Sergeant Samuel A. Hicks: June 24, 1982
On December 2nd, 2016 the King County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a memorial honoring the 18 members of our department who lost their lives in the line of duty since the founding of the KCSO in 1853.
Today, on the anniversary of the passing of Sergeant Samuel A. Hicks, we want to take a moment and honor his memory.
Sergeant Samuel A. Hicks: June 24, 1982
On Thursday, June 24, 1982, Detective Sergeant Sam Hicks and his partner that day, Detective Leo Hursh, of the King County Sheriff’s Office were in the area south of Flaming Geyser State Park searching for Robert Wayne Hughes. Hughes, 29, was a suspect in the murder of John Timothy Early on June 17th in the SeaTac area. Early had been shot and killed during a burglary at his residence, located at 4735 S 182nd Street.
Sergeant Hicks and Detective Hursh were acting on a tip that Hughes, better known as “Bad Bob,” was staying at his girlfriend, Lisa Zuraff’s, house, at 22917 SE 380th Street. Sergeant Hicks had picked up Detective Hursh from the county precinct in Kent to accompany him in the search. At around 1115 hours, they spotted Hughes standing outside of Zuraff’s house next to a white 1967 pick-up. The pick-up eventually left and they began following it in their unmarked white Chevrolet Camaro. The truck contained Hughes, his brother Mark Hughes behind the wheel and Lisa’s 12 year-old son, Derek.
After following the pick-up for some time, it turned north onto 224th Avenue SE from SE 368th ST. It then turned right onto a gravel driveway at 36606 224 Avenue SE. As the truck stopped, Hughes exited, removed his H&K 91 .308 rifle, with a 20-round magazine, from its case and ran behind a milking barn. There, he fired a single shot that struck the Camaro’s windshield and shattered it. Glass from the windshield cut Hursh’s face.
The pick-up continued down the driveway and around the barn, to a knoll to the south of Sergeant Hicks and Detective Hursh. Sergeant Hicks and Detective Hursh thought they were being surrounded and got out of the Camaro with hopes of finding cover. They were both able to scramble to an area near a pump house; hardly adequate cover. At one point, Hughes asked them who they were and they identified themselves as police, with Detective Hursh displaying his badge.
That’s when more shots rang out. After a lull in the gunfire of about five minutes, the two thought perhaps that they were going to get out alive, but that’s when Hughes fired the fatal shot that struck Sergeant Hicks in the chest. Sergeant Hicks was wearing a vest, but it couldn’t stop the .308 round.
During the gunfight, Detective Hursh was able to call for help over the radio, but it took units another four to five minutes to arrive. By the time they arrived, Hughes was gone; last seen westbound on foot, crossing 224 AVE SE. The pick-up was gone as well.
Sergeant Hicks was transported to Harborview Medical Center, where he died in surgery at 1332 hours.
A massive manhunt was undertaken for Hughes by the King County Police and surrounding agencies, to include as many as 115 police officers, state troopers and K-9’s at one time. The rifle was recovered a short distance away from where the gunfight took place. Pieces of clothing were located and thousands of tips were received. Searching officers slept in nearby firehouses between shifts.
Wanting to remain involved in the investigation, Detective Hursh was even allowed to participate in the manhunt.
On June 26th, Frank Cuddy, along with his wife and daughter, saw a man matching Hughes’ description walking along the Auburn-Black Diamond Highway, shortly after 1430 hours. Cuddy drove to the command post in Black Diamond to report the sighting. Numerous units converged on the scene and a K-9 team consisting of King County Officer Gary Davis and Satan, assigned to King County Tac-30, tracked into the brush. With several King County and local agencies on perimeter, Tac-30 and the K-9 team located Hughes lying on the ground, covered in brush and leaves. Hughes was taken into custody without further incident in the woods about ¼ mile north of SE Green Valley Road off of 218th Avenue SE.
Hughes went on trial in February 1983 where he admitted to watching searchers look for him as he sat in trees fifty to sixty feet in the air. He never denied shooting Sergeant Hicks or at Detective Hursh. He said that he did it merely in self defense because he believed they were hit men. His defense team tried to explain that Hughes believed they were contract killers from a drug deal gone bad. The jury didn’t buy it and he was convicted of killing Sergeant Hicks and the attempted killing of Detective Hursh on March 12, 1983. He had earlier plead guilty to killing of John Early. On April 14, 1983, Hughes was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison.
The King County Sheriff’s Office Southeast Precinct 3 in Maple Valley was named for Detective Sergeant Sam Hicks and Detective Mike Raburn, who was killed in 1984, until its closure in December 2011. The Hicks Raburn Precinct also had memorials for both men located along the walkway in the rear of the precinct.
Sergeant Samuel A. Hicks was 38 years old and had served with the King County Sheriff's Office for 13 years.
Our thoughts are with Sam’s family and friends as we pay tribute to him on this day.
Be well. Stay safe -
Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht