“There came a time when there were assignments that had to be done right, and they would seek Zeb out. These assignments included police shootings, civil-rights violations — and he tracked down fugitives all over the country. He was not your average cop. He was very, very professional.” —Howard Lebofsky, Deputy Solicitor of Philadelphia
The BADGE OF HONOR series and this web site are respectfully dedicated to Zeb Casey. The following is from an article by S. Joseph Hagenmayer, Inquirer Correspondent, reprinted with permission of The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 21, 1998.
Zebulon Vance Casey III, fifty-six, a retired Philadelphia police sergeant whose experiences provided many of the authentic details for a series of best-selling novels about the city police department, died in his sleep of a heart attack.
Born in Petersburg, Va., Mr. Casey lived in Philadelphia for 26 years before moving to Southampton in the late 1980s. A Vietnam War Marine Corps veteran from the early 1960s, he settled in Philadelphia after leaving the military. Mr. Casey was with the Philadelphia Police Department for twenty-two years, retiring as a sergeant in Internal Affairs. He worked throughout most of the 1970s as a detective and was promoted to sergeant in 1981.
His two decades of work in the city police led to an unusual honor. Mr. Casey provided W.E.B. Griffin with details and color in the best-selling BADGE OF HONOR series. His relationship with the author continued to grow, and Mr. Casey designed the author’s first web site from his sick bed.
Mr. Casey was very serious about education. A 1977 graduate of La Salle College, now La Salle University, Mr. Casey got his degree in La Salle’s evening division in two and a half years while working fulltime as a police officer and raising a family. Not only did he get his degree, he served as the evening school’s student newspaper managing editor and as assistant managing editor of the evening school’s yearbook. Mr. Casey believed so thoroughly in the value of education for police that he encouraged other officers to continue their education as well, said Howard Lebofsky, a deputy Philadelphia solicitor who was a longtime friend of Mr. Casey and served with him on the police force in the 1970s.
“He just came up and took an interest in me and encouraged me to complete my education,” Mr. Lebofsky recalled, crediting Mr. Casey with helping him advance his career. Mr. Casey encouraged other officers and founded an organization to promote education in the department. “It was really far-sighted,” Lebofsky said.
After Mr. Casey received his bachelor’s degree, he became an instructor at La Salle’s evening school, teaching an introduction to criminal justice course and later an advanced police course from 1978 to the mid-1980s. Finn Hornum, chairman of La Salle's department of sociology, social work, and criminal justice, recalled knowing Mr. Casey as a student, hiring him to teach, and being impressed by his dedication to police work as a way of helping people. Mr. Casey received his master’s degree from West Chester State College and was working on his doctorate at Temple University when he became too ill to continue.
He was chairman for the Cub Scout Pack 160 in Philadelphia’s Burlholme section when his children were growing up.
He is survived by his wife of thirty-five years, Sandra Rae Casey; three sons, James N. Casey, Robert A. Casey, and David A. Casey; a sister; and a sister-in-law.