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Now-Former Police Chief Pleads Guilty To Beating Man Who Tried To Drown Baby

Greenwood, MO – A now-former Greenwood police chief pleaded guilty Wednesday for beating a man who tried to drown a baby girl in an icy pond in 2018.

Investigators believe that Jonathon Stephen Zicarelli’s six-month-old daughter had been in the water for approximately 10 minutes before he went to the Greenwood Police Department on Dec. 17, 2018, and flatly confessed to her murder, The Kansas City Star reported.

“There was no emotion whatsoever,” Greenwood Police Lieutenant Aaron Fordham recalled, adding that Zicarelli was positive that the little girl was dead.

Greenwood Police Chief Greg Hallgrimson and Corporal Tom Calhoun immediately rushed out to the icy pond, where they spotted the unconscious baby floating face-up in the water.

Still clad in his uniform, boots, and vest, Cpl. Calhoun waded into the thigh-deep water until he reached her lifeless body.

Her lungs were filled with water, and her wide-open eyes were black and muddy, he said.

Cpl. Calhoun rushed the little girl to the shore, where they cleared grass and water from her mouth.

They began administering CPR on the bank, and the baby miraculously began breathing again just moments later.

They took off her wet clothing and swaddled her in Chief Hallgrimson’s shirt until emergency medical personnel arrived to take her to the hospital.

“There was someone watching over that child today,” Lt. Fordham told The Kansas City Star at the time.

She was treated for severe hypothermia and was in stable condition later that afternoon, he said.

Zicarelli later told investigators that in the 24 hours prior to the attack, he went down to the water three times to build up the nerve to drown his daughter, according to court documents.

He said he was stressed by the demands of the holiday season, and that he wanted to make life easier for his wife, all of which led to him having “bad thoughts.”

After the little girl was transported to the hospital, Chief Hallgrimson returned to the police station and placed Zicarelli under arrest, The Kansas City Star reported.

That’s when he threw the handcuffed man to the floor by his throat and punched him in the face, telling him, “You deserve to die,” the suspect’s former attorney, Susan Dill, recounted.

The incident was captured by another officer’s bodycam.

Dill said the police chief had to be pulled off Zicarelli to end the assault, leaving her client with injuries to his face and jaw, The Kansas City Star reported.

Chief Hallgrimson was put on administrative leave shortly after Zicarelli accused him of excessive force, according to The Kansas City Star.

He resigned from his position in May of 2019.

A federal grand jury later indicted the former chief for violating Zicarelli’s civil rights.

The former police chief pleaded guilty on Wednesday, The Kansas City Star reported.

“He believes that the plea terms are fair, and hopes they will be given consideration by the Court,” former Chief Hallgrimson’s attorney, Robin Fowler, said in a statement, adding that he is ready to “move forward with his life.”

Zicarelli is still sitting in the Jackson County jail on felony charges of child abuse and domestic assault, The Kansas City Star reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin

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