RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN - Dan Goodwin dreamed of being a narcotics detective like Sonny Crockett from the “Miami Vice” TV show while attending high school in Woodbury.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he worked as a journalist.
Then he pursued his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer by joining the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy. He served as one of the first five school resource officers in 1993, as a narcotics detective, cold case investigator and criminal warrants supervisor. He retired this month after 30 years of service.
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh thanked Goodwin and Detective Sgt. Ty Downing for 26 years of service during a retirement ceremony Thursday attended by sheriff’s deputies and detectives.
“Thank you for the service you provided to the county,” Fitzhugh told Goodwin and Downing.
Goodwin said he always wanted to be an officer.
“I always had a calling to do this,” Goodwin said.
Downing said he will truly miss the Sheriff’s Office.
“I have been truly blessed with great supervisors and good friends,” Downing said.
His wife, Ericka, thanked Fitzhugh and the Sheriff’s Office.
“You all have kept him safe all these years,” Ericka Downing said. “You have wrapped your arms around him as long as he was here. I appreciate you.”
Both Goodwin and Downing remembered significant moments of their careers.
When Goodwin was an MTSU student, he served as Sigma Chi fraternity president. He took Little Sister Laura Salmon of Murfreesboro on a movie date one week before she was murdered in 1984. He met Salmon’s mother at the funeral home where she asked him and other people attending to help her find out who killed her daughter.
“I said, ‘Yes, ma’am, I will,” Goodwin replied, not knowing then he would keep his promise.
After Goodwin became a detective, Sheriff Truman Jones assigned him as a Cold Case investigator. Goodwin and Detective Bill Sharp investigated Salmon’s murder, working closely with District Attorney Bill Whitesell and Assistant DA Paul Newman and law school students.
Their efforts resulted in charging Salmon’s former boyfriend, David Kyle Gilley, with first-degree murder in 2001. A jury convicted Gilley. He is serving a life term in prison.
“Everything fell into place,” Goodwin said of the case.
Goodwin and Sharp solved several other murder cases.
They also investigated two missing children left with their grandparents in 1989. Goodwin and Sharp located them in 2009 in California.
The grandfather talked about taking his grandchildren while in a bar and someone tipped the detectives. Within 24 hours, they received information about the grandfather’s location and charged him.
He credited the team of Criminal Investigations Division detectives for working together and solving crimes.
Goodwin also worked in narcotics.
“I got to be a dope cop,” Goodwin said. “I was very fortunate. It was a pleasure to do all these things for the county.”
Downing worked as a campus police officer at Maricosta College in San Diego before a friend encouraged him to move to Rutherford County.
He joined the sheriff’s office as a school resource officer at Christiana Middle School. He served as a patrol corporal, sergeant and lieutenant and as a lieutenant in criminal warrants.
He transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division where he investigated domestic violence cases and other family crimes. He retired as a detective sergeant.
Downing investigated and solved several murders.
“Anytime you can bring closer to the family of victims, that is always satisfying,” Downing said.
Cases involving the death of children and child abuse of children were tough to work.
Downing’s ability to speak with people helped his investigations. He is proud of what he accomplished in his career to solve crimes.
“I think that I was able to bring people together,” Downing said. “I think I was a fair and consistent supervisor. I am proud to have a small part in helping victims.”
Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh congratulates Sgt. Dan Goodwin and his wife, Debbie, on his retirement after 30 years of service.
Detective Sgt. Ty Downing is recognized by Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh for retiring after 26 years of service. At right is Downing’s wife, Ericka.