Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

John F. Berner, Former Chief of St. Louis Police, Is Dead at 69

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

John F. Berner, Former Chief of St. Louis Police, Is Dead at 69

Article excerpt

Former St. Louis Police Chief John F. Berner, who retired in 1985 after 42 years with the department, died Sunday (March 10, 1996) of natural causes at his home in north St. Louis County. He was 69.

Mr. Berner's successor, former Police Chief Robert E. Scheetz, said, "John Berner was one of the finest guys I ever met in my life."

The two grew up in the same general neighborhood on the city's north side, Scheetz said Sunday evening.

"We were in the old 12th District Flying Squad together, and we handled general investigations for both the 11th District and the 12th District."

The unit worked on some of the biggest cases of the era, he said, including the Bobby Greenlease kidnapping and murder in Kansas City in 1953. The 6-year-old boy, taken from his school by a woman who said she was his aunt, was killed later in the day. His kidnappers then demanded $600,000 for the boy's return.

"We had some exciting times," Scheetz recalled. He said that Mr. Berner had one particularly noteworthy characteristic. "He was always a gentleman - in the business, out of the business, at home, at work, at play."

He said that although Mr. Berner had not been involved in police matters since his retirement, "we'll all be worse off without him - such a fine man."

Mr. Berner was born and raised in St. Louis. He started his career with the Police Department at the age of 16, as a telephone clerk in 1943.

He became a commissioned officer in 1949, then rose steadily through the ranks in a variety of assignments. …

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