Off-duty Memphis police officer found shot to death - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony, Ben Watson, and Janice Broach

Off-duty Memphis police officer found shot to death

Lt. Ed Vidulich (file photo) Lt. Ed Vidulich (file photo)
Lt. Ed Vidulich (Courtesy Memphis Police) Lt. Ed Vidulich (Courtesy Memphis Police)
Police Director Larry Godwin, pictured here at a Monday afternoon press conference, was close friends with Vidulich. Police Director Larry Godwin, pictured here at a Monday afternoon press conference, was close friends with Vidulich.

A veteran Memphis police officer was found shot to death in his home early Monday morning, officials said.

Lt. Ed Vidulich, 51, was shot to death, according to Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin.

There were no obvious signs of forced entry to the residence.

"We have some leads, but it's a mystery," Memphis Police spokesperson Monique Martin said.

Vidulich's car was found several blocks away from his home in the 1600 block of Winston Drive.  Investigators said it had been set on fire.

When Vidulich did not show up for work Monday, co-workers became concerned and went to his home to check on him. His body was found just after 1:00 a.m.

Police said Vidulich talked with his wife, a sheriff's department dispatcher, by phone around 9 p.m. Sunday, and the SUV was believed set on fire about 10:30 p.m.

Investigators were initially focused on determining Vidulich's activities during that time gap.

Close Friends

The last time Vidulich was in the news, the veteran officer was heading up a 2006 effort to recue a giant manatee that became disoriented and lost in the Mississippi River.

Vidulich, a harbor patrol supervisor, became a familier face to Memphis television viewers during that time.

A member of the Memphis Police Department since 1979, the officer was a close friend of Godwin.

"Loyal best friends...he was there, and I lost that," Godwin said. "There's a void there, but he was a special person."

Godwin recalled how he andVidulich went through the police academy together.

"He always told the story that I did his push up for him," Godwin said. "He was a big guy."
  
Born in New York Vidulich, came to the Mid-South to attend Ole Miss. Godwin said Vidulich often felt like his protector.

Both men looked forward to their new grandsons playing together, and Godwin said they both talked about retiring at the same time.

"He said, 'I'm staying here as long as you are. When you leave, I'll leave,'" Godwin said.A veteran Memphis police officer was found dead in his home Monday morning, officials said.

Pleading for information

During a press conference Monday afternoon, Godwin announced the Memphis City Council had authorized a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of Vidulich's killer or killers. The Memphis City Council award was in addition to money offered by Crime Stoppers, Godwin said.

Godwin pleaded for members of the public to provide any information they could.

If you have information that could aid investigators, call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Vidulich became a familiar face to Memphians in 2006, when a manatee was found in the Wolf River Harbor.  You can watch archival video of several manatee stories featuring Vidulich, along with current coverage of his murder, in the player to the right of this story>>>


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