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Published: Wednesday, 2/20/2008

Monroe County deputy gets chance at crime show honor

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Danielle Cecil nominated Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Damon Cecil for the 'America's Most Wanted'  All-Star award. 'I didn't nominate him because he is my dad. I nominated him because he is a true hero in my eyes,' she said. Danielle Cecil nominated Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Damon Cecil for the 'America's Most Wanted' All-Star award. 'I didn't nominate him because he is my dad. I nominated him because he is a true hero in my eyes,' she said.
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TEMPERANCE - The tragedy three weeks ago in LaSalle Township in which a man kidnapped his estranged wife, set her on fire, and killed himself was the breaking point for Danielle Cecil.

That's when Miss Cecil knew that her dad, Deputy Damon Cecil, of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, deserved a chance to become the next TV All-Star on Fox's America's Most Wanted.

"I figured that my dad solved a lot of crimes in Bedford Township. He has done an awesome job. I wanted America's Most Wanted to know he is my dad and he is my hero. I didn't nominate him because he is my dad. I nominated him because he is a true hero in my eyes," she said.

Deputy Cecil is an 18-year veteran of the department who is assigned to the Bedford Township substation. He was the first officer on the scene of the Feb. 5 sport utility vehicle fire in a remote area near Rauch Road.

A 14-year-old boy had just pulled his mother from the burning vehicle when Deputy Cecil arrived. Teresia Thompson had been taken from her home by Robert Thompson, bound with duct tape, and taken in the vehicle with their son to the Rauch Road location.

Thompson told the boy to get out of the vehicle and then he doused the inside of the SUV with gasoline, torched it, and set himself on fire. He died on the scene and his estranged wife suffered third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body.

The next day, Miss Cecil, 18, went to the Web site of the popular crime-busting Fox TV Network's series and completed an on-line form and submitted the name of her father. She got a telephone call the next day from the television program telling her that her father had been selected.

Steve Katz, America's Most Wanted supervising producer, said he was moved when he read Miss Cecil's letter.

"The nice thing about this contest is that we see a lot of awful stories. But there are nice things, like Danielle's and they see the good in people. Her father is making a major impact on people's lives," he said.

The contest was begun four years ago by the television show to recognize police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders.

"The contest was created to pay tribute to first responders as the everyday heroes that they are. They may believe it's their job, but we feel they should be recognized," Mr. Katz said.

Last year, more than 3,000 nominations were submitted.

The contest began Feb. 6. with the opening of nominations. Voters can go to the television program Web site to select eight weekly finalists, and each finalist will be profiled on the America's Most Wanted program, which airs on Saturdays.

Of the eight weekly winners, the one who receives the most votes in the final round will win the grand prize - a check for $10,000 that will be presented in May at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

Deputy Cecil, who grew up in Northwood in northern Wood County and worked eight years for the Walbridge police department before being hired in Monroe County, didn't know about the nomination submitted by his daughter until a representative of the show called their home.

"To be honest, I was blown away," he said.

"It is an honor for my daughter to do this for me. I am very proud of her."

A 2007 graduate of Bedford High School, Miss Cecil wants to eventually get a job in law enforcement, which would make her the third generation of the family to become an officer. Deputy Cecil's late father was a police officer in Northwood.

"I want to go into law enforcement. My dad has helped me keep my head on straight. I have always looked up to him for wisdom," she said.

Lt. Dale Malone, of the sheriff's office, said Deputy Cecil has shown heads-up police work and was instrumental in breaking up a burglary ring last year that was responsible for break-ins to area residences and businesses.

"He has great investigative skills and is constantly looking for that next case that will be a challenge to solve," he said. "He exemplifies what a road cop should be."

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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