Guard Joseph Lillard Simms

Guard Joseph Lillard Simms

Tennessee Department of Correction, Tennessee

End of Watch Friday, March 12, 1937

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Joseph Lillard Simms

Guard Simms was stabbed to death inside the state penitentiary by a death row inmate who was attempting to escape.

Guard Simms and another guard were delivering food to all of the death row inmates. The cell doors could be opened but were secured with a chain that prevented them from opening more than 12 inches.

When Guard Simms opened the door, the inmate asked him to place a stool inside the cell. Guard Simms removed the chain and as he bent down to put the stool in the cell, the inmate stabbed him in the neck with a 3-inch knife.

The inmate then ran out of the cell and knocked down another guard. The other guard got up and opened fire on the suspect, striking him in the head twice, killing him. The suspect was scheduled to be executed the following week for a double murder two years earlier.

Guard Simms had served with the Department of Correction for 3 years, and had previously served as an officer with the Nashville Police Department. He is survived by his wife, son, two daughters, grandson, and parents.


  • Age 45
  • Tour 3 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Weapon Edged weapon; Knife
  • Offender Shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

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I'm his grandson I worked twenty years with the Texas Dept of Corrections. Worked up the ranks Lt.,Capt.,Major and retiring as Asst. Warden. Then pusuing a new career as apolice officer for twenty six years. All because of his legacy. Never got to know him but he had to one hell of a man

Roland Reynolds
Retired Asst WardenTx dept of corr

June 25, 2015

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