Former Sumter sheriff inducted into state hall of fame

Parnell widely known for apprehending serial killer Donald ‘Pee Wee’ Gaskins


On Wednesday, seven officers were inducted into the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame including former Sumter County Sheriff I. Byrd Parnell.

Parnell and the other former officers recognized during the induction ceremony were chosen for their "meritorious service" and contributions to law enforcement in South Carolina, according to a news release from S.C. Department of Public Safety.

Parnell was elected sheriff in 1952 and served Sumter County until he retired in 1981.

During his speech Wednesday, Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis noted that Parnell served as president of the National Sheriff's Association, president of Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy Associates, president of South Carolina Sheriff's Association and president of South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Parnell is particularly known for apprehending serial killer Donald "Pee Wee" Gaskins in 1975.

Dennis said those who had the honor of working alongside Parnell can tell stories of his quick wit, photographic memory and strong work ethic.

Parnell dedicated 42 years of his life to law enforcement after serving in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, Dennis said. He was the epitome of a law man, he said.

Dennis also addressed Parnell's children, Ira Byrd Parnell Jr. and Jean Parnell Graham, who also worked in law enforcement. "It was natural that you followed suit as if it were part of your DNA," he said.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame was created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1974. Each person chosen for the hall of fame has served at least 25 years in law enforcement.

"All of the men inducted today made an indelible contribution to law enforcement and a significant investment in making South Carolina a safer place to live," said S.C. Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith in the news release.