Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 3 years, 10 months, 16 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Bureau of Field Services - Patrol Division: Task Force
District of Incident (Present Day): 004 - South Chicago
Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile (Pursuit)
Age at Time of Death: 33
Date of Birth: 17 Feb 1927
Date of Appointment: 01 Sep 1956
Date of Incident: 17 Jul 1960
End of Watch: 17 Jul 1960
Date of Interment: 21 Jul 1960
Cemetery: St. Mary Catholic Cemetery - Evergreen Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 462, Block --, Section K
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 15
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 7
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 15-W: 18
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Melvin Leon Gossmeyer, Sr., Star #9775, aged 33 years, was a 3 year, 10 month, 16 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Bureau of Field Services – Patrol Division: Task Force.
On July 17, 1960, Officer Gossmeyer was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of 106th Street and Ewing Avenue while riding his 3-wheel police motorcycle. The vehicle was being pursued by Patrolman Clyde Hughes and a citizen, William Lynch after fleeing the scene of a car crash involving Mr. Lynch. The hit and run driver, Larry Benford, age 22, lost control of his car and struck Officer Gossmeyer who was on his 3-wheel motorcycle. Benford’s car then careened across the intersection and struck a pedestrian, Mr. Eiermann, and then struck a telephone pole Upon impact Mr. Eiermann was thrown 70 feet in the air and struck a second pedestrian, Miss Elaine Sundin, age 19. Benford’s car came to rest after crashing into a light pole and was taken into custody. Miss Sundin suffered hip and head cuts and was treated and released from South Chicago Hospital. Mr. Eiermann died of his injuries. Officer Gossmeyer was transported to the Chicago Hospital where he died shortly after arrival. Benford and a passenger in his car were transported to Cook County Hospital and treated for cuts and bruises they sustained in the crash.
Larry Benford was charged with reckless homicide. He was later convicted of charges stemming from the incident.
Officer Gossmeyer was waked at Lain & Son Funeral Home located at 2121 West 95th Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Helena Parish Church located at 10116 South Normal Avenue. He was laid to rest on July 21, 1960 in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, 3801 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 462, Block –, Section K.
Patrolman Melvin Leon Gossmeyer, Sr., born February 17, 1927, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on September 1, 1956. He earned 59 Credible Mentions during his career.
Officer Gossmeyer was a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. He was survived by his wife, Marie Catherine (nee Prosser), age 32; children: Marie, age 11, Melvin Leon, Jr., age 9 and Rose Ann, age 6; parents: Kenneth Cecil and Rosa Mae (nee Lundry) and siblings: Betty Gene Johnson, Hummel, Kenneth, Norma Ann Hummel, Wilma M. Caputo and Sherman.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #A375314.
In January, 1961, Officer Gossmeyer’s star was retired by Superintendent Orlando W. Wilson and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the 4th floor Office of the Superintendent at Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. The Honored Star Case was later relocated to the lobby of Chicago Police Headquarters, 1121 South State Street. In 2000, Chicago Police Headquarters moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer Gossmeyer’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.