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TRUE CRIME: Never Give Up! With the Star of HOMICIDE HUNTER, Lieutenant Joe Kenda

Watch the episode:

Video Interview, including a clip of the Trailer for our guest’s feature-length special, airing on ID this week.

Listen to the episode:


ID PRESENTS THREE THEATRICAL-LENGTH “HOMICIDE HUNTER” SPECIALS STARRING LT. JOE KENDA 

– HOMICIDE HUNTER: NEVER GIVE UP Premieres on ID on August 17 from 9-11PM ET/PT and is Available to Stream Same Day on discovery+  –  

This week, Corinna & Jules have the incredible opportunity to sit down with LT. Joe Kenda, an acclaimed homicide detective with a 92% solve rate who also has a successful True Crime TV show in its 9th season, and a new feature-length series airing this week on 8/17/22 at 8pm Central on ID. That show is Homicide Hunter: Never Give Up. He also has a second show, American Detective, entering its 3rd season. Both shows are available on ID through DiscoverPlus.com.

NOTE: This episode is marked explicit because it both covers harrowing details of the violent crimes that LT. Joe Kenda has worked to solve and a swear word or two.

Time Stamps:

00:00 Introduction + Trailer Clip from HOMICIDE HUNTER: NEVER GIVE UP with LT. JOE KENDA

02:30 Meet Lieutenant Joe Kenda

04:04 TRIGGER WARNING: The brutal details of the cold case featured in this ID Channel special

08:30 Advances in DNA technology, familial DNA and the public record reality of testing companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.com

10:08 Corinna’s confession of losing her best friend from college to a random, brutal attack

11:50 Joe Kenda’s bitter truth: we all have a demon within which is capable of incredible violence

13:18 The price you pay for the work of solving homicide cases, including PTSD, sleepless nights, and damaged personal relationships

14:47 The structure of Homicide Hunter and the blessing and curse of LT. Joe Kenda’s photographic memory

19:30 LT. Joe Kenda’s good cop / bad cop routine, interrogation methods and the power of fear

24:45 The hardest “nut to crack” in interrogations and the reality of the polygraph

26:43 The reality of familial DNA and its ability to help solve crimes

32:48 How and why Joe Kenda got into TV shows from AMERICAN DETECTIVE to HOMICIDE HUNTER on the ID / Discoveryplus.com

About our guest: LT. JOE KENDA

Lt. Joe Kenda, a 23-year veteran of the Colorado Springs Police Department, spent 21 years chasing killers as a homicide detective and commander of the major crimes unit. Kenda and his team solved 356 of his 387 homicide cases, getting a 92 percent solve rate—one of the highest in the country. After retiring from law enforcement, he starred in “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda,” an American true-crime documentary series that ran for nine seasons on Investigation Discovery (ID), and is now in premieres of season three of “American Detective with Lt. Joe Kenda,” both available for streaming on discovery+. He has written two books, “I Will Find You” and “Killer Triggers.”

About LT. Joe Kenda’s Successful TV Shows And This New Feature-length Special:

(New York, NY) – During HOMICIDE HUNTER’s nine seasons on ID, Lt. Joe Kenda captivated viewers with stories from the hundreds of murder cases he solved throughout his 23-year-long career. Now, Lt. Kenda returns to ID to put to rest more cases that kept him up at night with three theatrical-length HOMICIDE HUNTER specials, revealing chilling new details of career-defining cases. With his gruff voice and no-nonsense demeanor, Kenda leads viewers through labyrinthine cases that have plagued him for years, with the first two-hour special focused on the investigation of a female soldier whose killer was a shadow in the night for decades. HOMICIDE HUNTER: NEVER GIVE UP premieres on ID on Wednesday, August 17 from 9-11PM ET/PT, debuting on the heels of an all-new season of AMERICAN DETECTIVE WITH LT. JOE KENDAwhich airs on Wednesdays at 10PM ET/PT on ID. Both are available to stream the same day on discovery+.

