Call Number: Baker 11
1986 to January 21, 1987
Jeff was born March 19, 1964 in Belleville, Illinois to Joseph A. and Barbara Phegley. His family moved from East St. Louis during 1970 to Colerain Township when he was 4 years old and his father was transferred to Monsanto in Addyston. Jeff graduated from Colerain High School in 1983. While attending high school, he was active in the American Red Cross, a volunteer at Providence Hospital, and a singer in the Southern Gateway Chorus. He was also active in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Police Cadet Program and Explorer Post 660. He had already formed conservative political beliefs and was strong-minded about them. He even considered a national political career.
After graduation, Jeff worked for the Cincinnati Reds organization and volunteered for the Republican Party. He attended the 1980 Reagan Bush Inaugural Ball, worked as an intern for Congressman Michael Oxley, and was active in the Republican Party until his death.
All his life he wanted to be a police officer, according to his father. After graduating from the Norwood Police Academy in 1986, he joined the Village of Addyston Police Department. He then joined the 3-man Morrow Police Department as a part time officer during January 1986 and hired full time about July 1986. In Morrow, he was so well liked, that Mayor Forrest Erwin invited him to Christmas Dinner at his home in 1986. Jeff had also come to love the town and was considering purchasing a home there.
On January 21, 1987, Police Officer Phegley traded shifts to work for Police Chief Dick Kilburn who had to travel to Columbus for a police conference. This afforded him an opportunity to visit his 89-year-old grandmother who had been in the hospital with a recent heart attack. He was patrolling the village about 2 p.m. when he noticed a 1977 Monte Carlo traveling 48 miles per hour in a 25-miles-per-hour zone.
Anthony Wayne McIntosh, born March 16, 1965 to Roy and Louise McIntosh and a year younger than Officer Phegley, had far fewer accomplishments and ambitions in his 22 years of life. In his own words during a 2000 interview, he had been a wayward, long-haired tough guy who grew up in Morrow and South Lebanon, dropped out of Little Miami High School as a sophomore, had little family direction, and took up drinking, drugs, and petty crime.
Local law enforcement was familiar with McIntosh and had charged him several times with misdemeanors and at least once with a felony. During 1985 he had been arrested for Forgery but was permitted to plead to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to six months in jail. He was released after one month with the agreement that he would make restitution. When he failed, he was sent back to jail – but for only another month.
During October 1986, his life had sunk to such an evil level that he purchased a shotgun for $50.00 and sawed off a majority of the barrel and a part of the stock with evil intent. He told acquaintances on January 11, 1987, brandished the illegal shotgun, that “the next time a cop stops me, I’m going to make it worth his while.” The caliber of his acquaintances being what it was, none notified law enforcement.
Ten days later, in the early afternoon of January 21, 1987, McIntosh had already consumed eight or nine beers and was driving his 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo at almost twice the speed limit through the Village of Morrow.
Officer Phegley stopped McIntosh three quarters of a mile outside of Morrow on Morrow-Rossburg Road at 2:06 p.m. on January 21, 1987 near Little Miami High School. He depressed the record button on the microcassette recorder in his shirt pocket and walked up to speak with the violator. As he did, he smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the car. After a couple of questions and psychomotor skills tests, he advised McIntosh that he was under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.
McIntosh refused six times Officer Phegley’s orders to put his hands on the car. Then, he sucker-punched Officer Phegley in the jaw, knocking him to the ground. McIntosh then retrieved the shotgun from underneath his front seat and pointed it at the officer from a distance of 30 to 35 feet. About 2:12 p.m., Officer Phegley yelled, “Hold it!” Four seconds later 158 #5 shotshell pellets slammed into Officer Phegley’s chest; some of which tore through his heart or penetrated his lungs and a few of which destroyed the tape recorder.
Though mortally wounded, Officer Phegley returned four shots from his .38 caliber revolver. All four struck the car and three penetrated the steel. One continued through the driver’s side headrest and struck McIntosh in the shoulder. Officer Phegley ran back to his patrol car and broadcasted by radio, “Send a backup unit! I am shot!” He then gave the dispatcher the license number of the vehicle suspect vehicle.
