Missouri State Patrolman Jimmie Linegar was killed near Branson on April 15, 1985, after being shot four times with an automatic weapon by a member of the violent neo-Nazi group called The Order. Linegar was one of 716 members of law enforcement who have died in the line of duty in Missouri since records were kept. They are listed on the Missouri Law Enforcement Wall of Honor in Jefferson City.
Last weekend, a law enforcement member close to home was added to the memorial that pays tribute to the officers who perished in the line of duty. Richard Allen Wright, who worked at the Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia, was one of four officers who died of COVID-19 in the line of duty during 2020.
Wright died on Nov. 19 after contracting the virus. Rick Groves, of the Kennett Police Department, died on Oct. 16; Dwight Eugene Willis, a Greene County Sheriff’s Office detention officer, died on Nov. 22; and Kendle Glen Blackburn, of the Lebanon Police Department, died on Dec. 28.
A candlelight vigil was held on Friday, April 30, during which the Capitol Dome and memorial were lit in blue by order of the governor. A ceremony was also conducted on Saturday, May 1. The families of the fallen and representatives of law enforcement agencies from across Missouri participated at the solemn ceremonies. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and Attorney General Eric Schmitt delivered remarks.
“This year, our in-person memorial services remind us, once again, of the importance of seeing our comrades and sharing memories of those we lost and the lessons they taught us about selfless service,” said Sandy Karsten, director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
Four other Missouri peace officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 were also honored:
Christopher Ryan Walsh, of the Springfield Police Department, was shot and killed on March 16 when he and another officer confronted an active shooter at a convenience store;
Andy Deric Clark, of the DeKalb County Sheriff, was killed on June 3, in a vehicle crash while responding to a deputy in an emergency situation.
Tamarris L. Bohannon, of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, died on Aug. 29 after he and another officer were ambushed while responding to a shooting call.
Herschel Turner, Jr., of the Moline Acres Police Department, died on Dec. 5, when he was fatally struck by another officer’s vehicle during a stop of a stolen vehicle.
The Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation was established in 1985 as a nonprofit fundraising organization to finance the construction of a memorial to Missouri’s fallen law enforcement officers. The memorial was dedicated on June 17, 1994.
A number of historical line-of-duty deaths were also added to the wall after being recently confirmed. A complete list of these officers is available on the memorial website.
A number of other area officers have been previously honored at the memorial after falling in the line of duty over the years, including: Orville Rosenstengel, of the Vandalia Police Department, who was shot by a drunk man in 1960; Chalmus Blum, of the Audrain Sheriff’s Office, who was murdered in the Mexico railroad yards while searching for a fugitive in 1921; Andy Early, of the Audrain Sheriff’s Office, who died in an icy road accident in 2006; and Patrolman James Bava, who was killed during a pursuit in Audrain County in 2015.
Photo courtesy of the Missouri Governor’s Office