing they know, Marshal Scherger was on the ground, bleeding, and was killed almost instantly," Scott Henke, former Hartford mayor and current chamber president said.

114 years later, Henke said it remains unknown who fired the gun that killed Scherger.

"He's the only officer killed in the line of duty here in Hartford," Henke said.

"There's only been three homicides in Hartford's history. There is only one that is unsolved. Marshal Scherger gave his life for this community in 1904. I'm not going to tell you this wasn't personal. There is a blue line. This blue line ran all the way back to the anchor for Hartford," Hartford Police Chief David Groves said.

Marshal Scherger

His uniform hat was donated for display in the cases at his namesake Scherger Hall by his family in 2013. It was stolen in June. Other items belonging to Scherger displayed in the case were left undisturbed.

"The hat still tells the story and the history of Hartford," Henke said.

Hartford police noted in a press release that this was a complicated investigation, made more complicated by the suspect, who's accused of "making extraordinary efforts to mislead investigating officers every step of the way." Some people had to be re-interviewed up to three times because statements they provided were proven to be misleading or false.

Police said a search warrant was issued at a storage facility on November 6th -- but the hat wasn't found.

Hartford Police Chief David Groves

A partially frozen retention pond near Wilson and Loos had to be searched after police say the suspect claimed to have discarded Scherger's hat. It was searched by the Washington County Sheriff's Department's Dive Team on November 10th. The hat wasn't found.

Chief Groves said he wanted to give it one last shot, so they set up a pump Tuesday night.

"(The head of Wastewater Management) hit it with a stick and he said 'that's the hat!' When he called it was a relief. It was like 'thank God.' Everyone was invested in getting this back because they knew the significance," Chief Groves said.

Retention pond searched in hunt for stolen Hartford police hat

Retention pond searched in hunt for stolen Hartford police hat

Scott Moen

Ultimately, police discovered that on June 17th, the 31-year-old suspect, identified as Scott Moen, accompanied his 19-year-old girlfriend and his mother's 51-year-old boyfriend to the Hartford Police Department to recover the 51-year-old man's dog.

Police said despite receiving the information regarding picking up the stray dog early in this investigation, it was difficult to verify because the timeframe was uncertain.

It was later determined that the dog was improperly licensed to an unrelated previous owner from Portage County rather than any of the people reportedly involved in this hat incident.

It was also determined that the 51-year-old man that actually owned the dog had moved away from Hartford since this incident. Investigators were able to locate the man living at a residence in the Wausau area.

With the assistance of the Wausau Police Department, the man was contacted and confirmed the information regarding their presence at the police department on June 17th.

The man also identified the suspect responsible for the theft of the hat.

The investigation revealed over the course of the months that followed the theft of the hat, it had been observed in the possession of the suspect and the suspect's mother at a home on East Street in Hartford.

The suspect is being issued citations for theft and resisting/obstructing an officer. He's also wanted for a probation violation.

The suspect's mother is being issued citations for receiving stolen property and resisting/obstructing an officer "for her deliberate efforts to obstruct this investigation personally, and for encouraging other involved parties to do the same in this incident."

The suspects face fines totaling over $2,700.

Marshal Scherger


The tipster providing the information that led to these arrests will receive the $500 reward for their role in resolving this.