Chief of Police Philip John DeSantis

Chief of Police Philip John DeSantis

Woodbine Police Department, New Jersey

End of Watch Monday, August 6, 1973

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Philip John DeSantis

Chief of Police Philip DeSantis was stabbed to death by a suspect who had just robbed a gas station and stabbed the attendant.

Chief DeSantis was at home when he heard the call from a neighboring agency. The suspect was known to him, so he began to search for him. He located the man and pulled him over at the intersection of Woodbine Ocean View Road and Heine Avenue. During the traffic stop, the man stabbed him with a screwdriver or metal file multiple times before fleeing. The man was later apprehended.

The gas station attendant died several hours later. The subject was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to two life sentences on May 3rd, 1974. He will be eligible for parole on May 4th, 2024.

Chief DeSantis was a United States Army WWII veteran and had served with the Woodbine Police Department for almost 20 years. He was survived by his wife, five sisters, and two brothers.

Chief DeSantis was murdered within a few hundred feet of the home he was born in.


  • Age 54
  • Tour 20 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Weapon Edged weapon
  • Offender Sentenced to life

robbery, traffic stop

Most Recent Reflection

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I moved away from Woodbine in 1975, and I was six years old when the Chief was murdered. I decided to search his name today, out of the blue, in 2023.

I cannot believe it’s been exactly 50 years; I have not heard his name since moving out of state all those years ago. I remember him and how nice he was, and I also remember well the day my grandparents were talking about his tragic death. I think I recall he was “stabbed six times”, but I cannot be certain of that.

I just wanted to share that a then six year old remembered him and his sacrifice 50 years later. That photo of him in the police hat is exactly my memory of the Chief, clear as a bell. Also, I cannot trust this particular memory, but I’m pretty sure he gave out lollipops, or at least gave one to me. It was a Tootsie Roll Pop. Surely with that detail, it’s likely that it happened.

A child living in Woodbine in 1973

December 10, 2023

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