Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 27 years, 5 months, 29 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 4th District - Stanton
District of Incident (Present Day): 007 - Englewood
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 52
Date of Birth: 26 Oct 1897
Date of Appointment: 27 Oct 1922
Date of Incident: 24 Apr 1950
End of Watch: 24 Apr 1950
Date of Interment: 27 Apr 1950
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 5, Lot 50, Block 6, Section 36
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 7
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 46
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 64-W: 7
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Navy
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William Bernard Murphy, Star #867, aged 52 years, was a 27 year, 5 month, 29 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 4th District – Stanton.
On April 24, 1950, at 12:05 a.m., Officer Murphy while returning home from his tour of duty, in uniform, passed the Normal Park Liquor Store at 455 West 59th Street. He often stopped to visit a friend who worked as a clerk in the store. The clerk, James Spiers, age 52, was watching for the policeman when four armed blacks entered the store and locked him in the back room. After robbing two customers, Harold Branstetter, age 34, Herman J. Klebbs, age 58 and the clerk, they rifled through the cash register near the rear of the store. The robber noticed a second cash register in the front of the store and ordered the clerk out of the back to open it. Spiers stated that a moment after he opened the register and the bandit took $150.00 from it he saw Officer Murphy approaching the front door. Spiers told the bandit nearest him, “You’d better take what you want and get out of here.“ The bandit said he wanted a bottle of Scotch and started looking for it. As Officer Murphy approached, he suspected something was not right and called through the open door, “Is everything all right in there, Jim?“ The clerk attempted to prevent the policeman from walking into a death trap and he replied “Sure, Bill, everything’s okay.“ Murphy entered muttering, “Everything is not okay.“ Once inside, Officer Murphy saw one of the bandits beside the door and lunged toward him and grappled with him. As Officer Murphy was pulling out his revolver the bandits opened fire and he was shot. Before he died he fired his own revolver once, striking one of the bandits. The bandits then fled the scene.
Patrolman Murphy was taken to Englewood Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Officer Murphy was shot eight times in the head and chest. In addition, physicians found that his nose was broken, his right arm was fractured and his chin was bruised. This was consistent with reports that the bandits kicked the fallen officer before fleeing.
At 1:20 a.m. a call was received from Provident Hospital stating that a victim of a gunshot wound to the chest was brought into the hospital. This victim, Emil Washington, age 25 of 4722 South Calumet Avenue, gave several conflicting stories concerning the gunshot wound. He later admitted being one of the four stick up men in the liquor store. He was arrested and transferred to Bridewell Hospital where he was later found dead in his hospital bed. He had ripped open his wound and bled to death.
A second bandit, Emanuel Scott, age 24, was also arrested after he too sought treatment for a gunshot wound to his left hand at the office of Dr. W. McKinley Jones on the first floor of the building in which Scott lived. Scott told police that he was shot by an unidentified black man at 43rd Street and Vincennes Avenue and that the bullet entered his palm when he grabbed his adversary’s gun. Investigators said that Scott’s story was untenable for the reason that the bullet entered the back of his hand. Scott was arrested and denied any part in the shooting. Chief of Detectives Altken stated that a lie detector test indicated Scott was lying.
After the lie detector test Scott was taken to the Bridewell Hospital to confront Washington. When Scott was led into the room Washington greeted him with “Hi Scotty.“ “Hi Buck,“ Scott replied. Washington refused to say that Scott was one of his three companions. Spiers, the store clerk, and both customers identified both Washington and Scott as two of the four gunmen. A .32 caliber automatic pistol and two watches, both stolen in previous holdups, were found in Scott’s room. Through the investigation it was discovered that Patrolman Murphy’s one shot had hit Washington in the chest. Later, suspect, Leroy Lindsey, age 31, admitted that he shot Scott because he was the lookout and he let Murphy into the store.
A fifth man, James Pickett, age 26 of 33 East 47th Street, was arrested and admitted that he had started out with the men, but said he left the automobile in which they were riding at 95th Street and Vincennes Avenue because it was raining, and an argument developed over whether the windows of the car should be up or down. Pickett denied furnishing the guns used by the four bandits. Linsey told police that after the murder, he and Scott threw their weapons into the Jackson Park lagoon. Four guns and a bicycle were later recovered from the lagoon using powerful magnets. Two of the guns, .38 caliber, six shot revolvers, were believed to be those used by Lindsey and Scott.
By April 27, 1950, the other two suspects, Leroy Lindsey and Earlie Burton, age 28 of 4839 South Champlain Avenue, were apprehended. All three suspects were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. On June 12, 1952, Burton died of tuberculosis while on death row. The other two were executed in the electric chair, one on October 17, 1952 and the other on March 19, 1953.
Officer Murphy was waked at Kenny Brothers Funeral Home located at 5438 South Halsted Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Martin’s Church located at 5848 South Princeton Avenue. He was laid to rest on April 27, 1950 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 5, Lot 50, Block 6, Section 36.
Patrolman William Bernard Murphy, born October 26, 1897, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 27, 1922.
Officer Murphy served in the U.S. Navy from June 20, 1917 thru January 29, 1919, was a veteran of World War I and was Honorably Discharged at the rank of seaman. He was also a member of the Chicago Policemen’s Benevolent & Welfare Association. Officer Murphy was survived by his children: Lona, age 19, Rita Mae Gannon, age 21, Lona Marion, age 19, Robert, age 10, Thomas Charles, age 17 and William James (USN), age 25 and siblings: Anna Weisenthal and Mary Donovan. He was preceded in death by his wife, Irma (nee Breen), age 49 on April 29, 1949.