McDowell County Schools will dismiss at noon on Monday in honor of slain U.S. Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp. His public memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. that day at McDowell High School.
Crisp, 38, of Marion, and his dog Maros were fatally shot during a manhunt on Wednesday in Burke County. Thursday, Crisp’s body was transported from Winston-Salem to Westmoreland Funeral Home in Marion by a caravan of police and emergency vehicles.
His K-9 partner Maros was given a police escort from Buncombe County to the funeral home in Marion on Friday. His cremated remains will be buried with Crisp.
Also on Friday, the Crisp family released a statement through the Forest Service.
“Jason was a loving father, loving husband and a great friend. He was his wife’s best friend and the love of her life. He loved the Lord and was an honest Christian man who gave his life protecting his friends. He loved doing his job with a passion. The only thing he loved more than his job was his family and friends. He died a hero. However, he was a hero well before. Maros was also our family member and he was loved like a child. Jason loved working with Maros. Thank you to all of the agencies for your hard work and thank you for all of the prayers, calls and visits from our family and friends.”
Crisp’s family has received overwhelming support, not only from North Carolina, but from across the country. A Facebook page dedicated to Crisp has already had over 23,000 likes since Wednesday.
The McDowell law enforcement community has rallied behind the Crisp family, and multiple volunteers have made it their duty to finish the house that Crisp was working on the day he was called out to the manhunt in Morganton.
The Crisps had sold their house and purchased a mobile home, along with 42 majestic acres on East Payne Drive in Montford Cove. Their plan was to live there and break ground on a new house on the hillside with a breathtaking mountain view.
People from several churches, contractors, construction workers, the police department and just regular people wanting to help, are making sure that Crisp’s project for his family is finished.
The McDowell News had a chance to visit the property on Friday and speak with Crisp’s brother-in-law, Dr. Rick Hensley, and J.P. Crisp, Jason’s father.
Hensley said Crisp’s wife Amanda and his two children will pay no expense toward the remaining construction on the home.
“He loved this piece of land, his family and his job more than anything. That’s what his life was built around,” Hensley said on Friday, “He would come over here every day after work, or if he was off, and work on this piece of property.”
Hensley said volunteers will be putting in a brick foundation, a big front porch, a new roof, yard landscaping, and various work inside.
“It’s just been an outpouring of people wanting to help. It’s been amazing and everyone is volunteering their time and supplies,” Hensley said. “The Forest Service has been a blessing. They have made this transition as easy as possibly could be under the circumstances. They have been there every step of the way.”
“He loved the mountains and the woods. He was such a good man and just a good-hearted person. It means the world to me,” J.P. said when asked about volunteers finishing the home. “He (Jason) basically did everything already. He tore the whole inside out and it has been redone. I wish he was here to help. He told me about two or three days ago, ‘I want to be able to leave my family everything they need so they can be happy.’ He loved his family.”
Receiving friends is scheduled for Sunday from 2-6 p.m. at the West Court Baptist Church in Marion.
Crisp’s memorial service will be held on Monday at McDowell High School. A private burial will follow the service. McDowell County Schools will close at noon on Monday.
During the memorial, parking at the high school will be limited to family members and law enforcement only. Others wishing to attend the service may park at Rose’s or Peebles near Food Lion. Shuttles to the high school will be available.