Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 4 months, 21 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: 3rd Precinct - West Madison Street Station

District of Incident (Present Day): 012 - Near West

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Gunfire - Enemy

Age at Time of Death: 38


Date of Birth: 1849

Date of Appointment: 14 Jun 1887

Date of Incident: 012 - Near West

End of Watch: 04 Nov 1887

Date of Interment:


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Calvary Cemetery - Evanston, Illinois
 Grave Location: Unknown
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # A-2

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 7

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 22

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 40-E: 2

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: No Military Record Found


Incident & Biographic Details

Probationary Patrolman John Keegan, Star #768, aged 38 years, was a 4 month, 21 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 3rd Precinct – West Madison Street Station.

On November 3, 1887, at 11:45 p.m., Officer Keegan reported in to the station by pulling the patrol box located at Van Buren Street and Albany Avenue. This was the last time he reported in and the reports abruptly stopped coming in. Per regulation he was to check in every hour with the station confirming that all is well.

On November 4, 1887, at 6:00 a.m., Officer Keegan was located at Polk Street and Albany Avenue. He was found lying in a prairie dead from a gunshot wound to the forehead. One of his hands was lying on his breast still grasping his .44 caliber Colt revolver. Only one chamber of the revolver was empty and there were no signs of a struggle at the scene. He was transported to Hursen’s undertaking shop located at No. 976 West Lake Street (present day 2322 West Lake Street). The same day County Physician Meyer conducted an autopsy. It was learned that the muzzle of the gun had been placed against his forehead when the fatal shot was fired. The flesh was lacerated and powder marks were found in the wound. The bullet was removed from the base of his skull from behind.

On November 5, 1889, at 10:00 a.m., a Coroner’s Inquest was held at Officer Keegan’s residence located at No. 983 Washington Boulevard (present day 2532 Washington Boulevard). No cause was known to exist to induce Keegan to take his life. His domestic life was happy and he was not a drinking man. He was considered a good officer having no troubles in his official capacity. No one heard him make any remarks indicating he contemplated committing suicide. He was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters and the sole suspicion that he may have committed suicide was the fact that he paid his dues, which were in arrears, in full the day before his death.

Through investigation it was suspected that Officer Keegan was murdered sometime between 11:45 p.m. and 1:00 a.m., the time in which his shift ended. Officially his death was ruled a homicide and the belief that he committed suicide was discounted. His murder remains unsolved.

Officer Keegan was waked at his residence located at No. 983 Washington Boulevard (present day 2532 Washington Boulevard). He was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery, 301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois.

Probationary Patrolman John Keegan, born in 1849, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on June 14, 1887.

Officer Keegan was a member of the Catholic Order of Foresters. He was survived by his wife and two children.

Incident recorded under Chicago Police Historical Homicide Database, Case #2807.