Constable Darwin P. Rice

Constable Darwin P. Rice

Bell County Constable's Office - Precinct 6, Texas

End of Watch Friday, August 6, 1886

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Darwin P. Rice

Constable Darwin Rice was sent to seize a yoke of oxen under a writ of attachment from Rufus W. Ledbetter in Eddy on the Bell-Falls county line. Constable Rice did not anticipate trouble despite Ledbetter’s prior threats to kill the constable if he tried to arrest him or seize the oxen. Ledbetter was lying under his plow making a repair when Constable Rice approached and tied his horse to the plow. The constable had left his pistol in the saddlebags on his horse. Ledbetter started swearing and threatening to kill the constable. Ledbetter grabbed his .56 caliber rifle and shot Rice in the arm with the bullet passing into his right side. Rice grabbed the rifle and wrestled it away from the suspect. Several witnesses picked up the constable and took him to a hay stack to rest. Ledbetter returned with a knife and demanded his rifle. One of the witnesses threw the rifle in the field and fled. Ledbetter fired at him and missed. Constable Rice lingered until 9:00 p.m. the next night when he died.

Rufus W. Ledbetter was convicted and sentenced to death but he appealed and had the case reversed and remanded because the constable was outside Bell County by 200 yards. A second trial was held and Ledbetter was tried and convicted and sentenced to life in prison but he appealed again and the case was reversed and remanded because of improper jury instruction. It is unknown if Ledbetter was ever formally convicted of the murder.

Rice is buried at the Moffat Cemetery in Bell County. He was only 26 years old. Newspaper accounts indicate that Rice may have also been a Bell County deputy sheriff.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 1 year, 8 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Thursday, August 5, 1886
  • Weapon Rifle
  • Offender Convicted but case overturned on appeal

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Rest in peace knowing that no passage of time will ever erase your service and sacrifice.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

August 6, 2020

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