Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 24 years, 5 months, 3 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 5, 12th Precinct - Woodlawn
District of Incident (Present Day): 003 - Grand Crossing
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 48
Date of Birth: Sep 1859
Date of Appointment: 13 Jun 1883
Date of Incident: 16 Nov 1907
End of Watch: 16 Nov 1907
Date of Interment:
Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery - Niles, Michigan
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 24
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 37
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 16-W: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Robert J. McAneney, Star #1412, aged 48 years, was a 24 year, 5 month, 3 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 5, 12th Precinct – Woodlawn.
On November 16, 1907, at 4:30 a.m., Officer McAneney was off duty and still in uniform as he walked home from work. As he approached the corner of 63rd Street and Wentworth Avenue, within 100 feet from his residence, he was shot and killed. Patrolman Helge Hullgren was inside a restaurant near the Englewood Station when the shooting took place. Hearing the gunfire, he ran to the scene and was the first to discover Officer McAneney’s lifeless body. McAneney’s overcoat was still buttoned and his weapon holstered. Officer Hullgren observed no suspects in sight.
Two witnesses stepped forward to provide a description of the bandit. Miss Jeanette Holly, a cashier of an all-night restaurant on Wentworth Avenue, described a man who was approximately 35 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing a hat that obscured his face and a short tan coat. Mr. John Keeney, a ticket seller at the 59th Street “El” Station, stated that the bandit ran into the station in a state of agitation and dropped his fare all over the floor. He then rushed through the turnstile and caught a northbound train.
The true course of events are unknown, but several theories developed following Officer McAneney’s death. The official theory was that an ex-convict who had been sent to prison as a result of Officer McAneney’s police work murdered him. Two suspects were considered. The first was Charles Smith who was released from the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet two years prior. The second was Freeman Caniff who had been sent away 20 years prior and had been released only months prior.
The killer remained unidentified until May 1909 when James O’Neill confessed to the murder while serving a sentence for robbery in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet. He came forward due to his conscious. O’Neill had once spent two years studying at the Holy Cross Seminary to become a priest. When he confessed he stated that, “I have been unable to sleep since the night I killed him. I awake in a cold sweat and see him staggering toward me clutching at his wound, the blood running between his fingers. I was going crazy and I am glad I told it.”
Officer McAneney was waked at his residence located at 6319 South Wentworth Avenue. He was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery, 500-528 Hillcrest Road, Niles, Michigan.
Patrolman Robert J. McAneney, born in September 1859, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 13, 1883.
Officer McAneney was survived by his seven children. He was preceded in death by his wife.
Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department homicide file, Case #2838.
On October 14, 1910, Officer McAneney’s star was retired by General Superintendent LeRoy T. Steward and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Room 505, Office of the Superintendent of Police. Officer Shea’s star was one of fourteen stars added to the newly instituted memorial to preserve the memory of officers killed in the line of duty. The tradition of retiring a star number was born. In 1928, the star case was moved to 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 again moved to a new facility at 3510 South Michigan Avenue, Officer McAneney’s Star was re-encased in the new headquarters building lobby.