Sheriff James T. Cooley

Sheriff James T. Cooley

Chilton County Sheriff's Office, Alabama

End of Watch Saturday, March 3, 1900

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James T. Cooley

Sheriff James Cooley was beaten to death by an insane prisoner in the Chilton County Jail.

The 22-year-old suspect, who had been showing signs of insanity for several months, was placed in the county jail until papers, necessary for his commitment to the insane asylum, could be secured. There was only one other prisoner in the jail, so before leaving for the night, the jailer left the partition doors unlocked so both prisoners could enjoy the same stove. During the night the suspect beat the other prisoner to death with a wooden bat and then laid in wait for the jailer. When Sheriff Cooley opened the jail door about daylight, the suspect crushed his skull and escaped. He was recaptured later that day.

The suspect was committed at the Bryce State Mental Hospital in Tusscaloosa where he died on July 28, 1943.


  • Age 89
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Blunt object; Bat
  • Offender Died in mental institution

Most Recent Reflection

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Sheriff Cooley,
On today, the 120th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Chilton County.


United States Border Patrol

March 3, 2020

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