Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 22 years, 4 months, 23 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 6th District - Hyde Park
District of Incident (Present Day): 002 - Wentworth
Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile
Age at Time of Death: 54
Date of Birth: 15 Mar 1874
Date of Appointment: 02 Apr 1906
Date of Incident: 002 - Wentworth
End of Watch: 25 Aug 1928
Date of Interment: 28 Aug 1928
Cemetery: Holy Sepulchre Cemetery - Alsip, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 5, Lot S20, Block 6, Section 7
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-9
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 1
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 5, Line 22
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 45-W: 29
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Luke Howe, Star #1027, aged 54 years, was a 21 year, 4 month, 23 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 6th District – Hyde Park.
On August 25, 1928, Detective James Doolan had placed Thomas Fay, of 5415 South May Street, into custody for burglary to a Butcher Shop located at 1332 East 47th Street. A second burglar made good his escape. Detective Doolan summoned a patrol wagon to transport Fay and him to the Hyde Park station. Chauffeur Maurice Hearne, age 59, Patrolmen Luke Howe, Charles Keith and Frank Murphy, age 55, arrived on scene in the patrol wagon. Detective Dooley loaded Fay onto the wagon and they left for the station.
Officer Hearne was driving the patrol wagon and while traveling east on 50th Street, as they crossed Dorchester Avenue, he observed an auto traveling at a high rate of speed. The auto, driven by Michael J. Kinney, age 22, of 2017 East 72nd Street, was traveling northbound on Dorchester Avenue and heading right for the patrol wagon. Officer Hearne, in an attempt to avoid a collision, sped up in the hopes of clearing the oncoming auto. The oncoming auto, however didn’t slow down, and at 6:35 a.m. struck the rear of the patrol wagon as it was passing.
The collision occurred at Southeast corner of 50th Street and Dorchester Avenue. The force of the collision caused the patrol wagon to overturn. The impact ejected Officer Howe, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, from the patrol wagon. He struck his head on the pavement after being ejected and the patrol wagon landed on top of him. Officer Howe sustained a skull fracture, after being pinned down by the wagon, and died instantly. Officer Murphy was severely injured and sustained a fractured skull, several cuts and bruises. He was transported to Billings Hospital where the doctors believed his injuries to likely be fatal. Little hope was held for his recovery but he later recovered. Officer Fay was cut and bruised in the crash. Officers Dooley and Keith and Fay were unhurt in the crash.
Officers Hearnes and Murphy along with Detective Dooley were praised for maintaining their police instincts following the crash. Inside the overturned wagon, Officer Hearnes and Murphy (despite his severe injuries) kept hold of the prisoner to prevent his escape. Officer Hearnes extracted himself from the wreckage and rushed over to arrest the uninjured driver of the other vehicle, before he could drive away, and immediately summoned help.
During the investigation Officer Hearne made the following statement, “We were crossing Dorchester Avenue when I saw this car coming at great speed – he must have been going 55 miles an hour – from the North.“ Finney gave no explanation as to why he was speeding. There were no license plates on his auto, but he produced a bill of sale indicating that he had purchased his vehicle only a few days prior from Capitol Auto Sales, and documents proving he had registered for the plates that had not arrived yet. Finney was charged with manslaughter, but was exonerated by a Coroner’s jury three days later. Officer Howe’s death was declared accidental by the Coroner’s jury. It was later learned that Finney was a neighbor and a good friend of the Howe Family. On September 14, 1928, a grand jury was convened and returned a true bill for unintentional manslaughter against Finney. Finney was placed in custody and bond was set at $10,000 by Judge Helarder. On May 7, 1929, Finney was acquitted by jury in Judge Normoyle’s courtroom.
Officer Howe was waked at his residence located at 7025 South Dante Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Lawrence Church located at 7148 South Dorchester Avenue. He was laid to rest on August 28, 1928 in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 6001 West 111th Street, Alsip, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 5, Lot S20, Block 6, Section 7.
Patrolman Luke Howe, born March 15, 1874, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 2, 1906.
Officer Howe was a member of the Chicago Police Benevolent & Protective Association. He was survived by his wife, Nellie (nee Walsh); children: Eleanor McMaster, age 21, Francis, age 17, James, age 19, John, age 9, Reta M., age 14, and Walter, age15 and sister, Mary Parker. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Theresa, age10.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #10103.
On March 2, 2010, Officer Howe’s star was retired by Superintendent Jody P. Weis and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.