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People enter the Stephens County Courthouse behind a monument to local lawmen killed in the line of duty.The monument, on the east side of the courthouse, was formally dedicated in a ceremony this week.

Monument honors lawmen who died in the line of duty

The "end of watch" came far too early and tragically for five Stephens County law enforcement officers who were posthumously honored last week in a somber Law Enforcement Day observance outside the courthouse in downtown Duncan.

The officers  Duncan Police Chief Irvin Gossett, Marlow Police Officer James Richard Hill, Duncan Lake Ranger Darrell E. James, Sheriff Waldo A. Williams and Deputy Sheriff W.A. Worley  also will be forever memorialized, their names etched into a granite marker to be dedicated that day.

Sheriff Wayne McKinney said a retired FBI agent, Kevin Tyus, who now works as an investigator for the sheriff's office, suggested the monument, and the idea quickly earned support. All costs have been covered by private donations.

James, 34, was the youngest of the local officers killed in the line of duty, and also the most recent. His "end of watch" came on June 3, 1985. According to information gathered by Tyus for the observance, James was investigating a report of shots fired southeast of Clear Creek Lake northwest of Duncan. Less than a half-hour after he was dispatched, responding backup officers found him dead from gunshots to his head and chest. His service revolver was missing. The suspect was later captured, found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The earliest death of a Stephens County lawman was recorded in 1921. On July 25 of that year, Worley, 62, was shot in the chest and killed after he and Sheriff E.H. Rhyne attempted to arrest an intoxicated man who had fired several shots into a store and was threatening citizens. The suspect also was killed in an exchange of gunfire with Rhyne.

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