Warren County deputies arrived minutes later, but Officer Phegley was dead upon their arrival; thus becoming the only Morrow Police Officer to die in the line of duty and the fifth in all of Warren County – and the first in 50 years.
Warren County Coroner Ralph Young responded to the scene and pronounced him dead. His body was removed to the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office.
Officer Phegley was survived by his parents, Joseph and Barbara Phegley; brother, Kevin Phegley; and grandparents, Dennis Phegley of New Minden, Illinois and Gertrude Johnson of Belleville, Illinois.
Visitation was held 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, January 23, 1987 at Hodapp Funeral Home in College Hill. Several southern Ohio police departments provided honor guards from the visitation to the burial. The next morning, January 24th, police cars and over 400 officers from the tristate region escorted his remains to Monfort Heights. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 9:30 a.m. at St. Ignatius Church.
His remains were taken to his hometown in Belleville. Another funeral service was held at the Kurrus Funeral Home on January 26, 1987; after which he was buried in the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Belleville.
At the scene, officers found Officer Phegley’s citation book and a citation on which he had written McIntosh’s name and some identifying information. With the license number of the car and some preliminary investigation, it was not long before investigators had sufficient information to sign a warrant for Aggravated Murder.
McIntosh hid the shotgun – he said in a creek, but it was never found – and then parked the vehicle at a service station on Ohio 28 in Goshen, about 10 miles south of Morrow. An Ohio Highway Patrol trooper found the vehicle shortly after the shooting with a number of bullet holes in it.
Officers from several agencies, including sheriffs’ offices, Ohio State Patrol, and the Cincinnati Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, searched the area in and around Morrow and eventually all of Warren and Clermont Counties. They also used airplanes and bloodhounds. At one point, even a highway in Northern Kentucky was closed after a supposed sighting.
About 4:15 p.m., less than two hours after the Murder, McIntosh arrived on foot at Henry McCabe’s home in Maineville. Henry, his friend, wasn’t home, but his parents, Patricia and Michael McCabe, and brother, Steven McCabe, were home. McIntosh sat at the kitchen table and described how his car had broken down and that he needed a ride to his mother’s home in South Lebanon. Michael agreed to take him. Mrs. McCabe had a police scanner and it was turned on, so she knew they were looking for McIntosh. She went up the stairs to the second floor and called for the police, but when that was broadcast, McIntosh heard it on the scanner and ran out the door.
After 9 p.m., he came to Gail Dove’s home, at 659 West U.S. 22/Ohio 3. According to her, she told him that the officer had died and he was stunned and terrified. She said that he told her that he had been hiding in the woods near her residence. He also told her that Officer Phegley’s bullet grazed his neck, that another man had done the shooting, and that he and the “other man” got rid of the shotgun. He tried to call his girlfriend to give him a ride out of state, but she did not answer. About 9:30 p.m., according to the friends, they convinced him to let them take him to the nearest Ohio State Patrol Post to turn himself in.
A Warren County deputy sheriff saw and recognized McIntosh with three other occupants in a passing vehicle. Officers pulled the car over just west of Hopkinsville and north of Maineville and found McIntosh hiding in the car. They arrested him without further incident. He was transported to the Warren County Jail at 10:15 p.m.
By the next day, Mrs. McCabe was advocating for the murderer. McIntosh was arraigned at 3 p.m. at Warren County Court in Lebanon on January 22, 1987. At his arraignment, his sister, Karen Schuster, reported that another man was with McIntosh and that it was he who did the shooting. She advised that McIntosh had called her from jail and told her that a 30-year-old stranger, whose name she would not reveal, that he met in a bar, had actually shot Officer Phegley. Judge Mark Clark postponed the arraignment for a week at the attorneys’ request and set his bond at $1 million.
By the 24th, it had been widely reported that a tape recorder had been recovered and its contents were being forensically analyzed. It was also reported on the 25th that there were witnesses to McIntosh leaving the scene without another occupant in the car. The assassin would have to come up with a different story.
