End of Watch: The death of Officer Joe Heddy, Jr.

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Escambia County Department of Corrections, Florida

Joe Heddy, Jr.

End of Watch Saturday, June 17, 2017

An excerpt from the book, Some Gave All, coming soon on Amazon

By Mike Simmons

In 1989, Joe Heddy retired from his position in the federal prison system. He decided to stay home with Jill, his wife. It was only a while before Jill got tired of him teaching her how to keep house. She told him to go find a job! He did – at the Escambia County Jail.

Right from the beginning he felt at home. He often found himself counseling inmates like a dad would to a son. He told Jill one time, “there are no bad inmates, just inmates that have done bad things.” Wise words.

The older he got, the more important his easy-going manner of talking to inmates and his funny sense of humor worked in his favor. He rarely had to fight – he relied on his ability to talk and his wits.

The old Escambia County Jail, “Castle Grayskull”

The Escambia County Jail is often referred to as Castle Grayskull. That is where Joe worked until he was transferred to the Road Prison. The inmates assigned there work on road crews all day. At night, they are tired; hence very little trouble.

However, you can never really tell what is going on in the mind of a prisoner. Some prisoners become so distraught that they try to escape when they have less than a week left of their sentence!

On June 17, 2017, Jill was up, and cooking breakfast. Joe came in, ready to leave, and commented on how good the bacon smelled. Then he kissed her and walked out the door. She would never see him alive again.

At work, Joe walked upon an inmate that had tied a bedsheet around his neck and was attempting suicide. Joe immediately grabbed him and tried to remove the sheet. The inmate struggled with him, intent on killing himself. Other officers rushed to Joe’s assistance and were able to help the inmate to safety.

As soon as things calmed down and Joe sat down to write his report, he felt an overwhelming pain in his chest, and he collapsed. Almost immediately, the officers and medical staff were there. They called for transportation and Joe was whisked away to the emergency room. But it didn’t matter. The heart attack was massive.

A wife, three kids and seven grandchildren. It hit everyone like a ton of bricks landed on them. Suddenly the rock of the family was gone. Jill had never been a widow before. Now she had to make every decision without her partner of 43 years. Sure, the kids were grown, but they still leaned on their father for guidance and wisdom. And the grandchildren…no more of “Pops,” their fun-loving grandfather’s quick wit and making them feel special, like grandfathers do. Everything was different now.

Rest easy, Joe. Your job is done.


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