Online petition effort seeks denial of parole for killers of Niles patrolman Utlak

By Ed Runyan


Niles police chief Robert Hinton has asked members of law enforcement and their families to participate in an online petition asking that parole be denied to the killers of Niles Patrolman John Utlak.

Utlak was 26 years old when he met with informants Randy Fellows and Fred Joseph Jr. on Dec. 8, 1982, and they shot and fatally wounded the patrolman and left him in the snow on Hunter Street near Waddell Park.

Fellows and Joseph, who were juveniles at the time, were tried as adults, convicted and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. They will be eligible for parole soon and will have a parole hearing — their first — in October.

“Since being incarcerated, the two have not apologized or shown remorse for their actions, or taken responsibility for their actions,” Hinton said in an email.

Utlak’s family started an online petition at and ask members of law enforcement and their families to participate in the petition.

In the subject line, the writer is asked to include the inmate numbers (A173423 for Fellows and A174221 for Joseph) and the writer’s connection to the case.

Utlak’s sister, Joanne Robbins, wrote on the petition page, saying Utlak was a “vibrant, kind, generous, compassionate and loving son/brother/nephew/cousin/friend who was brutally murdered in the line of duty. He was shot and left to die in a snow-covered field.

“The sociopaths who killed him planned the murder,” the petition says. “This premeditated act demonstrates that these killers have no regard for law or human life. They have no remorse. They have not been rehabilitated. Their return to society would be an injustice and is not warranted. They should be denied parole and be required to serve out their maximum sentence — life!”

Robbins adds another comment below the petition, saying “Johnny is my beloved and cherished brother. I miss him more than words could ever express. We are serving the maximum sentence of life without him.”

Handwritten letters can be sent to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Office of Victim Services, 770 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43222.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.