Parole board advises Officer Utlak killer Joseph remain in prison

Staff report


The Ohio Parole Board has recommended that Fred Joseph Jr., one of the two men who killed Niles police officer John Utlak in 1982, remain in prison 10 more years before he’s eligible for parole.

Joseph, 46, and Randy Fellows, 47, both of Niles, were convicted in 1983 of aggravated murder and specifications of killing a peace officer and doing it while committing a robbery. Both have served a little more than 29 years in prison.

Joseph’s parole hearing was Oct. 3 at Toledo Correctional Institute.

A similar hearing for Fellows will be Thursday at the Trumbull Correctional Institute in Leavittsburg.

Both men were sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after 30 years for killing Utlak Dec. 8 on Hunter Street in Weathersfield Township near Waddell Park.

Joseph, who was 17 at the time of the murder, was the triggerman in the killing, police said.

Because Joseph was a juvenile, he was not eligible for the death penalty.

Police said Joseph and Fellows had been working as drug informants for Utlak and a fellow narcotics officer but decided to rob Utlak and leave the area.

The teens told Fellows’ girlfriend at the time, Patricia Sigley, the day of the murder that they were going to Florida, both had firearms with them, and they would shoot a police officer if it were necessary to get away.

The parole board has issued a recommendation, but the only step left before finalizing the decision is for it to be checked for clerical errors, said Mike Davis, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

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