Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 1 year, 1 month, 12 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 17th District - New City
District of Incident (Present Day): 009 - Deering
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 32
Date of Birth: 01 May 1904
Date of Appointment: 27 Sep 1935
Date of Incident: 08 Nov 1936
End of Watch: 08 Nov 1936
Date of Interment: 12 Nov 1936
Cemetery: Resurrection Catholic Cemetery - Justice, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 56, Block 11, Section B
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 17
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 40
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 23-W: 12
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Michael J. Toth, Star #7334, aged 32 years, was a 1 year, 1 month, 12 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 17th District – New City.
On November 8, 1936, at 12:15 a.m., Officer Toth and his partner, Patrolman Thomas Bourke were working beat 182. They monitored a radio assignment for a “Disturbance” in which they responded. Walter Godula, the owner of Walter Godula’s Tavern located at 4830 South Wood Street contacted police after two men attempted to sell guns in his saloon. During the call to police, Godula reported the disturbance but failed to notify the call taker that the men were armed. The officers arrived on scene and parked their squad car only a few feet north of the tavern before going inside. They entered the tavern and headed to the west end of the bar, where they had observed two men matching the description of the suspects. Officer Toth ordered one man, Frank “Doc” Whyte, age 47, to take his hand out of his pocket while Officer Bourke, with his club in hand, approached Stanley Murawski, age 37. Whyte, hearing the officers’ orders and not liking their aggressive approach, drew a gun and put it to Officer Burkes head. At the same time, he disarmed Officer Burke by removing his service revolver from its holster. As this happened, Murawski began to fight with Officer Toth, forcing him into a darkened back room. During the struggle in the back room, gunshots rang out and Officer Toth was struck. It was at this time Whyte turned the gun on Officer Bourke and Officer Toth simultaneously drew his gun and stepped in front of his partner to protect him before the shot was fired. Officer Toth managed to fire several shots, striking Whyte once before he was shot five times by Murawski. Bourke broke free and ran from the tavern to 4800 South Wood Street and called the station for back up. Bourke then ran back to the tavern only to discover his partner sitting in a chair by the front door bleeding profusely. The pair had fled the scene making good their escape. Officer Toth was rushed to German Deaconess Hospital in the 17th District patrol wagon in critical condition. It was learned that he was shot twice, once in the stomach and once in the hand. Toth was pronounced dead at 7:00 p.m. on November 8, 1936.
Further investigation into the shooting revealed different stories of the events which transpired. Godula gave a statement in which he stated that the two bandits entered the tavern at 11:30 p.m. and consumed several drinks. They then proceeded to try and sell Godula two pistols for $20.00, speaking in Slovak as they made the offer. He countered that he would pay $15.00 but they declined and continued drinking. Godula became nervous that the two men becoming more and more inebriated, he called police. This is the point where Godula’s statement deviates from the police records. In a Chicago Daily Tribune report, Godula related that he told whoever answered the phone when he called “Police 13-13” that there were “two bad men in his place with guns.” This was denied by police officials, saying the report they received was described simply as a disturbance which was also how it was broadcast over the radio. Police stated that Godula never mentioned anything about the men being armed with guns. Officer Bourke was later quoted as saying “If we had known they were armed we would gone in with guns drawn.”
Stanley Murawski and Frank Whyte, both parolees, were later apprehended and found guilty of Officer Toth’s murder. On February 19, 1937, both men were convicted and sentenced to death in the electric chair. On April 16, 1937, they were executed in the electric chair. The early parole of both men led to an investigation of the parole system by then Governor Horner.
Officer Toth was waked at a chapel located at 2010 West 51st Street. His funeral mass was held at Saints Cyril and Methodius Church located at 5009 South Hermitage Avenue. He was laid to rest on November 12, 1936 in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, 7201 Archer Avenue, Justice, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 56, Block 11, Section B.
Patrolman Michael J. Toth, born May 1, 1904, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on September 27, 1935.
Officer Toth was survived by his wife, Elsie M. (nee Brabec), age 32 and children: Kenneth, age 2 months and Robert Michael, age 2.