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Father of murdered Duluth college student dies of cancer

William Andrew Grahek, right, is pictured with his father, Jon Grahek, who is a St. Paul police sergeant, in an undated courtesy photo. William Grahek, who grew up in Centerville, Minn., was fatally shot in Duluth on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. He was a junior at the University of Minnesota Duluth. (Courtesy photo)

ST. PAUL—A St. Paul police sergeant whose son was murdered in Duluth nearly a year ago died on Tuesday.

Sgt. Jon Grahek, 53, was diagnosed with cancer in May. He was a St. Paul officer for 24 years.

In a public Facebook post on May 27, Grahek wrote, "This is one of the toughest posts you will see come from me. I thought I hit bottom when we lost our son Will Grahek back in February." He wrote he had found out that week, after being in the hospital for nine days, that he had esophageal cancer and it had spread to his liver.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell told the police department in a Tuesday email that Grahek "passed away today surrounded by his family and friends after a courageous battle with cancer. ... Jon loved serving our city and our department and worked until he was physically not able."

Grahek leaves behind a wife and 21-year-old son. His 22-year-old son, William Grahek, was a junior at the University of Minnesota Duluth when he was fatally shot in his Duluth home on Feb. 14. Five people have been charged in connection to the case.

Jon Grahek started his career at the Ramsey County sheriff's office and then became a St. Paul police officer.

In December, Axtell presented Grahek with the Chief's Award to recognize his "distinguished career." His assignments ranged from being a patrol officer and patrol supervisor, a narcotics investigator and the department's chief inspector. He received three other medals of commendations during his time as a St. Paul officer.

Grahek became known early in his career for his "special skills in investigations involving covert electronic surveillance," Axtell said in his commendation. Between 2000 and 2004, Axtell said Grahek was "on a select team of investigators." Using his analytical skills, he was able to link 65 armed robberies and assaults, which led to the arrests and convictions of eight people.

He also worked on a series of bank robbery investigations, which led to the convictions "of several dangerous criminals," Axtell wrote.

Jill McRae-Cook, a retired St. Paul police commander, was Grahek's partner on patrol in the West Seventh Street area in the 1990s.

"A few years after working with Jon, I realized what impact he had on me," she said. "He brought the qualities of patience and listening to his work. Jon loved the city and its people. Because of him, I was a better patrol officer, a better person and friend. I thanked him many times for this gift and the gift of his family. I will forever miss him."