“As long as memory lingers like the scent of a passing woman and as long as the mind exists stubbornly before the grave, the past is not dead. While old joys retreat in small smiles on black nights, the horror of loss and suffering carries a lash of pain in every instance of recall. Sometimes, we are hardly more than what we’ve suffered.
“At unchosen times, the slender, middle-aged man walks again down those dank rotting stairs, deep into a cellar nightmare. His memory inhales the ripe and cloying smell of death. His eyes see the broken and bloody little body as it lay lifeless in extinguished innocence. His heart rages over and over again for the child in the school girl’s uniform, the little girl who had been raped, hanged and stabbed in the heart, fourteen times, by the man she lovingly called Uncle Hank.
“The aging man will mourn for the little girl until his knowledge of the past in ended by his death. He is defined by this murder. He carries the burden of knowledge that such takers of life and dreams, such monsters like the creature who killed 10-year-old Nicolletta Concerta, walk the earth and look just as our neighbors do. This knowledge is a demon from Pandora’s Box. In some who are infected by this demon, all faith in mankind is lost.
“But in this man, the opposite occurred. His tenacious belief in the law and order was only reaffirmed. His need to resist and to prevent heinous acts grew stronger.
“Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood began his adult life as an idealistic cop and he clings to his order like a Christian before the lions. Through the slime, sleaze, horror, despair and violence of 750 homicide cases, Philly Mike has kept his faith.
“For the chief, there must be law and order. Without order there is chaos. In chaos, there is Uncle Hank.
“To Chitwood, the thin blue line is a human barricade against anarchy. While it bends and sometimes merges with disorder, it is real, identifiable and absolutely necessary. For the chief, it is something to believe in and to fight for.
“After the murder of Nicoletta, the near-40 Chitwood, weary but hoping to change the direction of his life, left the streets of Philly. He want to school, he studied and worked hard. The most decorated cop in the history of Philadelphia wanted to charter the course of events in the world around him, not just to react to them. He became a police chief.
“Gone now are the days or living a brutal inner-city life that only cops and street folks really know and understand. A life of mundane violence, where the throats of struggling souls are cut for breathing somebody else’s air. Gone is the familiar stink of urine in tenement staircases mixed with street anger so thick it rises from the garbage-strewn pavement like an ocean fog. Gone is the frequent feeling of the air raising on the nape of the neck, spurred by the gut-knotted fear and excitement of surviving another battle.
“Gone, too, is the strength and righteousness of youth.
“But there is power in age. There is purpose in being a police chief: for Philly Mike, it’s a sculptor’s work in creating order.
“Chitwood has been Portland’s head cop for eight years now. He plays gold on non-urinated grass at fancy country clubs. He holds court with the press, often manipulating the local scribes like checker pieces in a county home. He’s a man of respect. He’s the boss. When he goes to war now, he can jab first and methodically pick his target before he throws the big right-hand.
“So much has changed but it’s never enough.
“The ghost of the little Concerta girl still festers in Chitwood’s soul. Her stolen and mangled youth and her terror stricken last few minutes of life torment Chitwood religiously like the eagle that comes to eat the heart of (Prometheus) anew, daily.
“Chitwood knows that Hank Fahey, Nicoletta’s killer, still breathes on Pennsylvania’s Death Row”… - Kevin O’Kendley/ Chief of Police Magazine, Miami (Police Chief Magazine)/ 1996
“The current record-holder for longest death row resident is Henry Fahy, 58, the Kensington junk man convicted in the 1981 rape and murder of his 12-year-old neighbor, Nicolette ‘Nicky’ Caserta.” - Joe Slobodzian/ Philadelphia Inquirer/ posted: 1-6-16
Henry P. Fahy, 61, sentenced in 1983, is listed on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, “Persons Sentenced to Execution in Pennsylvania as of November 1, 2018.”
Information, names, and spellings in The Cop were recorded in interview with Mike Chitwood.
A Good Cop makes The Job noble.
Please give to the Police Protective Fund: P.O. Box 1084/ Schenectady, New York, New York 72301/ 877-343-2477
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