Constable Ben L. Northern

Constable Ben L. Northern

Wilson County District Four Constable's Office, Tennessee

End of Watch Sunday, September 4, 1932

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Ben L. Northern

Constable Northern and Deputy Constable Millard Brown were shot and killed while attempting to arrest a youth who had been involved in a fight with another youth. When they arrived the youth's home they encountered him sitting on the porch holding a shotgun. The boy complied with their order to put down the weapon. As Constable Northern bent down to pick up the shotgun someone inside of the home shot him with another shotgun.

The original suspect, 17, attempted to flee but was caught by Deputy Constable Brown. As they started walking back towards the home Deputy Constable Brown was also shot and killed.

Constable Northern's son, who had accompanied them, ran to his father and tried to grab his revolver when he was shot in his arm. He retreated and ran and notified the county sheriff and a deputy. The sheriff responded to the scene with deputies and found that the occupants had barricaded themselves in the house. After firing tear gas into the house, two women, the original suspect, a man and his nephew, 51 and 17 surrendered. The man said he shot one constable and his nephew said he shot the other because they thought they were robbers. The men were sent to the jail in Nashville, because of threats of a lynching, and the women were jailed in Lebanon. That night an angry mob seized the women from the jail and were grilling them for information when 100 national guardsmen arrived from Nashville and restored order.

The following January at the heavily guarded Lebanon court house, the suspects, ages 17 and 51, were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The youth they were attempting to arrest was sentenced to 25 years. After a second trial in August of 1933, the 51-year-old suspect was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to three years. His nephew was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years. The youth sentenced to 25 years was acquitted.

Constable Northern had served as the elected constable of District Four for 2 years. He was murdered 2 hours before his term expired. He was survived by his wife, son, father, and four brothers.


  • Age 40
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

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Constable Northern,
On today, the 90th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Wilson County.


United States Border Patrol

September 4, 2022

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