Franklin Loyd became the sheriff of Lamb County in 1935. Two years later he was murdered on a March 20, 1937, night in Littlefield near the town’s depot. Only one photograph of him was ever found and that was in the Clovis News Journal.
His killer, Leroy Kelley was electrocuted for his murder on March 15, 1938. He became the 150th man to die in the Texas prison system’s legendary electric chair, “Old Sparky.”
Loyd was buried on March 23, 1937, under weather conditions suggestive of the violence his life was taken. Sand blew with gale force intensity stinging the faces of people in attendance. No trees were near his gravesite making the strong winds even harder to withstand. At that time the cemetery was wide-open country.
Loyd’s gravesite is marked with a small Texas Historical Commission Marker. The marker is inscribed with:
“Born in Montague County. Taking office as sheriff in 1935, he served with honor until mortally wounded in line of duty. His widow, Mrs. Grace Owen Loyd, served remainder of term. He was father of 8 children.”
Grace Loyd completed her husband’s term, serving from 1937 – 1939. She was named sheriff of the county in line with the traditional Texas custom where the wife was first offered the position in which her husband, acting in his official capacity as sheriff gives up his life.
Initially, I was always under the impression that Dr. Roy and Mae Hunt were the first murders in Littlefield. During my investigative research, I discovered the Kelley case and the murder of Loyd.
After reading through the appeal document of the Kelley case I realized it was important to include Loyd’s murder in the Hunt book. The foundation on this was based on one of the bullet’s that took Loyd’s life. The bullet killing Roy is judicially tied to Loyd’s case in the oddest of ways. The details will be revealed in the forthcoming book.
Photographs – © Christena Stephens Photography
Newspaper Photographs – Clovis News Journal, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Lamb County Leader