Deputy Sheriff Harold Lee Thornton

Deputy Sheriff Harold Lee Thornton

Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, California

End of Watch Wednesday, August 23, 1967

Add to My Heroes

Harold Lee Thornton

Deputy Sheriff Harold Thornton was shot and killed by a former mental patient after responding to a stabbing call at 604 Olivero Street in Modesto.

The suspect opened fire on Deputy Thornton with a .38 caliber revolver, striking him several times. Although mortally wounded, Deputy Thornton returned fire and wounded the suspect, who was then taken into custody. Deputy Thornton was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

The suspect was sentenced to death but the sentence was changed in 1972 to life without parole when the death penalty was abolished. The suspect died in prison on September 9th, 1980.

Deputy Thornton had served with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department for six years. He was survived by his wife and six children.


  • Age 33
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge 38

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .38 caliber
  • Offender Died in prison


Most Recent Reflection

View all 18 Reflections

Thank you all for your kind words. The family still misses their fallen hero. I married his son who I’m told is the most like his Dad.

The unbelievable story never told us his wife worked at the jail and had to face the one who murdered her husband until the trial was over and he was sent away. Imagine that?

What an incredible woman she was to carryon with 6 children to care for, but God works in mysterious ways. She met a great man, a soldier home from Vietnam who had not been married and no children. They are still married today.
God bless

Mrs Thornton

October 7, 2022

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.