“Since I joined the network, we at ID have wanted to bring the HOMICIDE HUNTER brand back to our air. Unfortunately, we had told all the stories we could possibly tell from Kenda’s incredible history of cases…until now. Thanks to advances in science, Joe has finally been able to close cases that have remained unsolved for decades,” said Jason Sarlanis, President of Crime and Investigative Content, Linear and Streaming. “We are delighted to deliver our fans a dynamic and cinematic approach to their beloved HOMICIDE HUNTER with a trilogy of premium, feature-length specials. An event literally thirty years in the making.” 

Enjoy this full-length trailer for the series.

In HOMICIDE HUNTER: NEVER GIVE UP, the body of a 20-year-old active-duty soldier, Darlene Krashoc, is found dumped behind a restaurant in Colorado in March 1987. A victim of torture and sexual assault, Lt. Joe Kenda and his team recall the series of events that occurred throughout the investigation and the many leads which turned into dead ends. But before the case goes cold, Kenda has the foresight to meticulously package and preserve every piece of fluid evidence found at the crime scene, a costly and complicated endeavor at the time, noting, “it may never come to anything, but it could come to everything.” More than three decades later and the advent of new DNA technology, what it came to is definitively putting a name to Darlene’s killer: Michael David Whyte.

In this feature-length HOMICIDE HUNTER special, viewers follow along as Kenda and his team painstakingly recount the investigation from 1987 and the 2,000 pages of case files that never pointed them toward Whyte. Now, with DNA evidence collected at the scene more than three decades ago and with help from the cold case team at the Colorado Springs Police Department, the shadow in the night has a name, Darlene’s parents have justice, and Kenda has one less nightmare.  

Details on the remaining two HOMICIDE HUNTER specials will be released at a later date. 

Viewers can join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #HomicideHunter.

In AMERICAN DETECTIVE, Kenda trades in his own case files to bring viewers astounding investigations from across the country. Tipping his cap to the other great men and women who answered the call, each episode profiles a different homicide detective whose tireless efforts helped bring justice to the victim. Joe Kenda guides us through the nuances of each case and the dogged detective work it took to solve the seemingly unsolvable. New episodes of AMERICAN DETECTIVE WITH LT. JOE KENDApremiere on Wednesdays at 10PM ET/PT on ID and are available to stream the same day on discovery+.

HOMICIDE HUNTER: NEVER GIVE UP and AMERICAN DETECTIVE WITH LT. JOE KENDA are both produced by Jupiter Entertainment for Investigation Discovery.

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT

Corinna Bellizzi: Wow. We are kicking it. And you have just floored me with the guests that you were able to get us to talk to you today. So tell me about today’s guest.

Julie Lokun: Wow. I mean, I never give up and neither does our guest Lieutenant Joe Kenda. He is an amazing special coming out on August 17th. Homicide hunter never give up.

TRAILER SNIP, Featuring LT. Joe Kenda: I’ve seen many things, not many, this extreme. She’s active duty. We of course considered that the killer is probably military. We take blood, we take hair. We are at a dead end. The most important part of homicide investigation is to never, ever give up.

Homicide Hunter: Never Give Up Wednesday, August 17th at 9PM Eastern.

Julie Lokun: It includes a lot of such interesting behind the scenes, investigative work on how DNA is changing the landscape of just criminal, investigation and getting those people where they need to be — caged. And I gotta say. Oh, my, my, my… my, my, my… we have Joe Kenda here.

I am so excited. He is the star of investigation. Discoveries hit show homicide hunter. He is a special at August 17th, as I said, and I’m kind of fan fangirling right now. If you will.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, and I get to geek out over DNA. So this is gonna be an incredible conversation.

Julie Lokun: And I love true crime and you know, I’ve always wanted to do a true crime podcast. So maybe Joe wants to do one with us.

Corinna Bellizzi: This will be your inspiration. Yeah. You’re never gonna quit. You’re never going to give up never giving up.

Julie Lokun: That’s right. Where is he? Where is he?

Corinna Bellizzi: He’s right here, Joe, Welcome. How are you?

LT. Joe Kenda: I’m good. Hello? How are you?

Corinna Bellizzi: Fantastic.

Julie Lokun: We’re kind of good. We’re kind of really good. Your solve rate, and I am probably going to use all the wrong terms, but you have solved 92% of the murder cases that you have come into contact with. This probably increased, you know, because you never give up, meaning you keep doing what you’re doing even though you’re a megastar now on investigation discovery.

