WOODBINE – Three members of what was once the Woodbine Police Department remembered the former police chief, Aug. 6, on the 50th anniversary of his death after he was stabbed by a suspect in an armed robbery.
James Plousis, Wayne Wilson, and Raymond Lewis placed a wreath at a memorial for former Police Chief Phillip DeSantis, who had served with the Woodbine Police Department for almost 20 years. The monument was part of an Eagle Scout project in 2010 by Frank Smyth Jr.
“We were a small department,” said Wilson, who, along with his two colleagues, joined the Woodbine department after DeSantis’ death. “We are a small town, and for the most part, people are really good citizens. The chief worked well with its citizens and minorities, and I got to see the effects of the rapport he had built with the community when I joined in 1974. Sadly, he tragically lost his life, but that is the reality of the job and the risks you take.”
“We wanted to do something to remember the former chief,” he added.
DeSantis was at home when he heard the call from a neighboring agency about a suspect who had just robbed a gas station and stabbed the attendant, Kenneth McGuire, of Del Haven. The suspect, John William Brown, 23, was a resident of Woodbine and was known to DeSantis, so he began to search for him, according to various published accounts and court testimony.
DeSantis located Brown and pulled him over at the intersection of Woodbine-Ocean View Road and Heine Avenue. During the traffic stop, Brown stabbed DeSantis multiple times before fleeing. Brown was later apprehended.
McGuire, 42, died several hours later. Brown was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to two life sentences May 3, 1974. He will be eligible for parole May 4, 2024, according to Officer Down Memorial Page.
DeSantis, who was 54 at the time of his death, was murdered within a few hundred feet of the home he was born in.
Wilson said the department disbanded in 1979.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered flags at half-staff, Aug. 6, in honor of DeSantis.
Contact the author, Karen Knight, at firstname.lastname@example.org.