Family, Friends & Fellow Officers Remember...

Detective Dennis J. Wustenhoff

Suffolk County Police Department, New York

End of Watch Thursday, February 15, 1990

Leave a Reflection

Reflections for Detective Dennis J. Wustenhoff

I watched a show about this and was so sorry for his wife and children. Who ever is responsible for taking this man’s life may not answer to his crime here on earth but one day God will make it right.

B England
Concerned citizen

January 10, 2022

I came across this information a number of years ago. Never knew about it even though I was an active cop at the time in an upstate city. Terrible. I am surprised that a suspects name was revealed in one of the postings as he was apparently not charged. I hope that at some point this case can be solved, even after the persons responsible are deceased.

lieutenant (retired)
Fulton PD

December 30, 2021

We're still fighting for your justice, daddy....
We won't stop.

**Follow our family's fight for justice on Facebook at "Justice For Dennis Wustenhoff"


February 18, 2021

It's been 31 years without justice for you, but you would be so proud of your family! Fran has done an amazing job raising your children .They are 3 of the most loving, kind, compassionate, hardworking, and fantastic adults I have ever met. And Fran is the strongest, kindest, most loving person anyone could ever meet. Their love for you grows stronger every year and they continue their fight to get you justice. They are raising your grandchildren to know what an incredible man their Pop Pop was. I know you are proud. I am blessed enough to have your daughter as my daughter in law and to be part of the family. You will REST IN PEACE soon, Justice is coming for you !

Sherry Wheaton

February 15, 2021

RIP Detective Wustenhoff. You served your department and your country with honor and distinction.

US Army Military Police, Ret

February 15, 2021

Det. Wustenhoff,
On today, the 30th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just as a Law Enforcement Officer but for our Country as well when you served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

February 15, 2020

North Patchogue cop’s killer never found; family seeks justice 30 years later

Posted on February 13, 2020 Long Island Advance

The answer to that question is something the family has been seeking for 30 years. Now demanding justice, the Wustenhoff children, Jennifer Lees, 44, Kevin Wustenhoff, 42, Melissa Scelsi, 40, and their mother, Fran Wustenhoff, are asking the public to come forward with details and information while also pleading with Suffolk County police to actively “reopen” the case.

“He was a dad, so involved with his family and he never missed out on anything. He was always there,” said Scelsi, also explaining that her father was not just a police officer but also a community man known for keeping an eye on the area and teaching children the dangers of drugs. “He was the coolest dad with long hair and an earring; funny, just the perfect dad.”

Now living in Smithtown with her husband and two children, Scelsi said she and her siblings were taken aback by the realization of the 30-year anniversary of their father’s death. In an epiphany of sorts, thinking about how people are more connected than ever before, through social media, a mere few weeks ago she set up a “Justice for Dennis J. Wustenhoff” Facebook page that has already garnered some 4,000-plus followers.

“I think being the 30-year mark, it really hit us. I am turning 41 this year, the age my father was when he passed, and my son is 10, the age I was when he passed,” Scelsi said of the current push to find justice. “Enough is enough.”

After the Feb. 15, 1990 murder, their mother soon moved from their family home, tainted by the horrific explosion.

“Thirty years is too long. My children should not have to live their lives knowing the person responsible for the brutal and horrific murder of their father is not in jail,” she said of her children, taking it upon themselves to help solve the murder. “It is time for the truth.”

Though Scelsi is credited with organizing the recent movement, her brother, a Suffolk County Police Officer following in the footsteps not only of his father but also all the men and women of the department who have supported his family throughout the years, took a moment to detail the day of his father’s death in hopes of provoking the good in someone who may know something to come forward.

“I believe in my heart that someone out there may have some kind of information,” he said, explaining that the type of crime that killed his father was due to a very sophisticated bomb with a lot of technological and mechanical aspects. “Someone out there is aware of something that took place to get that crime to happen. In some way, shape, or form someone touched it whether on purpose or not. We want to amplify that anything short of being under the car doing it yourself, we support you and will protect you.”

Kevin Wustenhoff currently works in the Fourth Precinct, wearing his father’s shield. He and his police officer wife have five children.

He also explained that though many people knew of the story, whether having had read about it or lived it in some way, what they might not realize is his father did not turn the key and simply “blow up.” He was alive and conscious for a total of three hours after the explosion, and the explosion wasn’t just the average explosion you think about like in the movies, he said; it was designed specifically to hurt his father.

“It wasn’t just the explosive that fired up into him and killed him. It was the floorboard of the car and the seat’s upholstery, springs and motor. All of those things fired up into his body at a high velocity and basically destroyed his insides. He was talking and aware that he was very badly wounded and dying,” his son added. “He was in great pain. It was not a dignified way to go; there was a lot of suffering up until his last breath. It was a very vicious and cowardly murder and not the way a man who spent two decades serving the people of Suffolk County in the war on drugs should die.”

