This article has been re-published from Synova Ink with Permission
Do legends die, or do they get distorted over time until no truth remains? The legendary lawmen Buford Pusser was killed in a fiery crash on August 21st, 1974. Although everyone in town knew he had a price on his head, the case was closed quickly and the records were sealed by court order. Why?
In the Buford Pusser case, the controversy surrounding his life was insane enough, but now his detractors are pouring manufactured facts, rumor mill stories, and manipulated truths into the story trying to defame a rough-and-tumble lawman. I will let you decide if he was just a good ol’ boy doing what he had to do, or if he was a bully with a badge.
On August 20th, 1974, Buford Pusser and his daughter Dwana went to the McNairy County Fair. Earlier that day, Pusser had announced he had just signed a contract with Bing Crosby Productions to portray himself in the next Walking Tall movie.
Many locals saw him at the fair. He played basketball with some of them and seemed fine around 7 p.m. However, by 10 o’clock that night, some people noticed he began to slur his words a little bit and wondered if he had been drinking. The people at the food stand remember him ordering two BBQ sandwiches and a fish sandwich along with two glasses of water. He was seen carrying around this disposable cup most of the evening, but the only thing he was known to order was water.
Another witness claimed he saw Buford Pusser leave that evening and he tore out of the parking lot like some rowdy teenager. Although Buford Pusser drove his souped-up Corvette at high rates of speed, he was never that reckless. Others notice at the fair that Buford seemed a little off the longer the evening wore on. These witness statements and others lead people to believe that perhaps Buford Pusser had been poisoned.
One investigator who later would be completely discredited claimed to have proof he had been poisoned with a rare South American Indian poison called Cuare. Like with everyone else who went up against the Dixie Mafia, this investigator was publicly discredited and humiliated. Strangely, this investigator would wind up being shot execution-style a short time later. Everyone was quick to point out that it had nothing to do with the Pusser investigation. I think otherwise.
Just after midnight, Dwana and Buford decide to leave the fair. Dwana gets a ride with a friend and leaves shortly before her father. A few miles down the road Buford Pusser caught up with them and passed them at a high rate of speed. It took a few miles to catch up to the Corvette, but by then it was too late.
Some reports say the car was already on fire, but others say it started a few minutes later underneath the hood. The legendary lawmen lay on the ground near his beloved Corvette with a broken neck. Could he really be gone? It didn’t seem possible.
Rumors began immediately after his death. The tie rods had been sawed in two. The brake lines had been cut. He was poisoned. Investigators say Buford Pusser was drunk and driving to fast he wasn’t wearing a seat belt and he was ejected from the car no foul play, but no one in the town believed it several stateliners had contracts out on Buford Pusser and this was a well-known fact.
Some estimated car was traveling close to 100 mph others say it was a 120 mph. Whatever the case, why would he fly past the car he knew his daughter was in like a maniac? Wouldn’t that put his child in danger? It didn’t seem like Buford Pusser was really in his right mind that night.
This was the argument many people claimed proved poison theory. At the time of his death, Buford Pusser’s blood-alcohol level was 1.8. For a giant of a man 6 ft 6 in tall 250 lb that would not have affected him very much.
Rumor had it the brake lines had been cut on his car but if this was the case why were there 545 feet of skid marks left down the highway?
The manufacturing company investigated the wreckage and said there was no manufacturing default, and it didn’t look like it had been tampered with. Of course, if there had been a default, would they have admitted it? I doubt it. They would have to take responsibility for killing a legend. Besides all of that, if you look at pictures, there isn’t anything left of this vehicle. How could they tell if it had been tampered with? They said the tie rods were broken, but they think they were broken upon impact.
The accident was reconstructed and mapped out using photographs. The low flying machine had crossed into the opposite lane, crossed the grassy ditch, and passed an old gas station. Then it crossed the side road and slammed into an embankment. The big man was ejected from the vehicle and broke his neck upon impact. The legend had just enough strength left to whisper his daughter’s name.
Was Buford Pusser murdered? We may never know. Many have fought and spent thousands of dollars trying to find the truth, but this secret is buried deep in the Tennessee dirt.
What is the purpose of mankind? Humanity’s purpose is to serve others and leave a mark on this world. Whatever your opinion of this great lawman you must agree on one point. He definitely left a mark in history. He inspired thousands of people to stand up for what they believe in. Many people credit their law enforcement careers to his inspiration. What can you say? Have you done anything remarkable with your life? Walk on Buford the Bull.
I cannot possibly fit the entirety of this story in a blog post, so be watching out for a book. I will be writing about this famous lawman, his family, his enemies, and the stories that shaped McNairy County, Tennessee. When reading about this man’s exploits, an old Elvis Presley song came to mind. I would like to quote the lyrics here.
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid
Of the dark
At the end of a storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song
Of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
Ever walk alone
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
Ever walk alone
(WIKIPEDIA SAYS THE SINGLE “YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE” WAS AN ADAPTATION OF THE OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II AND RICHARD RODGERSSTANDARD.)
All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.
Deep in the heart of Dixie lies a hidden evil. It’s tentacles stretch from state to state, from county to county. The Dixie Mafia has produced infamous outlaws, bank robbers, and murderers. The story contains tidbits from each of their lives and even includes the story of a famous sheriff, but this book is not about them.
Silenced by the Dixie Mafia is about a big sister who has fought for answers for over five decades. It’s about a father who was an ex-alcoholic turned into a gambling addict. A father’s decisions would lead to the death of his disabled son and eventually lead to his own demise. Now left alone to find answers and make sense of the chaos is a brave little southern belle named Phyllis.
Tying back to the ambush of Sheriff Buford Pusser on August 12, 1967, this story will change history as we know it. The world knew nothing about the Dixie Mafia until the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret in 1987. This public assassination brought this band of ruthless criminals into view, but the truth was still hidden until the death of the Andersons.
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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.
This week’s recommended Dixie Mafia Books include: