Michael J. O'Neill

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Michael J. O'Neill

Chief Michael J. O'Neill
Born Apr. 11, 1876 [1] [2]
Died Dec 27, 1929 [3]
Englewood [3]
Cause of death SUICIDE [3][4]
Resting place Mt. Carmel cemetery, Tenafly [3]
Nationality American
Years active Jun 1, 1901 [1]- Dec 27, 1929 [4]
Home town Englewood, NJ
Known for Chief of Police, Englewood PD
Spouse(s) Mary T. Foxen (b. 1878) [2]
Children Edward F. (b.1904) and Donald J. (b.1907) [2]

Michael O'Neill Joined the Englewood Police Force on Jun 1st, 1901,[1] [4], made Sergeant on May 5, 1920, Captain on June 1, 1921 and became Chief of Police in Jan 2, 1924 [1] [5], and remained in office until his passing in 1929. [4]

Early career

  • 1911 just before the time that Mayor Hezekiah Birtwhistle died in office; then Officer O'Neill, while on night duty, shot and killed John C. Ruddock, a "young man of Englewood" (b. 1895 - thus 25 yrs old at the time, and living at 174 E. Palisade Ave - of German descent). [6] The officer went on trial in the County seat and was duly exonerated. The cost TO HIM, of the trial was $2,225.00 [Sic - remembering that one could buy a huge home for that much money then], The general feeling was that the city should pay that sum, but nothing was done, the council dividing two and two, Mr. Huckin refusing to vote.The matter was finally decided the following year (1912) Mr. Huckin finally voting in favor of the payment, he having been paid his "fee" in the meantime and having no further pecuniary interest in the vote. Mayor Munroe expressed himself strongly at that time, in favor of standing by a city officer who was using his best judgement in defense of the city's interests. [7]
  • 1916 while still a Patrolman, he distinguished himself by the capture of one Joe Blake, who had raided at least 290 homes in the Haworth area. He was working with a Belgian Shepard named "Duc" [Sic- they bought two dogs from Belgium; "Duc" (Duke in Engl., 60lbs) and a bitch named "Mouche" (Fly in Engl.,50 lbs)]. [8]

  • 1920, at age 44, he was a lieutenant, and living at 112 Waldo Place. [2].
  • 1929 he was President of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. [9] And, a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Police Association, as well as an ardent Elk, and member of the Kiwanis.[1]


Chief O'Neill committed suicide while in office in 1929, by shooting himself in the head [4], in a wooded section of Hackensack [5] [3]. Apparently he had recently had two serious operations, and a nervous breakdown over his ill health and it is hypothesized that this was the cause of his ultimate depressive episode. [5]

Editorial comment on the shooting

Interestingly, in researching the matter, the editor found the genealogy of the Ruddock family, and they list the shooting as "accidental". Assuming that the case was as presented to a jury which acquitted Officer O'Neill, it was a line of duty shooting of a presumed felon in the performance of some crime, and not in any sense accidental.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Staff Writer (Dec 27, 1929). "Michael O'Neill Obit". Obit. Englewood Press. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Staff Writer. "Michael O'Neill". 1920 US Census. US Govt. http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1920usfedcen&indiv=try&h=29899262. Retrieved 11/11/2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Staff Writer. "Michael J. O'Neill". Obit. NY post. http://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2011/New%20York%20Evening%20Post/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201930%20Grayscale/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201930%20%20a%20Grayscale%20-%200978.pdf. Retrieved 11/11/2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Staff Writer (Dec 27, 1929). "Chief Suicides". Obit. Kingsport Times. http://interactive.ancestry.com/6535/NEWS-TN-TH_KI_TI.6535_1929_12_27_0002/487484418?backurl=http%3a%2f%2ftrees.ancestry.com%2ftree%2f12390176%2fperson%2f-197450412%3fssrc%3d%26ml_rpos%3d1&ssrc=pt_t12390176_p-197450412_kpidz0q3d-197450412z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnToTreehttp://fultonhistory.com/newspaper%2011/New%20York%20Evening%20Post/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201930%20Grayscale/New%20York%20NY%20Evening%20Post%201930%20%20a%20Grayscale%20-%200978.pdf. Retrieved 12/24/2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Staff Writer (Dec 27, 1929). "Police Chief Shoots Self". Obit. Syracuse Herald. http://interactive.ancestry.com/8564/NEWS-NY-SY_HE.1929_12_27_0012/487484428?backurl=http%3a%2f%2ftrees.ancestry.com%2ftree%2f12390176%2fperson%2f-197450412%3fssrc%3d%26ml_rpos%3d1&ssrc=pt_t12390176_p-197450412_kpidz0q3d-197450412z0q26pgz0q3d32768z0q26pgplz0q3dpid&backlabel=ReturnToTree. Retrieved 12/24/2014. 
  6. Staff Writer. "John E. Ruddock". 1910 US Census. US Govt. http://search.ancestry.ca/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1910USCenIndex&indiv=try&h=186795045. Retrieved 12/24/2014. 
  7. Sterling, Adeline (1922) (in English). The Book of Englewood. Mayor and Council of Englewood. p. 268-269. 
  8. Dyer, Walter A.. "Four Footed Policemen". Country Life in America. Country Life. p. 48. https://books.google.com/books?id=yQIiAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA2-PA48&lpg=RA2-PA48&dq=Chief+%22MIchael+J.+O%27Neill%22,+Englewood,+NJ&source=bl&ots=mJJ9jTgIKn&sig=CXozLNm27PEDgl1gMrst9N1YtKw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=8nCXVNDRM_GasQTXh4GgDw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Chief%20%22MIchael%20J.%20O'Neill%22%2C%20Englewood%2C%20NJ&f=false. Retrieved 11/11/2014. 
  9. Staff Writer. "Past Presidents". New Jersey Police Chief. NJ State Assoc. of Chiefs of Police. http://content.yudu.com/Library/A2ylaj/TheNewJerseyPoliceCh/resources/5.htm. Retrieved 11/11/2014.