Former Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell dead at 71

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Former Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell died early Saturday morning in a Columbus hospital.

Boswell was 71.

“He was a mentor, friend and an outstanding law enforcement officer,’ said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.

Boswell’s death was unexpected and leaves a massive hole in Russell County.

Taylor replaced Boswell in 2010 when Boswell retired after being Russell County sheriff for 21 years.

“We are all going to miss him so much,” Taylor said.

It was fitting that Boswell was born on July 4, He was an all-American lawman who came through the investigative ranks to be elected sheriff. 

Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis and Boswell both worked in the DA’s office back in the 1970s when Boswell was an investigator.

“I can’t tell you how many murder scenes I have been on with Tommy,” Davis said.

“Years ago we were investigating a serial killer — we suspected he had killed three to five women — and Tommy was the lead investigator,” Davis said. “We exhumed a body that had been buried for more than a year. It was 110 degrees, there were mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds. He was meticulous.”

The end result?

“We convicted the man on three murders,” Davis said. 

Davis thinks he knows what made Boswell such a talented investigator/

“To me, Tommy was a little different,” Davis said. “His background was education. He had a master’s in history. But he became an outstanding investigator because he dotted every single ‘I’ and crossed all the ‘T’s. And when he became sheriff, he took that same approach to that office.”

Boswell used to talk about the men and women who worked in his department, it was a combination of longtime Russell County residents and those brought to the region by the U.S. Army.

“Good, ‘ol boys and trained killers,” he used to joke.

But he was able to make that combination work, said Russell County Commissioner Chance Corbett, who started as a sheriff’s deputy in 1991.

“The department was a family and they took care of each other,” Corbett said. “You take care of people and they take care of you. He took care of the people who worked for him. And he also took care of his county.”

Boswell, an Auburn graduate, was also a gifted storyteller and historian.

“If I needed anything about the history of Russell County, that was my first call,” Corbett said. 

A couple of weeks ago, Boswell called Corbett to tell him that he was going to miss the dedication of a memorial to slain Alabama attorney general Albert Patterson.

He told Corbett, “‘Look, I can stay at home and help Debbie try to rearrange our house from the repairs, I can go to that statue dedication for an hour or I can go to Gulf Shores with my daughter Jennifer to help her…. what would you do?’”  With a good laugh, I said ‘Have fun.’”

The jail and office currently being used in Russell County were built on Boswell’s watch.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Debbie; son Drew and daughter, Jennifer. The Boswells have several grandchildren.

Davis remembers his friend this way.

“Tommy was a fair man,” Davis said. “Now don’t get me wrong, he was law enforcement and he was law and order to the core. But Tommy was as fair a man as you will ever meet,”

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