Friday, May 28, 2010

Casket of slain officer arrives at church for funeral


Chicago police officers unload the flag-draped casket bearing the body of Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's South Side today for his funeral. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)To the mournful cadence of bagpipes and the salutes of more than 100 Chicago police officers and cadets lining the street, the flag-draped casket bearing the body of Police Officer Thomas Wortham IV was carried into Trinity United Church of Christ on the South Side this morning for funeral services.

Moments before as the hearse moved down Eggleston Avenue, neighbors watched from their front steps and leaned over their fences watching the solemn procession, some wiping away tears.

Police Supt. Jody Weis and other members of the department's command staff also saluted as the casket was carried past them.

Wortham was killed eight days ago in a robbery attempt across from his parents' Chatham neighborhood home.

A wake is scheduled at 10 a.m. at the church, 400 W. 95th St., with the funeral expected to begin at 11:30 a.m.

Burial will follow at Lincoln Cemetery in southwest suburban Alsip.

On Thursday, several hundred mourners turned out for visitation for the Englewood District patrol officer who recently returned from a second tour of duty in Iraq.

Police say he died as four men tried robbing him at gunpoint of his new motorcycle. One of the robbers was killed and another wounded in an exchange of gunfire between the robbers and Wortham and his father, a retired Chicago police seargent. Two other suspects have been charged with murder and are being held without bail.

At the visitation, Wortham's casket was surrounded by flowers sent from police departments as far as New York City. The officer wore his dress police uniform, his cap sitting on top of the coffin. Inscribed in gold letters on his coffin's inner lid were words that close friends and family members said the young patrolman lived by: "May the work that I've done speak for itself."

Former Chicago Police Supt. Terry Hillard, who worked with Wortham's father and lives near
the family, said he was impressed with how the Morgan Park Academy graduate chose public service over a career in a more lucrative field.

"He lost his life over a motorcycle," Hillard said. "Where are our values? Where are our morals? They don't come around too often, people like this."

Wortham had been actively involved in trying to stem violence in the Chatham neighborhood where he grew up. In particular, he took a leadership role in making Nat King Cole Park, across the street from his parents' home, a safer place after two recent shootings shut down the basketball court.

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