Joe Schillaci is a retired Detective Sergeant based in Miami, FL, and is a fan favorite from The First 48. He is a former Homicide Detective and Undercover Narcotics Officer for Miami PD, with over 30 years' experience.
Schillaci oversaw 800,000 emergency and non-emergency calls per year for the 911 communications center. He spent sixteen years working undercover narcotics and tactical units, and five years with Miami Homicide handling over 300 death investigations. He also created an anti-bullying campaign and toured the country twice talking about effects of violence.
Schillaci says the highlight of his career was talking a depraved father out of cutting his two-year-old daughter’s throat while commanding the hostage negotiation unit for Miami PD.
Q&A with Joe
What made you decide to be a part of Dead Again?
Getting the awesome responsibility of providing answers to people who are suffering greatly and hopefully being able to give them some peace.
How has your experience in Homicide helped you to reinvestigate these cases?
It gave me an unbelievably intense drive to appreciate life to the utmost. There was so much death around me and the intensity of being in that situation allowed me to transfer that intensity and heightened awareness to these cases.
What do you think is your best quality as an investigator?
My ability to look within the spirit of a human being.
What role do you play on the Dead Again team?
I'm the detective who carries the weight of the investigation on my shoulders, but my heart on my sleeve.
Being a homicide detective seems like a difficult job. Have you ever had an experience that helped to make the hard work worthwhile?
Every case that I was able to provide answers to the forgotten victims - the surviving family. That has given me great satisfaction.
What inspired you to become a detective?
I was in a police shooting where I was being fired at, and at one point I thought I was shot. So I experienced that terror first hand. Knowing what death feels like gives me a profound appreciation for life, and it drives me to investigate death.
How do you unwind and de-stress?
I spend time with my girlfriend and my kids - I have three kids in Miami and a nine month old son in Kansas. We may not all be in the same place all the time, but we always talk and we're constantly in each other's lives.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to walk in parks - I just really love to appreciate nature.
Who inspires you?
Human beings inspire me. I have an obsession with people. I love people, and I'm consumed by knowing all their traits and characteristics. When I was six, my mom would take me to the airport, and I would watch my mom observe the people there - people all over the world coming and going, they all had different ways of dressing, moving, acting, talking. She taught me to be a keen observer, and to appreciate that process.
Do you have any unusual hobbies or talents?
I'm a musician - I play piano and I can sing tenor.
What makes you laugh?
My best friend, Joe Venafro.
What do you think will surprise people to learn about you?
I do, in fact, own a shirt that's not black.