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Hundreds line up to pay tribute to fallen Millard County sheriff’s deputy Josie Fox

Her helpfulness and zest for life are recalled

SHARE Hundreds line up to pay tribute to fallen Millard County sheriff’s deputy Josie Fox

DELTA — A town said goodbye to its heroine Sunday night.

More than 1,000 people braved cold temperatures to stand in line to pay their respects to Millard County Sheriff's deputy Josie Greathouse Fox, 37, shot and killed in the line of duty on Jan. 5 while making a traffic stop on U.S. 50 on a suspected burglar.

The line for Sunday's viewing was so long that the doors were opened a half-hour early.

"It's a great tribute to the service she gave to our community," said Kyle Rawley. Rawley's wife, Shannon, went to high school with Fox. "That's why we're all taking it so personally."

Relatives, friends and her fellows in the law enforcement community, including sheriffs and chiefs from numerous departments both across Utah and outside the state, were in attendance at the Millard County Fairgrounds building Sunday. All of them recalled Fox's zest for life.

"She would always lighten up the room," said Pete Madsen, who worked for Josie's parents for many years. Sunday, Madsen used words like "lost" and "empty" to describe how people were feeling without Fox.

"It should never have been. Just a waste of human life," he said. "She's just a great person."

Fox will be laid to rest today during a funeral service at the Delta LDS Stake Center, 145 S. White Sage Ave. Gov. Gary Herbert is expected to be among the dignitaries in attendance.

Inside the fairground building Sunday, Fox's casket was placed under a Millard County sheriff's flag and was surrounded by numerous wreaths sent by family members, friends and several law enforcement agencies. One wreath was in the shape of a Millard County sheriff's badge with a black stripe across the front. Another was of her deputy's hat.

On a table surrounded by flowers, several of Fox's personal items were on display, including her uniform, hat and handcuffs. The sweat pants she wore while in the police academy were next to her Jiu-Jitsu uniform. Pictures and trophies from her years of competitive motocross racing were also on display. There were notes and stories she wrote as a child. One note, written in 1981 when she was 8, was addressed to the Easter bunny asking for a rabbit of her own.

"I won't let the dogs get it" she promised.

Another letter exemplified the kind of service she gave to her community, no matter how big or small the task. The letter was written by a man in 2005 thanking Josie for going above and beyond the call of duty to return a wallet that he had lost.

Next to the pictures and uniforms was a plaque that read, "Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one the chain will link again."

Both young and old stood in line to pay their respects to Fox. All of the cowboy hats were black in memory of the law enforcer.

"She was a heck of a deputy," said Millard County Sheriff's detective Bill Johnson. One of Fox's first ride alongs as a law enforcer was with Johnson. "She's born and raised here. She's well thought of in the community. She was very energetic, very outgoing."

In addition to the tributes at the fairgrounds, all along Delta's Main Street there were signs paying tribute to the hometown hero. Restaurants put messages on their marquees honoring Fox. Flags were all at half-staff, as they are statewide, and yellow ribbons were wrapped around trees.

At the city park, a temporary memorial was created with dozens of candles, a wreath and a picture of Fox. Several gifts were left next to the candles, including packages of Swedish fish and licorice.

One framed note left at the memorial was from an anonymous person who thanked deputy Fox for being a friend.

"Thank you for saving my life," the note said. "Thank you for putting those silver cuffs on my wrist. Thank you for being my hero."

"This town always pulls together like this — it doesn't surprise me," said Vonnie Viers. "It's just an awful tragedy. In a small town, everybody knows everybody."

Fox also had a reputation of being exceptionally good with children and working with the youths of the town.

"She was so fun to be around," said Dez Law, one of Fox's cousins. "She would just always be there for anybody."

"She loved each one of her family," added Lea Law, another cousin. "She'll be greatly missed by us. She's going to be in everybody's hearts forever."

Fox is survived by her husband, son, daughter and two step-children.

In her obituary, her family called Josie their "bright and shining star."

"We will cherish our short time with her. Our memories of her will always put a smile on our face. When she walked in the room, 'the party started,' " her obituary read.

Roberto Miramontes Roman, 41, was charged in 4th District Court with capital murder in connection with Fox's death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. A second man, Ruben Reyes, remained in jail on an immigration detainer Sunday, but no charges in connection to the shooting have been filed against him.

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com