Death Classification: Performance of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 18 years, 6 months, 7 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 6th District - Gresham
District of Incident (Present Day): 022 - Morgan Park
Cause of Death: Illness - Cardiac Arrest
Age at Time of Death: 43
Date of Birth: 12 Jun 1931
Date of Appointment: 16 Sep 1956
Date of Incident: 23 Mar 1975
End of Watch: 23 Mar 1975
Date of Interment: 26 Mar 1975
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 3, Lot 68, Block 6, Section 58
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 21
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 30
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 24-E: 17
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: YES, Branch Unknown
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Joseph Francis Higgins, Star #9956, aged 43 years, was an 18 year, 6 month, 7 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 6th District – Gresham.
On March 23, 1975, at 9:43 p.m., Officer Higgins was working with his partner, Patrolman Kenneth Wolfe, on beat 613. The officers responded as an assist unit to a suspicious auto call at 9915 South Wood Street, which was assigned to beat 618, Patrolmen J. Conlon and R. Dunbar. Upon arrival the units met with Bob Umecker of the same address who related that he heard breaking glass and observed someone climbing through a rear door window in the rear of 1735 West 99th Street. The officers observed the parked auto from their location and could see lights flashing on and off inside the home They radioed in for assistance and a canine unit. Beat 613 and Canine unit, beat 6933, Canine Handlers Balzano and Irgang, responded. The officers surrounded the house covering all routes of escape, beat 613 took up guard at the rear and beat 618 at the front. The canine handlers made entry into the home through the rear door with their dogs, K-9 “ Duke“ and K-9 “ Hen-Tu.“ The canine unit encountered the offender, David Isreal (alias George Williams), age 61, of 8314 South Lafayette Avenue, in the kitchen. Isreal then ran out the rear door of the home after being bitten by the dogs. Officer Higgins was waiting and a struggle ensued between Officer Higgins and Isreal, who was eventually subdued with the help of assisting officers; Patrolmen J. Conlon, Richard Dunbar, E. Todd, K. Wolfe and Lieutenant Thomas Faragoi. After Isreal was placed into custody Officer Higgins began to complain of dizziness, grabbed his chest and collapsed. He was transported to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park by beat 670 where he was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Green at 9:22 p.m. on March 23, 1975. His cause of death was from a heart attack. Isreal was also transported to Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park by beat 671 and treated for dog bite wounds on both arms and legs.
David Isreal was charged with burglary and three counts of resisting arrest. At the time of the incident, he was on parole for burglary.
Officer Higgins was waked at Kenny Brothers Funeral Home located at 3600 West 95th Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Alexander Catholic Church located at 7025 West 12th Street, Palos Heights, Illinois. He was laid to rest on March 26, 1975 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 3, Lot 68, Block 6, Section 58.
Patrolman Joseph Francis Higgins, born June 12, 1931, received his Probationary Appointment to the Department on September 16, 1956. He earned 1 Honored Police Star (posthumously) and 15 Honorable Mentions during his career.
Officer Higgins served in the Armed Forces, was a veteran of the Korean War and was Honorably Discharged. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Ann (nee Hopkins), age 41; children: Margaret Mary, age 15, Mary Francis, age 13, Nora Anne, age 7 and William Edward, age 11 and mother: Mae (nee Buckley). He was preceded in death by his father, William.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #T109873.
On May 25, 2006, Officer Higgins’ star was retired by Superintendent Philip J. Cline and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Higgins’ Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.