Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 18 years, 6 months, 9 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: District 17 - Marquette
District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 50
Date of Birth: 21 Jun 1874
Date of Appointment: 02 Apr 1906
Date of Incident: 012 - Near West
End of Watch: 11 Oct 1924
Date of Interment: 14 Oct 1924
Cemetery: All Saints Catholic Cemetery - Des Plaines, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 5, Lot 6, Block 38, Section 4
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-8
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 8
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 2, Line 12
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 6-E: 2
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Michael F. Murtaugh, Star #2565, aged 50 years, was an 18 year, 6 month, 9 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to District 17 – Marquette.
On October 11, 1924, at 11:30 a.m., Officer Murtaugh was on patrol when he observed a maroon automobile racing down the street after hearing two gunshots come from a dry goods store. The store was located at 2058 West Cullerton Street, owned by Stanley Bloniarz, it had just been robbed by the bandits. They took $80.00 in currency and checks and sped off in the maroon auto turning North on Leavitt Street after Bloniarz fired two rounds at the bandits. Officer Murtaugh reacted quickly and in front of 2152 West 19th Street he confronted the men as they attempted to escape in the automobile. As the bandits rounded the corner Murtaugh stepped into the middle of the street, directly in the path of the vehicle, and shouted, “Stop or I’ll shoot!” The auto slowed and one of the occupants fired two shots before turning west. One of the shots missed Murtaugh’s head while the other struck him in the face. He collapsed to the ground as the auto continued to flee the scene making good their escape. On lookers, surprised by what they had just witnessed, ran to the officer’s aid. They flagged down a passing car and rushed the officer to St. Anthony Hospital. However, their efforts were in vain as Officer Murtaugh died en route to St. Anthony Hospital. Before he died, he was able to identify one of the bandits, George R. Stoklasa, as the shooter.
Witnesses were able to provide police with a license plate number, 665772 IL Passenger, of the maroon auto. The plate was registered to D. Hollinshead of Thompson, Illinois to a Star Automobile and was previously reported stolen. Under the direction of Chief of Detectives Michael Hughes, Deputy Chief Matthew Zimmer and Captain Moran, squads of police combed the city in search of the auto, without success. On November 1, 1924, George R. Stoklasa was located and arrested. On November 13th 1924, he was held to the Grand Jury by the Coroner and indicted. On January 16, 1925, Stoklasa was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Stoklasa appealed his conviction and on June 5, 1925, Stoklasa was acquitted in a second trial by Judge Kersten. In 1940, Joseph Okoniewski, age 57, turned himself in to Sergeant Louis Possehl at the Marquette Police Station. Okoniewski stated that he was responsible for the murder of Officer Murtaugh in 1924. It is unknown Okoniewski was ever charged or convicted for the murder.
Officer Murtaugh was waked at his residence located at 4015 West Lexington. His funeral mass was held in Requiem at Presentation Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church located at 714 South Springfield Avenue. He was laid to rest on October 14, 1924 in All Saints Catholic Cemetery, 700 North River Road, Des Plaines, Illinois. His grave is located Grave 5, Lot 6, Block 38, Section 4.
Patrolman Michael F. Murtaugh, born June 21, 1874, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 2, 1906. He earned 2 Credible Mentions during his career.
Officer Murtaugh was survived by his wife, Bridget (nee Kennedy); children: Arthur, Jane and John; and siblings: James, John, Mary Rielly, Mrs, James J. Thompson, Patrick and Timothy. He was preceded in death by his son, James Francis.
Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #6638.