Was Police Captain Michael O’Mara murdered with his own gun or did he commit suicide?
To those who knew him best, Captain Michael O’Mara was the straightest of straight arrows. He was a devoted husband, a loving father, and the only officer in the Cook County Sheriff’s Police trained at the FBI Academy. In the 1960s, O’Mara became famous for leading raids on the Illinois Mafia.
By 1988, Michael had been moved to a desk job in the records department and was getting ready for a quiet retirement. It should have been the gentle twilight of a brilliant career, but it never happened.
On May 30th, 1988, a patrolman pulled into the private service area at the Cook County Courthouse to gas up his car. An unmarked police car was parked at the pump, with the gas nozzle in the tank. There was no officer in sight.
As the patrolman’s flashlight searched the lawn around the service area, he caught a glimpse of a gruesome scene. Michael O’Mara’s body was slumped over a rock in the middle of the lawn. He had been shot once through the forehead. His wallet and his briefcase had not been touched. There was no sign of a robbery.
James Houlihan, a Sergeant for the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene:
Two weeks after Michael O’Mara died, the Coroner determined his death was a suicide. Michael’s friends and family felt there had been a rush to judgment. Despite the coroner’s ruling, they were convinced that Michael had been murdered.
The last person known to see Michael alive was his wife Barbara:
Barbara hired Dr. Vincent DiMaio to review the coroner’s findings and the events leading up to Michael’s death:
Based on his investigation, Dr. DiMaio believes that Michael was murdered:
William Burke was the Chief of the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department:
If Michael O’Mara was murdered, what was the motive? Could it have been a long lost enemy from the past? The police still stay Michael’s death was a suicide and consider the case closed.
But Dr. DiMaio points to one additional fact that he believes rules out suicide:
According to Chief William Burke, Michael knew what he was doing when he pulled the trigger:
What happened to Captain Michael O’Mara on the night of May 30th, 1988? Is it possible he chose to end his own life? Or is his killer still at large? His friends and family believe the answer is obvious. Michael O’Mara was not a man to commit suicide.
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season seven with Robert Stack and in season two with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
The medical examiner was incorrect. The manner of death was an accident. Police when they search hold their flashlight and gun together with their arms crossing. That is very little or no balance if you trip on a rock like that.
I’m sorry but there is no way this was a suicide. As someone who has been to that edge and survived. Suicide is a very private thing. He would not have shot himself over a damn roc to be found so exposed. Come on. Someone is covering up something and they are the ones who are living with that guilt or they just don’t care.
I didn’t hear anything about GPR testing being done on Captain O’ Mara’s hand, which may tell if he pulled the trigger or not. Also if O’Mara was forced to shoot himself he may have done so in a way that would not look like a suicide so his peace officer brothers would investigate, not sweep it under the rug.
Why would he commit suicide while pumping gas? He asked his family what kind of yogurt they wanted? He ask his wife for cash to pickup yogurt. If he was going to commit suicide why ask for these things. Gas nossle was left in vehicle, he told his wife he was going to fill up. This guy has alot to live for. I do remember recently I believe in Wisconsin, where a cop called out over the radio that he was chasing 2 suspects, later his body was found and he did commit suicide. All b/c he was embezzling money, and wanted His wife to get the pension. I don’t believe captain O’Mara would dishonor his religion by committing suicide.
i agree, makes no sense he would bother to get gas and ask for money for yogurt if he was just going to commit suicide.
I think the most obvious piece of evidence is the most logical explanation. He frequently infiltrated organized crime rings in his early career. This was a retaliatory killing.
Honestly…who cares?? A police Capt, good riddance!!
Screw you for being insensitive. Think about the family of this tragic loss and what they are going through.
I fully believe that cops are bad but this is really insensitive. He is my great grandfather and while i never met him I met his children and they are amazing people.
Just to clarify, the Captain was right handed? GSR was found on his right hand (right sleeve)? There was some/any evidence that his thumb was used to discharge his weapon? His flashlight was found near his left hand (or near the left side of his body)? Fluid(s) found on his weapon (clothing/rock) was consistent with his wound (blow back, etc.)?
If the scene was accurately portrayed on unsolved mysteries it is quite obvious what happened. He heard something out in the dark and grabbed his gun and flashlight. While walking in the darkness using his flashlight and focusing out into the distance he accidentally walks directly into the huge boulder. He instinctively puts the gun hand down hard onto the boulder where it hits and deflects back and goes off. This is why it is several inches away from his face according to powder burns. This is why he is draped over the boulder in the first place, instantly killed by a fluke accidental shot. I can’t be the first to see such an obvious thing.
That explanation makes a lot of sense. Thanks.