Po­lice honor slain col­league on 50th an­niver­sary

Beth­le­hem of­fi­cer’s death a re­minder of po­lice work dan­gers

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pamela Lehman

A line of Beth­le­hem po­lice of­fi­cers wear­ing badges marked with a black sash gath­ered Thurs­day to honor the 50th an­niver­sary of the slay­ing of one of their own.

On Aug. 29, 1969, of­fi­cer Phillip Fahy and his part­ner were chas­ing a hit-an­drun driver. That driver, 31-year-old Be­b­ley Wells Jr., was cor­nered and opened fire on the of­fi­cers with a shot­gun. Fahy died at the scene and Wells was wounded by Fahy’s part­ner.

The killing is a stark re­minder of the dan­gers of po­lice work, said Beth­le­hem po­lice Chief Mark DiLuzio, who quoted a say­ing en­graved on the Na­tional Law En­force­ment Me­mo­rial hon­or­ing of­fi­cers who died in the line of duty.

“It’s not how they died, but how they lived that is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber,” DiLuzio said.

Fahy, a 26-year-old father-to-be, had turned in his res­ig­na­tion two weeks be­fore he was killed be­cause he planned to at­tend col­lege. His widow, Su­san, eventually moved from the area.

Each year, of­fi­cers, their fam­i­lies and res­i­dents gather at the foot of the Fehy Bridge, where a brick wall named in Fahy’s honor marks the names and de­tails of other of­fi­cers killed in the line of duty.

Fahy’s part­ner, Merle Getz, died in 2018 at age 85. He long car­ried the burden of Fahy’s slay­ing with him in phys­i­cal form with a bag stuffed with news­pa­per ar­ti­cles and pho­tos of his part­ner that he would share with any­one who asked.

“It doesn’t haunt me,” Getz said in a 2007 ar­ti­cle about Fahy’s killing. “I just think about it all the time.”

Wells was con­victed of first-de­gree mur­der and sen­tenced to life in prison, where he died in 2004.

Fahy’s fam­ily at one time lived in the Beth­le­hem area, but DiLuzio said the de­part­ment is un­sure if they still live here.

Of­fi­cer Wil­liam Audelo, the de­part­ment’s union pres­i­dent, noted the nearby bridge that bears Fahy’s name.

“As a com­mu­nity, it’s so im­por­tant to keep his mem­ory alive and never for­get the sacri­fice he made,” Audelo said. “As a de­part­ment, we must al­ways re­mem­ber the dan­gers of this pro­fes­sion. Go­ing home at the end of your shift is never a guar­an­tee.”

Morn­ing Call re­porter Pamela Lehman can be reached at 610-820-6790 or [email protected]

AMY SHORTELL/THE MORN­ING CALL

Above: The Beth­le­hem Po­lice De­part­ment marked the 50th an­niver­sary of the killing of Beth­le­hem po­lice Of­fi­cer Phillip Fahy, who was shot dur­ing a hit-and-run crash and ve­hi­cle pur­suit, with a cer­e­mony and wreath Thurs­day. Of­fi­cer Thomas DeFrank pays his re­spects to a me­mo­rial for fallen of­fi­cers.

FILE PHOTO, THE MORN­ING CALL

At left: Beth­le­hem po­lice honored their col­league, Phillip Fahy, on the 50th an­niver­sary of his slay­ing Thurs­day.

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