Officer George Arnold Kemp

Officer George Arnold Kemp

Thomasville Police Department, North Carolina

End of Watch Monday, December 7, 1942

George Arnold Kemp

Officer George Kemp was killed by a blow to the back of his head that fractured his skull. His body was then placed in the elevator shaft at the First National Bank, 10 Salem Street, by one or more suspects.

Officer Kemp was last seen alive by his partner at 4:00 am. A search began for Officer Kemp when he failed to relieve the desk officer at 5:00 am. At 5:30 am his partner found the front door of the First National Bank unlocked and its elevator on the first floor. Between 2:00 and 3:00 am that same morning the door had been found locked by Officer Kemp and his partner. At 7:00 am police returned to the bank to find the doors locked with the elevator still on the first floor. Shortly after 3:00 pm that same day Officer Kemp's body was discovered in the elevator shaft.

It was believed by many citizens and investigators, that one to two days earlier, after closing hours at the same bank where Officer Kemp's body was found, that he had stumbled upon activities, that if made public, would destroy the reputations of certain prominent citizens; and that one or more of these citizens murdered or had him murdered for that reason. He had earlier expressed concern to his wife for having walked in on these citizens while on patrol but was unable to elaborate on details because his children entered the room.

A Davidson County Coroners Jury ruled that Officer Kemp's death was a homicide. Despite this ruling some local leaders propagated for decades a theory that Officer Kemp accidentally fell to his death in the elevator shaft. It was never determined who unlocked and relocked the door of the bank between 3:00 am and 7:00 am that morning. It was physically impossible that Officer Kemp could have gotten into the pit of the shaft without the elevator having been raised. Because of interlocking and safety devices of the era, the elevator would not operate without all doors of the shaft being closed. Therefore, those concealing the officer's body had to have then intentionally closed the elevator's first floor doors for the car to have again been operational. The car had been returned to the first floor where it had been found by Kemp's partner at 5:30 am, its doors now open. Throughout the day of December 7, the elevator was used continuously, therefore substantiating that its interlocking and safety devices had been operating normally.

No arrests were ever made and his death remains an open homicide.

Officer Kemp had served with the Thomasville Police Department for only 10 months. He was survived by his wife and two sons, ages 10 and 12.

Bio

  • Age 38
  • Tour 10 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Blunt object
  • Offender Never charged

Most Recent Reflection

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With love, honor and remembrance on the 75th.

You are not forgotten.

Chris Yarbrough
Citizen

December 7, 2017

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