Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

We hold their memories dear

This year’s Ohio Peace Officers Memorial Ceremony — to take place at 11 a.m. on May 2 at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy in London — will honor nine law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in recent years. Two died in car crashes, one died during a training run and six died of COVID-19, dating back to 2020. Additional information can be found at
Patrolman Mark U. Heinl | St. Henry Police Department
Mark Heinl was a cop at heart, but also much more. He loved the people of his community, serving them well in many ways. And they loved him back. “I used to say Mark could talk to a brick wall — he could talk to anybody,” said his wife, Sandy. “He knew everybody in Mercer County, and I’m not kidding when I say everybody.” Heinl, a father of four, retired as a captain from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office in 2016 but was soon back in uniform as a patrolman for the St. Henry Police Department. He contracted COVID on the job in late October 2020 and died a month later, two days after Thanksgiving. He was 60.
Officer Gerald F. Lynch | Mentor Police Department
Before he was struck down by the COVID-19 virus at age 56, Gerry Lynch had retired. That was in 2016, after the father of three had worked nearly 24 years with the Painesville Police Department and, before that, more than five years with the Cleveland Heights PD. He returned to service in March 2017, joining the Mentor Police Department as a part-time officer in the Municipal Court, a position he held until his death on Oct. 3, 2021. His wife of 33 years, Teri-Jo, said family and law enforcement were the pillars of her husband’s life. “Gerry was selfless,” she said. “He was very much into giving of himself for others.”
Deputy Billy J. Ihrig | Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Before he entered law enforcement, Billy Ihrig served in the Marines, mostly as a drill sergeant. Those 13 years forever shaped his values, sense of loyalty and commitment to duty. Deputy Ihrig, a father of six, died Oct. 28, 2021, of complications of COVID. He is believed to have contracted the virus about a month earlier, while restraining a suspect he had arrested. He was 52. Ihrig joined the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in March 2004, starting in corrections. He worked in the detective bureau before spending the last several years in patrol. He is survived by his partner, Nina Motter, and children.
Police Officer Anthony E. Cloyd | University of Dayton Department of Public Safety
Officer Cloyd served 16 years with the University of Dayton police, his first law enforcement job after entering the profession later in life. The father of three died of COVID complications on Dec. 9, 2021, at age 59 — the first UD officer to die in the line of duty. Sgt. Brad Swank said Cloyd looked tough and, when needed, was tough: “But this hardened, tatted-up, bad-ass guy had an emotional side that he didn’t show the world too often. We saw it at work.” Cloyd’s wife of 22 years, Deborah, said her husband’s acts of kindness made a difference, recalling as an example one winter when he gave a coat, gloves and scarf to a gas station cashier he’d seen walking to work in outerwear consisting of only a sweatshirt. “She was so grateful.”
Cpl. Matthew D. Mitchell | South Vienna Police Department
South Vienna Mayor Toni Keller remembers Cpl. Mitchell as the perfect fit for their village. And she’s certain that the 400 residents remember it that way, too: “Whatever you needed, he was there.”
Mitchell served three years with the South Vienna Police Department and, before that, five years with the South Charleston PD. He died on Dec. 29, 2021, after contracting COVID earlier that month. He was 52. Mitchell’s fiancĂ©e, Brooke Tigyer, said he was devoted to her and their two young children. He also had an older son from a previous relationship. Said a colleague at South Charleston: “He wanted nothing more than to be a police officer and a dad.”
Deputy Terrance N. Bateman | Franklin County Sheriff's Office
Faith and family were guiding lights for Deputy Bateman, a father of seven whose character became a guiding light of its own for those lucky enough to know him. He was a quiet, generous man with a servant’s heart. On Jan. 15, 2022, the 25-year veteran of the Corrections Division in the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office succumbed to COVID-19. He was 59. Faith underpinned everything Bateman did. Colleagues remembered how their friend routinely replied when asked how he was doing: “Still in the Master’s hands.” Said his wife, Brenda: “Terrance loved the Lord first in his life. And right after Him came me and our family.”
Patrol Officer Timothy J. Unwin | Springfield Township Police Department
Officer Unwin was funny and fun-loving, disarming and charming. He enjoyed his work, and he enjoyed his life. And other people loved being around him. “We know he put his blood, sweat and tears into everything he did,” said Chief Rick Bley of the Springfield Township Police Department. “He was a great police officer because he was an amazing person. Our community was lucky that he chose to serve here.” Unwin died in a car crash on March 31, 2023, while responding to a call for assistance from fellow officers. He was 31. He had worked for two years in Springfield Township. Before that, he was a police officer in the city of Hamilton and a corrections officer in Hamilton County.
 Deputy Marcus L. Zeigler | Hamilton County Sheriff's Office
Marcus Zeigler longed to join the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. When the day finally came, he and his family celebrated the start of a dream come true. “There was no mistaking his pride in that uniform,” Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey would say later. Nine months after starting work as a corrections officer, Zeigler collapsed during a training run at Great Oaks Police Academy in Sharonville. The 36-year-old father of five was rushed to the hospital but died two days later. “He really loved kids,” said his wife, Cassaundra. “Early on, we realized that kids were the first real passion we shared.”
Deputy Joshua I. Hamilton | Preble County Sheriff's Office
A week before Christmas last year, Deputy Hamilton was pursuing a speeding car on a dark rural road in Preble County when he collided with an oncoming driver. Both were killed. Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson said Hamilton, a 34-year-old Navy veteran, “served his country and community with honor. Our office took a gut punch with his death.” Hamilton joined the sheriff’s office in May 2022 and was promoted to road patrol about a year later. His mother, Pat Hamilton, said the sheriff’s office has steadfastly supported her, her husband and the deputy’s 10-year-old daughter, Mikaelah, who is now in the care of Hamilton’s parents.