As best I can tell, Leo Ryan of California is the only U.S. Member of Congress murdered while in office. He was killed by members of the People's Temple in Guyana in 1978. What I'm looking for are how many died while in office.

I guess I could dig through each article on Wikipedia for all 112 Congresses and get the info but if anyone has the exact figures that would be helpful.

(My son, who's doing a unit on US Government, asked this when we were discussing why there are special elections. I thought it would make a good question here.)

I found this Wikipedia page thanks to ihtkwot's input: United States Congress members killed or wounded in office. I think some of the info I was looking at was biased and didn't include Senators, thus leaving Ryan as the only murdered member. I can't believe I forgot about Larry McDonald since he was my Congressman when he was killed on KAL Flight 007.

  • The current congress is the 112th and according to the article you mentioned, there were fourteen members killed while in office.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 1:57
  • Nice question! +1 Congress is so easy to want to ignore, yet it does so much to warrant attention.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 11:45
  • Great DBPedia/SPARQL exercise :-) dbpedia.org/sparql
    – nic
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 6:14
  • Historical note. The leader of the People's Temple figured the jig was up after that, and instructed everyone to commit suicide by drinking poisoned kool-aid they whipped up. Just about all of them did so. This was the inspiration for the common phrase "drinking the kool-aid" (meaning basically being really brain-washed). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_the_Kool-Aid
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 22:06
  • @T.E.D. Jonestown used Flavor Aid not Kool-Aid, I think the mistake came from Reagan.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


According to this page, 298 Senators have died in office (it does not include the last member to die, who died in 2010. I included him in the previously stated number).

According to this page, 815 House Representatives have died in office (it does not include the last three members to die in office. I included them in the previously stated number).

Our grand total is 1113 US congressmen to die in office since the 1st US Congress in 1789, as of April 25, 2012.

Other sources- Members of Congress Who Die in Office: Historic and Current Practices

  • 1
    Wow, well done, my answer looks shameful by comparison.
    – ihtkwot
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 0:43

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