Thursday, June 9, 2016

Murder at Lunt and Clark, Part 1

September 2, 1945

At 11 p.m. Detectives George Hellstern and his partner Charles Brady were walking down Clark Street in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.  Earlier that day, Japan had formally surrendered to the Allies, ending WWII, and, while the celebrations were more subdued than they had been a few weeks earlier, the atmosphere in Rogers Park was cheerful on that cool autumn night. A waning crescent moon could be seen in the cloudy skies.

Crosses indicate where the detectives fell.  The arrow shows the route of the assailant.

A- Police Station, B- Peeping Tom, C- Shooting

The detectives had been sent to investigate a report of a "Peeping Tom" at 7022 N. Paulina. Since the police station was then located at southeast corner of Clark and Estes (a topic of a previous blog post), the detectives walked south along Clark Street. It was the end of their shift, and they probably intended to head home after taking a statement.

At Lunt and Clark, they saw a man in front of the corner drug store with a dirty face and a glove on his left hand.  Detectives Hellstern and Brady crossed to the southeast corner and identified themselves as police officers.   In response, the man pulled out a revolver and began to fire.  Detective Hellstern was hit.  He managed to fire three bullets at the man before dying on the sidewalk.  Detective Brady was also hit.  He fired two shots at the man as he fled down Lunt Avenue.  In less than a minute the violent exchange was over. 

Unobserved at the time, a black car across the street started up and drove away.

Charles Brady, 36
Paul McMahon, a friend of Detective Brady, heard the gunfire and ran to the intersection.  Brady handed him his gun and told him to shoot at the suspect.  McMahon ran half a block east on Lunt and fired once into a dark alley.  He never saw the face of the assailant.

A district patrol wagon crew returning from another assignment was stopped by cries from a gathering crowd. Brady had time to give his account of the incident before he was rushed to St. Francis hospital in Evanston, where he received numerous blood transfusions.  He died 3 ½ hours later.

George Hellstern, 52
Witnesses remained to give their statements to the police, but the shooter was long gone.

Detective Hellstern left behind a wife and two daughters.  Detective Brady a wife and 9 children, with another on the way. 

Soon, the full force of the Chicago Police Department would be directed to this case, resulting in a massive manhunt for the murderer.  Eventually, their police work would reveal one of Chicago’s many networks of organized crime in the 1940s.

Part 2 forthcoming.

The above information is taken from Chicago Tribune articles accessed online through the Chicago Public Library.  Portraits are adapted from published Tribune images.


  1. Wow! You've got me hooked! My dad was living on Lunt at Hamilton about this time.

  2. Great! The story gets much weirder. And sadder.

  3. In my husband's former back yard! Can't wait to read Part 2.

  4. there used to be a plaque on the building that commemorated the two fallen officers.

  5. Sounds like a serial that definitely is worth following

  6. Unfortunately plaques have a tendency to disappear in the neighborhood...

    1. The plaque was still there at least until sometime into the 1990s.