LT. Joe Kenda: Oh, well, that’s a debatable, I suppose. But yeah, my solve rate is a function of the fact that I, I truly, I’m not smart of everybody else. I just, I’m more determined. I’m not a dog with a bone. Do you kill one of my taxpayers? I take it personally and I want to resolve those.

And I am devastated when I. I had 387 homicide investigations that I conducted. I cleared three hundred and fifty six, seven by arrest. 31 remained unsold. If I was a football team, 356 and 31, I’d be a dynasty as it is. I’m just a dumb guy that doesn’t know who killed 31 people. It all depends on how you look at it.

Now some of the advances in DNA have resulted in the resolution of three of those 31. Hmm. So now I’m down to 28. I’d like to get down to zero, but that’s unrealistic.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, chain of command, custody of the actual evidence, all sorts of things can get in the way of you being able to solve a case. So of course, let’s talk about what’s happening now.

You are getting ready for an incredible feature. That’s coming up this summer. So can you talk to us about that?

LT. Joe Kenda: It’s about a case that occurred on St. Patrick’s day, 1987, a young girl was brutally murdered, raped, and left next to a dumpster in an alley in the snow dumped at that location. One of the most brutal killings I’ve seen and I’ve seen killings, she had post mortem human bite marks.

It’s incredible. You think you’re looking for Dracula?

Julie Lokun: You mean after she died? After she died. She got bit?

LT. Joe Kenda: Correct. All over her body. It’s a very bizarre thing. So we all work this case like dogs for months, we get nowhere. She’s in a bar on St. Patrick’s day with, well, over a hundred people. People remember her dancing with a guy.

They describe him. It matches the description of half the men in north America. No one knows his name. No one knows anything about him. They only remember seeing her dance at him on one occasion. The next time she’s seen she’s laying dead and raped in an alley behind the bar. So somehow some way someone gets their hands on her and does this to.

Could it be the one she’s dancing with? Sure. Could it be somebody else? You have your pick of over 100 people. Most of the audience and there are males. So it’s a very problem. The most difficult case to solve anywhere in the United States is a stranger killing where the suspect has no relationship with the victim.

They only represent two to 5% of murder cases. The others, the 90 plus percent are people that have a relationship. It could be financial, it could be romantic. It could even be criminal part of a criminal enterprise, but the E motive rises from their relationship. They make somebody mad enough to want to kill them.

The stranger killing is a passing ship in the. Who sees an opportunity to take a victim. It’s very, very difficult. You have nowhere to begin. You have no one to talk to that has any knowledge of the event during this process of working this case a year before that case occurred in 1986, we got a letter.

Every agency in Colorado did from the Colorado Colorado bureau of investigation, which is the state laboratory a. The letter said, there’s this guy in England, he’s a doctor, a research doctor at a university, and he’s working on the possibility of using DNA profiling as a way to uniquely identify suspects and or individuals in any sort of case.

We don’t know if it’s gonna work, but it shows promise. So we would therefore recommend that you preserve your evidence. Body fluids from a perpetrator, blood seminal fluid, semen, whatever you can come up with from the perpetrator, do it in the following manner. And it could be examined decades from today.

However, the manner in which they described was not only complicated, it was expensive. And the minute you say expensive law enforcement agencies tend to hit the brakes we have to compete for the tax dollar. Boy, I don’t know. It’s a lot of. And I argued that well, okay. It’s expensive. Yes, it is. However, it may mean something.

It could even mean everything and maybe it comes to nothing, but at least we will have the opportunity if it comes to something. So we started doing that. It’s so complicated. You have to freeze the samples and liquid nitrogen. It is a complicated affair and you to specialize equipment and so on and so on, but we did it anyway.

Fast forward 33. They able to come up with a new test science advances as it moves along when DNA was first discovered by Dr. Jeffries in England, you required a fairly substantial sample of potential DNA. You didn’t always have that. It has advanced to the point now to touch a countertop. And I’ll tell you who you are.

Touch DNA. because it is scientific and it does advance. So they developed this system where they can mine the data in ancestry.com 23, and me all the different services. Mm-hmm that provide those things in the fine print, which nobody bothers to read. You are surrendering your fourth amendment rights.

