Ill. cop finds long-lost badge of fellow officer slain 54 years ago

Police historian Zane Ziegler found the badge while at the National Police Collectors Show


By Suzie Ziegler 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Champaign police officer Robert Tatman was wearing badge 80 when he was shot and killed in 1967. His badge hasn’t been seen since. That is, not until retired Champaign officer Zane Ziegler stumbled across it last month, according to The News-Gazette

Ziegler, who retired in 2003, was attending the National Police Collectors Show in St. Charles, Mo., and struck up a conversation with another exhibitor. Upon learning of Ziegler’s role as a Champaign police historian, the vendor offered to show Ziegler an old Champaign police badge in his collection. 

“I about fell over,” Ziegler told The News-Gazette. “It was badge 80. It was Tatman’s coat badge, no doubt about it. He was wearing that badge the night he was killed.” 

According to the report, 27-year-old Tatman was killed with his own weapon 54 years ago. This case remains unsolved. 

“I know he was wearing that coat and I know he had that badge on that coat because that’s what he wore in 1967. He would have had a smaller [badge] on his shirt,” Ziegler said. 

He knew he had to have that badge. After a brief negotiation, the vendor agreed to sell for cash. Ziegler refused to disclose the exact amount he paid, but said it exceeded $355, according to the report. 

Afterward, Ziegler offered the badge to Tatman’s surviving family, a wife and four children. 

“I told him he could have it for free and he said he would rather it stay here with us,” Ziegler said. 

The badge now sits on temporary display at the Champaign Police station, the report said. Ziegler says he’s still not sure how the badge disappeared in the first place. 

 

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