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Friends remember Bollinger County Sheriff

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MARBLE HILL -- The sudden death of former Bollinger County sheriff Terry G. Wiseman has left his friends and colleagues in shock.

"You never know what the good Lord has in store for you from one day to the next," commented Marble Hill city administrative assistant and former police chief Gary Shrum.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Wiseman, 43, of Wappapello, Mo., was driving his 2007 Honda TRX420 ATV on his property near County Road 521 around 11:45 p.m. Thursday. The ATV began sliding sideways and overturned, ejecting Wiseman. Wayne County Coroner Gary Umfleet pronounced Wiseman dead at the scene at 12:35 a.m., Friday.

Wiseman, a Republican, was elected sheriff in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004. In 2008 he ran for the Bollinger County Commission but was defeated in the primary.

"His dad did not want him to continue in the law enforcement profession," said Jerry Marquis, chairman of the Bollinger County Republican party. "He promised his dad he would not do that; that's one of the reasons for not running for a third term. He honored his promise to his father.

"He was a good sheriff and well liked," Marquis said. "He did a good job. He was very enthusiastic and energetic. It's a loss to the county."

Marble Hill Police Chief Dennis Willis gave Wiseman his start in local law enforcement.

"I first met Terry when I was sheriff," said Willis. "I hired him as a reserve deputy right after he got out of the academy."

In 2000, Wiseman ran for sheriff against Willis and won.

"I always liked Terry; he was a pretty good ol' boy," Willis said.

Willis recalled how Wiseman had worked diligently on the still-unsolved 1993 disappearance of Roger Miller of Zalma. Miller's body was never found.

"I worked with him pretty close on that," Willis said. "He knew a lot of the people who were people of interest in that case, having been from that area. He worked that case real hard the whole time he was sheriff. He made more progress than anybody else did. He always kept me informed on that."

Shrum was a police officer when Wiseman was sheriff, he said.

"He was a Bollinger County man and had an interest in the county,"

Shrum said. "He made a few changes in the sheriff's department, for the most part running a pretty efficient office. I enjoyed working with Terry,"

In September 2005, Wiseman hired Leo McElrath as chief deputy. In 2008 McElrath succeeded Wiseman as Bollinger County Sheriff. McElrath said it was particularly hard for him to accept how Wiseman died.

"You hear on the news and read in the newspaper every day that someone was killed on injured in an ATV accident, but when it's someone you know personally it really hits close to home," McElrath said.

"It brings real meaning to the words when you say 'be careful, those things are dangerous.' "

McElrath said he worked closely with Wiseman on the case involving Lisa Barlow, who is now serving time for the murder of Michael Strong.

He credits Wiseman with making improvements in the department during his tenure as sheriff.

"He did a tremendous job upgrading the sheriff's department as far as technology and trying to improve working conditions," he said. "He was involved with radio communications, and the computerization of our filing system. He tried to modernize things."

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