Death Classification: Performance of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 27 years, 0 months, 12 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: Bureau of Investigative Services - Detective Division (DD): Unit 612 – Detective Division (DD), Area 1 Violent Crimes

District of Incident (Present Day): 004 - South Chicago

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Illness - Cardiac Arrest

Age at Time of Death: 54


Date of Birth: 01 Apr 1929

Date of Appointment: 01 May 1956

Date of Incident: 004 - South Chicago

End of Watch: 13 May 1983

Date of Interment: 19 May 1983


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Lincoln Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Not Enshrined

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Not Listed

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Not Listed

Officer Down Memorial Page: Not Listed



 Military Service: No Military Record Found


Incident & Biographic Details

Detective John L. Merriwether, Jr., Star #11575, aged 54 years, was a 20 year, 0 month, 13 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Bureau of Investigative Services – Detective Division: Unit 612 – Detective Division, Area 1 Violent Crimes.

On May 13, 1983, Detective Merriwether and his partner, Detective Jimmie Williams, were on duty working beat 5138. They were conducting a homicide investigation and went to 47th Street and Prairie Avenue at 4:30 p.m. for the purpose of securing additional information from an informant. The informant had given Detective Merriwether information about the homicide. Upon arrival the detectives exited their car and began to walk Southbound on Prairie Avenue. While walking Detective Merriwether spotted the informant and yelled to his partner, “there she is.“ A foot pursuit ensued and they ran Westbound through a vacant lot towards Indiana Avenue as the informant ran away. The detectives lost sight of the informant and returned to their squad car. Detective Williams noticed that his partner was having trouble breathing and appeared to be pale. He asked if he was okay and he responded that he was fine. The detectives then went to a shoe shine place and Detective Williams got his shoes shined while his partner waited in the car. Upon returning to the car Detective Williams noticed that his partner had removed his suit coat and was still having trouble breathing. Detective Merriwether then asked his partner to take him somewhere so he could get a coke. The two went and got the coke and Detective Merriwether then asked to go to the Hyde Park Deli. He wanted to get a cup of soup and said maybe he would feel a little better after.

After the two went to the deli, Detective Merriwether suggested they return to 47th Street and Prairie Avenue to see if they could find the informant again. Instead Detective Williams drove to 7th Street and Jeffery Avenue and noticed her partner was still breathing erratically. He asked if he wanted to go to a hospital and Detective Merriwether replied that he was doing alright and did not want to go to the hospital. The two then went to 76th Street and Jeffery Avenue where Detective Williams exited the car and spoke to the owner of the Shell Gas Station. Detective Merriwhether remained in the car and spoke to another citizen through the car window. They finished their conversation and Detective Merriwhether looked over at his partner and then put his head back. At 7:38 p.m., Detective Williams got back in the car and elbowed his partner saying lets go and started the car. When Detective Williams received no response he looked over and realized his partner was slumped in the seat and noticed his eyes were not clear. He then felt for a pulse and none was detected. Detective Williams radioed in the emergency and activated the cars emergency equipment. Detective Merriwether was transported to Billings Hospital by beat 5138 where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Strulovitch at 8:07 p.m. on May 13, 1983. His cause of death was determined to be from Coronary Atherosclerosis.

Detective McDermott was waked at Golden Gate Funeral Home located at 2036 West 79th Street. He was laid to rest on May 19, 1983 in Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.

Detective John L. Meriwether, Jr., born April 1, 1929, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Park District Police Department on May 1, 1956 and was issued Park Patrolman Star #575. On January 1, 1959, he was laterally transferred to the Chicago Police Department and issued Patrolman Star #11575.

Detective Merriwether was survived by his wife, Willa B. (nee Evans); children: Lynn, age 10 and Margaret Ann, age 10 and siblings: Charles N., Patricia Diane, Phyllis Lorraine and Shirley Ann. He was preceded in death by his parents: John L., Sr. and Maggie (nee Dawson).

Incident Recorded under Chicago Police Department RD #E141409 Homicide Case Report and E167267 Hospitalization Case Report.