End of Watch: The Death of Len Burt Adams, Escambia County, Florida Sheriff’s Department

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June 16, 1958

An Excerpt from the book, “Some Gave All,” coming soon on Amazon

By Mike Simmons

In 1958, Len Burt Adams landed a job working for Sheriff Emmitt Shelby as a deputy sheriff. Bert worked anywhere in the county he was assigned to, but he liked working the west side the best. One of the reasons was that he could work with Leslie Brock, another deputy.

Deputy Len Burt Adams

Sunday, June 15, 1958, 10:00 PM: Mr. and Mrs. Pierce Jernigan had a daughter, Wesie, who had been out all night with her boyfriend, Ed Golden. The two young people had made up their minds that they were going to get married. Ed was a good boy, but Mr. Jernigan did not believe Ed was right for his daughter. When Ed and Wesie didn’t come home, Mr. Jernigan was furious. They searched, called, and searched some more – without success. When they pulled into their driveway that evening, Ed’s car was there, and two people were sitting in it.

Mr. Jernigan demanded that Wesie get out of the car. He kicked out the window, reached in, and tried to pull her out of the car. Ed intervened. Mr. Jernigan went and got his shotgun. Not to be outdone, Ed produced a handgun.

Deputy Leslie Brock was with Deputy Adams at a local drive-in restaurant enjoying a break when the call went out about a family disturbance on Saufley Field Road in Bellview. Family disturbances are potentially one of the most dangerous situations for lawmen. Further, the dispatcher said that the man inside the car had a gun. Both men responded.

When Leslie arrived, he took control, talking to Ed Golden. As Bert was approaching, Brock said, “Son, give me the gun.” The young man answered by suddenly producing the .32 caliber handgun and shooting at Brock. The round struck him in the neck. The next shot hit the approaching Deputy Adams in the head. Both lawmen went down.

Ed chased Mr. and Mrs. Jernigan into the house and shot them both, wounding them. Then he got away into the woods. Both deputies were taken to the hospital, Bert Adams critical.

Forty law officers searched the woods relentlessly. Then it came, just before midnight. Deputy Adams had succumbed to his injuries. In a moment, Mrs. Adams became a widow, and the three boys would finish their childhood fatherless. All because of a senseless act by a selfish young man.

The next morning, Ed Golden was spotted at a telephone booth on Mobile Highway, not far from the murder scene. The deputies maintained their composure and took the felon into custody without incident. He gave a full and complete confession. He seemed genuinely sorry for his actions. His father, who seemed like a decent man, could only say, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to do.”

The Goldens hired a dream team to defend their son. Joe Harrell, perhaps the most respected attorney in town, Forsythe Caro, longtime Pensacolian and former county solicitor, and Curtis Golden, a distant cousin, and future State Attorney, made up the team. State Attorney Ed Wicke and Assistant State Attorney Gillis Powell made up the prosecutors.

When both sides rested, the jury was given the case and retired to the jury room. Five hours went by before the knock came on the door. In the courtroom, the bailiff took the form, turned toward the courtroom, and professionally announced “Not Guilty.”

The judge called for order in the court. Then an outcry was heard. “Not Guilty?!” said the widow, Mrs. Adams. She broke into sobs. Ed Golden was eventually acquitted of the attempted murder of Bert Adams’ partner, Leslie Brock. However, on the charges of shooting Mr. and Mrs. Jernigan, Ed was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison. He served two years before he was released.

Escambia River

Friday, April 4, 1975, 11 AM: Alonzo McCain and Joe Frank were driving over the Escambia River on Florida Highway 4. The drive took them through a thick, swampy area stuffed with pines, junipers, and oaks. In its own way, it is a beautiful drive…and the fishing is good. As the men crossed the bridge, they noticed a body lying in about four feet of water. Ed Golden was dead. A gun was lying nearby. Ed had been shot in the head and died instantly.

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