Turnkey Joe R. Tuggle

Turnkey Joe R. Tuggle

Whitley County Detention Center, Kentucky

End of Watch Tuesday, October 29, 1940

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Joe R. Tuggle

Turnkey Joe Tuggle was shot and killed by a prisoner in the Whitley County Jail as he brought the man out of his cell to talk to a visitor.

The prisoner suddenly grabbed Turnkey Tuggle's pistol from its holster and shot him twice, killing him. The suspect escaped from the jail but was arrested seven hours later after a bloodhound tracked him to a mountain 15 miles from the jail.

The 21-year-old prisoner, who was awaiting transfer to the state penitentiary to begin serving a 21 year sentence for robbing a gas station, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. In 1945 Governor Simeon S. Willis commuted his sentence to life. He was paroled July 15, 1954.

Turnkey Tuggle was survived by his wife and son.


  • Age 57
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Paroled in 1954

Most Recent Reflection

View all 8 Reflections

I am the great great grandson of Turnkey and his legacy has lived as my grandfather, father, and I all chose a career in law enforcement. It was moving to go to the Law Enforcement Memorial and see his name along so many others who have given their lives to keep our communities safe. Joe Tuggle was also survived by his son, Arthur.

Detective Matt Tuggle
Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

May 20, 2015

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