Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 2 years, 3 months, 9 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 12th District - Kensington
District of Incident (Present Day): 005 - Calumet
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 28
Date of Birth: 29 Mar 1903
Date of Appointment: 01 Jul 1929
Date of Incident: 09 Oct 1931
End of Watch: 10 Oct 1931
Date of Interment: 13 Oct 1931
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 1, Lot 72, Block 5, Section 8
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # C-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 1
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 31
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 21-W: 11
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Joseph Benson Isaacs, Star #5914, aged 28 years, was a 2 year, 3 month, 9 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 12th District – Kensington.
On October 9, 1931, at 4:00 a.m., Officer Isaacs was on furlough and in civilian dress in the Spanish Tavern Café located at 11851 South Michigan Avenue when he attempted to quell a fight. The officer was seated at the lunch counter and eating a late meal with two friends, Thomas Liskas, a cab driver with whom he had come, and John O’Leary, a night watchman who joined them at the tavern. An argument arose between some women at the back of the tavern when and a man identified as Thomas Scupino of 1610 South 51st Street, Cicero, Illinois warned them to keep quiet. Officer Isaacs left the counter telling Liskas the man, Scupino, was armed and drawing his own weapon approached the group. One of the women, Victoria Feltrin, grabbed his wrist and there followed a struggle in which Isaacs was disarmed and apparently shot with his own gun. Scupino and another woman escaped through a back door and fled in a taxi cab leaving his hat and coat behind. Officer Isaacs was transported to Roseland Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:30 a.m. on October 10, 1931.
Scupino fled to the Lexington Hotel located at 2135 South Michigan Avenue and at 6:00 a.m. he reported his car stolen to Cicero police. His automobile, the rear wheels in a grease pit, was found abandoned in a nearby lot.
Scupino was arrested on October 28, 1931 but would make no statement. He was exonerated by a Coroner’s Jury on October 30, 1931 when Liskas or O’Leary could identify him as the person who actually fired the fatal shot. Captain Michael Grady, however, obtained a murder warrant and had Scupino re-arrested at the close of the inquest. On October 30, 1931, Victoria Feltrin was held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner as an accessory to murder before the fact. On November 4, 1931, Scupino was again held to the Grand Jury without bail, for murder, by Judge Leon Edelman. The December Grand Jury returned a No Bill in each case and they were both released.
Officer Isaacs’ funeral mass was held in Requiem at St. Bernard Catholic Church located at 340 West 66th Street. He was laid to rest on October 13, 1931 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 1, Lot 72, Block 5, Section 8.
Patrolman Joseph Benson Isaacs, born March 29, 1903, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on July 1, 1929.
Officer Isaacs was survived by his wife, Alice J. (nee Monard), age 26; children: Joseph William, age 5 and Robert Eugene, age 3; parents: Nellie (nee Shreve) and William J. and brothers: Charles and Francis.