The story of Buford Pusser is one of tragedy, determination, and ultimately, revenge. Pusser, a former professional wrestler and small-town sheriff, became an icon of justice and retribution in the late 1960s when he took on a group of ruthless criminals who had murdered his wife. This article will explore the story of Buford Pusser and his relentless pursuit of vengeance.
Early Life and Career of Buford Pusser
Buford Pusser was born on December 12, 1937, in Finger, Tennessee. He grew up in a poor family and had to drop out of high school to support his parents and siblings. Pusser later found work as a professional wrestler and became known for his size and strength. In 1964, he returned to his hometown and was elected sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee.
The Murder of Buford Pusser’s Wife
On August 12, 1967, Pusser’s wife, Pauline, was killed in a car accident on a rural road. Pusser was also in the car and survived the crash with serious injuries. However, he soon discovered that his wife’s death was not an accident, but a deliberate act of violence. It was later revealed that a group of criminals, known as the Dixie Mafia, had rigged the car with a bomb to kill Pusser.
Revenge of Buford Pusser
Pusser was determined to bring his wife’s killers to justice. He was convinced that the ambush had been orchestrated by a local criminal organization known as the State Line Mob, which was involved in bootlegging, gambling, and other illegal activities. Pusser believed that Pauline’s murder was part of a larger conspiracy to silence him and prevent him from cracking down on the mob.
Over the course of several months, Pusser launched a relentless hunt for the perpetrators. He worked closely with the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies to track down the suspects. He also received support from the local community, who were outraged by the brutal murder of his wife.
Pusser’s revenge was ruthless and uncompromising. He was not content to simply apprehend the suspects; he wanted to make them pay for what they had done. He hunted them down one by one, using his formidable strength and skills as a marksman to take them out.
“I knew what I was doing,” Pusser later said. “I had to get them before they got me.“
Pusser became a legendary figure in his own time, known for his determination, courage, and ferocity. He was hailed as a hero by some and feared as a vigilante by others. He was often called the “Walking Tall” sheriff, after the movie that was based on his life.
“I didn’t think I was a hero,” Pusser said. “I was just doing my job.“
Finally, in December of 1968, Pusser confronted the last remaining member of the gang in a dramatic shootout. The criminal was killed, but Pusser was shot seven times and nearly died. He spent months in the hospital and underwent numerous surgeries to recover.
Despite the risks and the violence, Pusser never wavered in his pursuit of justice. He remained committed to fighting organized crime and corruption until his death in a car accident in 1974.
“Buford Pusser was a good man,” said his friend and colleague Sheriff Carl Cooper. “He had a job to do and he did it. He was tough, but fair. He had a sense of justice that was unshakeable.“
Legacy and Controversy
Buford Pusser died on August 21, 1974, in a car accident on a rural road. His death sparked conspiracy theories and rumors of foul play, but an investigation concluded that it was an accident. Pusser’s legacy as a symbol of justice and revenge has endured, but his methods and tactics remain controversial.
Some view Pusser as a hero who took on a corrupt system and fought for justice with everything he had. Others see him as a dangerous and reckless vigilante who took the law into his own hands and caused more harm than good. Regardless of one’s opinion of Pusser, his story is a powerful reminder of the human desire for justice and the consequences of seeking revenge.