Daniel W. Shea, a veteran detective who spent his last eight years solving murders and other crimes for the Baltimore Police Department's homicide unit, died Saturday at home after a five-month battle with lung cancer. He was 42.
Services for Detective Shea were held yesterday.
Well-read, thoughtful and possessed of an exceptionally dry wit, Danny Shea was as unlikely a candidate for a police career as could be found. A careful student of history and literature, he was as comfortable discussing English poets and Irish rebellions as he was talking about bullet calibers and wound tracks.
"With his mind, he could have done anything," said his wife, the former Susan Fournier. "But he got bit by the bug. He loved police work."
A Baltimore native, Detective Shea joined the city police force in 1975, transferred to the homicide unit in 1983, and proved himself one of the ablest investigators in the Criminal Investigations Division.
A veteran of hundreds of crime scenes, one of his most notable investigations followed the shooting death of Officer Vincent Adolpho, an Eastern District officer killed during a 1985 car stop. Detective Shea led a probe that resulted in a first-degree murder conviction of the gunman.
A consummate professional, Detective Shea was proud of the verdict in the Adolpho prosecution.
Born to a military family, Detective Shea was educated throughout the country, eventually graduating from Winston Churchill High School in San Antonio in 1967. He joined the Navy that same year, serving as a medical corpsman.
Discharged from the Navy in 1972, he took a position with the San Antonio Police Department.
In August of 1975, he joined the Baltimore department. He was assigned to the Eastern District as a patrol officer and served in that capacity until he was promoted to the homicide unit downtown.
Detective Shea was a member of St. Joseph's Church in Fullerton.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Mary Shea, and a son, Padraic Shea, both of Perry Hall; his parents, Dr. William H. H. Shea of Bel Air and Bernadette Lavery Shea of Towson; two sisters, Kathleen Shea of Rockville and Sally Fairbanks of Chicago; and several cousins.
The family suggests that any memorial contributions be made to the American Cancer Society or that mourners remember Daniel Shea by asking a friend to stop smoking.