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‘Super Sleuth’ police chief whose department got early alert on Sept. 11 hijackings dies at 82

Jack Solomon credited with solving some of Connecticut’s most famous crimes. His sons include Just the News founder John Solomon.

Published: April 14, 2024 2:57pm

Updated: April 14, 2024 3:35pm

Retired Police Chief John F. “Jack” Solomon, credited with helping solve some of Connecticut’s most infamous crimes and whose department received one of the earliest alerts about the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings, has died. He was 82.

Solomon’s career spanned five decades, beginning as a Connecticut State Police trooper and rising to Chief Inspector at the State’s Attorney’s Office before spending his last 17 years of service as the Town of Easton Police Department’s chief.

Solomon also served as president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association during the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and served in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he was activated during the Bay of Pigs crisis prior to starting his law enforcement career.

Between 1995 and 2012, he presided over a marked expansion of his police department’s capabilities — from a K-9 unit to a full-time school resource officer — in Easton, Conn., a quiet township of 7,500 about an hour southwest of New York City.

Solomon’s youngest son, Mark, followed in his footsteps, becoming a police officer and detective in Greenwich, Connecticut. His other son, John, is an investigative journalist and the founder of Just the News. 

Before joining Easton, Solomon worked for three decades for the state of Connecticut as a trooper and detective at Troop G in Westport. He made headlines on his very first day as a trooper when returning from graduation with family in tow, he observed another officer being assaulted during a motor vehicle stop. Solomon came to the aid of the officer and helped apprehend multiple suspects that were attacking the officer.

Solomon later transferred to the Chief State Attorney’s Office in Bridgeport as an Inspector and eventually rose to the position of Chief Inspector for the State Attorney’s Office in Bridgeport under the late State Attorney Donald A. Browne.

Over that span, Solomon teamed with renowned criminologist Henry Lee to help investigate or solve more than 150 murders, including some of Connecticut’s most famous crimes: a teenager murdered by gangster Tommy Marra, a 1976 arson fire at a Greenwich nightclub that claimed 24 lives, the John Hoeplinger murder case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, the murder of a woman whose body was run through a woodchipper, and the Kent Oppel murder case where Solomon’s suspicions helped locate the victim’s body under a patio hastily built by the suspect. 

The New York Times in 1995 chronicled Solomon’s work as a detective and his collaborations with Lee, reporting he had earned the nickname “Super Sleuth.” 

Solomon was sworn in as the president of Connecticut Police Chiefs Association just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and spent the next year playing a key role educating the public about the dangers of terrorism and fortifying Connecticut against future threats with enhanced cooperation among law enforcement agencies.

Solomon’s Town of Easton was directly struck by loss from the terror attacks as three members of Lee and Eunice Hanson’s family perished on United Flight 175, one of the jetliners that crashed into the World Trade Center towers. Their loss included the youngest victim of the attacks, 2-1/2 year-old Christine Hanson.

Lee Hanson’s call to Solomon’s police department – relaying what his son was telling him from aboard the hijacked flight – was one of the earliest alerts received that something was amiss that fateful day, according to the official 9/11 Commission report and an account from the dispatcher who took the call and reported in to federal authorities.

The Hansons would become some of the most visible advocates for victims of the terror attacks, and their sacrifices and the role of the town in one of America’s darkest days is memorialized in an exhibit inside the Easton Police Department.

Solomon was born on July 11, 1941 to parents John F. Solomon II and Loretta Solomon in Bridgeport, Conn. He graduated from Notre Dame High School, where he starred as the football team’s quarterback. He later attended the University of Bridgeport before enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he was activated during the Bay of Pigs crisis.

After his service in the Army, Solomon enrolled in the Connecticut State Police academy and was sworn in as a trooper in 1965.

Solomon is survived by his wife of 21 years, Marjorie Olschan Solomon; his brother Martin Solomon of Hempstead, N.H., his sister June Ray of Danvers, Mass., two sons, John Solomon of Manassas, Va., and retired Greenwich Police Department Detective 1st Grade Mark Solomon of Seymour, Conn.; and five stepchildren: Jeanine Olschan of Cheshire, Conn., Rachel Olschan-Wilson of Fairfield, Jay Olschan of Easton, Todd Olschan of Shelton, and Sarah Olschan Pinto of Trumbull.

He also is survived by 12 grandchildren and proudly claimed all of the men and women of the Easton Police Department to be members of his extended family.

Solomon’s wake is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday at the Cyril F. Mullins Funeral Home in Trumbull, Conn., and his funeral is slated for 11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday at St. Theresa’s Roman Catholic Church in Trumbull.

In lieu of flowers, the family is setting up a new Chief John F. Solomon memorial scholarship fund to support Connecticut students seeking careers in law enforcement. Details will be announced shortly. 

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