Crime + Investigation Podcast
Listen to the brand new Crime + Investigation Podcast.
Nicknamed "Big Bird," Deputy James Cassidy has been with the Harris County Sheriff's Office for 8 years. "Homicide is the top of the law enforcement food chain," he says. "We are the tip of the spear."
Cassidy loves the challenge of working homicide but admits that it does come with some drawbacks. "Being around these things definitely takes its toll," he says. "When we get to a scene, it's never because something nice has happened. Sometimes it can be really depressing."
Though he has an enormous amount of passion for his job, Cassidy understands the importance of finding a balance between his professional and personal life. "A good homicide investigator," he says, "is able to switch hats from homicide investigator to Dad/Husband when he gets home." Cassidy has been married for nine years and has two children - a 7 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. He jokingly refers to his daughter as a sour patch kid--"sometimes sweet sometimes sour. She owns my heart. My family is my life."
A Dallas Police Department veteran, Detective Tommy Raley has over 20 years experience on the force. He followed his father's footsteps who was a DPD Sergeant.
In 2007, Det. Raley moved to Homicide. He says a good homicide detective must be "willing to work long hours and go out on the streets to solve the case." His most memorable case was one where a family was murdered and he caught the killer. "Bringing closure to the victims family is the most rewarding part of the job," he says.
Raley likes to spend his free time with his wife and two daughters.
Thirteen-year DPD veteran Det. Eddie Lopez, has spent the past two years in homicide. He remembers his first case vividly. I had been in the division two days and the first thing I notice was this huge puddle of blood leading off to an alley with the body lying out there. I thought to myself 'There's no way I'm going to solve this' but in twenty hours we had developed a suspect and in forty-eight hours it was solved. Rookie luck. They're not all that way.
In his spare time Det. Lopez enjoys riding his Electro Glide Standard Harley. For him, there is a special meaning to it. he explains "When my second kid, Jake, was 9-years-old we found out that he had cancer and ended up spending a lot of time in the hospital. He and I would sit in the hospital and watch "Lonesome Dove", this movie about a bunch of cowboys driving cattle up to Montana and we're going to ride out there on my Harley." He survived the cancer and he said, 'Remember when you said we would go to Montana?' So we went, rode on my Harley. That was one of the best trips of my life. Det. Lopez is divorced. He has four sons. He says, "Those four boys are the best things in my life. When I'm not at work I try to spend as much time with my kids as I can. It's great just having dinner with them or to spend a couple of hours just listening to them.
Det. Kenneth Penrod has been with DPD for 24 years. He has spent the past 16 years on the Homicide Unit and says, We're like family over here.
Penrod is incredibly proud of the hard work of his team. He says, The dedication of the people who work here in Dallas Homicide is incredible and just to be part of that means a lot to me. He says, If you can catch the guy and make a good case on him and be able to tell the family at that point that you've caught the person who has murdered their loved one, that right there makes it all worthwhile. I've never gotten that feeling of satisfaction from anywhere else in the department.
My oldest son just got out of the Army. He served in Iraq and I'm proud of him for that. My middle son is in the Air Force and he just got back from Iraq and now he's stationed in Korea. My daughter is married to a Marine who works on F18 fighter jets and he just deployed to the Middle East on an aircraft carrier. He adds, My wife, three kids and two grandchildren mean a lot to me.
In 1995, Det. Scott Sayers joined the Dallas Police Department because he wanted a career that made a difference in the community and people's lives.
11 years later, Sayers moved to homicide. One of the must useful pieces of advice he received from fellow investigators was the importance of interrogations. Sayers was once told, "If the only thing you've got to prove your case is a confession, then you've got to go in there and get it." He adds, "It's an art form. I've seen suspects shake Penrod's hand and give P.E. Jones a hug, thanking them for letting them tell their side of the story even though they just admitted to killing someone. You can't be a homicide detective if you can't talk to someone. You either have that or you don't."
One of Sayer's proudest moments in his career was when he was able to get a confession out a killer when there was no physical evidence to link him to the crime. Because of the confession, the jury sentenced him to life.
Sayers is married with two young children. He says, "Family is the most important thing in my life. The fact that I get to come home and see them every day is incredible." In his free time he enjoys playing hockey, serves on the board of the Kevin James Endowment Fund, and is the Commissioner for the girls soccer association in the city where he lives. And, in 2012 was elected Vice President of the Dallas Police Association.
While in college in Oklahoma, Det. Brian Tabor began doing ride-a-longs with the Coal County Sheriff's office. He enjoyed them so much that he decided to join the Sheriff's office and became a Deputy Sheriff in 1996. After that, he knew that being in law enforcement was the only thing he wanted to do.
