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Slain Officer Finally Receives Tribute

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Patrolman Walker
Patrolman Royston Walker

Patrolman Royston Earl Walker of the Florida State Road Department will finally be honored on May 13th, 2004, in Washington D.C. Patrolman Walker will have his name memorialized upon the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall, along with 361 slain officers. Patrolman Walker was mistakenly omitted from the National Law Enforcement Memorial located in Washington D.C., due in part to the disbanding of the Florida State Road Department Traffic Division in 1937. The agency was dissolved due to lack of support from then Florida Governor Fred P. Cone and would later be reborn as the Florida Highway Patrol in 1939. Patrolman Walker was the first and only Traffic Inspector for the Florida State Road Department to be slain in the line of duty.

Patrolman Walker joined the Traffic Division of the State Road Department in early 1936 and trained in Fort Myers, Florida in February 1936. Upon completion of the four-week training school, Patrolman Walker reported to Tallahassee, Florida and was inspected by then Governor Dave Sholtz. Patrolman Walker was subsequently assigned to the area of North Central Florida. Patrolman Walker was son of Earl Walker, the former Sheriff of Levy County, Florida from 1903 through 1925. Sheriff Walker is best known for his involvement in the Rosewood Massacre in 1923 in Levy County.

Patrolman Walker and Motorcycle
Patrolman Walker - Speed Cop

On the evening of August 31st 1936 in Cross City, Florida, Patrolman Walker while on duty made contact with a vehicle that he had stopped earlier. Three members of the Boston family of Alachua County were driving the vehicle in downtown Cross City, Florida. The men had been issued a warning by Patrolman Walker regarding the vehicle's faulty headlamps. Patrolman Walker stopped the vehicle for operating a vehicle at night without headlamps and subsequently boarded the vehicle's running board. Upon placing the Boston family under arrest, Patrolman Walker ordered the driver to drive the vehicle to the Dixie County Jail in Cross City. A few minutes later a gunshot was fired by Dr. G.W. Boston of Alachua County that struck Patrolman Walker through the heart. Before dying, Patrolman Walker was able to return fire mortally wounding Dr. Boston. Another occupant, a Mark Hampton Boston of Alachua County was also wounded and transported to an area hospital. The third occupant J.C. Boston of Alachua County was not injured and was arrested and transported to the Dixie County Jail in Cross City for his involvement in the death of Patrolman Walker.

During the background research of Patrolman Walker's case it was discovered that Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. had been a fugitive from justice since 1994. Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. was a member of the trio who shot and killed Trooper Phillip A. Black of the Florida Highway Patrol and Ontario Provincial Police Constable Donald Irvin in a Pompano Beach rest area off of I-95 on February 20th 1976. Upon his release from prison in 1994, Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. then disappeared; this act subsequently violated his probation and Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. became a 'Wanted Man'. During his years on the run, Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. assumed many aliases and lived in various parts of the Western United States. Members of the Florida Highway Patrol were able to track down Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. within weeks of learning he was a fugitive. Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. was located in Okanogan County, Washington under an assumed alias.

On Tuesday, September 9th, 2003 Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. was apprehended by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department and is currently awaiting trial in the State of Washington for perjury and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In an ironic twist of fate, if it were not for the 1936 homicide of Patrolman Walker going unrecognized for sixty-seven years, Walter Norman Rhodes, Jr. might still be a fugitive from justice today.

During the National Law Enforcement Memorial's Candlelight Vigil on May 13, 2004, Patrolman Walker's name will be read aloud and enshrined upon Panel 58-E: Line 23, a moment long overdue.

 

 
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