Remembering Lt. Joseph Szczerba

Szczerba, from Wilmington, was 44 years old when he was brutally stabbed to death in the line of duty on September 16, 2011. He left behind his wife of 19 years, Kathy Szczerba.

Joe was an eighteen-year veteran of the New Castle County Police Department. He was hired as a police officer on July 11, 1994.
After completing his training and graduating from the New Castle County Police Academy on January 13, 1995, he was assigned to the patrol division.
After completing five years on patrol, he was transferred into the Criminal Investigations Unit in 2000, where he was assigned to the Family Services Unit.
Joe also served in the Research, Development and Inspections Unit during his career.
Joe was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on January 23, 2008 and he was currently assigned to “”E-Squad”” as a patrol supervisor for the central district. He has received three unit citations, which included two for homicide investigations and one for a burglary investigation. He also received one commendation of merit for a robbery investigation. Joe also received numerous letters of commendations and appreciation.
Joe attended Corpus Christi grade school in Elsmere, DE before attending Salesianum High School in Wilmington, DE, where he played football and graduated in 1985. In his senior year, he was named to the All-State second team.
He furthered his education and his football career when he attended West Chester University in West Chester, PA, where he received his Bachelors of Science degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Criminal Justice and Public Administration.
He went on to attend Wilmington University in New Castle, DE, where he graduated with a Masters of Science degree in Administration of Justice. He also attended the West Point Command and Leadership program and completed the curriculum in 2009.


On the night of Sept. 16, 2011, Szczerba, 44, responded to reports of a person breaking into cars in the Penn Acres neighborhood and encountered Salasky. Salasky then fled from Szczerba, who got out of his patrol car to give chase.

Photo: NCCPD

When Szczerba caught Salasky, Salasky stabbed Szczerba repeatedly with a knife he had stolen earlier from a vehicle, wounding Szczerba in the neck. He later died from his injuries, after Salasky was in custody.

Salasky, who was high on the designer drug known as “bath salts,” later claimed he stabbed Szczerba because he thought Szczerba was growing fangs.

In September, the 34-year-old Salasky pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and more than a dozen other charges against him in a deal that spared his life but ensured he would never go free. Salasky was sentenced to two life terms in 2014.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Salasky, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. In response to his filing, a Delaware court commissioner recommended that a judge toss the appeal of Salasky, who pled guilty but mentally ill. In a report issued, the commissioner said, “David Salasky’s appeal and motion to withdraw his guilty plea should be denied.”

Lieutenant Szczerba was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and awarded the department’s Medal of Honor.

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