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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – Six Missouri Department of Corrections officers and five law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2021 were honored today during Missouri’s annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service for those who have paid the ultimate price for their service protecting their fellow Missourians.

Officers, their families and friends from across the state gathered this morning at the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial on the grounds to the state Capitol, overlooking the Missouri River.

In addition to the officers who died in 2021, the names of four law enforcement officers whose historical line of duty deaths were recently confirmed were also added to the memorial’s Wall of Honor.

Governor Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt each delivered remarks at the memorial service.

“The officers we honor today exemplified what it means to be a public servant, to willingly take on personal risks so that others may be safe and leave a legacy that will never be forgotten,” Governor Mike Parson said. “We will always remember the lives they lived, the lessons they taught us, and the family members they left behind.”

“The brave men and women who sacrifice every single day to protect their communities deserve our utmost respect and honor,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Law enforcement officers put their uniforms on every morning, not knowing if they’ll make it back home to see their family, kids, and loved ones. Today, we paid tribute to those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service, those who lost their lives bravely protecting their communities. May we never forget their courage.”

Each year, the families of law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty the previous year, and through the decades, participate in the ceremony by placing white carnations in a wreath in honor of Missouri’s fallen heroes.

On Friday, May 6, a candlelight vigil was held at the memorial in remembrance of all Missouri law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Governor Mike Parson ordered that the Capitol dome and Law Enforcement Memorial to be lighted blue on Friday night in honor of fallen law enforcement officers.

The following law enforcement officers’ names were added to the memorial wall this year:

John Michael Bowe

End of Watch: Jan. 27, 2021

Rank: Corrections Officer

Department: Missouri Department of Corrections

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 63

Length of Service: 16 years

On Jan. 27, 2021, Corrections Officer John Michael Bowe died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Eastern Correctional Center in Pacific.

Leslie Lee Lentz

End of Watch: July 1, 2021

Rank: Lieutenant

Department: Missouri Department of Corrections

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 63

Length of Service: 23 years

Lt. Leslie Lee Lentz died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Ozark Correctional Center in Fordland.

Sonny Lee Orbin Sr

End of Watch: July 18, 2021

Rank: Corrections Officer

Department: Missouri Department of Corrections

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 46

Length of Service: 12 years

Corrections Officer Sonny Lee Orbin Sr. died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Women’s Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center in Vandalia.

Robert Lewis Welch III

End of Watch: July 22, 2021

Rank: Corrections Officer

Department: Missouri Department of Corrections

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 59

Length of Service: 13 years

Corrections Officer Robert Lewis Welch III died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the Women’s Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center in Vandalia.

John Richard Bullard Jr.

End of Watch: Aug. 11, 2021

Rank: Sergeant

Department: Independence Police Department

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 64

Length of Service: 44 years

Sgt. John Richard Bullard Jr. died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty. Bullard was a founding member of the Missouri Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.

Dennis Keith Bennett

End of Watch: Aug. 12, 2021

Rank: Corrections Officer

Department: Missouri Department of Corrections

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 59

Length of Service: 20 years

Officer Dennis Keith Bennett died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty at the South Central Correctional Center in Licking.

Blaize Alyxander Madrid-Evans

End of Watch: Sept. 15, 2021

Rank: Officer

Department: Independence Police Department

Cause: Gunshot

Age: 22

Length of Service: 2 months

Officer Blaize Alyxander Madrid-Evans was mortally wounded when he was ambushed by a gunman as he performed a residence check for a parole violator. An organ donor, his kidney donation provided new hope to Springfield Police Officer Mark Priebe, who was severely injured in the line of duty in 2020 and required a donor kidney.

Matthew Logan Davis

End of Watch: Sept. 28, 2021

Rank: Sergeant

Department: Iron County Sheriff’s Office

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 37

Length of Service: 13 years

Sgt. Matthew Logan Davis died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.

Antonio A. Valentine

End of Watch: Dec. 1, 2021

Rank: Detective

Department: St. Louis County Police Department

Cause: Vehicle Collision

Age: 42

Length of Service: 14 years

Detective Antonio A. Valentine was fatally injured in a motor vehicle crash with a vehicle refusing to stop for other officers.

Lonnie R. Lejeune

End of Watch: Dec. 10, 2021

Rank: Corporal

Department: Missouri State Highway Patrol

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 58

Length of Service: 26 years

Cpl. Lonnie R. Lejeune died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.

John David Luck

End of Watch: Dec. 28, 2021

Rank: Probation and Parole Officer

Department: Missouri Department of Corrections

Cause: COVID-19

Age: 57

Length of Service: 11 years

Probation and Parole Officer John David Luck died from complications as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty.

Recently Confirmed Historical Line-of-Duty Deaths

Albert Kopf

End of Watch: September 3, 1907

Rank: Deputy Constable

Department: Perry County Sheriff’s Office

Cause: Gunshot

Age: 32

City Marshal Albert Kopf, who had only been serving as acting city marshal for just 10 days, was fatally shot in the chest by a homeless man after responding to a call from a woman about a disturbance at the woman’s home. He managed to return fire and struck his assailant with one shot. Marshal Kopf succumbed to his wound three days later, on Sept. 3, 1907.

Chris Freeman

End of Watch: Aug. 29, 1941

Rank: Deputy Sheriff

Department: Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office

Cause: Heart Attack

Age: 64

Length of Service: 8 months

Deputy Sheriff Chris Freeman suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after responding to a call and taking a motorist into custody.

Herman Sewing

End of Watch: May 24, 1947

Rank: Sheriff

Department: Cape Girardeau Sheriff’s Office

Cause: Motor Vehicle Crash

Age: 51

Length of Service: 1 year, 5 months

Sheriff Herman Sewing was at a motor vehicle accident scene working to free a motorist pinned in his vehicle, which was in a culvert, when he and the motorist were fatally struck by a tractor trailer.

Charles Lee Burns

End of Watch: Dec. 30, 1966

Rank: Deputy Sheriff

Department: Camden County Sheriff’s Office City of Crane

Cause: Motor Vehicle Collision

Age: 40

Length of Service: NA

Deputy Sheriff Charles Lee Burns was killed in a head-on vehicle collision on U.S. 54 while he and another deputy were transporting three juvenile prisoners.

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