Photos (1) View All

Today marks the 81st anniversary of the death of Benton County Sheriff Leland Fry.

A plaque was added this week to the bust of Sheriff Fry that stands in front of the northeast corner of the courthouse.

The effort to raise funds for the Sheriff Fry memorial was led by Benton County Attorney Dave Thompson. Artist Rick Poldberg designed the spent 100 hours creating the clay sculpture used by the foundry to make the bronze bust.

Inside the courthouse, a memorial wall has been created for Fry on the first floor next to the Recorder's Office. Items on display include newspaper clippings from his wife Hazel's scrapbook, a funeral program, as well as a sap also known as a "black jack" which was used during that era by officers.

Fry was just about to face election for his second term in office in November, 1938, when he went to a house where a man who had fled from his office was reportedly hiding. That man, Leak Crowe, had stolen boots and a fishing pole from a vehicle. He was brought to the sheriff's office at the courthouse for questioning, then fled out a window.

It was cold on November 4, 1938 when the Benton County Sheriff, Leland A. "Sam" Fry, and two other law enforcement officers went to the home of John McLennan in Garrison in search of an escaped prisoner named Leak C. Crowe.

Crowe had been arrested on October 15, 1938 for questioning after he had been suspected of stealing about $50.00 worth of items from a car in Vinton, and later escaped from the Benton County Jail.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, Sheriff Fry, acting on a tip, entered the McLennan house unarmed to confront Crowe, who responded by shooting Sheriff Fry in the abdomen with a Colt .45 automatic.

Fry died the next morning, leaving behind his wife, Hazel, and two children, Dale and Shirley. A few days later, county residents honored Fry by electing Hazel to his former position.

Hazel could have served as sheriff, according to Benton County Attorney Dave Thompson , who worked with the Fry committee. Instead, she chose to work in the auditor's office as she raised her sons.

Hazel kept virtually everything she read from that awful era of her life. Her scrapbooks contained scores of cards, telegrams, photos and letters from area residents.

For more information, visit the Sheriff Fry Facebook page for photos of the courthouse memorial.

Submit a Comment

Please refresh the page to leave Comment.

Still seeing this message? Presh Ctrl + F5 to do a "Hard Refresh".

Comments (1)

Excellent article regarding Sheriff Fry and Hazel. Thank you for running the story. The only correction would be my grandfather had one son Dale and a daughter Shirley, my mother.
Thanks! Could you email me at
By: Jeff Raines on November 15th 3:19am

To receive each day's headlines to your inbox sign up for our email updates.