Dennis Wustenhoff was a Suffolk County narcotics detective, working undercover. Prior to his time with the SCPD he served in Vietnam and was wounded. He came home after surviving the attack and later, due to Agent Orange, fought and beat cancer.

Earlier this week the Wustenhoffs met with the Suffolk County Police Department to discuss the case, as they have many times before, hoping this time would be different and promising they will not give up.

The SCPD released the following statement in response to the Wustenhoff case: “Dennis Wustenhoff was a dedicated member of the Suffolk County Police Department and made the ultimate sacrifice. Even though 30 years has passed since his death, this department remains committed to apprehending the perpetrator or perpetrators responsible for his murder. We are dedicated to bringing justice and some form of closure for Detective Wustenhoff’s family, friends and fellow officers.”

Scelsi noted that the family is convinced that their father’s killer is the same main person of interest from the 1990s, a living and now-retired Nassau County police officer whose motive is also there.

“His name is out there and the fact is he has motive and the means,” added Lees of her father’s potential killer. “He also allegedly made verbal threats to my dad, directly and indirectly.”

According to the Wustenhoff children, at that time, their father had a known affair with the wife of the other police officer, something their mother and father were working on as a couple.

“But that doesn’t define him. He wasn’t a bad person; he just made one bad choice in life and it doesn’t mean he deserved this,” Scelsi said of the affair. “He was actively trying to make their marriage better and came clean to my mother long before this happened.”

Kevin Wustenhoff also said that their mother has since forgiven their father and attributed the affair to the high-stress life he led. Scelsi also noted that the man in question had the capability as well as motive, having had worked in the emergency services unit with access to the type of bomb used.

“Whatever the reason they chose to stop [the investigation] has been a result in my family being tortured mentally,” she continued, hoping to finally find some peace. “It’s been too long. We just really need the police department to back us all these years later.”

Lees agreed, also stating that they are not convinced the police have done their best in solving the case, and hope that current advancements in technology can make this case more solvable. But the biggest piece of the puzzle, she explained, is information.

“Please help us find justice for [our] dad; it’s never too late to tell us something big or small,” she pleaded, promising anonymity. “What we try to stress to people is that this is not just a murder story — it’s our dad.”

SCPD suggests anyone with information contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. Until then, the question of what happened to Wustenhoff remains.

FEBRUARY 15, 1990

A “sophisticated” bomb exploded in undercover Suffolk County narcotics detective Dennis Wustenhoff’s unmarked white Cadillac at approximately 11:55 a.m. that Thursday.

The blast propelled debris 200 feet from the car, the North Patchogue Fire Department reported at the time. Wustenhoff was transported, alive and conscious, by ambulance to the helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he died several hours later from “extreme trauma to the lower abdomen and lower extremities.”

It was reported at the time that anti-shock trousers were applied at the scene. Later that week an estimated 5,000 police officers from across the nation attended the funeral on North Ocean Avenue.

According to initial reports, by the following week a search warrant was granted for the Bethpage home of 43-year-old Nassau police officer Robert Horan. Based on the Long Island Advance’s Feb. 22, 1990 story, titled “Car bomb may have been placed by cop,” a second team of detectives questioned Horan in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he had been vacationing with his wife and two children since that Saturday in 1990. No charges were filed against him and no arrest was ever made.


Melissa Scelsi recalled the day her father died vividly. She remembered being picked up from elementary school by a police officer with her older sister and brother already inside, having been picked up from middle school. They were told their father was in an accident but were given no details due to their age and fear for their safety. Together they were rushed to Stony Brook Hospital in tears and confusion.

“I remember that day perfectly,” she said. “There are things that you don’t remember as a kid, but that day just doesn’t go away.”

Once they arrived at the hospital she remembered being shoved into rooms and then finally meeting her mother inside a conference room and being told what had happened.

“It didn’t even make sense, it was just so surreal,” she said, remembering her thoughts after being told her father was involved in an explosion.

Then, her mother was brought out of the room and ultimately told the fate of her husband; she let out a scream, a noise the Wustenhoff children said they would never forget.

“We just knew at that point it was bad,” she added, also explaining that none of them, including her mother, were able to see Wustenhoff during his last moments due to the extensiveness of his injuries, though it is not something they regret.

Jennifer Lees said she also remembered a lot about that day but a couple of things stuck out, like being picked up from school by a police officer.

“It was scary and confusing,” she said, also noting that the most memorable image was seeing the yellow taped off area of her neighborhood, “Which I thought was really weird being that I was told it was just a car accident.”

