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About 370 attend deputy's funeral

Staff report

About 370 people, including 60 uniform officers from across the state attended the funeral Monday of De Baca County Sheriff’s Deputy Mylessa Denny, according to Juan Chavez, funeral director at Chavez Funeral Home in Fort Sumner.

Denny’s funeral was at the Fort Sumner Schools football field.

Denny, 39, was found unresponsive outside of her squad car July 15 in the parking lot of the De Baca County sheriff’s office. She died later that evening at Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis.

Denny, 39, and an Army veteran, won the Democratic nomination for sheriff in the primary election over Sheriff Dennis Cleaver. Had she lived to be elected, Denny would have been the first female sheriff in New Mexico in nearly 50 years.

New Mexico State Police investigating the death said it appears the preliminary cause of death was due to a pulmonary embolism.

At the funeral, Cannon Air Force Base sent representatives for a flag folding presentation and the New Mexico State Police performed a 21 gun salute and played “Taps.”

Chavez said that Denny will be returned to her birth place of Oxford, Arkansas for burial.

Chavez said there will be a graveside service held in Oxford, but a date has not been set.

De Baca Democrat Chairman Bill Wertheim said the party will have to hold another election, after a meeting with the Democratic State Central Committee, to nominate a candidate for the general election ballot.

New Mexico last elected a female sheriff in 1966 when Doris McCarty won the Hidalgo County job after her husband’s consecutive terms prevented him from running again.