Reserve Deputy John R. "Sonny" Litch, Jr.

Reserve Deputy John R. "Sonny" Litch, Jr.

Mahoning County Sheriff's Office, Ohio

End of Watch Thursday, October 22, 1981

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John R. "Sonny" Litch, Jr.

Reserve Deputy Sonny Litch was shot and killed when he was ambushed by the half-brother of a prisoner he was returning from the hospital to the Mahoning County Jail.

The subject rammed his own car into the back of Deputy Litch's car in front of Youngtown's central fire station. When Deputy Litch got out to investigate, the man shot him with a sawed-off shotgun. Both men escaped but were apprehended two days later.

The 19-year-old man was originally sentenced to death, but the sentence was overturned, and he was then sentenced to life in prison. He was denied parole in January 2014. The subject's half-brother was also convicted of charges related to the incident and an unrelated murder charge. He died in prison on May 6th, 2007.

Reserve Deputy Litch had served with the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office for four years and was also a captain with the Campbell Fire Department. He was survived by his wife, son, and daughter.


  • Age 43
  • Tour 4 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Sentenced to life

ambush, escape attempt, prisoner custody

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NEVER FORGET! On behalf of the Ohio Attorneys General Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, we honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice of Reserve Deputy John R. "Sonny" Litch, Jr. of the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office, Ohio and the additional 71 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Superintendent Joe Morbitzer
Ohio Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigation

October 22, 2023

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