Become a Fan
By James D.F. Samdavid1
Monday, April 08, 2002
This is a true story all names used, other than police officers, are fictitious.
I had wanted to be a police officer ever since I was nine years old and was appointed to be a school crossing safety patrol boy at my grade school in a small town in Western Tennessee.
My father was a special deputy and had all of the police powers to detain and make arrests due to his job, working for the City. He was the dog catcher, worked the doors as a guard and keeper of the peace at the local wrestling matches that was held at the Amphitheater. He was what you would call an all around officer and city worker. He was armed when on duty and sometimes off, legally.
I always respected my father, he had done very well in life even through his education was limited.
So of course I wanted to be just like him and become a police officer some day. It was a life long dream.
My parents had moved to Chicago when I was fifteen. After leaving school I married and I begin working at a gas station in the Village of Winnetka, Illinois for a man named Albert Atterbury. I was 20 years old at the time and worked at the station with two other young men, that later became police officers for the Village of Kenilworth, Illinois.
The Chief of police, Robert Daily, who was with the Village of Kenilworth, always had his vehicle serviced at the gas station and was pleased with the personnel working there. The first one of us to go to work for the police department was Vern Roddy, then a year or two later he was joined by Gary Wolf. When I was 29 years old I followed in their footsteps and became a police officer. I had left the gas station after a few years, but worked on the Northshore and kept in touch with my friends, Vern and Gary.
When an opening for a police officer became available I was one of twenty-two men that applied. After taking exam after exam and going through tests that were necessary to become an officer, I became one of the two that had been chosen. It was one of the roughest two weeks of my life. Of course I wanted the job, but it was starting to take its toll on me. I was working two and sometimes three jobs trying to provide for my sons and daughters and was just barely making ends meet.
I was accepted and went through my training and started the job in December of 1966. It was one of the best days of my life and as it turned out, it was one of the most dangerous as well.
Officer Gary Wolf had always told me that it was a real good job, and all you had to do was keep your nose clean and everything would go like clock work. Your twenty years would be over before you know it and then retirement.
It sounded too good to be true . Gary was a very close friend and he would not lie to me. I don't think he did. It was going to be a couple of rough days on the job and I was in for a few surprises. My life would change forever after the first day on the job.
When you went out on the street for the first time you were assigned to a partner. My partner happened to be Gary Wolf and he was more than my training officer he was my best friend. I felt a little nervous; after all it was the type of job that anything could happen as I found out later.
The 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift had been involved assisting with a burglary case that had occurred in the City of Evanston, just a few miles south of our village. Officer John Cossareck and Officer Clyde Fazenbaker had assisted in the apprehension of three suspects that had been stopped on Sherdian Road at the southern end of our village. They three men were armed, and had been taken without anyone firing a shot.
I reported for duty that afternoon shortly before 4:00 p.m. I was excited about the details of the case, and then it hit me. Wait a minute, I was told this was a nice easy job and etc., and here it was my first day and already the bad guys were in our village! Gary laughed when I repeated what he had told me over the years about the job. "Don't worry, Buddy I will protect you!” Gary said.
We left the police department and started our tour of duty for the next eight hours. Kenilworth was a small village, but had a population of over 2,400 and it was the richest village in the State. There was a lot to protect here as I soon discovered.
We patrolled the village as Gary showed me the ins and outs, dead end streets, what streets led into the Village of Winnetka and the ones that led into the Village of Wilmette. Cook County, which was unincorporated, was on the west border of our village and Lake Michigan was on our east. "You can get to any spot in the village within two minutes!” Gary said. I was impressed when he said that, not knowing that we would soon be putting that comment to the test.
We had just cleared the railroad crossing that was located approximately in the middle of our village (the tracks ran north and south) when a dispatch came out over the radio. "Kenilworth car 50! Kenilworth car 50. " The dispatcher was yelling into the mike. "Go ahead and take the call Rookie.” Gary said.
"Uh … this is car 50!” I answered, a little nervously. "50. Get over to 995 Sheridan Road, shots fired into the floor, more to follow.” The dispatcher advised. "Holy shit!” I said to Gary.
"When we get there you take the front door on the south side and I will cover the side door on the west. It is a White House on a private drive and there is one other house in front of it, just off of Sheridan, south of Winnetka Ave." Gary said. He knew the houses, what they looked like and most of the citizens that lived in Kenilworth.
"Car 50!” The voice on the other end was Officer John Cossareck. " Car 50 go ahead.” I answered. "50, be advised there is a slug already in the chamber of the shot gun, left there from this afternoon.” It seems that the officer was still at the station filling out his report and just gave us some very important information. Normally there would not be a shell in the chamber and of course you would have to rack one in to be able to fire it, due to this model being a pump action 12 gauge that held five rounds. It was then that I realized we had not checked the shot gun before going out on patrol. (First mistake, I thought. That will not happen again. )
We had just cleared the corner from Winnetka Avenue onto Sheridan, when Gary pointed the house out to me. It had been under two minutes response time, I found out later from the time we first got the call until we signed off at the scene.
