Chiefs was Stuart Woods novel published in 1981. It was promtede by Staurt woods family history-his grandfather was a Police Chief of Manchester, Georgia killed in the line of duty in 1927

Plot Edit

In 1919 in the fictional town of Delano, Georgia, leading banker and polititan Hugh Holmes and the town Council deceide to establish a Police Department. The two canidates for Police Chief aka Town Marshal are local farmer Will Henry Lee and a wealthy eccentric dog breader Francis "Foxy" Funderburke. Lee is chosen for the job. Soon afterward the body of a unknown John Doe is found at the bottom of a cliff near Funderburke isolated mountain home; although the deceased had died from the fall, the medical examination shows that he had been bound and beaten. Despite Sherriff Skeeter Willis who thinks the death was caused by hobos, Lee begins to suspect Funderburke may be involved. In 1924 Another suspicious death also occurs near Funderburkes home-a male youth was found shot dead in a nearby county with similar injuries to the first victium. Again Lee suspects Funderburke but lacks definite proof for an arrest. After Skeeter Willis casually and offhandly informs Lee of the disappearance of a local runaway, Lee goes up to Funderburkes home and finds evidence of a freshly dug grave. Before he can obtain a search warrant for an arrest, Lee is forced to try to take into custody a delirious man-who shoots and mortally wounds Lee.

In 1946 post World War II Delano the new Police Chief is Sonny Butts-a local war hero who has a hidden and sadistic penchant for murder. In fact he kills a prisoner in the jail cell; despite lack of cooperation from Sherrif Willis {Butts is his protégé in corrupt law enforcement} Holmes and Will Lee Jr do their best to bring Butts to justice. Desparate to save his job, Butts reads over the old police murder files and thinks he'll save his future and himself by arresting Funderburke; indeed Butts finds Funderburke burying his latest teenage victium. However Butts foolishly gloats and puts down his guard, causing Funderburke to knock Butts into the grave and then kill him with his own pistol.

In 1962 rising politician Will Lee, Jr and Holmes support the appotiment of Tyler Watts- an africian-american as Delano's Chief of Police. Reading over the old files, Watts comes to the same conclusion that Will Henry Lee and Sonny Butts had-that Funderburke has been a seriel killer for years. Unable to obtain any help from Sherriff Wills or local official in arresting Funderburke, Watts enlistes the help of the FBI to search Funderburkes home in search of a local missing youth. Watts and the agents search Funderburkes home and accidently find the remains of Butts motorcycle handlebars buried in the ground. Funderburke tries to kill Watts and the agents to preserve his murderous past but is distracted by a reporter who came along with the searchers. Funderburke is shot and killed. Hugh Holmes is stunned and shocked to find the extent of Funderburkes murders {43} over the years. Watts has a secret as well-he was the son of the man who had killed Will Henry Lee but had been forced to flee as he was an innocent accessory to Lee's death.

A 6 hour miniseries was made based on the novel November 13, 15, 16, 1983 on CBS. It generally followed the novel closely with exceptions:

1} In the novel Chief Lee identifies the first John Doe victium; while the novel gives the first date of death as 1919; the minseries moves the date up to 1924.

2} In the minseries an apparent reason for Willis for refusing to investgate the first John Doe death is because the victium had earlier been whipped by the Klu Klux Klan for illicent relations with a woman of the colored race-something the corrupt sherriff fully supports.

3} In the novel and minseries it is hinted that Part of Funderburkes behavier was the result of being kicked in the head by a horse; the novel hints furtther that Funderburke deludes himself into thinking the Police Chief job was "Stolen" from him by the victiums whom he subsequently tortures and kills.


Hugh Holmes...Charleton Heston

Will Henry Lee..Wayne Rogers

Sonny Butts...Brad Davis

Tyler Watts/Joshua Cole..Billy Dee Williams

Foxy Funderburke....Keith Carradine

Skeeter Wills....Paul Sorvino

Pope................Stuart Woods