Deputy killed by bootleggers in 1927 will get monument
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:00 PM
A monument memorializing a Neshoba County deputy sheriff ambushed and killed in the line of duty in 1927 will be dedicated on March 25 near Burnside Park where he was shot.
John Adam Myers, the former sheriff’s deputy, was ambushed on his way into town to deliver depositions in a criminal case on Oct. 7, 1927.
The ambush occurred near the entrance to what is now Burnside Lake Park where the monument will be dedicated after the city denied a request last year for it to be placed in town.
The monument will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. at the park entrance. Sheriff Tommy Waddell said he hoped to attend the dedication if possible.
“I had always heard the story in my early years of law enforcement through [the late deputy] Greg George, his great-grandson,” Waddell said.
“The family has been working on this for the past year or two. They had called me and asked me if I had any objections to it which I didn’t. They were trying to get the ball rolling.”
Waddell said as far as he knew, Myers is the only Neshoba deputy killed in the line of duty.
Myers’ great-grandson, Paul Hanser, formerly of Philadelphia and now of Wimberley, Texas, said this will be the first time in 90 years that Myers’s sacrifice will be recognized with a monument.
He said his great-grandfather was killed by Virgil Dunn, a bootlegger he had sent to prison a year or so earlier through his testimony as the chief prosecuting witness.
Hanser said Dunn, a trustee, escaped from Parchman about a month or so before the ambush.
The Oct. 13, 1927, edition The Neshoba Democrat reported the ambush with the headline: “Dastardly murder of officer arouses county.”
The newspaper story said citizens were “speaking of it as an outrage of law and the public seems to share the opinion of Sheriff Hays and his deputies that the murder is chargeable to moonshiners who sought revenge for Myers’ activities in trying to rid that section of the county of the bootlegger and the distiller.”
Myers was described as “a fearless officer, who had raided a score of distilleries in the past two years and apprehended many liquor law violators.”
Myers had testified in court the previous year as the chief prosecuting witness and “was instrumental in securing a number of convictions,” including Dunn’s.
The newspaper account said Myers “was driving toward Philadelphia at the time he met his death. Passers-by heard the gun shots, saw his car swerve to the side of the road and brought his body to Philadelphia.”
Dunn later pleaded guilty to Myers’ murder and received as life sentence.
Norma Massey, Myers’ great-granddaughter, initially made the request for a monument on behalf of the family, asking that it be erected in the city.
She told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen in January 2016 that the family had the money to erect the monument themselves and was asking for 35 square feet for the seven-foot tall marker in DeWeese Park, but noted they were open to suggestions for other locations as well.
After the request was denied by the mayor and board, the family pursued other venues.
Hanser remembers returning to his hometown every summer to stay with his grandparents, the Rev. Wiley and Ethel Myers Akins.
He has found an extensive amount of documentation over the years about the fallen officer. Largely through letters and old newspaper clippings, he has been able to piece together the story of his great-grandfather’s murder and the subsequent shooting of the man who shot him.
Hanser said his grandfather was on the FBI payroll at the time and had a Sheriff’s deputy badge.
He said, according to his research, badges from both agencies were taken after the officer was ambushed. He has a death certificate that notes Myers’ date of death as Oct. 7, 1927. The cause of death noted that he was “murdered in an ambush.”
Myers was married to Lucy Peebles Myers. He is buried in Cedarlawn Cemetery.
Myers was also the great-grandfather of Monica George Slaton, Anthony George and the late Greg George of Philadelphia, Sharon George Buntyn of Gulfport and Dr. Jeanne George of Baton Rouge, La., among others.