Rest in Peace

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2005

News-Herald Editorial

Rich Square Police Chief Bo Roye was correct.

The small Northampton County town and the surrounding communities will never get over the death of Chief Joe White. It’s simply not possible.

No matter how much time may go by, the death of one of the county’s most loved and respected lawmen will continue to haunt the community.

Monday morning inside the Northampton County Courthouse, a Louisiana man confessed to murdering the chief on July 16, 2000. It was the final legal chapter in the bizarre incident that has haunted a family, a town and a region.

We’ve said many times in this space that Joe White’s legacy is one of a service – service to his community and to his Lord. That legacy should never be forgotten, tarnished or allowed to fade into memory.

The chief’s family has made sure that is so. They have been rocks – pillars of the community and they have shown us how to grieve and do so in a way that is open, honest and yet dignified.

We respect Joyce White and her family’s decision to take the plea bargain offered by the defense. While conviction was likely for Jason Dwayne Hebert, it is never guaranteed by the 12 jurors responsible for passing such judgment.

Mrs. White, her children, and the rest of the family decided it was in the best interest of all to make sure Hebert was in prison without the possibility of parole. It was their final way of paying respect to the patriarch of their family.

Hearing the details of the story no doubt caused pain, horror and even shock to the family and friends gathered in the Northampton County Courthouse Monday. It was, however, a day when at least some of the questions were answered.

The family of Joe White will continue to live without him day after day. It will not be easy for them or the community. It hasn’t been for the past five years.

The only good thing that happened Monday is another chapter was closed in Joe White’s murder. It was a tough chapter, possibly the most difficult since he was shot in cold blood five years and two months ago.

The legal maneuverings are over and local law enforcement, the district attorney and those others involved in the case will move on to other work.

The chief’s family will continue to function, if not truly live, as the days move on. The community will struggle with what happened and how it could have happened here.

But, at some level, at least the chief can enjoy his eternal resting place knowing the law enforcement he spent his life as part of, did what he would have wanted. They worked hard and they solved the case and put a man behind bars where he belonged.

May the chief rest in peace.