An Alton police officer was found dead late Thursday, an unexpected loss for the police department.
Sgt. Rory Rathgeb was found Wednesday in the Alton home where he had been living, having died of what appears to be natural causes, according to a statement from the Alton Police Department.
Rathgeb was planning to retire in a few months and had sold his house, so he was staying with friends while his wife went on to Tennessee to prepare for their post-retirement move, police said. He was found at the home Wednesday afternoon.
“He served the Alton community... with honor and pride and will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” read the statement from Alton Police.
Rathgeb began his career in 1987 as a police officer in Carlinville. Later he served as patrolman and later chief of the police department in Benld, in central Illinois, and served as chief of the National City Police Department until that city was dissolved.
Rathgeb served the Alton Police Department for 19 years, during which he had been assigned to patrol, investigations, narcotics, the Special Community Area Target Team Unit and the FBI Safe Street Task Force. He had twice been named officer of the month and many other commendations and recognition during his career, and served as president of the Alton unit of the Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association.
“Alton Police Sgt. Rory Rathgeb was an officer unlike any other,” said Chief Jason Simmons. “His sense of loyalty and duty is unmatched, and he will have forever impacted the lives of those whom he encountered.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.