When you submit your sample, it tells you this will now be a public record. The police are part of the public. So they mine, the data, they find a close relative, not the perpetrator, but a close family member. And one thing leads to another. I testified against that individual last year in Colorado in June of 2021.

And he had committed that crime. He was 24 years old sitting in that courtroom. He’s 58 looking rather bew. We convicted him first degree murder, first degree, sexual assault. He’s doing life in prison where he belongs. So it’s an interesting fact that the police have a policy. We don’t forgive and we don’t forget.

Corinna Bellizzi: Wow. Well, I have to say this is an emotional case for me because, um, One of my dear friends from college was the victim of a random homicide. And I will just say that there’s nothing more shocking than just learning that your best friend, who was walking to a lunchtime hair appointment in downtown Santa Cruz was randomly attacked and killed being stabbed 16 times in the chest and throat.

Like there was no chance even if a trauma surgeon had been on site. And even though there were 13 people who witnessed. She would not have survived. And the man almost got away. We were thankful that he was apprehended and he was actually trying to clean the knife when he was found and reported to the police that he’d just decided he was going to kill the next woman.

He saw walking alone, random, completely no prior knowledge of my friend. And she literally didn’t have any chance. He just stepped out from between two parked cars and her life was. These things, when they go unsolved the damage they do to their families, imagining 34 years later, they have resolution. Now they can at least put that some of that pain to bed.

LT. Joe Kenda: Well, you can, but ultimately, as you know, from your own experience, and I’m sorry for your loss of your friend, that is a hole in your heart that never heals.

Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. That is definitely true.

LT. Joe Kenda: That person’s never coming. They say you get resolution. There’s no such thing as resolution that pain never goes away.

The family at least has an answer. As you did, as to what happened, it’s something that most people cannot understand because they can’t imagine people doing that. But I, on the other hand have bitter experience with human nature. People are capable of. And you have to understand that the, the most dangerous animal on this planet is a human being.

That’s why wild animals run from us because they know what we are. And that violence is in all of us. It is contained by our morality, by our training, by our emotional control. If that gets damaged in some way. The control, the emotions, mental illness, whatever, whatever you’d like to call it. And it releases the Demon that’s in all of us, everyone within range is at risk.

Julie Lokun: Wow. I mean these powerful stories and just hearing Corinna’s story about her best friend from college and being such a super fan of homicide hunter, how do you process this? You know, just like a doctor who has to have a bedside manner, you can’t connect yourself too much to the case, or do you, because it will eat you up alive.

You will never. To sleep. You’ll never be able to function as a human being. And I happen to know like you have children and a family. How does that, how do you do that?

LT. Joe Kenda: I mean, it’s extremely, it’s extremely difficult. It is. I have recurring nightmares. I don’t sleep, but surprised you pay for the work. The work is worth it, but there is a price that’s attached to it, PTSD, all that sort of thing I’ve got. But I wouldn’t have done anything else. I loved it. I felt that I was accomplishing something in my small corner of the world. I found something I was good at, which was homicide investigation and I pursued it and I was successful most of the time. And I’m proud of that fact, my kids and my wife, uh, suffered through that as.

My wife is, uh, she and I met in high school. We’ve been married forever, forever. So we’ve yeah, we have it’s 55 years. This year. We’ve been married.

Julie Lokun: She’s stuck by you through all that.

LT. Joe Kenda: Yes. I refer to her as a lovely and radiant Mrs. Kendo because it makes her mad. Oh my gosh. She’s an Irish girl currently with white hair and blue eyes. And a temper, like a chain saw. I don’t understand her, but I’m working on that, you know?

Julie Lokun: Well, you know, we, we’re very difficult to understand this, this sex, the female sex, but, you know, I just can’t imagine. And putting myself in your shoes, watching all, and I love how the homicide hunter is laid out. It is almost a reflection of all your cases, it’s reenacted, you know, and I am really curious. How do you remember all these details of the case?

LT. Joe Kenda: I have, unfortunately, and I say, unfortunately, I’ll explain that, but I have a photographic memory.

Julie Lokun: Oh, that could be a problem. And, and a great thing.

