Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 1 year, 2 months, 26 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 7th District - Englewood
District of Incident (Present Day): 004 - South Chicago
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 30
Date of Birth: 04 Oct 1937
Date of Appointment: 19 Sep 1966
Date of Incident: 13 Dec 1967
End of Watch: 15 Dec 1967
Date of Interment: 18 Dec 1967
Cemetery: St. Mary Catholic Cemetery - Evergreen Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot East 6' South 1/2 718, Block --, Section AJ
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 16
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 16
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 49-E: 6
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John Steven Collins, Star #11835, aged 30 years, was a 1 year, 2 month, 26 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 7th District – Englewood.
On December 13, 1967, at 8:10 p.m., Officer Collins and his wife were Christmas shopping at the Sears Roebuck & Company department store located at 79th Street and Kenwood Avenue when their 10-year-old son got lost in the crowded store. Officer Collins and his wife thought the boy might return to the car and went to the parking lot to look for him. As they approached the car they noticed that it had been tampered with. The vent of one window had been forced open. Looking around, Officer Collins spotted Charles Clark, age 25, of 9159 South Burnside Avenue, attempting to break into another vehicle. Officer Collins approached and asked Clark what he was doing and Clark replied that he apparently had mistaken Collins’ car for his own.
Officer Collins, not believing Clark’s story, then identified himself as a police officer. In response, Clark ran around to the other side of the car and drew a revolver. Clark fired once at Officer Collins, the bullet missing. Officer Collins then drew his service revolver and returned fire, but also missed. Clark then grabbed Mrs. Collins by the neck and attempted to use her as a shield. He quickly changed his mind and threw Mrs. Collins to the ground before running from the lot. Officer Collins gave chase and caught up with Clark in a gangway located at 7808 South Kenwood Avenue. Another struggle ensued and a single shot was fired, mortally wounding Officer Collins in the head. Clark then fled the scene making good his escape. He was transported to Jackson Park Hospital by beat 451 where he was treated. Officer Collins succumbed to his wounds two days later and was pronounced dead by Dr. Saltzman at 10:05 a.m. on December 15, 1967.
On January 2, 1968, Charles Clark was apprehended and charged with Officer Collins’ murder. On May 28, 1968, Clark was found guilty in a jury trial which lasted seven days. The jury recommended the death penalty. On July 25, 1968, Clark was sentenced to death in the electric chair by Judge Frank J. Wilson to be carried out on October 4, 1968. Clark appealed his sentence and on June 14, 1973 the United States Supreme Court overturned the sentence. He was re-sentenced to 100 to 200 years in prison by Judge Frank J. Wilson.
Officer Collin was waked at Drumm Funeral Home located at 2035 East 79th Street. His funeral mass was held at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church located at 7851 South Jeffery Avenue. He was laid to rest on December 18, 1967 in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, 3801 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot East 6′ South 1/2 718, Block –, Section AJ.
Patrolman John Steven Collins, born October 4, 1937, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on September 19, 1966.
Officer Collins was survived by his wife, Barbara (nee Partin), age 28; son, Robert J.; mother, Edwina (nee Heist); sister, Zoe Merill and step-brother, Ronald Gurda. He was preceded in death by his father, Wilbert.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #F431625.