MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The Huntsville-Madison County Fraternal Order of Police hopes the public can help them uncover more information on a fallen officer who was killed in the line of duty more than 100 years ago.
Lt. Donny Shaw found an article from November 1903 about the fatal attack on constable William Russell Jr. with Madison Police.
He was serving court papers to a woman when he suffered deadly blows to the head, crushing his skull.
"When we went to serve this paper, this female was able to strike him several times with a heavy stick and it caused two severe injuries to his head that he never recovered from," Shaw said.
The woman was charged with Russell's murder and sentenced to life in prison.
As president of the Huntsville/Madison County Fraternal Order of Police, Lt. Shaw is working with Madison Police Department to find additional details on Constable Russell and track down his descendants.
“We’re looking for newspaper articles we haven’t been able to locate. We’re looking for any photographs. We’re especially looking for a grave site. We could then arrange on each anniversary of the death, to have a wreath placed at that grave site,” Shaw explained.
Constable Russell was a veteran of the Army of the Confederate States of America and served in the Civil War. He had previously served as a deputy for the Madison County Sheriff's Department before working for the Madison Police Department. He was survived by his wife and six children.
Russell's name is on the Madison County law enforcement memorial and it's on the state wall in Anniston, but the local FOP wants to see his name added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“Anybody who might be a history buff and might have studied and researched it and you have additional information that’s not listed on an officer down memorial page or in the local newspaper articles that we’ve been able to find in Huntsville. We’re asking that you reach out to me and the Fraternal Order of Police,” Lt. Shaw stated.
In the future, Madison Police Department plans on having a memorial outside of their office or in their lobby for fallen officers and they would like descendants of Russell to be there for the ceremony when it's unveiled.
They’d also like to have relatives present every year at the local fallen officer memorial service held in May.
It's a fact finding mission for an officer who is gone, but never forgotten.
"Anybody that has sacrificed their life and given the ultimate sacrificed in the line of duty, they deserve to be recognized and honored continually as long as time goes on," Lt. Shaw added. "We're going to do everything we can to have Russell added to the national memorial, to memorialize him at our annual service here and hopefully have a descendant there when we call his end of watch. We'd also like them present whenever Madison PD does their memorial."
Anyone that could provide any information is asked to contact Lt. Donny Shaw at 256-990-2671.