Patrolman John A. Utlak

Patrolman John A. Utlak

Niles Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Wednesday, December 8, 1982

John A. Utlak

Patrolman John Utlak was shot and killed by two juvenile suspects during an undercover narcotics investigation. Patrolman Utlak was meeting with the two suspects when he was shot three times with a .22 caliber handgun. His body was found the following day in a parking lot on Hunter Street.

Patrolman Utlak and his partner had met the suspects on two prior occasions and were using them as informants in a case. Patrolman Utlak was meeting with the suspects alone because his partner had the day off. The two suspects were apprehended several days later in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The suspects were returned to Ohio and the 18-year-old suspect who shot him was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison with eligibility for parole. He was denied parole in October of 2012. His next parole hearing is August, 2022.

Patrolman Utlak had served with the Niles Police Department for five years. He was survived by his parents, two sisters, and step-parents.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge 23

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .22 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to life

narcotics, juvenile offender, undercover

Most Recent Reflection

View all 24 Reflections

John I never knew you, but I will always remember you. It’s been more than 35 years since you came into my life. I am the guy that stopped Joseph shortly after midnight December 11th, 1982 in Cheyenne WY for a traffic violation. But by the grace of God I would be laying at rest with you, he had your murder weapon in his pocket but chose not to use it. I had no idea the car was stolen because the NCIC system was down. He was polite and was joking at the time, I had no idea he and Fellows had just taken your life. Things didn’t add up with his story so I took him to the station, he gave me his dad’s phone number so I called to see if he was a runaway, that’s when I found out they were wanted for your death. In retrospect it was probably you that was looking out for me on that car stop and for that I Thank You! I thank you and all first responders for their service.

Former Cheyenne Police Officer Jim

September 7, 2018

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