Local News

New Pictures, More Grief on Day of Rich Square Chief's Wake

Posted July 20, 2000

— Investigators have released a new look at the suspect in the murder of Rich Square Police Chief Joe White, just as the town prepares to lay the fallen officer to rest.

The clearer sketch of the suspect was released Friday, along with a picture of a Ford Explorer similar to what the suspect was driving.

White wasgunned downduring a traffic stop last Sunday. The suspect in the killing is still on the run. Friday Wake Draws Hundreds to Small Church

In the Northampton County town of Conway, hundreds of police officers, friends, and family members gathered at the small Revelle Hill Baptist Church for a Friday evening wake.

White's friends remember him as a father, grandfather and deacon at the church -- a man on whom people could always count.

"He was a great man. Not only here, but anywhere you might meet him, he's the same Joe White," says Ola Vaughn, a church member and White's friend.

Police officers also turned out to pay their respects. Patrol cars from as far away as Durham, Nash County, and Virginia were seen at the wake.

"We feel that police officers are a family," Durham Police Capt. Phil Wiggins says. "It's a unique group, and we like to support each other. Whether it's in a large city or a small city, we're fighting for the same causes." Three Years Later, Nash County Town Still Grieves for Fallen Chief

As Rich Square mourns, the town of Sharpsburg watches and understands. Sharpsburg Police Chief Wayne Hathaway wasmurdered in the Nash County communitylast July.

Sharpsburg town clerk Becky Maynard says the small town will never forget their late chief.

"On the 17th and 18th of July of every year, the town still remembers Wayne because of what he meant to us as our police chief. We won't ever forget him," she says.

Hathaway is not forgotten in Sharpsburg. The town is preparing to rename their primary street after the chief, and blue memorial ribbons are still hanging up around town.

But there is one major difference between Sharpsburg's grieving process and how Rich Square is reacting to their chief's murder. Hathaway's killer was captured immediately, but White's killer is still on the run.

Rich Square's mourning is mixed with a frustration that comes from not having any answers.

David Young, Sharpsburg's assistant police chief says, "For the officers to catch the suspect and ultimately get a conviction and sentencing in court, it adds some closure. It doesn't take away all the pain -- it will never all go away -- but it adds some closure.

"It helps you deal with it a lot better than when they haven't caught anyone, and there's a possibility that no one may ever be caught."

Sharpsburg plans to send a delegation to White's funeral on Saturday.

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