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Community marks 21-year anniversary of sheriff killed in the line of duty

By: Matthew Rand Email
By: Matthew Rand Email

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - It came as a shock to many in Johnson County back in 1992. 21 years ago Sheriff Gene Cyrus was killed in the line of duty.

Gene Cyrus's daughter Angela Cyrus Taylor recalls March 18, 1992 as just as gray and dreary as the one that would follow 21 years later.

"The day started out it was a beautiful sunny day, but it seems like as soon as we got the news it was almost like God was crying too. It just came pouring the rain," she said.

On that day, Sheriff Cyrus went to the home of Flem Burchett, a man who faced a second degree rape charge and had failed to return to court after a lunch break. Burchett greeted Cyrus with a shotgun blast. He would die later at a nearby hospital.

Cyrus's name can be found on a monument outside the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, honoring those officers that gave their lives in the line of duty in Johnson County. Family and those who knew him say Cyrus leaves a lasting legacy that can still be felt to this day.

"He was actually the first, the person that got me interested in law enforcement," said present Johnson County Sheriff Dwayne Price. "When he was sheriff here he made me an honorary deputy, which allowed me to go out and ride around with his guys as well as some of the troopers at the time."

Cyrus's daughter says the years since her father was killed have been painful at times, but the family has taken comfort in Cyrus's Christian faith, and the kind words of people who knew him.

"I feel blessed to have had him as my father, and a sense of pride knowing what he did for others as well," Angela said.

Angela says her father loved being sheriff, and will always be her hero.

The sheriff's office established a scholarship in Cyrus's name. The scholarship offers $500 to young people interested in a career in law enforcement.

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