With a record of 6,000 days in jail with 1,500 arrests, America’s most arrested man dies at 74

Stephen Nartey May 27, 2024
Henry Earl/Photo credit: CNN/Rex Features/REX USA

Henry Earl, known as America’s most arrested man, has died at the age of 74. A resident of Lexington, Kentucky, Earl was arrested over 1,500 times, primarily for public intoxication. Despite his numerous run-ins with the law, Earl, nicknamed “James Brown”, became a local legend.

He was laid to rest at Owenton Cemetery last week. Earl passed away in obscurity at the Owenton Healthcare and Rehabilitation Facility, where he spent his final years. With no known family, facility employees attended his funeral.

Earl began drinking at 18 after the death of his adoptive mother and started his criminal career at 20 in the 1970s. He was known for his charisma and great sense of humor, according to Daily Mail.

“He was a character, he had a wonderful sense of humor,” said Ginny Ramsey, founder of Lexington’s Catholic Action Center, who knew him for decades. She also described him as a gentle soul with a free spirit.

“We’d say now Henry Earl, you need to be in by 9:30 or 10 o’clock. The weekends you can stay out till 11. Well, he tried, but wasn’t quite ready.

“When we wouldn’t see Henry Earl for awhile, everyone would get concerned, we thought he’d die in the streets. He didn’t die in the streets,” she told LEX18.

Two employees from the Owenton Facility, who cared for Earl in his final days and attended his funeral, described him as a pleasant man who always tried to make people laugh.

Kirsten Dempsey said, “He was a very pleasant man, always a good time, always tried to make people laugh,” while Charlotte Woods joked, “You could ask him ‘what’s your name?’ and he’d say James Brown.”

Earl’s arrest history began in July 1970, when he was in his twenties, for carrying a concealed weapon, according to The Smoking Gun, which documented his criminal career. He was arrested 33 more times in that decade, with his frequency of arrests gradually increasing over the years.
In the 1980s, Earl’s arrests surged to 230, mostly for public drunkenness or disorderly conduct.

He gained national attention in 2008 when he appeared in court for his 1000th arrest for public intoxication.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 27, 2024

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