WILMINGTON — On Monday afternoon, the 2023 Peace Officers Memorial Service was held at the hallowed grounds where Patrolman Emery McCreight tragically lost his life.
The solemn occasion aimed to honor not only Ptl. McCreight, but also Marshal Jon Van Doren and other committed law enforcement officers who died while actively serving the community. Among those remembered were Sgt. Tim Moore, Ptl. Bill Catauro, and Municipal Court Judge Mike Daughtery.
Former Wilmington Police Department officer Dave Lieurance, the main speaker of the day, emphasized the significance of the remembrance by saying, “I thinks it’s very important that we remember. Either you are a police officer, married to a police officer, or your dad or mom were police officers or if you know one. It’s important we remember everyone.”
The heartfelt service held at the alley just west of the Wilmington United Methodist Church was a poignant reminder of the risks faced by law enforcement officers in the line of duty. Sgt. Neil Rager and Chief Ron Fithen, of the WPD, honored McCreight with a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate his sacrifice and dedication to protecting and serving the community.
In 1922, McCreight was shot and killed when he and his partner discovered two men attempting to break into the Murphy-Benham Hardware Store at 66 N. South Street around midnight.
In late December of 1922, a Jamestown man was arrested after he boasted to friends that two notches cut in the butt of his pistol represented two dead policemen. The man confessed that he murdered Patrolman McCreight and had also murdered Police Officer Elvas Matthews, of the Xenia Police Department, on December 21, 1922.
The man was convicted of McCreight’s murder and sentenced to life in prison on Feb. 20, 1923.
Following the tribute to McCreight, the community joined together in a solemn procession to the memorial site dedicated to Marshal Jon Van Doren, another fallen police officer who heroically served the community. The service at this second memorial site, located right next to the Municipal Building, allowed attendees to express their gratitude and respect for the selfless service of Van Doren.
The collective gratitude of the community was evident throughout the service as numerous individuals were thanked and remembered for their support and commitment to law enforcement. Lieurance emphasized the significance of embracing the memories of every individual and acknowledging their unique contributions to our shared history. In addition to expressing gratitude towards the police officers, heartfelt appreciation was extended to the members of the community for their efforts and support in commemorating the Peace Officers Memorial Service.