Family of slain officer offers their thanks


On Dec. 8, 1982, Randy Fellows and Fred Joseph murdered my beloved brother, Officer John A. Utlak.

On that same day, these two criminals ”murdered” our family unit that we cherished. They inflicted a lifelong sentence of grief and despair upon my entire family. For years, my heart-broken mother would say, ”They killed me too. They just forgot to bury me.”

They also left the community devastated. But, one very important quality that they can never take … our community’s continuing determination to demand justice and never forget our Johnny.

Because of the support of our family, friends and community, justice continues for our beloved Johnny. Randy Fellows and Fred Joseph will not be eligible for another parole board hearing for another 10 years (2022), the maximum continuance allowed under law.

First and foremost, we are forever grateful for the exceptional support of Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins. Over 30 years ago, when the last trial had ended, Prosecutor Watkins told me and my father that he would always be there for us and would do everything he could to ensure that these criminals remained in prison.

He has remained true to his word. Trumbull County is so fortunate to have such a brilliant, dedicated and supportive prosecutor. He is the voice for those that have been silenced.

My amazing brother’s fellow officers became our ”extended” family. To this day, they have provided unwavering support to my entire family.

Our community rallied around us. The parole board heard from over 2,000 caring citizens who demanded that these hard core criminals remain in jail to pay for the brutal, premeditated killing of a law enforcement officer, ”Our Johnny.”

Thanks you, Christopher Bobby, for reporting the events, then and now, so accurately and listening and conveying my sentiments exactly how I expressed them. Just as all of you will never forget our beloved Johnny, we will never forget YOU, our community of friends! Although I miss my loving brother more than words could ever express, I’m at peace knowing that his killers remain behind bars.

Yes, it was very difficult going through the parole board hearing process. In ways, we relived that horrific time all over again. And yes, we’ll have to do it again in 10 years. But knowing that we have such an incredible, supportive community of friends, it makes it easier to confront.

On behalf of my wonderful family and me, thanks you.

Joanne Sudano Robbins,