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Police Officer William T. Birch | Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey

Police Officer

William T. Birch

Fort Lee Police Department, New Jersey

End of Watch: Sunday, September 4, 1966

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 26

Tour: 2 years, 6 months

Badge # 134

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun; .38 caliber

Offender: Died in prison

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Officer Birch was shot and killed while when he responded to a holdup alarm at a hotel on Route 4 West at 0045 hours. As he arrived on scene one of the two suspects exited the hotel lobby and shot him three times, killing him. The suspect then abducted a couple at gunpoint and forced them to drive away. The suspect was arrested a short time later after a shootout with officers. The man he abducted also assisted with the arrest as he was armed at the time the suspect abducted them.

The second suspect was also apprehended after a shootout with officers. The suspect who shot Officer Birch was sentenced to death but had the sentenced commuted to life in prison in 1972 when the death penalty was abolished. The man was paroled in 1982.

In January 2005, at the age of 79, the suspect was arrested in Massachusetts for attempting to sell a handgun to informant while bragging that he killed a police officer in New Jersey and got away with serving only 15 years. He was returned to prison in New Jersey for violating his parole. He died in prison 2 years later.

Officer Birch had been with the agency for just over two years and was survived by his wife and three daughters.

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My mother is Therese Birch Lafond, brother of Billy Birch. Her life was forever altered by his death. The sadness and lonliness is still so evident, even after all of this time. She loved him so much and was so proud of him. She has always siad that when he died she not only lost a "best" friend, but lost the ability to share all of her childhood memories, and those baseball games that they loved so much! Between her and my Grandparents, we must have heard hundreds of stories of Billy and Teesie when they were young. Billy Birch has been etched in our hearts and minds and we never even met him!

Gabrielle Whalen
November 15, 2015


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