Daviess County Sheriff S.L. Houghton, 65, was shot to death on Sept. 11, 1977, after towing a 16-year-old’s car into Gallatin and taking the youth home.

Daviess County Sheriff Leland Houghton was shot on Sept. 11, 1977, after towing a 16-year-old’s car following a traffic violation. Thus far he is the only local sheriff killed while on duty.

According to the report filed by the highway patrol, Sheriff Houghton towed the youth’s vehicle after a traffic violation. He then took the youth and his mother to his home, located about 5 miles northwest of Gallatin, about 3 a.m. As Houghton started to leave, the youth flashed the porchlight, then began walking toward the sheriff’s car. The youth opened the door on the passenger side, pointed a pistol at Houghton and shot him twice. He then reloaded the handgun and fired a third time.

Gallatin Police Chief Dale Cox, responding to phone calls, found the sheriff lying face up in the road. Houghton was still conscious and an ambulance ws ordered. But the sheriff was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital at Cameron.

S.L. Houghton previously served as county sheriff for three terms (1956-68), then worked as a lieutenant for the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department and then as a security guard in Daviess County. His father, Ben Houghton, was also a Daviess County Sheriff.

Alma Wilson, a deputy and dispatcher working under Sheriff S.L. Houghton at the time of his death, said: “Everybody respected him. He was just so well thought of. He was old enough to retire; he was 65. But they wanted him to run again. He didn’t have to but he did.”

In a newspaper account, Mrs. Wilson said the sheriff always made calls at night, especially on weekends. She said he kept a police radio in his home and often got little sleep because of late-night calls. Yet, he was never injured before; he had a good relationship with the youth throughout the county.