Joseph C. Folio Sr., 63, won many awards in police career

May 09, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Joseph C. Folio Sr., who was one of the city Police Department's most decorated officers and helped solve a celebrated murder case in 1967, died of a heart attack Sunday while mowing the lawn at his mother's Rosedale home. He was 63.

When he retired with the rank of detective in 1972 because of a disability, the 16-year police officer had received more than 70 awards and commendations, including three silver stars and eight bronze stars for exemplary police work.

"Joe was probably one of the best police officers the department ever had," said Vincent J. DiCarlo, a retired detective and his former partner. "He was a good partner and never backed down from anything. He was a man of great courage."

rTC One of Mr. Folio's most spectacular cases was solving the 1966 murder of Linda Keller, a 17-year old nurse's aide at the Church Home and Hospital.

A senior at Dundalk High School, Miss Keller was found in the hospital's boiler room, where she had been stabbed 38 times. The case was known as the "pinkie" murder; pinkie was the term used for nurse's aides at that time because of the color of their uniforms.

For a time, it looked as though the case would remain unsolved, but Mr. Folio and Mr. DiCarlo traced the murderer to his North Castle Street home and made an arrest on the suspicion that he was involved in the rape of an 18-year-old.

"There had been lots of purse snatchings in the Harford Road area, and we were on a stakeout when we got a description of suspect from an informant," Mr. DiCarlo said from his Howard County home yesterday.

But it wasn't until six months later that William Bobby Fowler, an orderly at the hospital, was charged in the murder. Fowler was sentenced to life in prison, but his conviction was overturned on appeal on grounds that he was denied proper legal representation because officers were present when he talked to his lawyer.

Mr. Folio was selected as the Sunpapers Policeman of the Year in 1968 because of his work on the case.

Although Mr. Folio and his wife were buying a house at the time, he donated the $1,000 award to Joseph Huffman, a fellow police officer who had been blinded by a bullet while making an arrest.

"The money came to me as something extra for doing a job I get a salary for doing. So, with Joe Huffman and his family needing it more than I do, it just seemed natural to give it to him. My wife and I never missed it. How can you miss something you never had?" Mr. Folio told The Sun Magazine.

He also insisted that most of the credit for breaking the case was due to Mr. DiCarlo for his tenacity and inventiveness.

A lifelong Rosedale resident, Mr. Folio earned his high school graduation equivalency while serving as a medic with the Navy during the Korean War.

He joined the Police Department in 1956 and was promoted to the Criminal Investigation Division in 1967.

After retiring, he worked part time in the receiving department of the Acme Super Market in Havre de Grace until he retired a second time in the early 1990s.

Mr. Folio enjoyed deer hunting on the Eastern Shore.

He was a communicant of St. Clement Mary Hofbauer Roman Catholic Church, where a Mass of Christian burial with full departmental honors was offered Thursday.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, the former Marlene Smetana; two sons, Joseph C. Folio Jr. of Middle River and

James L. Folio of Perry Hall; a daughter, Karen M. Miller of Perry Hall; his mother, Lula Folio of Rosedale; three brothers, John Folio of Hamilton, George Folio of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Kenneth Folio of Frankford, Del.; a sister, Geraldine Woods of Rosedale; and five grandchildren.

Pub Date: 5/09/98

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