Bio & Incident Details
Tour: 9 years, 6 months
Badge # Not available
Incident Date: 12/28/1980
Weapon: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect: Never identified
Patrolman Robert Owen was shot and killed while on duty.
His body was found in the early morning hours of December 29th, but investigators believe that he was shot shortly before midnight on the 28th. His body was lying about 75 feet away from his patrol car with a single bullet wound to the chest. The murder weapon was his own, a Colt Trooper Mark III .357, although the weapon was not immediately found.
The condition of Patrolman Owen's jacket and shirt indicated that he was likely involved in a struggle before he was shot. His keys and a set of handcuffs with one cuff partially open were found near the start of a bloody trail north of the patrol car and several feet away from the body, suggesting perhaps that the officer might have either attempted to reach his car or was partially dragged in that direction. Also present were cigarette butts from two different brands of cigarettes and a lighter.
A man walking his dogs discovered the unattended police car and flashlight and called in the report. Investigators later determined that the man had also picked up the gun in the woods while he was walking but disposed of the gun after realizing it had been the weapon that killed Patrolman Owen. He later admitted taking the gun and, after passing three polygraph tests, was cleared as a suspect. The gun was recovered and had traces of Patrolman Owen's blood on and in the barrel leading investigators to believe it was shot at close range.
No suspects were ever identified or apprehended in connection with his death.
Patrolman Owen was a member of the Erie Police department for nine and a half years and had previously served with the United States Navy. He was survived by his wife and son.