LT. Joe Kenda: It’s both a, a blessing and a curse. You remember everything, the good things. You also remember the bad and it never goes away.

When I started doing this show, the very, very first episode, uh, I was in California. We were, they shot it in a, a jail that was no longer in use. It was a, an old prison owned by the Los Angeles county Sheriff’s department. And it was no longer in use and they thought that would be a cool background for season one.

So I’m sitting in a cell block in front of cameras and the place still smelled like a prison, but there were no inmates in it. And a guy walked up and dropped a pile of paper in my lap. And I said, what’s that. That’s your script. I said, did anybody tell you I’m a policeman? I’m not an actor I could ever playing dress up when I was five.

You should have too. And it made him mad and I meant, and I meant to make him mad. And I said, I’ll tell you what you turned that camera on. I’ll tell you about this case, cuz I was there and you weren’t and put this aside and if you don’t like what I say. We’ll talk about this script. You say you have, and he said, all right, cuz he’s prepared not to like what I say.

Mm. So I turned the, turned the camera on. I spoke for 15 or 20 minutes and I stood up and I said, is that what you had in mind?

Julie Lokun: It was probably far better than the script.

LT. Joe Kenda: He looked at me and he said, uh, we don’t need this. And he put it aside and there’s never been a script since I say whatever I want.

They take out the profanity, cuz it is television. Profanity is the language of the street, but they removed that. Other than that, it’s what I say because it was my case and I was there and I did all that stuff that were talked about and uh, uh, kept me rather.

Julie Lokun: And I love like the dead pan, the way that you just express it in such a dead pan, almost sarcastic, but you’re talking to your audience like it’s in real time, like Wanda.

Oh my, my, my, when Wanda’s in trouble. I love that. And that was all yours.

LT. Joe Kenda: Yeah, absolutely. Whatever I say, it just comes out, you know, it’s, uh, I am a far worsen person than I am on camera as being sarcastic. over the years, you hone that skill when you’re dealing with animals, which I did all the time, but, um, you do, and you talk to people and you try to reason with them, or you try to get inside their head a little.

and try to see what kind of adversary you’re up against. What is rare in a murder case is a confession. You’ll get pieces of the truth, maybe some incriminating statements, but every wants, everyone wants to minimize their involvement. They just don’t wanna really talk about what they did. They certainly know what they did.

You can see it in their eyes, but they don’t want to tell you. They want to somehow make it sound better, maybe not as bad. Maybe they were provoked that sort of game playing goes on. But if you’ll lie to me, I’m talking to the right guy, innocent people don’t have to lie guilty. People do. So what I’m looking for in an interview or an interrogation is the first lie.

Tell me a lie. And, and before I get to that point, I’m Mr. Nice guy. I’m Mr. Confused. I want this person to believe that all they have to do is talk their way past me, and they’re gonna get out of this police station, which couldn’t be further from the truth, but I make ’em believe that I’m dropping papers on the floor.

I’m saying I don’t understand why you’re here and so on. And you people with street, people are, they’re not clever. But they’re very, very cunning. They see confusion or kindness as weakness, and they immediately think they can exploit that, which is the game. So you get him comfortable and you said, tell me what happened.

And he tells you his fantastic tale that he is thought up for the last several days as to why, if anybody asks him what he’s gonna. and I don’t take notes and it’s not recorded at that time. I listen, but I remember every word. And then I say to you, well, you know, after a couple hours of this, you told me what happened, but you don’t remember what you told me.

Could you tell me again? Well, of course he can’t cuz he lied the first time. He will try to, he’ll try to remember, but there’ll be subtle changes. And the minute you hear that you slam your notebook on a table and you say, well, my, my, my now two hours ago, you said this, and now you say this, were you lying then?

Are you lying now? Or maybe you’re just a liar. What do you think? And all of a sudden he’s eyes get big and he’s looking what happened to my friend or your friend left detective anti-Christ is here. We’re gonna play a very sophisticated game of tag and you are it mm-hmm let, let me see if I could touch you.

And that changes the whole tender of the conversation. You want him off balance when he’s comfortable, he’s lying his ass off. When he’s off balance, he doesn’t know what to do. And he’ll say something that’s critical.

