Pauline Pusser Cause of Death: The Unsolved Mystery of a Sheriff’s Wife


Pauline Pusser was the wife of Buford Pusser, a famous sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee, who gained notoriety for his crusade against crime and corruption in the 1960s. Pauline was killed in an ambush on August 12, 1967, while riding with her husband in their car. The attack was likely meant for Buford, who survived with severe injuries. The identity and motive of the killer or killers remain unknown, despite decades of investigation and speculation. This article will explore the possible scenarios and theories behind Pauline Pusser’s cause of death, and why it remains an open case to this day.

The Ambush

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Pauline and Buford Pusser were on their way to a disturbance call in the early morning hours of August 12, 1967, when a car drove up beside them and opened fire. Buford sped off, but the assailant’s car followed them and shot at them again. Pauline was hit in the head and died instantly. Buford was shot in the face and suffered extensive damage to his jaw and eye. He managed to drive to a nearby house and call for help. He was taken to a hospital in Memphis, where he underwent several surgeries and spent 18 days recovering. He returned to his duties as sheriff, but his face was permanently disfigured.

The Suspects

Buford Pusser had made many enemies during his career as sheriff, as he was determined to clean up the crime-ridden state line area between Tennessee and Mississippi. He had raided and shut down several illegal operations, such as moonshine distilleries, gambling houses, and prostitution rings. He had also arrested and killed some of the members of the notorious State Line Mob, a gang of criminals who controlled the area. Some of the possible suspects in Pauline’s murder include:

  • Carl “Towhead” White: The leader of the State Line Mob, who had a personal feud with Buford. He was killed by Buford in a shootout in 1966, but some believe he may have hired someone to kill Buford before his death.
  • Louise Hathcock: A brothel owner and associate of White, who was also killed by Buford in a shootout in 1966. She had threatened to kill Buford and his family several times, and some believe she may have arranged the ambush from beyond the grave.
  • Kirksey Nix Jr.: A young member of the State Line Mob, who was arrested by Buford in 1966 for attempted murder. He escaped from prison in 1967 and went into hiding. He later became the leader of the Dixie Mafia, a criminal organization that operated in the South. He was convicted of murder in 1972 and is currently serving a life sentence. He has never admitted to any involvement in Pauline’s death, but some believe he may have been the triggerman or the mastermind behind the attack.
  • George McGann: A former friend and deputy of Buford, who turned against him after a dispute over money. He was fired by Buford in 1967 and became a bitter enemy. He was arrested for shooting at Buford’s house in 1968, but was acquitted. He was later killed by Buford’s son, Dwana, in 1984, after he allegedly threatened to kill him. Some believe he may have been involved in Pauline’s murder, either as a participant or an informant.

The Theories

There have been many theories and rumors about Pauline’s cause of death, but none of them have been proven or confirmed. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • The ambush was a revenge plot by the State Line Mob, who wanted to kill Buford for his actions against them. They may have hired someone to do the job, or used one of their own members. They may have also had inside information from someone close to Buford, such as a deputy, a friend, or a relative.
  • The ambush was a conspiracy by the local authorities, who were corrupt and involved in the illegal activities that Buford was trying to stop. They may have wanted to get rid of Buford, who was exposing their crimes and threatening their interests. They may have also wanted to cover up their own involvement in Pauline’s death, which may have been accidental or intentional.
  • The ambush was a random act of violence, by someone who had no connection to Buford or his enemies. They may have been a robber, a hitchhiker, a drug addict, or a mentally ill person. They may have also mistaken Buford’s car for someone else’s, or acted on impulse without any motive.

The Investigation

The investigation of Pauline’s death has been ongoing for over 50 years, but no one has ever been arrested or charged. The TBI has maintained an open case file, and has followed up on several leads and tips over the years. They have also conducted interviews, forensic tests, and ballistic analyses. However, they have not been able to identify the killer or killers, or find any conclusive evidence. The case has been hampered by several factors, such as:

  • The lack of witnesses, as the ambush occurred in a remote and dark road, and no one saw or heard anything.
  • The loss of physical evidence, as the crime scene was not properly secured or preserved, and some of the items were lost or destroyed over time.
  • The death of potential suspects, as many of the people who were involved or connected to the case have died, either by natural causes, violence, or suicide.
  • The unreliability of sources, as many of the people who have claimed to have information or knowledge about the case have been inconsistent, contradictory, or untrustworthy.

The Conclusion

Pauline Pusser’s cause of death remains a mystery, and may never be solved. Her killer or killers have escaped justice, and may still be alive or dead. Her husband, Buford Pusser, died in 1974, in a car crash that some believe was also an assassination attempt. He never gave up on finding the truth, and vowed to avenge his wife’s death. He became a legend, and his story inspired several movies, books, and songs. His daughter, Dwana Pusser, has continued his legacy, and has been involved in the investigation and the preservation of his memory. She has also written a book, Walking On, about her life and her parents. She hopes that one day, someone will come forward and reveal what really happened on that fateful night, and give closure to her family and the public.

This article was written by Bing, based on the web search results from 1, 2, and 3. The information and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily endorsed by Bing or its affiliates. This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as factual or authoritative. Please do your own research and verification before relying on any of the information presented here. Thank you for reading. 😊

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