50 years since Philly cop killed on duty, fellow officers still seek answers

Kristen Johanson
January 30, 2020 - 5:56 pm
Fred Cione Playground

Tom Rickert/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Exactly 50 years ago, a Philadelphia police officer on patrol was gunned down. His murder remains the city's only unsolved police killing. 

City officials and fellow officers gathered Thursday at the spot where he died in the hopes of drawing attention to the case.

“Frederick Cione went to work 50 years ago, expecting to be home for breakfast,” recalled city Managing Director Brian Abernathy. “He had hopes and dreams never realized — a life cut way too short. His murder, and our failure to solve it, is a touchstone 50 years later.”

In 1970, Cione was found shot to death outside his car, still running, along 17th and Oxford streets.

“If my mother and father were still alive today and could look around and see all the people here, they could see that everybody still remembers Fred,” said his brother, Nick Cione, who also became a police officer.

Related: Gone Cold: The only unsolved murder of a Philadelphia police officer

Nick Cione has worked to keep the memory of his brother alive. He hopes one day, he’ll get answers.

“I have had the opportunity to speak to some of the officers who were working, and then those when I was retired,” he said. “I would run into guys who were retired, and the first thing they would tell me is where they were at and what they were doing that night.”

Lt. Norman Davenport linked Cione's past to the present.

“You can certainly see throughout this neighborhood gentrification — many of the neighbors have moved away,” he noted. “Even officer safety has changed, in that officers now have handheld radios. I was surprised to know that Officer Cione was driving in red Plymouth police vehicle that was two doors. I never heard of a red police vehicle.”

Also in attendance Thursday: acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter, officials from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, members of the Cione family, members of the Vidocq Society, who are actively investigating the case.

They urged the public to step up, in the hopes of solving other homicides. Anthony Voci, homicide supervisor for the District Attorney’s Office, said it's never too late for a tip to crack the case.

“Before we could ever get to the prosecution, we would have to be satisfied that the investigation is complete and that it's 100% accurate,” he explained. “But if we were able to determine if someone committed this crime, they would absolutely be prosecuted.”

Last year, the Philadelphia Police Department launched a website dedicated to highlighting unsolved murder cases, hoping it will lead to answers.

There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the Cione case

For more on the Cione case and other unsolved murders in Philadelphia, listen to the KYW Newsradio original podcast Gone Cold. Follow Gone Cold on Twitter, join the Facebook group, and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.