Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna credits former Sheriff Eddy Boggs for bringing the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office into the modern era.
Boggs passed away Sunday in Covington at the age of 72. He served two terms as sheriff from 1984-92.
Born May 1, 1948, in Hamilton, Boggs also served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam era and was a member of the Masonic Lodge.
Hanna said Boggs and he grew up and graduated Cleburne High School together.
“Eddy was sheriff during my terms as county attorney,” Hanna said. “Looking back on his tenure as sheriff, I think he will be remembered as being the first sheriff of the modern era who helped make the sheriff’s office what it is today.
“He will also be remembered for his fight against drug dealers and manufacturers of meth labs. That fight continues to this day not only through Eddy’s work during his time as sheriff but also through the Stop the Offender Special Crimes Unit, a task force Eddy played an instrumental role in creating. He did a good job and helped slow the speed of drugs into Texas.”
Boggs, during his first term, also oversaw the relocation of the former county jail in downtown Cleburne to the current Johnson County Law Enforcement Center.
Just after Boggs was first elected, an Alvarado girl, Amy McNeil, was kidnapped near her family’s ranch, according to JCSO records. Armed men took McNeil from her brother’s Jeep. Boggs called in the Texas Rangers, FBI and other agencies to assist and set up a command post at the McNeil ranch. Boggs and others subsequently found themselves involved in a “running gun battle with armed suspects” who had established a ransom money drop near Dallas. McNeil was ultimately rescued from her abductor’s car, after which three men and a woman were arrested. All four wound up in prison for their crimes.
Sheriff Adam King praised Boggs’ contributions to JCSO and said he values the friendship he and Boggs developed later in life.
“I was a patrolman at Cleburne Police Department when Eddy was sheriff so I didn’t have much personal contact with him back then,” King said. “But I do remember that when he showed up at major crime scenes that he was a larger than life figure. It was after he left office that I started to get to know him better and we became personal friends.
“I will always appreciate the advice and guidance he gave me when I was running for sheriff and after I took office. He was a wealth of information and he helped me understand the political realities associated with running a law enforcement agency. Even though he had been out of office for several years, his advice was spot on. I will miss Eddy and will always be grateful for his encouragement and guidance.”
Former Sheriff Bob Alford said he was working for the Texas Department of Public Safety during Boggs’ tenure as sheriff. Alford said Boggs realized the need to move from the old county jail, which contained about 100 beds to the JCLEC, which expanded capacity to more than 300 beds. The JCLEC has since undergone several expansions to meet the county’s growing needs.
“He also really concentrated on closing down the meth labs, which was a big problem back then and he did a good job of doing that and working to keep the county safe from drugs,” Alford said.
County Judge Roger Harmon also noted that Boggs had a strong reputation for “busting up meth labs” and fighting drug traffic in the county.
“Eddy and I go way back,” Harmon said. “We’ve been friends for a long time, went to school together and used to go to Friendship Baptist together. He was a good man who made a difference and who will be very much missed.”
Boggs leaves behind a wife, Norma Jean Boggs, four sons, two daughters and two grandchildren.
Services for Boggs will be held at 10 a.m. today at Rosser Funeral Home Chapel in Cleburne, with burial to follow at Rio Vista Cemetery.