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Chester County Press

Community remembers fallen officers with a ceremony on 50th anniversary

11/22/2022 08:44PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Kennett Square police officers William Davis and Richard Posey were returning from their rounds during the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 1972 when they were shot down in the parking lot of the police station. Last Tuesday, exactly one-half century since the tragedy, community members gathered to remember those two victims and dedicate a plaque in their honor.

The memorial service, which had been scheduled weeks ahead to take place outside at the site of the killings on East Linden at Broad Street, was moved inside the American Legion building due to cold, wet weather. Ironically, the chilly temperatures and damp atmosphere mirrored what it was like that morning all those years ago when people woke up to the news that two of their own cops had been murdered. 

The seating at the American Legion Hall was filled – more than 150 people were in attendance.  A color guard group, a bagpiper and team of police officers were stationed around the room. Many who came while braving the darkness and cold were elderly, having been young adults at the time of the shooting. They were visibly aged, but to an individual were saying, “I remember like it was yesterday.”

Another large contingent of the audience was middle aged and younger people who had been told about the incident by their parents or the old-guard of the borough. They joined in the reverence and appeared eager to be part of the event and were ready to hear the stories. Fulfilling visitors’ hopes and expectations, members of the Posey and Davis family were present as well.

Richard Posey’s son Rick, one of the late officer’s four children, stood before the crowd and spoke emotionally about the shock of the event and how it changed their lives. He said he and his three siblings get in touch with each other every Nov. 15 and ask, “Are you OK?”

Recalling when he was told of the shootings – which he said he’s counted as 18,252 days ago --  he said, “My first memory was my sister Debbie waking me and Brian up and telling us our dad was not coming home.

“I remember how chaotic the day was and how supportive the community was,” he continued.

Speaking of the two officers, Rick Posey said his father and Davis are his heroes. He went on to praise his mother, Mavis Posey. 

“What was she left with? Four kids, three of them minors. She has endured 50 years without her partner. I don’t want to live one day without my wife. It is a testament of your strength, Mom, and we love you.” 

No Davis family member spoke, but present was Beth Davis, who was married to Bill Davis’s brother Gene. She said she and her husband were overwhelmed with the community support at the time, and she continues to be in awe of that support as time goes by. 

Several speakers joined to offer their support, among them Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan. 

“We pay our deepest respects to these two men,” she said. “They paid the ultimate sacrifice. We are here to assure that this tragedy nor their bravery will ever be forgotten.”

Kennett Square Borough Council President Doug Doerfler said, “As I look out at this audience, I am in awe of the brotherhood and sisterhood in our law enforcement, and I am honored to represent the borough here.  I am amazed to hear people reflect on their memories of Posey and Davis and where they were when they heard the news.”

Doerfler praised the organizers, Mayor Matt Fetick and Police Chief William Holdsworth.

Holdsworth said, “It is hard to believe 50 years have gone by. I can’t imagine being a family member and to have lived through this. I thank the families for enduring this.” 

Fetick opened the ceremony by announcing, “It is a somber event, but it is a celebration. They were community servants, and we don’t want to miss an opportunity to celebrate their lives.”

Later, in conclusion, he stood with Holdsworth and displayed the plaque in their honor that will be posted in the parking garage – which now stands where the murders took place.

“No one will ever walk past and not know what happened there,” he said.

Former East Marlborough resident Ancell Hamm was charged with and convicted of the murders of the two police officers. He remains in prison and maintains that he was wrongly convicted.