‘The ultimate sacrifice.’ City block dedicated to U.S. marshal who was killed 30 years ago at Dirksen Courthouse

Roy “Bill” Frakes was shot and killed in 1992 by a man escaping detention at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

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Ald. Brendan Reilly looks on as Wendy Frakes reveals a street sign honoring her husband, U.S. Deputy Marshal Roy L. Frakes, at a ceremony Monday. Frakes and Court Security Officer Harry A. Belluomini  were killed in a shootout with a prisoner at the Dirksen Courthouse 30 years ago.

Ald. Brendan Reilly looks on as Wendy Frakes reveals a street sign honoring her husband, U.S. Deputy Marshal Roy L. Frakes, at a ceremony Monday. Frakes and Court Security Officer Harry A. Belluomini were killed in a shootout with a prisoner at the Dirksen Courthouse 30 years ago.

Elizabeth Rymut/Sun-Times

A block of South Dearborn Street is now officially dedicated to Roy “Bill” Frakes, the deputy U.S. marshal who was killed 30 years ago by a man escaping detention at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

The memorial street sign for Frakes was unveiled Monday during a ceremony at the Dirksen Courthouse attended by Frakes’ family, federal judges, attorneys, local officials and federal law enforcement officers, including FBI agents and U.S. marshals.

“When I read the story about Deputy Frakes, I read about the sacrifice, the commitment, the dedication, and I knew I had to be here today,” said Ronald Davis, the director of the U.S. Marshals Service. “Generation after generation of deputy marshals and marshal service members must forever remember the sacrifice he made.”

Wendy Frakes, Roy Frakes’ widow, and Robbie Frakes, his brother, unveiled the street sign naming the 200 block of South Dearborn Street, “Roy L. ‘Bill’ Frakes Way.”

“Bill had high morals, good character and he was a salt-of-the-earth man,” Wendy Frakes said. “It was his greatest desire to be a federal law enforcement officer. He wanted to make a difference and make meaningful change.”

The city officially renamed the block for Frakes in February 2020, but the ceremony was delayed for over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) introduced the ordinance honoring Frakes to the City Council, and he read the resolution aloud on Monday.

“The Marshal Service knew Deputy U.S. Marshal Frakes as an individual of integrity and strong ethical and moral fiber, well educated, dedicated to the Service’s mission, devoted to his wife Wendy, and committed to the duties he was sworn to uphold,” the resolution reads.

Monday’s ceremony also marked nearly 30 years since Frakes was killed. Frakes and Harry Belluomini, a court security officer and retired Chicago police officer, died July 20, 1992, while trying to stop Jeffrey Erickson, who was arrested for robbing banks, from escaping the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

A section of West Jackson Boulevard outside the courthouse is dedicated to Belluomini. The two men now share the street corner at Dearborn Street and Jackson Boulevard.

Bagpipers play after widow Wendy Frakes reveals the street sign honoring her husband, U.S. Deputy Marshal Roy L. Frakes, outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St., Monday morning, July 25, 2022.

Bagpipers play after widow Wendy Frakes reveals the street sign honoring her husband, U.S. Deputy Marshal Roy L. Frakes, outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.

Elizabeth Rymut/Sun-Times

Frakes was 30 years old and a marshal for only nine months when he was killed. He and his wife of nearly two years moved to Chicago from Iowa in 1991 to take the job.

On the day Erickson tried to escape, he used a key he had smuggled into the building to unlock his handcuffs, overpower a U.S. marshal and steal her gun while being taken back to the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Erickson shot Frakes and then exchanged gunfire with Belluomini, killing both men. Then Erickson turned the gun on himself outside the courthouse on Jackson Boulevard.

“I hope citizens will see these street signs dedicated to these men and learn about their heroism,” Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said.

“They protected all of us and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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