Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 5 years, 4 months, 1 day
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Detective Division - Robbery Detail
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 34
Date of Birth: 25 Jun 1921
Date of Appointment: 14 Apr 1950
Date of Incident: 15 Aug 1955
End of Watch: 15 Aug 1955
Date of Interment: 19 Aug 1955
Cemetery: All Saints Catholic Cemetery - Des Plaines, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 4, Lot N 5' 6" of 9, Block 6, Section 1
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 7
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 1
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 17-W: 5
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective William John Murphy, Star #7438, aged 34 years, was a 5 year, 4 month, 1 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Detective Division – Robbery Detail.
On August 15, 1955, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Detective Murphy spotted Richard Carpenter, age 25, on the Roosevelt Road subway train platform and stopped to question him. Carpenter was wanted for a series of north side hotel and tavern robberies. As Officer Murphy attempted to place him under arrest Carpenter pulled a revolver and shot Detective Murphy in the chest. Carpenter then made good his escape by running up the subway stairs and commandeered the auto of Charles A. Koerper, age 67, who was parked near the subway entrance.
Carpenter compelled Koerper to drive to Madison and Dearborn Streets, where he left the car after ordering Koerper to keep driving. Koerper said the slayer, about 25 to 30-years-old, was wearing a blue sports jacket, tan shirt, and blue trousers, and threatened him with a snub nosed revolver as he forced his way into the car. “Look straight ahead,“ Koerper said the slayer told him. “Don’t make a bad move. I just shot a policeman, and I’d just as soon shoot you.“ Carpenter left three finger prints and a palm print on Koerper’s automobile which were identified as his per Acting Chief of Detectives Harry Penzin.
On the subway stairs was found a police bureau of identification photograph of Carpenter that Murphy had carried. Detective Murphy’s badge lay beside his body. His revolver was found on the subway tracks beside the platform. Three bullets had been fired from Murphy’s revolver. Murphy was transported to St. Luke’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He had been shot once in the chest and once in the right shoulder. Police could find no witnesses, although nearby a score of persons on the upper level of the subway, where the ticket seller’s cage was located, heard the shooting. Rudolph Schurko, who was descending the stairs to the track level, saw Carpenter run up the stairs.
Murphy was scheduled to go on duty at 8 p.m., apparently was on his way to the station, but stopped to question Carpenter on the subway platform. His partner, Detective John Bosquette, was waiting for him in the detective bureau at 11th and State Streets. Murphy and Bosquette were with Detective Charles P. Annerino when Annerino was killed in the Circle lounge, at 1756 West Lawrence Avenue on October 22, 1954. They were also present when Lieutenant Frank Pape shot and killed Annerino’s killer, Amedeo.
On August 16, 1955, the FBI joined in the manhunt for Carpenter who was believed to have fled from Illinois. 60 detective bureau squads spearheaded an all-out manhunt for Carpenter in the Chicago area. They were aided by district and suburban police. More than 5,000 posters bearing photographs and a description of Carpenter were distributed throughout the area. Deputy Chief of Detectives Frank O’Sullivan said that police had investigated more than 25 clues received from citizens who had reported seeing Carpenter during the day and last night on August 17th. He said detectives also had visited numerous taverns, second rate hotels, and rooming houses seeking Carpenter.
Lieutenant Frank Pape, head of the robbery detail returned early from his vacation at a Wisconsin resort to aid in the search for Carpenter. Police Commissioner O’Connor placed Lieutenant James Lynch, head of the burglary detail, in charge of the manhunt as field coordinator. Sergeant Anthony Bongiorno of the robbery detail, who had previous police dealings with Carpenter, also cut short his vacation to join the manhunt. Five robbery detail squads which had been assigned to protect bank deliveries during the strike of Brink’s Inc. guards were withdrawn from that duty to join the search for the fugitive. District police squads took over guarding of bank deliveries.
During the manhunt, on August 18, 1955, at 10:00 p.m., Carpenter shot and wounded Patrolman Clarence Kerr, age 26, assigned to the Hudson Avenue Station in the Biltmore Theater at 2046 West Division Street. Kerr was shot twice in the left chest, the bullet emerging on the right side and creasing his right arm. After two blood transfusions at St. Mary’s Hospital, Kerr’s condition was described as favorable, though serious by Dr. Edwin C. Reynolds, police surgeon. Officer Kerr had attended a movie with his wife and on their way out he observed a man sleeping in a back row. He told his wife that that man looked like Carpenter and told her to wait outside for him. Officer Kerr drew his revolver and approached the man from the right side. Officer Kerr shook the man to awaken him and said. “What are you doing here? I am a policeman.“ “Well, I guess you got me“ Carpenter said. Carpenter then drew a revolver and opened fire, meanwhile sliding along the row of seats away from Kerr. Kerr returned fire as Carpenter was attempting to flee. Carpenter was shot in the right leg in the exchange of gunfire. Carpenter then fled thru a side door of the theatre into an alley and made good his escape. Carpenter later called the Central Station and spoke to Police Operator Helen Balnius. Carpenter told her “Tell those cops to leave me alone. I am Carpenter. I just shot another policeman.“ He then hung up.
