Pauline Pusser has been lifeless for 56 years and not using a suspect within the case.
On Thursday, authorities exhumed her physique, the spouse of hard-charging sheriff Buford Pusser, who turned often called a folks hero after his demise in Tennessee.
Pauline was shot to demise in an ambush presumably meant to kill her husband.
An overcast day accompanied by whistling winds blew a foul stench by the cemetery in Adamsville, a small city round 100 miles east of Memphis, after the departure of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation brokers, which oversaw the exhumation of the physique on Thursday.
Disturbed dust rests in entrance of her grave, adjoining to her husband’s gravestone that reads “He Walked Tall.”
A current tip prompted a overview of the case, TBI mentioned, they usually found that an post-mortem was by no means carried out after Pauline Pusser’s demise on Aug. 12, 1967.
“With the assist of Pauline’s household and in session with the twenty fifth Judicial District Legal professional Normal Mark Davidson, TBI requested the exhumation in an try and reply important questions and supply essential info which will help in figuring out the particular person or individuals liable for Pauline Pusser’s demise,” TBI mentioned.
The not too long ago exhumed grave web site of Pauline Pusser photographed at Adamsville Cementery in Adamsville, Tenn., on Thursday, Feb .8, 2024.
Buford Pusser and the ambush
Pauline Pusser was solely 33 years previous when she was killed. She was a mom of three.
The Aug. 13, 1967 version of The Tennessean, a part of the USA TODAY community, mentioned Pusser was killed and her husband “severely wounded within the jaw when Pusser’s prowl automotive was fired on at daybreak on a lonely nation street.”
Hugh Kirkpatrick, the then-police chief within the close by city of Selmer, mentioned he heard a name on the radio from Buford Pusser about 6:20 a.m. They have been discovered a couple of mile north of the Tennessee-Mississippi state line on U.S. 45.
“The sheriff and his spouse have been en route to analyze a criticism on the time,” the article mentioned.
Buford was sitting behind the wheel of his automotive and Pauline was mendacity on the seat together with her head in his lap, the article mentioned.
“Kirkpatrick mentioned Pusser informed him the taking pictures occurred on New Hope Street about three miles from the state line,” the article mentioned. “Investigators mentioned they discovered 14 spent 30-caliber cartridges scattered on the street close to the place Pusser mentioned the ambush happened.”
The Pusser automotive was hit 11 instances. Buford Pusser was rushed to McNairy County Normal Hospital, then to Baptist Hospital in Memphis.
An investigator quoted within the article mentioned they thought the couple drove right into a entice. TBI, previously the Tennessee Bureau of Prison Identification, mentioned that they had a few key suspects.
However 56 years later, the case stays unsolved.
The Tennessean ran a entrance web page story on Aug. 13, 1967 the day after McNairy County Sheriff Buford Pusser’s spouse, Pauline, was killed in an ambush outdoors of Selmer, Tennessee.
Investigators seek for solutions
Questions have arisen in regards to the function of an iconic southern sheriff within the demise of his spouse in 1967.
Buford Pusser, made well-known by two Hollywood motion pictures and a number of other books about his life, mentioned he and his spouse Pauline have been ambushed on Aug. 12, 1967, as they have been driving to a disturbance name at 4:45 a.m. simply outdoors Selmer. Pauline was shot and killed on the scene, and Buford was shot within the chin however survived.
A former sheriff from Arkansas, Mike Elam, who wrote a self-published e book “Buford Pusser: The Different Story,” mentioned he has given suggestions in regards to the case to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Elam mentioned he believes chilly case investigators are looking for solutions to 3 predominant questions:
Was Pauline Pusser killed in an ambush on New Hope Street, or some place else?
Was the deadly shot fired from the entrance or the again?
Do the forensics match the story Buford Pusser informed in regards to the taking pictures?
“I feel they’re going to be trying on the entrance and exit wounds,” Elam mentioned. “I handed alongside quite a lot of info to the TBI.”
Buford Pusser’s life turned a nationwide story in 1971 when “The twelfth of August,” a e book by W.R. Morris, was printed.
The gravesites, the Pusser residence, and the memorial marking Buford’s deadly automotive crash have served as sights to vacationers in Adamsville or for followers of the “Strolling Tall” sequence.
“Strolling Tall,” a movie starring Joe Don Baker, was launched in 1973, and a remake starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was launched in 2004. Within the movies, Buford Pusser is a heroic determine who prefered to make use of a hickory stick as a weapon as a substitute of a gun.
“That is a Hollywood fantasy,” Elam mentioned.
Elam mentioned he can be ready to listen to about take a look at outcomes from Thursday’s exhumation.
“The actual query is the trajectory of the bullet,” Elam mentioned.
Buford Pusser’s legacy
The Commerical Attraction ran a full-page article chronicling McNairy County Sheriff Buford Pusser’s life after he was killed in a automotive crash in August 1974.
Buford Pusser’s identify is notorious in Tennessee. He stood massive over most individuals at 6 toes tall and was identified for cleansing up McNairy County, which lies on the southern finish of the state on the Tennessee-Mississippi border, jailing criminals who’d run rampant earlier than his tenure.
He was elected to function sheriff in 1964 after serving as Adamsville police chief for 3 years.
Two years later, he was in his first shootout, killing Louise Heathcock, the proprietor and operator of the Shamrock Motel, after she shot at him whereas he was there to analyze a number of thefts, in response to The Tennessean. Then in January 1967, he was shot thrice, twice within the face and as soon as within the arm, whereas he stopped a motorist for reckless driving.
Buford Pusser had additionally been stabbed twice and a moonshiner tried to run him over., in response to the 1967 article.
He served as sheriff till 1970.
The sheriff’s life impressed a number of Hollywood diversifications. The primary “Strolling Tall” was launched in 1973, six years after his spouse’s demise. It spurred two extra motion pictures, a television sequence and a remaining film in 2004 starring Dwayne Johnson.
Buford Pusser solely lived to see the primary film. He died leaving the McNairy County Fairground in August 1974 when he misplaced management of his Corvette, crashing into an embankment on U.S. 64 close to his hometown, The Business Attraction, a part of the USA TODAY community, reported.
He was 36.
Contributing: Sarah Finest
This text initially appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Pauline Pusser, spouse of iconic sheriff Buford Pusser, physique exhumed