Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chief Henry J. Searcy--Shot Down on Streets of Leighton

In 1910, the majority of men, especially those living in rural areas or small towns, carried a gun. In 2010, few of us carry a firearm, at least on our person. It's easy to forget how close we remain to an era of frontier justice. It was just fifty-three years ago that the police chief of Leighton was shot down on a main street of that small Colbert County town. Perhaps few now remember him.

Henry J. Searcy was born June 1, 1919. The son of John H. and Nancy L. Searcy, Henry came from a large family. He joined the Army during WWII and served honorably as a member of the 1304th Engineer Construction Battalion. This unit departed Camp Sutton in North Carolina on February 1, 1944. By September 1945, they had served in campaigns in India-Burma, Burma, and China. We may assume by this time Henry Searcy wanted little more than to return to his home in semi-rural Northwest Alabama.

Searcy joined the Colbert County Sheriff's Department around 1947 and worked there almost eight years before joining the Leighton Police as Chief. From the Officer Down Page:

Chief Searcy was shot and killed from ambush at approximately 0500 hours. He had taken off his gun belt to adjust some equipment on it when a suspect opened fire on him with a .44 caliber rifle. Chief Searcy was struck ten times and killed almost instantly.

The suspect, who had earlier been charged by Chief Searcy for killing an animal without cause, turned himself in approximately 30 minutes later. He was charged with Chief Searcy's murder.

Chief Searcy was a WWII veteran and had served as chief of the 2-person Leighton Police Department for 2.5 years. He had previously served with the Colbert County Sheriff's Department for 7.5 years. He was survived by his parents, three brothers, and five sisters.

Henry J. Searcy is buried in Gravel Hill Cemetery off LaGrange Road in Franklin County. Henry rests here with his parents and some of his siblings. We know they would be glad that Lecia Ford remembered him.

Note: Yesterday we published Leighton Memories in which we failed to change the name of the police chief from Grissom to Henry J. Searcy. We have now corrected that. Thanks to Lecia for all her research.


Thought for the day, 9/11: Remember the Alamo, Remember the Maine, Remember Pearl Harbor...But do we?


Did you miss the Judi Letters by William Lindsey McDonald the first time around? We found one copy on eBay: Link


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