But her time at the hospital was the most impactful.

“Amongst all the sadness we felt, I literally became an adult that day,” she added. “It was so surreal, I just thought I would wake up the next day and it would all be normal again.”

Retired Police Officer

February 15, 2020

$10K Offered In 30-Year-Old Case Of Cop Killed In Car Bomb

"Detective Wustenhoff's family, along with colleagues from the department, deserve justice in this case," Commissioner Geraldine Hart said.

Posted Feb 14, 2020 Patch News

PATCHOGUE, NY — A 30-year-old case involving a fallen officer is being reopened and a $10,000 reward is being offered to any information that leads to an arrest, Suffolk County Police announced on Friday. According to Commissioner Geraldine Hart, the FBI has agreed to review information and evidence in the investigation into the 1990 murder of Narcotics Detective Dennis Wustenhoff, to offer fresh leads in the three decade old case.

Wustenhoff died during a bomb explosion that occurred while to start his unmarked police vehicle parked in front of his Patchogue home on Feb. 15, 1990.

Wustenhoff, who was assigned to the Narcotics Section at the time of his death, was survived by his wife, Fran; two daughters, Melissa and Jennifer; and a son, Kevin, who joined the department in 2005.

"It has been 30 years and Detective Wustenhoff's murder remains unsolved therefore it is important that the department takes advantage of every resource available," Hart said. "Detective Wustenhoff's family, along with colleagues from the department, deserve justice in this case."

The "fast cash" reward being offered by Suffolk County Crime Stoppers will be issued within 72 hours of an arrest. Anyone with information about this incident can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, using a mobile app or online at All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

Retired Police Officer

February 15, 2020

Hey Dennis...You will Always Be Remembered! We worked on great cases together and had a lot of laughs too.

I recently bought a t-shirt in memory of you and always wear the bracelet with your name on it. I recently also asked a couple of Homicide Dets about your case. I received the same answer. They want the POS responsible to be convicted for life with no overturning the verdict on appeal.

Justice will come one way or the other. RIP Brother.

Det Ray Kelly (Retired)
Suffolk County Police Department, NY

January 23, 2020

The year was 1990, it was Valentines Day. I was in 5th grade. Canaan Elementary was holding its annual Father/Daughter Dance. I was there with my dad, you were there with Melissa. At the time I don’t think Melis and I even realized our dads knew one another until the both of you ran into each other, gave a hug handshake combo and then instantly cracked a joke about how fat and old one another had gotten. I guess it had been a while since you had both seen each other. I think I also remember a few choice words that transpired in that convo ;) But what I do remember most was seeing you and my dad laughing and having fun and Melis and I dancing with our daddies. Little did we know that would be the last time you and dad ran into each other, little did we know that’d be your last dance with your baby girl. The 30th Anniversary of your death is coming up soon. It doesn’t feel like it was 30 years ago, for me it was just another normal school day, and I for what ever reason happened to looked out my classroom window to see a SCPD vehicle outside, and later that evening I came to find out that they were there for my friend Melissa because her father had gotten murdered in his own driveway that day. I’m so sorry this happened, I’m sorry that for 30 years your family has endured such a loss and such heartbreak. I’m sorry that your beautiful grandchildren never will have the chance to meet you, I’m sorry that you missed so many important days of your children’s lives. I’m sorry that you left behind your beautiful wife, family, friends and coworkers that loved you. I pray that you and your family will one day receive the justice and peace that you all deserve and I know that they will not stop until that day comes.

A life long friend, Jessica Consolmagno

January 22, 2020

Rest in peace Detective Wustenhoff.

Rabbi Lewis S. Davis

March 11, 2019

I’m so glad to see that Kevin and his family have continued to hold on to the wonderful memories of their dad. They should be proud!

Dominick Casoria, Patchogue

January 5, 2019

Thought of you today just as I have so many other days over the years. You always bring a smile to my face . Rest In Peace my friend

Gary Fiore Det. Sgt.
SCPD New York. Retired

February 21, 2018

I hope you're proud of us and the work we are doing to bring you peace. We will continue to stick together, stay strong, and fight hard, for as long as we need. We will make sure the light will shine for you, and be brighter than it's ever been. We will not give up. Ever.


March 2, 2016

You will always be remembered. You were one of the Best Narcs in Suffolk County. I loved working with you. It seems like it was just yesterday. We miss you.

Det. Ray Kelly (Retired)
Suffolk County Police Department

November 30, 2015

I was thinking of you today pal. I just wanted to let you know you are not forgotten

Gary Fiore. Det Sgt. (Ret)
Suffolk County Police Dept.

