Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 3 years, 8 months, 7 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 1st District - Central
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy
Age at Time of Death: 37
Date of Birth: 24 Dec 1921
Date of Appointment: 22 Aug 1955
Date of Incident: 001 - Central
End of Watch: 29 Apr 1959
Date of Interment: 02 May 1959
Cemetery: St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery - Niles, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 2434, Block --, Section 47
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-3
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 11
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 6
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 13-W: 9
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: U.S. Army Air Corps
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman Mitchell A. Stone, Star #4030, aged 37 years, was a 3 year, 8 month, 7 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 1st District – Central.
On April 29, 1959, at 4:38 a.m., Officer Stone, while working as a relief patrolman, and his partner, Patrolman Gerald Marzillo, were working the 1st watch on car #115. The officers were on patrol and stopped at a red light at Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue when they were approached by a female citizen. She advised them that, William Witherspoon, age 36, of 4550 West Maypole Avenue, a man she had been on a date with, was carrying a gun. She stated that the man had just walked into a parking lot behind a gas station located on the Southeast corner Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue. The officers looked in the direction the women had mentioned and observed Witherspoon walking into the parking lot behind the gas station. Officer Marzillo, driver, made a u-turn into the gas station and parked. The officers exited the squad car and walked into the parking lot to look for Witherspoon. After a short search Officer Stone called out to his partner and said he observed Witherspoon. Officer Stone told his partner to get the car and drive to Michigan Avenue and block the other end of the lot as to prevent Witherspoon’s escape. Officer Marzillo drove to Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue while Officer Stone pursued Witherspoon on foot. Upon arrival at Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue Officer Marzillo failed to see either of the two. He continued to drive south on Michigan Avenue for a short distance when he heard the sound of gunfire. Officer Stone had chased Witherspoon to an empty parking lot located at 1241 South Michigan Avenue. He confronted Witherspoon and he drew a 9 mm semi-automatic firearm and fired one time from about two feet away. Officer Stone returned fire, shooting five times, as Witherspoon fled on foot. After hearing the gunfire Officer Marzillo heard groans coming from the empty parking lot.
Officer Marzillo radioed in a call for help and went to investigate the groans. Officer Stone was found approximately 20 feet from the south wall of 1239 South Michigan Avenue and 45 feet from the east sidewalk of Michigan Avenue lying on the ground. Just after the shooting, Patrolmen Cahey and Donlevy, car #144, were at Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue when they were flagged down by a taxi driver, Lee Schultz, of 1258 South Michigan Avenue. The taxi driver informed them that the man who had just shot the officer was now in a gas station as 11th Street and Wabash Avenue. The officer immediately proceeded to the gas station and interviewed the attendant. The attendant told the officers that a man matching their description just went into the washroom. Witherspoon was found hiding in the bathroom by the officers. After removing Witherspoon from the bathroom a search was conducted. A 9 mm semi-automatic firearm, loaded with five live cartridges, was recovered from the flush tank of the toilet. Officer Stone sustained a three gunshot wounds to his stomach and was transported to St. Luke Hospital by Squadrol #251. Car #144 transported Witherspoon to St. Luke Hospital where Officer Stone identified him as the shooter. Officer Marzillo also identified Witherspoon as the man they were chasing. Officer Stone succumbed to his injuries shortly after identifying Witherspoon and was pronounced dead by Dr. J. Baker at 5:10 a.m. on April 29, 1959.
During interrogation Witherspoon related that he was drinking in the Knickerbocker bar located at 1231 South Wabash Avenue where he and his friend Frank Dydra, met a girl named “Betty.“ He propositioned Betty to have sexual intercourse and gave her $50.00. The three then left the Bar and went to the Scotch Plaid Restaurant located at 1220 South Wabash Avenue where they had a sandwich. After leaving the restaurant Witherspoon and “Betty“ walked to 12th Street and Wabash Avenue where she refused to have intercourse with Witherspoon. Witherspoon demanded she give him his $50.00 back, she refused, and an argument ensued. It was at this time she saw a squad car stopped at a red light and began to walk over to it. When Witherspoon saw “Betty“ talking to the policemen, he walked behind the gas station and hid behind a trailer parked in the lot. Witherspoon then saw the policemen’s flashlight and fled on foot diagonally across Michigan Avenue and hid in another two wheel trailer. He told detectives that he was only in there for a short time when the policeman’s flashlight beam was upon him. He saw the policeman standing there with his gun out and In fear of being arrested he fired one shot at the policeman and fled on foot. Witherspoon then ran to his car which was parked in the gas station lot at 11th Street and Wabash Avenue.
Witherspoon, was an ex-convict who served time in prison in Jackson, Michigan for larceny and auto theft. He was also wanted by the FBI for larceny, forgery, and burglary. He was described by police as tall, slim, toothless and arrogant. When caught, Witherspoon admitted to shooting the policeman and said “I was hot, wanted by the FBI and Detroit police, and couldn’t stand a pinch.“ Witherspoon also provided police with information that led to the arrest of his accomplice, Frank Dydra, age 39, and the recovery of a cache of diamonds valued at $7,000, which they had buried under gravel in the parking lot. It was later learned that both men were also wanted for several armed robberies in suburban Detroit, Michigan. The woman known as “Betty“ was later identified as Helen Murray, age 31, of 507 West 47th Street.
On April 29, 1959, Frank Dydra was arrested by officers of the 25th District. On April 30, 1959, Witherspoon and Dydra were held to a Coroner’s Inquest. Both men plead the 5th and were ordered held over to the Grand Jury by a Coroner’s Jury. On May 13, 1958, the Grand Jury returned a True Bill was returned for murder on Witherspoon and accessory to murder for Dydra. On April 20, 1960, Witherspoon was tried by jury in Judge Leslie Salter’s courtroom on the charge of murder. On April 23, 1960, The jury returned a verdict of guilty and recommended the death penalty. The court agreed to abide by the jury’s decision. It is unknown the fate of Frank Dydra.
Officer Stone was waked at Kowachek Funeral Home located at 5776 West Lawrence Avenue. His funeral mass was held at St. Tarcissus Church located at 6020 West Ardmore Avenue. He was laid to rest on May 2, 1959 in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery, 6800 North Milwaukee Avenue, Niles, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 2434, Block –, Section 47.
Patrolman Mitchell A. Stone, born December 24, 1921, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on August 22, 1955. He earned 1 Credible Mention during his career.
Officer Stone served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, as Michael S. Kaminski, from August 1, 1944 thru 1950, was a veteran of World War II and was Honorably Discharged as a tail gunner. He was survived by his expectant wife, Ethel; son: Bradley, age 3; parents: Louise Kaminski (nee Ptasinski) and Casimir Kaminski and brother, Julian C. Kaminski. On May 2, 1959, his wife gave birth to a 7lb boy, Michael Stone, at St. Anne Hospital, about four hours after the burial of her husband. Her labor pains began during the funeral mass and she was rushed to the hospital just after mass ended. Officer Stone had previously changed his name from Michael Kaminski to Mitchell Stone.
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department Central Complaint Room No. 36615 and Station Complaint No. 617621. Incident disseminated via Teletype Message No. 25776 and 257789