Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 7, 2013

Slain W.Va. sheriff honored during funeral

Nearly 400 officers pack Mingo high school

DELBARTON, W.Va. — Slain southern West Virginia Sheriff Eugene Crum was remembered Sunday for his warmth, kindness and dedication to tackling Mingo County’s pervasive drug problems.

Hundreds of mourners, including nearly 400 law enforcement officers from several states, packed Mingo Central High School for Crum’s funeral.

The 59-year-old sheriff was shot to death Wednesday, a little more than three months after taking office.

“We ask all the time where have all the heroes gone?” Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury said during his eulogy. “Let me tell you, sometimes we walk in their midst and we don’t know we got them. He was mine.”

Although county Prosecutor Michael Sparks has said there’s no substantial evidence that Crum’s death was drug-related, Thornsbury said Crum had received threats due to his job.

“He was aware he was being persecuted by some, but the saving grace was that he knew he was loved by many.”

The last conversation Thornsbury had with Crum included those job risks and occurred just a few minutes before his death.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘I’m going to fight the good fight,”’ Thornsbury said.

And with that, Crum left for lunch.

He was shot as he ate in a downtown Williamson parking lot.

Police charged 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard with murder and the motive is still unclear.

Thornsbury recalled the day he went looking for Crum more than a decade ago when the judge needed to find a chief magistrate. He tracked down Crum at a bowling alley and swore him into office right there.

Crum stepped down as magistrate in January 2012 in order to seek the sheriff’s job. Before winning that job, he was appointed by the prosecutor’s office last August as a special investigator for drug enforcement.

Thornsbury said under Crum’s short watch as sheriff, the county saw 57 felony convictions, and state Delegate Harry Keith White, who campaigned with Crum last year, said there were more indictments under Crum than the county had seen in the past eight years.

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