FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 07, 2022


Missouri law enforcement community honors state’s officers who made ultimate sacrifice in 2021

Names of 11 officers who died in the line of duty in 2021 were added to Law Enforcement Memorial, along with 4 recently confirmed historical deaths

Note: Photographs of the ceremony are available for your use on the DPS Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/missouridps/

Six Missouri Department of Corrections officers and five law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2021 were honored today during Missouri’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service for those who have paid the ultimate price for their service protecting their fellow Missourians.

Officers, their families and friends from across the state gathered this morning at the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial on the grounds to the state Capitol, overlooking the Missouri River.  

In addition to the officers who died in 2021, the names of four law enforcement officers whose historical line of duty deaths were recently confirmed were also added to the memorial’s Wall of Honor.

Governor Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt each delivered remarks at the memorial service.

“The officers we honor today exemplified what it means to be a public servant, to willingly take on personal risks so that others may be safe and leave a legacy that will never be forgotten,” Governor Mike Parson said. “We will always remember the lives they lived, the lessons they taught us, and the family members they left behind.” 

“The brave men and women who sacrifice every single day to protect their communities deserve our utmost respect and honor,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Law enforcement officers put their uniforms on every morning, not knowing if they’ll make it back home to see their family, kids, and loved ones. Today, we paid tribute to those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service, those who lost their lives bravely protecting their communities. May we never forget their courage.”

Each year, the families of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty the previous year, and through the decades, participate in the ceremony by placing white carnations in a wreath in honor of Missouri’s fallen heroes.

On Friday, May 6, a candlelight vigil was held at the memorial in remembrance of all Missouri law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Governor Mike Parson ordered that the Capitol dome and Law Enforcement Memorial to be lighted blue on Friday night in honor of fallen law enforcement officers. 

The following law enforcement officers’ names were added to the memorial wall this year:

John Michael Bowe
End of Watch: Jan. 27, 2021
Rank: Corrections Officer
Department: Missouri Department of Corrections
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 63
Length of Service: 16 years

Corrections Officer John Michael Bowe died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific.

Leslie Lee Lentz
End of Watch: July 1, 2021
Rank: Lieutenant
Department: Missouri Department of Corrections
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 63
Length of Service: 23 years

Lt. Leslie Lee Lentz died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Ozark Correctional Center in Fordland.

Sonny Lee Orbin Sr.
End of Watch: July 18, 2021
Rank: Corrections Officer
Department: Missouri Department of Corrections
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 46
Length of Service: 12 years

Corrections Officer Sonny Lee Orbin Sr. died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Women’s Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center in Vandalia.

Robert Lewis Welch III
End of Watch: July 22, 2021
Rank: Corrections Officer
Department: Missouri Department of Corrections
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 59
Length of Service: 13 years

Corrections Officer Robert Lewis Welch III died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Women’s Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center in Vandalia.

John Richard Bullard Jr.
End of Watch: Aug. 11, 2021
Rank: Sergeant
Department: Independence Police Department
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 64
Length of Service: 44 years

Sgt. John Richard Bullard Jr. died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. Bullard was a founding member of the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation. 

Dennis Keith Bennett
End of Watch: Aug. 12, 2021
Rank: Corrections Officer
Department: Missouri Department of Corrections  
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 59
Length of Service: 20 years

Corrections Officer Dennis Keith Bennett died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking. 

Blaize Alyxander Madrid-Evans
End of Watch: Sept. 15, 2021
Rank: Officer
Department: Independence Police Department
Cause: Gunshot
Age: 22
Length of Service: 2 months

Officer Blaize Alyxander Madrid-Evans was mortally wounded when he was ambushed by a gunman as he performed a residence check for a parole violator. An organ donor, his kidney donation provided new hope to Springfield Police Officer Mark Priebe, who was severely injured in the line of duty in 2020 and required a donor kidney.

Matthew Logan Davis
End of Watch: Sept. 28, 2021
Rank: Sergeant
Department: Iron County Sheriff’s Office
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 37
Length of Service: 13 years

Sgt. Matthew Logan Davis died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.

Antonio A. Valentine
End of Watch: Dec. 1, 2021
Rank: Detective
Department: St. Louis County Police Department   
Cause: Vehicle Collision
Age: 42
Length of Service: 14 years

Detective Antonio A. Valentine was fatally injured in a motor vehicle crash with a vehicle refusing to stop for other officers.

Lonnie R. Lejeune
End of Watch: Dec. 10, 2021
Rank: Corporal
Department: Missouri State Highway Patrol
Cause: COVID-19  
Age: 58
Length of Service: 26 years

Cpl. Lonnie R. Lejeune died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.

John David Luck
End of Watch: Dec. 28, 2021
Rank: Probation and Parole Officer
Department: Missouri Department of Corrections
Cause: COVID-19
Age: 57
Length of Service: 11 years

Probation and Parole Officer John David Luck died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.

Recently Confirmed Historical Line-of-Duty Deaths

Oscar Edwin Hornberger
End of Watch: April 19, 1930
Rank: Deputy Constable
Department: Perry County Sheriff’s Office
Cause: Gunshot
Age: 38
Length of Service: 4 years

Deputy Constable Oscar Edwin Hornberger was accidentally shot and killed by another officer while conducting a raid on an illegal liquor making operation.

Chris Freeman
End of Watch: Aug. 29, 1941
Rank: Deputy Sheriff
Department: Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office
Cause: Heart Attack
Age: 64
Length of Service: 8 months

Deputy Sheriff Chris Freeman suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after responding to a call and taking a motorist into custody.

Herman Sewing
End of Watch: May 24, 1947
Rank: Sheriff
Department: Cape Girardeau Sheriff’s Office
Cause: Motor Vehicle Crash
Age: 51
Length of Service: 1 year, 5 months

Sheriff Herman Sewing was at a motor vehicle accident scene working to free a motorist pinned in his vehicle, which was in a culvert, when he and the motorist were fatally struck by a tractor trailer.

Charles Lee Burns
End of Watch: Dec. 30, 1966  
Rank: Deputy Sheriff
Department: Camden County Sheriff’s Office City of Crane
Cause: Motor Vehicle Collision
Age: 40
Length of Service:

Deputy Sheriff Charles Lee Burns was killed in a head-on vehicle collision on U.S. 54 while he and another deputy were transporting three juvenile prisoners.



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For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'connell@dps.mo.gov