Police Officer Joseph V. Kelly

Police Officer Joseph V. Kelly

Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Sunday, February 21, 1971

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Joseph V. Kelly

Officer Joseph Kelly was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire after he surprised a subject who was attempting to steal a vehicle in the 200 block of Paoli Avenue.

The 25-year-old suspect was apprehended 17 hours later in a hidden spot within sight of the crime scene. The night before, he shot and wounded a 72-year-old man and his 78-year-old wife as they were entering their apartment in Germantown. He had been released from prison three days earlier after serving a six-year term for burglary.

The suspect was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 20 years. While in prison, the suspect and a second inmate were responsible for the stabbing murders of Warden Patrick Curran and Deputy Warden Robert Fromhold at Holmesburg Prison on May 31, 1973. Officer Kelly's murderer was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Warden Curran and Deputy Warden Fromhold. The second 26-year-old suspect, also sentenced to life, was already serving a life sentence for the murder of Sergeant Frank R. Von Colln of the Fairmount Park Police on August 29, 1970. On October 30, 1981, after a failed escape attempt, Officer Kelly's killer and three fellow inmates took three guards, three kitchen workers, and 29 inmates hostage at Graterford Prison. After several hours of tense negotiations, the hostages were released, and the four surrendered. As of June 20, 2020, both were in prison.

Officer Kelly had served with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years. He was survived by his wife and five daughters.


  • Age 45
  • Tour 16 years
  • Badge 4937

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life in prison

auto theft

Most Recent Reflection

View all 23 Reflections

Rest in Peace on the 53 rd anniversary of your death I was assigned to the 5th district in April 1971 right out of the academy. I worked with all of the officers in your squad and you were all they talked about and referred to during the course of my training. All looked up to you and were devastated by the events of that morning. I don’t think a day went by where your name wasn’t mentioned. Never forgotten.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.

Officer John Amici
Philadelphia Police

February 21, 2024

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