Deputy Sheriff Theron Anthony Burnham

Deputy Sheriff Theron Anthony Burnham

Polk County Sheriff's Office, Florida

End of Watch Friday, January 9, 1981

Theron Anthony Burnham

Deputy Burnham was shot and killed with his own weapon after being dispatched to investigate a suspicious person walking on a roadway near Lakeland Airport at 4:00 am. Unbeknownst to Deputy Burnham, the man had just committed two murders earlier in the evening and was under the influence of narcotics at the time. Other responding deputies exchanged gunfire with the suspect, who evaded capture until a manhunt the next day.

The suspect was sentenced to death after three trials.

Deputy Burnham had served with the agency for 9 years. He was survived by his wife.


  • Age 27
  • Tour 9 years
  • Badge 137

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to death

Most Recent Reflection

View all 27 Reflections

T.A., As a Florida State Trooper I worked with your brother, Captain L.A. Burnham, a fine officer and honorable man. I knew you also and there was no finer officer or person than yourself.

I helped search for your killer and I regret we did not capture him during our search. Justice has been long overdue for you and your family. Sheriff Grady Judd has and is making every effort to see that justice will be done soon and I support his efforts.

T.A. You are missed and the world has lost a fine officer and gentleman. May God place stars in your crown. We miss you now and forever. You will not be forgotten.

Trooper Darrell E. Burnham (ret)
Florida Highway Patrol and Winter Haven PoliceDepartment

October 2, 2016

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