Thirty years ago on July 20, Roy Frakes left his apartment in Forest Park to go to work in Chicago. He would never return.
Roy and his wife had moved to Forest Park a few months earlier when Roy took a job in downtown Chicago. Like many young couples new to the Chicago area, he and his wife selected Forest Park for our easy access to downtown and the western suburbs.
Roy and his wife were friendly and courteous. Other than myself, their landlord, I don’t think the other residents in the building know that he was a deputy U.S. marshal at the Dirksen Federal Building where Jeffrey Erikson was on trial for a series of bank robberies in 1990 and 1991.
Erickson and his wife had robbed banks in the Chicago area until July, 1991 when the FBI caught up with them. Erickson was captured and his wife killed herself after being wounded exchanging gunfire with the FBI agents. In July of 1992, Jeffrey Erickson was on trial at the Dirksen Federal Building. As he was leaving court in a suit and handcuffs, he somehow obtained a key to the handcuffs and was able to disarm another U.S. deputy marshal who cried out for help. Immediately upon entering the area, Roy was shot in the head by Erickson. He was shot again in the head as he lay on the ground and died immediately. The bank robber and now murderer attempted to escape from the Dirksen Federal Building through the underground garage entrance. He exchanged gunfire with Special Deputy Marshal Harry Belluomini and both men were wounded. Harry was struck four times and later died of his wounds. Lying wounded on the driveway leading from the underground garage, Jeffrey Erickson then put the gun to his head and sent himself to hell by ending his miserable life.
That night, local news media came to the building in Forest Park where Roy and his wife lived. One news outlet even entered the building and aired a video of the door of Roy and his wife’s apartment on the nightly news. U.S. marshals were then stationed in the building for the next 24 hours to provide privacy for Roy’s widow and family until they could collect their personal belongings. Months later, family members returned to the apartment to collect the personal belongings of Roy and his wife who was too grief-stricken to return.
Even now, it saddens me to think about this tragic loss of life and what should have been. Roy was only 30 years old and was just starting his law enforcement career and life with his wife. Harry Belluomini was a former Chicago police officer and was near the end of his law enforcement career. The futures of Roy and Harry were taken from them and their families.
Lives lost and sorrow because of the fact that some people will rob you and will kill you or anyone else who gets in their way. Thank God there are people who are willing to get in their way. Some of them make the ultimate sacrifice. Thirty years ago, one of them was briefly our neighbor.
Marty Tellalian is a former Forest Park commissioner.