Fallen Hero: Detective Ed Jones

Nelson Zoch

September 13, 1929

On Friday night, September 13, 1929, veteran Houston Detective Ed Jones, a man of color, was home at his residence at 3527 McGregor Avenue. He lived there with his wife Sylvia. Sylvia’s brother, Johnnie Wilson, a man later described as demented, lived there on an occasional basis. He was there this night, having been brought to this residence to stay for a few days of rest and recuperation from an illness.

Detective Jones had just gone to bed when he was awakened by a slam of the door. Upon investigation, he saw Johnnie leaving the room with his gun. He pursued Johnnie to the sidewalk, where the man, without provocation, fired a shot that struck the detective in the chest. According to Sylvia Jones and her mother, Mrs. Amanda Wilson, there had been no quarrel or dispute.  Johnnie Wilson fled the scene on foot, running east and taking the .45-caliber pistol with him.  Detective Jones was dead from the chest wound, while also struck in the right leg.

Almost immediately, Detectives George Peyton and Young led a posse that searched throughout the night but failed to produce the suspect. On Saturday afternoon, they located Wilson in a wooded area less than a half mile from the scene of the deadly shooting. A crowd estimated at more than five hundred people gathered nearby as the officers arrived to arrest Wilson.

Detectives Peyton, Kirk Irwin, Gambill and McGrew responded to reports that Wilson had been seen in the woods. The posse found him leaning against a tree and engaged him in a conversation while edging nearer. Wilson on several occasions caused a panic by waving the gun around in his hand. Calmly carrying on a conversation until they were at arms length, the officers reached out and grabbed the gun, with Wilson offering no resistance.

Officers took statements from Sylvia Jones and Amanda Wilson, the sister and mother of the suspect. Justice of the Peace Campbell Overstreet held an inquest, returning a verdict of death due to pistol wound from a weapon in the hands of Johnnie Wilson. After Wilson’s arrest, Justice Overstreet charged the suspect with murder in Detective Jones’ death.

Ed Jones was listed as being forty-five years old, although he was believed to having been born sometime in 1880 in Alabama. The supposed birth year would make him forty-nine years old at the time of his death. His death certificate showed no exact date of birth. Newspaper headlines depicted him as a veteran city detective and a

sleuth and further described him as “friend to the erring but a terror to the habitual law breaker.” Other comments from department heads included, “He was one of our best men and I think his place will be hard to fill. In fact, I don’t think it can be filled. He was fearless and always on the job.” Jones had been employed as an officer with the Houston Police Department since 1924.

A verbatim story from the Houston Informer of Saturday, September 21, 1929 said:

 

The funeral services for Detective Jones were conducted on Tuesday, September 17, 1929, at the Saint John Baptist Church (Broadway), with Pastor N. C. Crain officiating. Several colored and white members attended the funeral in a body, with six race officers serving as pallbearers.

Sergeant of Detectives George Peyton and James (Ditty) Thompson, the latter being the deceased officer’s partner, delivered brief eulogies. Peyton commended Detective Jones for his efficiency as an officer as well as his honesty and loyalty. Mr. H. P. Carter read the obituary. The services were under the direction of McCoy-Harrison Undertaking Company. The funeral cortege was escorted by a fleet of motorcycle officers. Burial followed in Olive Wood Cemetery.