Tabor moved to Homicide in 2007. He feels that talking to the family members of a murder victim is the hardest part of the job so he works very hard on each of his cases so he never has to tell a family member "I don't know." But, Tabor feels most satisfied with his job when he is able to solve a case that had little to no workable leads.
Detective Freddy Ponce loves being a homicide detective. He has been with the Miami homicide team for the last year and half.
Proud of his heritage, Ponce is a first-generation Venezuelan. He came to the United States in 1972. As a young man he spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a navigator for a guided missile cruiser, The USS Sanjacinto CG-56. "I learned in the navy, if you want to be the best, you have to work with the best ... that's why I joined homicide."
Ponce is married and has two great kids.
At 36, Detective Kevin Ruggiero is one of the youngest members of the Miami Police Department Homicide Unit. Having joined the unit at 27, Detective Ruggiero was a rookie, eager to learn the ropes. His team has made him feel welcome by giving him an appropriate nickname because of his rookie status, "grasshopper."
Having worked as a beat cop for the police force for five years and growing up in Miami, Ruggiero knows the streets of the city very well.
A father of a young daughter, Ruggiero is a very proud single father. He loves to ride his motorcycle and spend time with his daughter.
Dating back to his early years, Armelli doesn't ever remember not wanting to be a police officer. After joining the force in August of 1981, Armelli worked basic patrol for several years and then moved over to the Street Crime Unit, from there he was promoted to Cleveland Homicide Unit in 2007.
With the support of his co-workers, Armelli is not too bothered by crime scenes, unless there are innocent children involved. As a father of two grown children, he finds it hard to detach the innocence from violence that can occur within some homes. Armelli believes that putting together a good case that results in a murderer going to prison for the rest of his life is pretty satisfying.
As President of the Cleveland Police Historical Society and the Cleveland Police Museum, Armelli works hard to stay involved in keeping the Cleveland Police Department's history alive within the community. "Each badge number has a story, some that may never be told. We preserve those memories to establish history of the honorable work that keeps our communities alive."
As a rookie to the Homicide Unit, Detective Bob Ford is working his way up the chain, training with some of the best.
Originally from Cleveland, Ford strives to represent his city to the best of his ability. After joining the Cleveland Police Department in 1987, Ford has worked with the Youth Gang Unit and as a Detective in Sex Crimes. Ford wanted to become part of homicide to further challenge his mind and work hard to put the worst of the worst behind bars.
Behind his tough demeanor, Ford really enjoys working with people. He is happily married to his wife of twenty-one years and together they have two teenage girls. Ford is a Cleveland Indians Baseball fan and enjoys cycling as well as windy rides on his motorcycle. Ford is a softy when it comes to animals, especially when it comes to his three-legged chihuahua, Carlos.
A Cleveland native and a retired member of the US Army Reserve, Det. Kathleen "KC" Carlin is the only female detective in the Cleveland Homicide Unit.
After working with the Army Reserves in Psychological Operations, she has brought her intense discipline and skills to aid in catching the criminals. Carlin has served the Cleveland Police Department since 1989; she became a Homicide Detective in 2006. She works to research, identify and locate suspects to get them off the street and be able to give justice to the victim's family.
Carlin comes from a family of eight children, so working in an office full of men is no challenge to her. She is highly respected by her co-workers with her dedication and commitment to her cases. In her free time, she works hard to maintain her title as having the highest bowling average of the women in her bowling league. Carlin also enjoys hanging out with her friends and family.
After graduating high school and spending four years in the U.S. military, Sergeant Ervens Ford joined the Miami Police Department as soon as his service was complete. With more than seven years as a homicide detective under his belt, Ford says: "few people are willing to make that kind of commitment. Getting calling at 2, 3 o'clock in the morning, sacrificing family time ... sacrificing personal time. Not ... very many people are willing to do that." Even with all the sacrifices and middle of the night phone calls Ford states: "I love homicide. ... I got hit by the [homicide] bug."
It's the best job in the world, but not everyone can do it," says Miami PD Det. Eutimio "TC" Cepero. "There's no better feeling than to be the voice for the victim, to find the suspect, and to bring closure to the family."
Born in Cuba and raised in Boston, Cepero worked Patrol and SVU before joining homicide in 2008. He enjoys the challenge of putting the pieces of the murder together in order to solve the case. He says, "Although there is no sure way to completely disconnect from an investigation, there is an internal switch that every homicide detective must possess that disconnects your family life from the brutality and death witnessed every day."