On January 28, 1987, the Warren County Grand Jury returned three felony indictments against McIntosh: Aggravated Murder of a police officer; Aggravated Murder to further the commission of an Escape; and Escape. Defense attorneys Mark Florence of Lebanon and John Smith of Springboro were appointed counsel for McIntosh. He was arraigned again, this time in front of Court of Common Pleas Judge P. Daniel Fedders, on February 6, 1987, where he pleaded not guilty. The Warrant County Prosecutor, Timothy Oliver, represented the State. Judge Fedders set a trial date of March 30, 1987.
After a few delays, jury selection began on July 29, 1987 and continued through July 31st. Prosecutor Oliver and his assistant, Mike Powell, prosecuted the case. They issued subpoenas for 125 witnesses.
On the first day of trial, McIntosh’s attorney admitted that he fired the shotgun. The new defense was that Officer Phegley was bullying him, that Officer Phegley shot him first, and that he fired on Officer Phegley in self-defense.
Two witnesses testified that McIntosh sawed off the barrel of a shotgun. A length of a sawed-off shotgun barrel and a piece of sawed-off shotgun stock were also entered into evidence.
The recorded tape had been spliced back together and the entire encounter, up to the shotgun blast, was recorded, all seven minutes. Phegley clearly yelled, “Hold it!” and four seconds later the shotgun destroyed the recorder. There was no recording of Phegley’s shots; ergo, they came later.
Witnesses agreed that they heard the loud shotgun blast, then the reports of the .38 caliber revolver, which to them sounded like firecrackers. Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Ed Petrey testified that he accompanied McIntosh to the hospital where, when the doctor inquired as to how he got the wound, McIntosh stated, “When the cop was shooting back at me.”
On August 11th, McIntosh chose to testify in his own behalf. He still insisted that Officer Phegley fired first as he tried to escape the DUI.
It was a fully proven case. McIntosh purchased and modified a shotgun with a stated purpose to kill a police officer – and he did. Regardless, one hold-out juror forced the others to find him guilty of Murder rather than Aggravated Murder; thus saving him from the electric chair. On August 17, 1987, he was sentenced to the maximum for Murder – fifteen years to life – plus three years for a gun specification.
There were, of course, appeals by McIntosh’s attorneys. On February 11, 1989, an appeals court upheld the convictions and then so did the Ohio Supreme Court.
He was initially sent to prison in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. There, he was involved in several fights and a prison riot. In 1994, he transferred to the North Central Correctional Complex. By 2010, he was transferred again to the Madison Correctional Institute.
Ohio Parole authorities scheduled a parole hearing for McIntosh already in 2000. During an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer regarding a question about the possibility that he may be denied parole, he replied, “That’s okay with me, because I understand that there are things that people expect and what they want, and they are vindictive. That’s not going to bring Jeff back. It’s just destroying another life. Barb and Joe Phegley need to move on with their lives and put the killing of their son behind them.” His parole was denied.
Parole was also denied again in 2006 and 2010. McIntosh’s brother, Troy, who advised that he gets his information directly from McIntosh, has more recently written to this author and asserted, “I know what happened. He (Officer Phegley) was shot at point blank in the chest. [That’s] not possible if the officer is unloading on your back as you’re running away. It’s just BS. He’s done his time. The parole board is corrupt.”
McIntosh’s next hearing was scheduled for November 2019. Once again, Mr. and Mrs. Phegley, the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (et al.) collaborated to have citizens let their feeling be known to the parole board. On December 18, 2019, Mrs. Phegley called to report that she was advised that his parole was again denied and that his next hearing is schedule for 2029. He will be 64 years old.
If you have information, artifacts, archives, or images of this officer or incident, please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was researched and revised on September 3, 2019 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society Vice President, with past research conducted by Cincinnati Police Homicide Detective Edward W. Zieverink III, Greater Cincinnati Police Museum Historian, and anecdotal recollections of Gary Griffith, Officer Phegley’s life-long friend, and Troy McIntosh, the assassin’s brother. All rights are reserved to the Lieutenant Kramer, Detective Zieverink, and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.