On the way over after receiving the call we were informed that the suspect was a white male, wearing a dark stocking cap, a blue overcoat and dark pants. He was armed with an automatic handgun, which he had used when he fired two shots into the living room floor.
As Gary and I stepped out of the squad, there was another police unit from Winnetka pulling into the driveway behind us. Two officers were there to back us up, even before we had reached the house. Gary motioned for one of the officers to stay by the squad and the other to go with me to the front. Gary having taken the shotgun out of the front floor-locking device covered the side door as we had planned.
Mr. Jason Whitney, the owner of the residence at 995 Sheridan, came running out of the house when he saw the Winnetka officer and myself in his front yard. My first impulse was to cover the person running out of the house with my weapon. Then, after seeing he was dressed in a robe with slippers and was very frightened, I lowered my side arm. "He fired into the floor with his 45 when I wouldn't tell him where the safe was. Then he grabbed my wife's wedding ring and ran out of the front door. That is when I called you!” He said.
To the east of the house was a fence and a walkway leading down to the sandy beach of Lake Michigan and to the west was Sheridan road. We had arrived from that direction and knew that it was clear. One officer stayed at the scene and three of us searched the grounds and the beach area below for the suspect. Other units that had responded to the call searched the side streets without any success.
The home invader had telephoned the residence earlier in the afternoon and said that he was with the Bell Telephone Company and that he would be checking the lines at the victim's house sometime later in the day for problems. There was underground construction from workers with the Bell Telephone Company that had been seen working in that block on Sheridan road and the homeowner did not give it a second thought.
The suspect knocked on the door shortly after 4:15 p.m. He had a small green toolbox and flashed a plastic I.D. card to gain entry. After gaining entry he saw that Mr. Whitney had a large German shepherd in the house and asked him to please put him in another room, as he was afraid of dogs. The dog started to growl at the suspect as Mr. Whitney was putting the dog away as the suspect had asked.
The suspect then opened the box and took out a rope, flashlight and some duct tape. "This is a holdup, don't be a hero and you or your wife will not be hurt.” He said. Mrs. Whitney had just entered the living room as the suspect opened the green box. He did not tie up his victims. We felt that this was a strange twist to this case, by his not tying up his victims.
"Now I know you have a safe with money and jewels stashed in it, where is it?” He demanded. Both, Mr. and Mrs. Whitney advised him that there was no safe and they had no money in the house. The suspect removed an automatic from his coat pocket, racked the slide back and fired one round into the floor in front of Mr. Whitney. "Come on, come on, I don't have all night. Where is the safe?” He asked again.
Mr. Whitney advised him that he was telling the truth and not to hurt them. The suspect noticed the wedding ring on Mrs. Whitney's finger and ordered her to hand it over. She hesitated for a moment and when she did the suspect fired another round into the floor, only inches away from her feet.
Mrs. Whitney removed the ring and handed it to the suspect. After looking at the ring for a few seconds, the suspect said, "Now that is more like it! This damn ring is worth all of my time and trouble.”
The ring was valued at over $28.000 dollars.
The suspect told them not to move for five minutes as he had a friend watching them from the outside of the house. He then told them not to call the police. He turned and made his escape after opening the front door.
After checking the crime scene for evidence and removing the items that pertained, we returned to the police department to finish our report. The report took about an hour or so to complete.
We had a short lunch break and decided to go downstairs to the shooting range for a little target practice. Gary felt it would be a good idea for me to fire a few rounds until we had more time to go into details about the policy on shoot and not to shoot on the street. I had the basis down, but every department was different.
I was first on the line and was advised to load with five rounds and to fire them into the target that was located 75 feet away and to do so within a five-minute period. I raised my 38 special, turning to my right and holding it on the target, I squeezed the trigger. 'Click'. The hair raised up on the back of my neck! I raised the 38 up once again, pointed down range towards the target, and I squeezed the trigger. 'Click.' Again nothing, not even a puff. I went through the squeezing for a total of five times and a 'Click" each time. I took a new box of shells out of the cabinet and loaded five new rounds and aimed and squeezed one more time. 'Click'.
The firing pin in my 38 was defective and would not strike the primer of the bullet when the trigger was pulled. I had been out on a call where a man had been armed and had fired his weapon inside the house of one of our citizens and my weapon would not fire!
Like I said before, my life changed forever that night. The police department purchased fourteen brand new .357's before the week was out. I never had that fear again.
The suspect was never caught in the above case.
Additional information on this case.
A young woman, who had been working at a beauty parlor in our village, was arrested in connection with a very similar home invasion in the Village of Northbrook, Illinois less than six months later.
Mrs. Whitney knew the young woman and had confided in her many times about her personal jewelry, the money that she kept in the safe inside her home and other personal things about her residence. She, nor her husband, Mr. Whitney were able to pick the home invader out of a police line up.
Both of the victims had just gotten a very expensive education from the home invader. They were very lucky that was all he gave them.
© James Samdavid1 Fullington
March 31, 2002
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