Deputy Sheriff Joseph Willie Pruitt

Deputy Sheriff Joseph Willie Pruitt

Harlan County Sheriff's Office, Kentucky

End of Watch Wednesday, March 20, 1940

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Joseph Willie Pruitt

Deputy Sheriff Joseph Pruitt was beaten to death while attempting to arrest a fugitive who had escaped from the State Prison Farm at LaGrange.

Deputy Pruitt encountered the man at a hobo camp near a set of railroad tracks he was patrolling in Harlan. The man attacked him and beat him to death. The subject was later arrested by state patrolmen in Corbin, Kentucky. It is believed that he was acquitted of the murder charges, but returned to prison on larceny charges. He escaped from prison a second time on September 26th, 1945.

Deputy Pruitt was survived by his wife.


  • Age 54
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Assault
  • Weapon Person
  • Offender Acquitted


Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Sheriff Pruitt,
On today, the 80th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Harlan County.


United States Border Patrol

March 20, 2020

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