JOLIET – Colleagues of a former Joliet police captain and state’s attorney investigator remember him as a selfless hard worker who played a critical role in major criminal cases.
James P. Stewart, 64, died at his home Thursday surrounded by family. Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton remember working with Stewart early in their careers as someone who led by example and was highly decorated for his work.
“He was really one of a kind,” Glasgow said.
Stewart spent 35 years with Joliet police before retiring as captain in 2009. He then went on to serve as chief investigator for the state’s attorney’s office.
Throughout his career, Stewart was involved in resolving thousands of cases that included murders, gang shootings, robberies, batteries and other crimes. He solved cold cases such as the murders of Cyndi Lukas in 1991 and Leonard Myers in 1992.
He also, with then-Joliet police Sgt. Robert Brenczewski, helped solve the 2001 disappearance of three members of the Bockhol family who delivered newspapers.
Glasgow said Stewart was a “champion of due process” who believed in doing his job fairly. He said he first worked with Stewart in 1982 when Stewart was a police officer and he was an assistant state’s attorney. Stewart always did a thorough job, he said.
People tend to overlook what police officers do every day and their jobs can be dangerous, he said.
“Many days can be their last and he was a guy who wouldn’t hesitate to put the safety of a person he’s sworn to defend over his own,” Glasgow said.
Benton, who was once supervised by Stewart, said he was well respected and served as a mentor for many detectives. He said he was probably one of the most driven employees for the police department. He said Stewart came into work daily and gave “110 percent and that’s just how he lived his life.”
“I don’t think you’ll find anyone with a higher ethical value than James Stewart,” Benton said.
Stewart was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Crime Commission on Nov. 12, 2014. He was nominated for the award by Glasgow’s office.
“Stewart has been successful because he engages in old-fashioned police work, uses common sense, works diligently, understands his community, talks with people and follows up on leads,” the nomination letter stated.
Benton said Stewart has received many other awards for his work throughout his career. Despite his accomplishments, Benton said he was humble with other co-workers and frequently recognized the work of those who worked under him.
“He will be sorely missed,” he said.