Sgt Richard Phillip “Rich” Radetich

Sgt Richard Phillip “Rich” Radetich

Death 19 Jun 1970 (aged 27)
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA
Plot Section V Row 90 Grave 4
Memorial ID 38029090 · View Source
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Fallen Hero.

Rich was born the son of Joseph and Helen Radetich. As the son of a Croatian immigrant, Rich deeply valued the freedom and opportunity offered by America, and he demonstrated a dedication to his community and country at a young age as a diligent member of San Francisco Boy Scout Troop #57.

After graduation from Balboa High School in 1961, he attended San Francisco City College, where he briefly studied criminology. Family and friends recall that Rich wanted nothing more in life than to serve and protect as a police officer.

In 1966, he became the first graduate of San Francisco's Police Athletic League. After being hired by the SFPD, he continued to give back to his community as a devoted volunteer for the PAL program, where he worked with young men to help them realize their potential as law enforcement cadets.

On June 30, 1966, Rich married his sweetheart, the former Nancy Kirsch. The young couple settled into a happy marriage in Novato, California, and welcomed into their new family Janine, a baby daughter, in 1969. As the 1970s dawned, Rich was blessed with a wonderful family and a bright future as a respected officer of the San Francisco Police Department. Sadly, it would all soon end with an act of horrific violence.

The morning of Friday, June 19, 1970, Rich was working overtime in the traffic division. Unlike other departments of the era, traffic officers often worked alone since there was not a perceived threat to safety. At approximately 5:25 a.m., Rich double-parked his police cruiser in the 600 block of Waller Street in the Haight Ashbury district to issue a citation on an unattended automobile with an expired license plate. As he wrote the citation, an assailant approached the cruiser and fired three shots through the closed window with a .38 revolver. Rich was struck one time. When fellow officers arrived on the scene, they found him slumped over in the front seat. His service revolver was still secured in its holster, suggesting that Rich was ambushed and never saw the attack coming.

He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital and admitted 45 minutes after the shooting. Surgery was attempted but later stopped due to the severity of his injuries. Richard Radetich passed away later that same day at 8:02 p.m. With the permission of his wife, Nancy, Rich's kidneys were donated for transplantation, ensuring that in death, as in life, he continued to help others.

As a result of Rich's death, San Francisco's chief of police immediately truncated one-man patrol cars, ordering two officer assignments for all patrols. A requiem mass for Richard Radetich was held at St. Joseph's Catholic Church 10 a.m., Monday, June 22, 1970. Over one thousand mourners attended the funeral procession, including the city's mayor Joseph Alioto, who cut short a European vacation in order to pay his respects to the fallen officer. Interment followed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.

The death of Richard Radetich had a profound effect on his family. His mother, Helen, despondent after her beloved son's death, fell into a severe depression. In 1972, she joined her son in death after an accidental overdose of medication. Rich's widow, Nancy, was soon diagnosed with cancer. She died very young in 1974, leaving their five-year-old daughter, Janine, without either of her parents. Rich's father, Joseph, struggled with depression and alcoholism until his passing in 1985. In a newspaper article years later, Rich's loving sister, Jo Ellen, noted the insidious nature of violence, which claims not just one victim, but victimizes all of those loved ones who are left behind.

The murder of Richard Radetich remains unsolved to this day. There were few witnesses to the crime, and statements offered at the time were contradictory. Within weeks of the shooting, a potential suspect was identified, arrested, and charged, but those charges were later dropped. Police also investigated a possible link to the infamous Zodiac killer, who alluded to his responsibility for the crime in taunting notes to authorities; however, no direct evidence has ever been established between Rich's death and the serial killer who terrorized Northern California in the late 60s and early 70s.

Over 40 years later, the SFPD continues to offer a substantial reward for information leading to an arrest. But no sum of money can ever replace a priceless human being such as Richard Radetich, a warm, compassionate, idealistic young man whose loss will haunt us forever.

Bio by: Mark Faulkner

Family Members


  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Always with Love
  • Added: 7 Jun 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 38029090
  • Mark Faulkner
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Richard Phillip “Rich” Radetich (13 Feb 1943–19 Jun 1970), Find A Grave Memorial no. 38029090, citing Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .