Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann has started a project to honor officers that have lost their lives in the line of duty in the Eastern District.
"I've been talking about this for a while and I think it is time to get it started," Sheriff McCann said.
McCann wants to raise donations to place a memorial plaque on the Lake City Court House grounds in honor of the six officers that were killed or died while serving their communities.
McCann said that he has not got an exact cost but feels that a nice bronze plaque on a concrete pedestal could be erected for approximately $1,000.
Police Memorial Week is May 13-16 and McCann said that would be an appropriate time to have the project complete and hold a dedication service.
McCann has done research on the project and has a list of six officers from the Eastern District. Three served with the Craighead County Sheriff's department, one constable and two on the Monette Police Department. Craighead County Officers include Lenior F. Baker killed Nov. 5, 1947; James H. Jenkins killed Dec. 11, 1928 and George W. Spencer killed Oct. 10, 1938. Albert N. Moore was a constable that was killed Dec. 28, 1926. From the Monette Police Department, Sam Thompson was killed June 9, 1954 and Paul Andrew Heath was killed Dec. 24, 1959.
Dewaine Malone, Eastern District Deputy Sheriff for Craighead County has joined McCann on the project.
In addition to the plaque, they want to create a Memorial Wall inside the Eastern District Court House. The only photograph of the six they have is of Officer Baker. McCann hopes that friends or family members may have pictures of the other five officers that can be duplicated. If anyone has a photograph of the officers they may contact McCann at the Craighead County Sheriff's Office or Malone at the Lake City Sheriff's Office.
"Last year I attended a dedication service in Clay County in memory of officers killed and I was very impressed," he said.
In addition to a plaque and a memorial wall, McCann said he would also like to see an information folder compiled for each officer. The folders could be kept at the courthouse and open for the public to review.
The following information was gathered from police reports and old newspaper clippings about the incidents that surround the death of the six officers. Like most events, stories can vary as they have been remembered and recalled through the years.
Albert N. Moore, Constable of Black Oak Township was born June 2, 1880 and died from a shotgun wound October 28, 1926. Moore grew up in Black Oak. He farmed and later established a garage at Black Oak. He began his law enforcement career in 1922 when he was elected Constable. He was re-elected to a second term in 1924. It was reported that Moore answered a call reporting that W.F. Perciful was on his way to a carnival with a shot gun to confront a carnival employee who had earlier beaten him. Moore met Perciful on main street in Black Oak and when the officer tried to stop him, it resulted in both men being killed. Moore was survived his wife and two children. He was buried in the Mangrum Cemetery south of Black Oak.
Chief Deputy Sheriff George W. Spencer was born Sept. 23, 1907 in Lake City and died Oct. 10, 1938. He was the son of Sam and Mary (Brown) Spencer. He began his law enforcement career in 1934 when he was elected Constable of Lake City Township and appointed deputy sheriff by Sheriff Houston Johnson. In 1936 he was elected Chief Deputy Sheriff of the Eastern District of Craighead County. He served one two-year term and in 1938 was re-elected to another term.
On Monday, Oct. 10, 1938 Deputy Spencer, accompanied by Bob Roberts, town marshal of Lake City, drove to Lunsford to answer a complaint about a disturbance at a tavern. Upon arriving, Deputy Spencer was shot as he entered the door. Alfred Wood was later arrested. Wood testified that it was a case of mistaken identity. He thought Deputy Spencer was Elmer Bland who had threatened his life. Wood was charged with second degree murder and received a 21 year sentence
James H. Jenkins was Chief Deputy Sheriff of the Eastern District. Born Feb. 7, 1871 in Kentucky, he served seven years. He died Dec. 11, 1928. He worked for the railroad before beginning his law enforcement career in 1921. Jenkins was nicknamed Boogerman. He was appointed deputy Sheriff for the Caraway area by Sheriff Walter Johnson. He served four years under Sheriff Johnson and was re-appointed by Sheriff R.L. Braden who succeeded Johnson in 1925. In 1928 Jenkins sought election to the office of Chief Deputy Sheriff of the Eastern District of Craighead County and was elected out of a field of nine candidates. He was to assume that office Jan. 1, 1929. On Dec. 11, 1928, Jenkins told friends in Caraway that he was going to a farm to collect taxes. Around noon of that day Jim Hendrix, rural mail carrier for Black Oak Route 1 found Jenkins' body near his car. He had been shot. Three young men were arrested. Their statements said they had been operating a moonshine still and the deputy was on their trail. The first trial ended deadlocked and the second trial ended with a conviction of murder in the second degree. On appeal two of the convictions were reversed because it had not been proven that they aided in the shooting. Jenkins was buried at the City Cemetery in Jonesboro. He was survived by a wife and four children.
Samuel Abel Thompson was the City Marshall: Township constable and deputy. He was born May 9, 1883 and died June 9, 1954. It was reported that he was shot while serving eviction papers. Marshal Thompson hailed Bill Pierce, Monette taxi driver, and asked him to take him to the Cox home. The request was not unusual since Thompson did not drive a car. Pierce said Thompson was shot on his way to the front porch of the house. Pierce said Cox walked to the taxi and told him to tell the sheriff to come and get him. Cox offered no resistance when he was taken into custody. Thompson was survived by his wife, Vinnie Thompson and four sons.
Paul Andrew Heath was constable, Buffalo Township, Eastern District. Born Jan. 21, 1912, he served two terms. Heath suffered a heart attack and died Dec. 24, 1959 while chasing three youths. Heath began chasing the youth's car when they passed him at a high rate of speed. When their car turned into a field and got stuck and ran. Heath's car also became stuck. Heath radioed for help and said he was having a heart attack. He was unfamiliar with the area and tried to direct the officers to the site. He was found by Deputy Sheriff Leo Adams and night Marshall A.N. Potter, both of Leachville. He was alive and they took him to Rodman's Clinic in Leachville where he later died.
Chief Deputy Sheriff Lenior F. Baker with the Craighead County Sheriff's Department died in a car accident on Nov. 5, 1947 at the age of 34. He was from the Poplar Ridge Community near Monette. The car crashed into a bridge banister one quarter mile west of Black Oak on Highway 18. Deputy Sheriff Carl King of Caraway, who was also in the car with Deputy Baker was injured. The officers were enroute to Caraway from Jonesboro where they had taken a prisoner charged with rifling cars at Caraway and stealing tractor parts. Jailer Ed McAlister said Deputy Baker told him he had been working on the case all night. It was reported that from the hospital, King said they were going to Caraway to arrest a second suspect in the robbery.
Baker was a World War II veteran who had served overseas in the Air Corps. He was survived by his wife, Bessie Baker and a daughter. He was buried in the Monette Cemetery.