Ofc. Fred Vacha Jr. (victim)

Ofc. Fred Vacha Jr. (victim)

Next Parole Hearing : April 2023 

 

Police officer Fred Vacha Jr. was brutally gunned down in the line of duty

Fred Vacha
Fred Vacha
Floyd Graham
Floyd Graham
Inmate Name: Floyd Graham
Inmate Number: A137967
Victims: Police Officers Fred Vacha Jr. and John Saccany
Offense: Murder, Murder of a Police Officer, Shoot with Intent to Kill
Min/ Max Sentence: 20 Years – Life
Next Parole Hearing: April 2023

Case Summary

Cleveland Ohio Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr. was executed by Floyd Graham for absolutely no reason other than the fact he was a police officer. At trial Graham openly admitted he shot and unsuspecting Officer Vacha. Graham escaped the death penalty only because it was not an option in 1973. Officer Vacha left behind his wife Mary Lou, his two-year-old-daughter Tanya, and a son he never had the opportunity to meet. Officer Vacha’s son, Fred III, was born seven months to the day after his father’s death. Cop killer Floyd Graham is now regularly up for parole.

Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr.’s Story

A Senseless Shooting

On June 19th 1973 Cleveland Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr. kissed his wife Mary Lou, who was two months pregnant, and his two-year-old daughter Tanya goodbye. He then headed off to work to protect the citizens of Cleveland Ohio. Officer Vacha could never have imagined he would never see his family again.

At 1:00 A.M. Officer Vacha and his partner, Officer John Saccany, were on patrol when they noticed a suspicious man walking down the street. They had seen the same man several times earlier during their shift. Officer Saccany, who was driving the cruiser, pulled alongside the man. Officer Vacha, who was in the passenger seat, rolled down his window. Officer Vacha called out to the man, “Hey mister, hold it; I want to talk to you”. The man whirled around, pulled out a gun, and started firing bullets into the police cruiser.

Officer Saccany jumped out of the cruiser and started firing at the man. The man ran up a driveway and jumped a fence. Officer Saccany looked back inside the vehicle and saw Officer Vacha slumped over in his seat. A bullet hole was in the windshield at eye level. Officer Vacha has been shot in the head above his right eye. Officer Saccany radioed for help and Officer Vacha was rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital. Officer Vacha was pronounced dead at 1:45AM, about 30 minutes after the shooting. Officer Saccany was shot in the foot and would survive.

Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr.
Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr.

Officer Vacha left behind his wife Mary Lou, his two-year-old-daughter Tanya, his mother and father Fred Sr. and Olive, and his three brothers James, Louis and Donald. Officer Vacha never had the opportunity to meet his son. Fred III was born seven months to the day after his father’s death. Officer Fred Vacha Jr.’s name is inscribed on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, Washington, D.C. panel 28, west wall, line 16.

An Intentional Execution of a Police Officer

Close to 100 police officers immediately rushed to the scene where Officer Vacha had been shot. After searching for hours they found a man hiding in some bushes next to a garage. The man claimed he was hiding from a dope man who had threatened him. He was arrested and 30 minutes later police found the gun that killed Officer Vacha hidden under a folded piece of paper. The man was identified as Floyd Graham. He was charged with the murder of Cleveland Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr.

After Graham’s arrest authorities learned he was no stranger to the law. Graham, age 22, had been in trouble since the age of 12. He had spent most of his life in institutions. Graham had a long rap sheet and had been arrested three times for carrying a concealed weapon. In May 1970 Graham pled guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was granted parole and had been off supervision for one month when he murdered Officer Vacha.

Graham’s trial lasted two weeks. Graham made it clear he knew he was firing at police officers. Graham stated, “The policeman tried to say something, and I started firing the weapon I had. Then I ran and he was firing at me. The guy in the passenger side stayed in the car.” Based on overwhelming evidence it took a jury under six hours to find Graham guilty of murder and murder of a police officer for killing Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr. He was also found guilty of shooting with intent to kill for shooting at Police Officer John Saccany. Graham was sentenced to two life sentences plus 1-20 years. All three sentences were ordered to run consecutively (Back to Back). Graham escaped the death penalty because it was not an option in 1973. At the end of the trial Judge John T. Patton stated “This is about the most senseless killing I’ve heard of in eight years on the bench .”

No Parole

Inmates who kill law enforcement officers are the worst of the worst. They have demonstrated a clear disrespect for authority and have shown they are capable of killing anyone who crosses their path. Floyd Graham admittedly opened fire on two unsuspecting police officers who wanted to do nothing more than speak to him. One of those bullets killed Cleveland Police Officer Fred Vacha Jr., a loving husband and father. Throughout his trial and since his conviction Floyd Graham has showed absolutely no remorse for his crimes. Releasing Floyd Graham at any point would be a complete injustice to Fred Vacha Jr. and his family. It would also be a slap in the face to every law enforcement officer who puts his or her life on the line every day to protect society. Based on the brutal and senseless nature of Floyd Graham’s crimes we believe he should be required to serve his full LIFE sentence and urge the Ohio Parole Board to give Graham the maximum ten-year continuance at all future parole hearings.