September 4, 2015

a ? is this the same dennis that worked in the 5th precent ?

i migh b friend iam not sure if this sa
a friend

February 27, 2015

Oh Dale, I want so bad to be angry with you. But really I'm sad for you. I've been saying for years now how when somebody dies (especially when it's tragic & sudden), most tend to dwell on the death and the circumstances surrounding it. And so therefore, you'll never know the stories of Dennis Wustenhoff's life and how he would jog through the neigborhood and wave to everyone. You'll never know how good he was with children and infants. You'll never understand how important he was to the war on drugs and how gifted he was to show others the way in fighting it. You'll never know what kind of a father he was listening to oldies music with his one daughter while teaching the other how to throw and catch a softball. You'll never know how cool he was to his son with his long hair, sweet cars and motorcycles and how he wanted so badly to grow up and be just like him. Or even in the good times or bad how he saw to his wife and her needs through the overall love and not the burdening guilt. You have no idea that he is somebodies son, a son to a woman who still walks the earth broken hearted in his absence but fondly remembers his upbringing. And you'll never understand his friendship to all walks of people and how he would do anything for anyone if it was within his power. See Dale, you'll never know any of these things because you must be a flawless human being sent here by the hand of God Himself to walk among us and never make a mistake or do wrong in everything. Or, maybe you're just a sad bitter man that sits in front of his computer and who never came out a winner. Maybe you never made something of yourself. Maybe you have nothing to be proud of. Maybe there's something that Dennis did to you that makes you feel hate and anger daily. To which I reply, who comes out on top then? But Dale, I'm a forgiving man. A forgiving man who knows how hurt the closest people from his life are by your remarks, by your unforgiving trail of cynicsm. Dale, this website is designed for people to feel good about the ones they lost, no matter how they lost them or why. Why take that away from them? Those are truly the innocent ones. So I propose an idea. You have some things you want to get off your chest, I'm the closest thing to Dennis you'll ever get to. So please, come find me. We can have coffee or a beer or just meet somewhere and chat. And maybe once and for all you'll shy away from being a cowardly anonymous poster, man up and be brave and come say it to my face. Together, I'm sure we can figure out a way for you to never hurt someone in my family with your words again. Maybe, we can find a way for you to not speak about the dead behind their back but come to the living and say it to my face. I am not perfect man by any stretch of the imagination, but I am willing to straighten this out with you and for that I know I am better. I am still his son and will stand up for him until the last breath of my body leaves me, so help me God. Sleep well Dale, I hope you can find me before we cross paths otherwise.

Kevin M. Wustenhoff, PO 2218
Kevin M. Wustenhoff

January 24, 2015

Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. It's 23 years later, but it still hurts so terribly and yet it feels like only yesterday you told me "learn something today" as I went off to school. I see your eyes when I look in my son's eyes....beautiful and blue. I miss you and love you more than anything.

Thank you to everyone here who has left such kind and beautiful words. It makes me happier than you know to hear these wonderful things and impressions he has left on all of you. Keep remembering.....for him and for us, his family. It keeps him alive.

Melissa Wustenhoff

November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Hero


July 14, 2012

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9

Marshal Chris Di Gerolamo
Federal Air Marshal Service

May 17, 2012

Your heroism and service is honored today, the 22nd anniversary of your death. Your memory lives and you continue to inspire. Thank you for your a law enforcment officer and as a Vietnam warrior. My cherished son Larry Lasater was a fellow police officer murdered in the line of duty on April 24, 2005 while serving as a Pittsburg, CA police officer.

Time never diminishes respect and your memory will always be honored and revered.

I pray for solace for all those who love and remember you for I know both the pain and pride are forever. Your family is in my heart's embrace today. Thanks to your friends for sharing their devotion to you in their memories. I too understand the meaning of a life-altering event. I hope one day the people that are responsible for your murder are apprehended and punished.

Rest In Peace

Phyllis Loya
Mom of fallen California Officer Larry Lasater, Pittsburg PD, eow 4/24/05

February 15, 2012

Think of you often. You were a true friend who always brought
a smile to everyone's face. You would be so proud of your family. Rest in peace Denny.

Gary Fiore D/Sgt (ret.)
Suffolk County P. D. New York

January 27, 2012

When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge - Proverbs 14:32.

You are not forgotten.

Constable Amanda Pandolfi #1249
York Regional Police, Ontario Canada

February 15, 2011

I went to UHS with Dennis and last saw him in 1986 @ our high school reunion. Who can forget those eyes and that smile, even with the beard and hair, he was "Dennis." A great guy and a very fine man, so filled with courage. May he rest in peace and may God continue to bless his family.

Jean Bogan Jacoby

February 15, 2010

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