William T. Lewis

Date of Birth: 
1889
Date of Death: 
July 15, 1927
Location of Death: 
New Bern, NC

Circumstances of Death

Prohibition Agents William Thomas Lewis, A. M. Beck, J. B. Rosser, C. W. Lineberger and Deputy Administrator McDuffie traveled to Kingston, NC, to make an undercover purchase of liquor from Andrew Purefoy, a known bootlegger.  Agents Lewis and Lineberger, acting in an undercover capacity, went to the Luby Sauls Filling Station, outside of Kingston.  Sauls directed them to park their car behind his station, and shortly thereafter, three suspects arrived in two vehicles.  After some conversation, two suspects left in the Government car, while the two undercover agents rode with the third suspect in his car.  As they neared the town of New Bern, the car carrying the agents took several back roads and met up with the first two suspects, who now had the Government car loaded with moonshine.

After making payment for the liquor, the agents attempted to arrest the suspects, but gunfire was exchanged and one suspect was wounded.  Agent Lineberger gave chase to a fleeing suspect, but Agent Lewis was overpowered by the others who robbed him of his money.  When Agent Lewis attempted to leave, they fired two shots into his back.  Agent Lewis died the following day in Memorial General Hospital, Kingston, NC.  Three brothers, Virgil, Lee, and Luther Sermons were later arrested and charged with Agent Lewis' murder.  At trial, they were acquitted by a local jury after claiming they had shot in self-defense.

Background

Agent Lewis joined the Bureau of Prohibition sometime prior to 1927.  Official personnel records are incomplete.

Personal

Agent Lewis was born in Moore City, NC.  He was survived by his wife, J. D. Lewis, and their son, Willie.

Associated Artifacts: 
Image of The Gastonia Daily Gazette newspaper article, with headline, Taking Evidence in Sermon Trial
Image of a newspaper article with headline, Slayers of W. T. Lewis Will Go on Trial at an Early Date
Image of William T Lewis certificate of death
Image of a newspaper article with headline, Taking Evidence in Sermon Trial
Image of The Burlington Daily Times article with headline, Slayers of W. T. Lewis Will Go on Trial at an Early Date
Image Birlington Daily Times newspaper article with headline, State Briefs
Last Reviewed August 19, 2015