MEDFORD, Ore. — The name of a Jackson County deputy who was killed nearly 100 years ago will be added to the Oregon Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Salem.
The Board on Public Safety Standards and Training unanimously approved adding Charles Basye to the list of more than 170 Oregon law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty since the 1880s.
Basye, 47, was fatally beaten in June 1917 by a prisoner escaping from the county jail in Jacksonville. His name will be added to the Salem memorial during the annual ceremony honoring fallen law enforcement officers on May 6, 2014, the Mail Tribune newspaper reported.
“No one really knew about his death until it was pointed out by Jackson County,” said Eriks Gabliks, director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. “Our goal is to honor every fallen officer — city, county, state, tribal or federal — who was out there protecting Oregonians.”
According to Mail Tribune articles from 1917, the killer was a farmer named John Lee Ragsdale who was facing 20 years in prison for criminal assault on his stepdaughter. A little more than a week before the murder he had tried to commit suicide while in jail.
On June 12, he killed Basye with a flat iron used by prisoners to press their clothes and then stole the deputy’s revolver and fled with another prisoner. Four boys, all 10 or younger, followed the escaping prisoners and were able to direct the authorities to them.
Ragsdale killed himself with the stolen gun while surrounded by a posse in brush south of Jacksonville.
“This was Western law enforcement in its infancy,” Gabliks said. “You have this person who wants to break out of jail, strikes and kills the jailer with a clothing iron, takes his gun and leaves with another inmate who he holds hostage before killing himself.”
Basye was survived by two adult daughters and a sister. A blacksmith by training, he is buried in the Missouri Flat Cemetery in the Applegate Valley.