Talbot Co. Sheriff dies suddenly

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

TALBOT COUNTY, GA (WXTX) – The flag at City Hall in downtown Talbotton was flown at half-staff Monday in remembrance of Talbot County Sheriff Herman Howard.

On their uniforms, deputies are wearing mourning bands over their badges in his honor. On the county jail, a wreath with black ribbons and flowers is hanging by the front door.

Howard was born and raised in Talbot County and had been a sheriff's deputy for 22 years before becoming sheriff.

But after only two years in office, his term has abruptly come to an end.

The sheriff died of a heart attack at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus early Sunday morning at age 72.

Talbot County Coroner Clinton Cosby says the sheriff's wife found him in front of the computer inside their Talbotton home having trouble breathing.

They called an ambulance and Howard passed away later at the hospital.

"He was just an all around good man- easy going, didn't get upset. He knew how to talk to people. He wasn't administrative. He was out there all the time. He was in the field patrolling a lot," said Captain Tom Wimberly, a long time friend and colleague of the sheriff.

"I think he's done a lot in this community. He's served and worked in the county for a long period of time. The community- we lost a loved one. He's going to be missed dearly," added Kenyada Nolen, one of the sheriff's relatives.

The past year was a rough one for the sheriff. His level of education and qualifications were brought into question by the man who ran against him for office in 2008. A judge ended up ruling in Howard's favor.

And some Talbot County residents accused him of covering up his nephew's death. Howard called in the GBI to investigate and his nephew's body was even exhumed for an autopsy. Agents say it was a suicide, not a murder.

Until an official interim sheriff is appointed by the Talbot County Probate Judge, Captain Wimberly is overseeing the office and trying to cope with Sheriff Howard's unexpected passing.

"We're going to try to carry on the duties. It's got to go on but Herman will be missed a lot. He really will," he told WTVM.

Sheriff Howard's family is in the process of setting up funeral arrangements.

Talbot County's Superintendent of Elections is working out the timeline necessary to set up a special election for a new sheriff.

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