On June 13, 1870, Nueces County Sheriff Dennis J. Kelly walked passed Thomas Burke on a downtown street in Corpus Christi. The sheriff knew Burke was wanted but walked past him. Burke shot and killed Sheriff Kelly. Burke fled and a $500 reward was offered for his capture, but no records located to indicate Burke was ever apprehended.
Sheriff Kelly was survived by his wife and five children. Sheriff Kelly was appointed on April 16, 1869 by General J. J. Reynolds’ Special Order #90; took the test oath April 30, 1869; elected December 3, 1869 and served until June 13, 1870 when he was murdered.