NEW YORK — Retired NYPD detective and former PIX11 News reporter Mike Sheehan, a key investigator in the Central Park Five and “preppy killer” cases, has died, according to colleagues. He was 71.
Sheehan lost his battle with cancer late Friday at New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, Michael Palladino, president of the NYPD’s Detective Endowment Association, told the New York Daily News.
A veteran detective, he spent 25 years with the NYPD and worked on high-profile cases, including the controversial Central Park Five case in 1989, where five black teens were wrongly convicted of rape.
PIX11 reporters remembered Sheehan as a great friend, colleague, and reporter, as well as a mentor to younger journalists.
Sheehan was a lead detective working the 1989 case in which a female jogger was raped and assaulted in Central Park. Five black teenagers were convicted and imprisoned for gang-raping the woman. Their convictions were vacated in 2002.
The case has gained renewed public interest in recent weeks thanks to a Netflix series called “When They See Us” that premiered May 31. The popularity of the series has created a firestorm of criticism for Linda Fairstein, a city prosecutor-turned-novelist, who also worked on the case. She’s since resigned from various positions on nonprofit boards, and was dropped by her publisher Friday.
“He was a great detective,” Palladino told the Daily News. “He was one of those old-time detectives that people write the books and make the movies about.”
After retiring from the force, Sheehan joined the media, serving as a reporter at FOX 5 before joining PIX11.