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‘Walking Tall’ Investigator Shot

June 12, 1986 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A private eye who spent a year trying to prove that ″Walking Tall″ Sheriff Buford Pusser was murdered was shot to death in an apparent robbery attempt, officials say.

The body of Larry Britt, 42, was found Wednesday in the offices of First Realty Group Inc., where he worked as a night watchman.

Police Detective Robert Chadoin said authorities believe robbery was the motive because several items were missing from Britt’s body. He would not elaborate. However, he said nothing appeared to be missing from the realty office.

″Everything seems to be pointing toward a robbery or burglary at his point,″ said an assistant police chief, Sherman Nickens.

Britt investigated Pusser’s death more than a decade ago after he was hired by the sheriff’s mother, Helen. She later sued him, contending he bilked her out of $500,000 by telling her he was close to solving the case. The matter was settled out of court and terms were not disclosed.

Pusser gained fame as the McNairy County sheriff in the 1970s by fighting corruption along the Mississippi border in Selmer. The movie ″Walking Tall″ was based on his quest for law and order in the rural Tennessee town.

The sheriff was killed in a fiery car wreck on Aug. 20, 1974, just one day after announcing he would portray himself in ″Walking Tall - Part II.″

The Tennessee Highway Patrol ruled Pusser’s death an accident.

Britt contended that Pusser’s death was a conspiracy involving people from the movie business and the government.

Chadoin said Britt, who never proved the theory that Pusser was slain, was still driving the car bought for him in 1976 by Mrs. Pusser.

Britt had handled missing persons cases in Nashville in recent years and ran a convenience store.

Jerry Kemp, who owned the realty business, said it had been plagued with burglaries in recent months and Britt had offered to guard the office.

″He had been sleeping in his building at night on a cot in the back, and he said, ’I’ll sleep in yours every other night, if you want,‴ Kemp said. ″I didn’t even know he was in there last night.″

Byrum said it appeared Britt had been shot in the chest and face. Nickens said there was no indication that a struggle had taken place in the office.