In Memory of Lieutenant William Oscar McMurtray, III

In Memory of Lieutenant William Oscar McMurtray, III

North Carolina has lost a local law enforcement officer to the COVID19 pandemic. Unfortunately, COVID19 has quickly taken the lead in the causes of the line of duty deaths for law enforcement everywhere. On Monday, October 11, 2021, Lieutenant William Oscar McMurtray, III, badge number 160, died due to complications of the virus. McMurtray may have contracted the virus in the course of his duties as an officer. Lt. McMurtray was 48 years old.

McMurtray was a hero from day one. After graduating high school, McMurtray enrolled in the military. He is a US Marine Corps Veteran. When McMurtray returned to his community, he wanted to continue civil service and use the skills he had learned as a Marine. After obtaining his basic law enforcement certificate from Western Piedmont Community College, McMurtray joined the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. He has been a sworn officer with the department for more than 13 years. McMurtray also obtained a BS from Lees-McRae College in 2003.

Burke County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina

McMurtray served in his community. Sheriff Steve E. Whisenant currently heads the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. The office of sheriff is the one position mandated within the North Carolina constitution. Sheriff offices are held for four-year terms.

According to the NC constitution, the duties of the sheriff’s office cover policing, courts, criminal justice, and oversight of the jail or county corrections. The sheriff’s office provides law enforcement services throughout the county but focuses its efforts on the unincorporated areas. In addition, the department handles court security and operations of the Burke County Jail.

The first sheriff in Burke County, James Greenlee, served from 1780 to 1783. Another sheriff followed his service by the name of Greenlee. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office has a compilation of facts available for residents to learn more about the agency’s history in a fun and organized list.


Lieutenant William Oscar McMurtray, III, leaves behind his wife, three young adult daughters, and three siblings. As the world goes through this pandemic, we learn more and more how important community can be. For these girls to be successful, it will take support from those nearby – friends, neighbors, and law enforcement officers. Full honors will be given at the McMurtray service, provided by local Honor guard members.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office shared details of their loss. “The Burke County Sheriff’s Office joins “Mac’s” family in their loss of this father, husband, friend, and public servant. Law enforcement officers, support staff, and their families are joined by a special bond and always mindful of sacrifices. Sacrifices include missing family events, working at night and on weekends, and for some, the ultimate sacrifice of their life. For the past two years, Covid-19 has been the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the US. Nevertheless, Lt. McMurtray continued to faithfully serve our citizens until he was hospitalized and subsequently taken by COVID-19. Please join each of us at the Burke County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to pray and support this family in the loss of this dedicated officer in the middle of his law enforcement career.”

Fireman Deputy Chief Matthew Franklin shared the sad news online. “Mac was one of the people always willing to help. I really loved Mac. He was a great person. I can’t see who will fill his shoes. He’s irreplaceable to me. He was always an officer who was dedicated and wanted to do a good job. The thing you don’t prepare yourself for, you always think you’re gonna see them walk through the door the next day, and to know he’ll never be back is difficult.”