The widow of the late Rutherford County sheriff Damon Huskey, Margie Huskey, was surrounded by family members Friday night at the Pavilion on Park Square (POPS) in Forest City for the showing of the Rutherford County Line, also known as "Damon's Law." The movie was produced by Earl Owensby in 1987 and depicts Huskey's career.
The special showing Friday night at POPS marked the 40th anniversary of the murders of three Rutherford County law enforcement officers on May 31, 1979 in the Gilkey community.
Huskey's brother, Capt. Roy Huskey, was among the three gunned down by James Hutchins, who was executed in 1984 after being found guilty in the murders.
Also killed were Deputy Owen Messersmith and North Carolina Trooper Robert L. "Pete" Peterson.
Hutchins became outraged that evening 40 years ago after claiming his daughter had spiked her graduation party punch too strong. The sheriff's officers were dispatched to the home in Gilkey as the result of a domestic violence call.
His daughter was graduating from R-S Central High School that night.
Tammy Clement and Susie King, both 1979 graduates of R-S Central, were among the several hundred at the moving showing.
Clement said she remembers the graduation ceremony that was supposed to be held outside 40 years ago. She and friends gathered at POPS Friday night to remember the day in history.
She said the name of the Hutchins' daughter was called out during the graduation ceremony. "You could hear a pin drop," she recalled. She said although the class didn't know all the details of the shootings, they knew something had happened.
The killing of the officers was the climax of the movie that would forever change the lives of the officers' families and Huskey's life.
Prior to the film showing, Forest City Commissioner Shawn Moore, recalled being a 7-year-old child in Forest City the night of the shootings and how his mother nailed up the windows in their home not sure where the murder suspect, who was on the run, might go. Hutchins was captured the next morning following an all night manhunt in Gilkey.
Moore called the three officers "heroes" and Rutherford County should never forget them.
"You know where you were 40 years ago. We can't forget what these men did for us," Moore said.
Moore recognized Mrs. Huskey and her family and publicly thanked them for their sacrifices.
"Thank you for what your family has done for us," Moore said.
Margie Huskey's two sons, Jerry and Chris, both attended, along with several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
She recalled the night 40 years ago.
She was at her home when she heard of the shooting but had no idea what was going on and couldn't get further information.
"I didn't know who was shot. I got in my car and drove up there to see," she said, saying she knew it could have been Damon Huskey.
She would later learn it was the sheriff's brother, Roy Huskey, Messersmith and Peterson.
Joan King, a retired educator, said she came to the movie showing to remember her late husband Al King.
The Kings lived in the Harris community when they were first married and Joan said Damon Huskey would often drive by their house and wave to the couple, "you got it made, ain't 'ya" King recalled. That was Huskey's personality.
Later Al King would repeat the words to Huskey when their paths crossed.
"So I'm here for Al," Joan said.
More than 200 people attended the event sponsored by the Town of Forest City.