Cepero is married with four children. When he's not solving homicides he likes to travel, listen to country music, go skiing, and work out. He is studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. "I find that an intense workout works wonders in diffusing a long, difficult day at the office. When all else fails, a good cigar and a tall whiskey, poolside, will also do the trick.
"I knew so many people that went the other way," says 18-year Birmingham Police veteran Sgt. Scott Praytor, "that I wanted to be a good guy."
It can wear on you, says Praytor of the job. "But I have outlets so I can let it go. I have a strong faith that helps me deal with it."
Despite technological advances that assist detectives in solving crimes, Praytor says that even technology cannot replace hard work. "It's not science that solves the cases," he says. "It's talking to people and a lot of leg work."
Sgt. Sam Noblitt joined the force to make a difference, and he's been making a difference for the past 15 years on the Birmingham PD.
Noblitt says the best part of the job is bringing the guilty to justice. And while he loves his job, he does admit that it can be challenging at times. "We have to make decisions under dangerous circumstances and in a hurry," he says.
Noblitt came to the homicide unit a year ago. "It's heartbreaking to see the agony in the faces of the victim's family," says Noblitt, "but it makes you more determined."
A recent addition to the homicide team, Sgt. Scott Thurmond joined the Birmingham Police Department more than 10 years ago.
"The fact that there is no routine. The constant change. The action and excitement. The fast pace," is what Thurmond says drew him to law enforcement. Before joining homicide, Thurmond worked in the crimes against property unit.
Outside of work, Thurmond likes to spend time with his family as well as run and do yard work.
"I enjoy it," says Det. Mike Allison of his job in law enforcement. Allison has been with the Birmingham PD for 15 years and has been assigned to the homicide unit for the past four.
Working homicide, Allison says, requires a high level of commitment and determination. "You can't do this job just to get a paycheck," says Allison. "A person has to want to be here."
Allison holds his fellow colleagues in high regard. "I'm proud to work with the men and women assigned to homicide. They are all unselfish and will work as long at it takes to solve a case."
Det. Allison has two adult children. In his spare time, Allison likes to bicycle with his children and travel to cycling competitions in Southeast.
Nicknamed "Big Red", Det. Christopher Anderson credits his mother, a retired police sergeant, as his inspiration for joining the Birmingham Police Department.
Anderson was assigned to homicide three years ago and admits that initially it was a hard adjustment to be around such emotionally intense investigations. Anderson lists organisation, good listening skills and a fair temperament as qualities that make a good homicide detective.
When asked what he would be doing if he weren't a police officer, Anderson says he'd be a coach or a teacher.
Det. Roy Bristow has been with the Birmingham Police Department for 15 years, with the past 10 years in homicide.
"I've always wanted to be a police officer," Bristow says, "and most of all investigate homicides." Bristow admits that working homicide can be demanding, but says he is proud knowing he can make a difference in people's lives.
In his spare time, Bristow practices tae-kwon-do.
A 20-year veteran of the Birmingham Police department, Det. Fernando George has been in the homicide department for four years.
It's a job where you can make a difference says George. "It's satisfying to catch a bad guy. You know you're keeping the community safe from a horrible guy." But Geroge also mentions that the job does come with some drawbacks. "It's a job where you are forced in centre stage, and sometimes it's scary."
During his time off George likes to spend time with his family and is an avid reader of comic books.
Det. Jody Jacobs signed up for the Birmingham Police Department 16 years ago and has spent the past 12 years in homicide. "Being around the criminal element as child," says Jacobs, is what inspired him to join the force.
Jacobs says the best part of being a homicide detective is bringing closure to the victim's family. "I love to interact with the family. At times, it gives you insight to who you are dealing with."
He is married and has two children. Jacobs describes his family as being close and says, "We are not afraid to say we love each other."
"I became a homicide detective to help people," says 18-year police veteran Det. Henry Lucas. After studying Criminal Justice in college, joining the Birmingham Police Department seemed like the natural progression.
Lucas has been in the homicide unit for over 3 years and describes a good detective as someone who genuinely loves people.
Lucas has a very supportive family and when he's not working likes to put his energy into doing things at home.
14-year Birmingham PD veteran Det. Cynthia Morrow has been with the homicide unit for 5 years. "I don't think I will ever get use to seeing the hurt and pain of a family who has lost a loved one."
It can be very stressful, says Morrow about working homicide, "but I work with a great group of people." Morrow describes a good detective as someone who listens carefully, pays attention to detail and "can get a true feel of the victim's life and the suspect's life and be able to determine the connection between the two."
Morrow has been married for 23 years to the "best husband in the world" and together they are raising 5 children. In her spare time she loves to jog and take photographs.