A member of the Mingo County Commission said he is convinced Sheriff Eugene Crum’s murder was retaliation for his work on drug eradication.
“Eugene was waging such a war on drugs — in not only Mingo County, but southern West Virginia — that threats were being made against Eugene,” Commissioner Hootie Smith told MetroNews “Talkline” Thursday. “Eugene had relayed those to me.”
“To those guys who may have had a part in killing our sheriff, you better find a hole to get in because we are going to be dead after them.” — Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden
Since taking office Jan. 1, Crum had engineered drug operations in the county that put more than four dozen defendants in jail and shut down several pill mills.
Smith said he had suggested Crum should take additional steps to protect himself and his family.
“He would not go into specifics, but he talked to me that he was getting feedback and threats,” said Smith. “Drug dealers said he was stepping on their toes and cutting off their supplies. He was getting rumblings of that.”
Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel said Crum was the most proactive sheriff Mingo County had ever had in the area of the drug war. He said Crum knew where the problems were and he didn’t hesitate to go after them.
“You have a doctor’s office opens at 5 in the morning and you have 100 people standing outside waiting for it to open,” Rockel said. “That’s what we call in Mingo County ‘a clue’ that something is wrong.”
County Commissioner John Hubbard said the sheriff had a gift of being able to reach into the ugly underworld of the drug trade in the county and extract actionable information.
“Even those we would call less desirables, he would be able to go up to them, converse with them, and get information from them and then be able to use that,” said County Commissioner John Hubbard. “He’d use that to get to someone far worse than who was informing him.”
Though Crum’s death was a blow to the county’s war on drugs, commissioners hoped it could also become a rallying cry.
“It’s unreal what him and Dave Rockel have done for our county,” said Commissioner David Baisden. “They was well on their way.
“To those guys who may have had a part in killing our sheriff, you better find a hole to get in because we are going to be dead after them.”