Former Pulaski County Sheriff J.B. King shares his thoughts about Pulaski County's most notorious murders and similarities he sees between that investigation and the current quadruple shooting that resulted in the death of two people.
Editor’s note: The following is reprinted with permission from former Pulaski County Sheriff and author JB King. The story was a post on his personal Facebook page, with his thoughts and memories associated with this time of year. King is still a reserve officer with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department and this editor felt the post was particularly poignant as it concerned a past murder and Pulaski County's most recent shooting. It's a look into the men and women of law enforcement and how crimes stay with them even decades later.
On this date in history January 14, 1977, I was working as a Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper and I found myself at the military police headquarters building on Fort Leonard Wood for a briefing. I was there to assist federal officers with a case where an on duty MP officer had stopped a vehicle containing four teenagers and had abducted them and then killed three of the teenagers.
I was the first officer to locate and interview the lone gunshot victim survivor of the attack and because of that interview the suspect vehicle was positively identified and that led directly to the MP Officer Johnny Lee Thornton in an amazingly short period of time.
Thornton had been taken into custody the night before and we were at the briefing to begin an organized major investigation into the crime. I counted fifteen FBI agents in the room along with twelve CID agents and there were far too many MP Officers to count. My assignment for the morning was to assist FBI agents in the safe delivery of Thornton to the federal court system in Springfield Missouri to begin his legal process toward trial.
As many of you know I am currently researching the Thornton case and writing a book about the crime. They say that history repeats itself and as I write these words I feel that my memories of the Thornton case have an unreal and weird feel to them today because…………..
On this date in history January 14, 2018, I find myself working as part of a task force consisting of Pulaski County Sheriff’s deputies, Missouri State Troopers, Waynesville and St. Robert Police Department officers, and members of the Lake Area Major Case Squad. We are investigating a drive-by shooting attack upon a car containing four people. We have two murder victims and two gunshot victims from this attack. The task force has been able to identify a suspect and obtain a warrant for his arrest in an amazingly short period of time. Now we simply have to find him and that is a work in progress.
At any minute now I expect to hear the music theme from the old TV series of The Twilight Zone to begin playing in the background and to hear Rod Serling begin his narration of the events…………. It really feels weird today……………..…. But at least this time we do not have 8 inches of snow on the ground to hamper our work.
JB King is the author of "The Tilley Treasure," a Civil War buried treasure true story, and "Justice: Military Tribunals in Civil War Missouri." The books can be bought locally at the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau and online at www.amazon.com/J.B.-King/e/B06XKXV6JK. King can be contacted at Sheriff330ret@gmail.com. King is currently writing a book about Fort Leonard Wood's notorious suspected serial killer, Johnny Lee Thornton, and looking for individuals involved in his life, case, trial, investigation, etc.