CARPENTER GETS CAUGHT
On August 18, 1955, at 9:17 p.m., Carpenter was captured. His capture came after a desperate bid for freedom in which he held a family prisoner at gun point for 23 hours. Carpenter hid a revolver and surrendered with his hands in the air after machine gun and tear gas fire had been poured into the flat at 2042 West Potomac Avenue. Carpenter fell to his knees and begged the policemen not to shoot him. He was beaten before police found him unarmed. On August 18, 1955, at 10:15 p.m., Carpenter forced his way into the flat as Leonard Powell, age 30 was about to lock his rear door for the night. “You know who I am,“ Carpenter said. “I killed that police officer Monday night and I killed another one tonight. I’ll kill anyone who tries to get me.“ In the apartment were Powell’s wife, Stella, age 30, and their children, Hobert, age 7, and Diane, age 3. “Your choice is simple,“ Carpenter told the family. “You do what I say or you’ll die.“ The fugitive pulled down the shades in the flat while police squads scoured the area. The children were put to bed. Carpenter took a front bedroom. He told the Powell’s to sleep in a rear room. Throughout the night, Carpenter kept watch. He peered from behind the shades, watching the policemen who were seeking him. At 6:30 a.m., when Powell was due to leave for work, Carpenter decided that suspicion could be averted by sending Powell to his job. Powell was given a last warning that if policemen tried to arrest Carpenter he would kill Mrs. Powell and the two children.
Powell feared that neighbors, suspicious because of the drawn shades, would investigate or call police. Powell returned from work at 6:30 p.m. He and his family dined in the kitchen and Mrs. Powell later served a tray of food to Carpenter, who was hiding in the front bedroom. Carpenter, the Powell’s said, had agreed to keep out of sight of the children. Carpenter had promised he would leave by nightfall. When he said he might have to stay “a couple of days more,“ Powell decided he had to take action. Shortly before 9 p.m. he told Carpenter. “This looks bad. The neighbors visit with my wife every day. They know we weren’t going away. And my father in law downstairs will be looking for us. We usually stop in there in the evening.“ Carpenter then permitted Mrs. Powell and the children to go downstairs and Powell said he would have to go too. Carpenter let him leave with a warning not to call police. When Powell got downstairs he told his wife to take the children down the street and he vaulted over a rear fence and ran to Damen Avenue and Division Street to telephone police.
30 squads rushed to the scene. Seeing the police surround the building, Carpenter jumped through an open window across a 3 foot areaway into the flat of Stanley Sciblo at 2042 West Potomac Avenue. He warned the Scibos and four guests to keep quiet. Carpenter ran to the rear porch then went upstairs to the third floor apartment of Alphonse and Valeska Krolikowski. Spotlights of police cars were trained on the building and their beam picked up Carpenter as he appeared first at the front window, then at the rear window of the Krolikowski flat. Loudspeaker units were used to broadcast a surrender order. Detectives Ray Hauser and Robert Ladtkow opened up with machine guns and shotguns when Carpenter dashed out on the rear porch and ran back down to the Sciblo apartment. Policemen, meanwhile, had entered the buildings at 2040 and 2042 West Potomac Avenue. Tear gas charges were fired. The gas finally force Carpenter to come out of the bathroom of the Sciblo flat and was arrested.
Carpenter was later identified by Officer Kerr and Mr. Koerper as the offender in both instances. The capture of Carpenter was the most intensive manhunt in Chicago since John Dillinger was killed in 1934.
CARPENTER’S RECORD AND TRIAL
Richard Carpenter had previously served a term in the County Jail for robbery. He was also arrested in 1951 on a charge of carrying concealed weapons. A stop order was placed on him in connection with tavern holdups in December of 1953. As a juvenile, he had a long record for robbery, burglary and purse snatching. In 1950, he was arrested for shooting his mother, Mary. He was freed after she testified it was an accident.
Richard Carpenter was arrested, convicted and was sentenced to death in the electric chair. He was executed on December 19, 1958.
Detective Murphy was waked at Hursen Funeral Home located at 5911 West Madison Street and his funeral mass was held at Our Lady Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church located at 110 East Beach Street and was laid to rest on August 19, 1955 in St. Boniface Cemetery, 4901 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois. His grave was located in Lot 47, Block –, Section R. On October 14, 1955, his grave was moved to All Saints Catholic Cemetery, 700 North River Road, Des Plaines, Illinois. His grave is now located in Grave 4, Lot N 5′ 6″ of 9, Block 6, Section 1.
Detective William John Murphy, born June 25, 1921, was appointed to the Department on April 14, 1950. He was assigned to the Traffic Division for a time, riding a 3-wheeled motorcycle. He was promoted to Detective two years prior to his death.
Detective Murphy was a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. He was survived by his wife, Shirley Bunke, age 35; daughters: Christine, age 6 and Nancy, age 4; parents: Ann (nee Lytle) and Fred J. (CPD) and siblings: Kevin, Maureen and Roger (CPD).
In June 1962, the police department honored Detective Murphy’s memory by naming the brand new M-5 police boat in the Department’s Marine Unit after him.