Corinna Bellizzi: Stammering, sweating. I’m imagining, right?

Julie Lokun: Of course this is something we can use with our kids cream.

LT. Joe Kenda: I think these are some possible tips. My son told me when he was 12, he says, not fair. I said, what’s not fair. Then you always know if I’m lying. My friends, their parents don’t know. I said, well, maybe you should go live with them. You might have a better chance if they can’t figure you out, but don’t ever, ever lie.

Wow, what is it? Because we get really ugly.

Corinna Bellizzi: Yeah. I figured out with my son the same thing you did well, it’s um, the trick, I think is you just keep looking at them as they’re telling you the lie and eventually just a little or the Twitch of the eye.

Julie Lokun: Well, it’s also body language.

LT. Joe Kenda: You know, like, do people have tells, you know, they do and you know, where is he facing?

He’s facing the door, cuz that’s the way out and away from. You know, you see his foot bouncing on the floor, cuz he’s a nervous wreck. Is he, uh, his eyes darting around the room, looking down, looking up, looking left, looking right? What are you looking for the way out? Because there isn’t a way out of this and that’s what happens.

They look for the way out. Even when there isn’t one, it used to amaze me. If we would end up being a foot pursuit with a suspect, they. They climb the side of a house. They climb a tree. Where are you going? It’s like an animal stairway to heaven is a song. There is no stairway. , there’s a Terminus up there.

It’s called the roof. And there you are. It’s really remarkable it because fear does terrible things to people. And your worst enemy when you’re under arrest is your mind. And I exploit. Make you worry about what’s gonna happen to you. Another technique and interrogation is ignore him, walk in with a custody sheet.

Cause a custody sheet is a piece of paper, that name and middle name and your date of birth and where you live and da, da, and you fill it out. You don’t look at it. What’s your name? So and so, so, okay. Where do you live? And when you’re not making eye contact, he’s getting upset cuz you’re, he’s being ignore.

Hmm, thinking the decision has already been made. What’s gonna happen to him. And if you continue doing that for long enough, he’ll say to you, well, well, can I talk to you about what well you know about, about why I’m here, if you want to, I have to advise you of your rights first. I’ll waive my rights. Okay, fine.

Let’s do that now. What do you wanna tell. And you’d be amazed at what some people will go to fear drives it. He is afraid if he doesn’t say something, things are gonna be even worse than they would be. Otherwise. It’s interesting as humans, I don’t understand humans, but they interest me. See, they play this game of, I see people as covered in button.

What does this button do? Let me push that. Ooh, that touched the nerve. Sounds like a thing, you know, and you go back and forth with ’em and just see how their, what their story is. What you gonna get. Are you gonna get the magic confession most of the time you won’t, but you’ll get something that’s useful in prosecution.

You’ll get something.

Corinna Bellizzi: I don’t think I’m ever gonna be able to watch one of these crime shows the same way ever again. Oh,

Julie Lokun: the insight that we have. I mean, what is the toughest nut? What, what has been your toughest nut to crack besides your kids, which I’m sure they,

LT. Joe Kenda: if a guy, if a guy is a sociopath, a true and honest sociopath has no emotions.

The only emotion he’s capable of is rage. Don’t make him mad. Because if you do, he’s going to kill you. And he won’t remember having done it five minutes later, he doesn’t feel guilt. He doesn’t feel sympathy. He doesn’t feel empathy. He doesn’t feel love. He doesn’t feel anything.

Julie Lokun: Can they pass lie detectors?

LT. Joe Kenda: Of course, of course they can. There is no reaction to telling a lie polygraph. In my humble opinion, a polygraph is a Ouiji board with 110 volt extension. I, I see no merit in a polygraph. The only merit a polygraph has is if the defendant is convinced, it’s gonna tell the him that he’s lying and he makes a statement without hooking up the machine.

That statement is very useful. The machine is useless. That’s why it’s not admissible in court. The human mind is a very complicated piece of machine. And nobody with a small set of screwdrivers and a, and a computer parts is gonna figure that out, period, the end. Now, if you go to polygraph school and you drink the Koolaid, you think this thing works.

I think it’s bullshit, but that’s just an opinion.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, being a human polygraph of source, because you have watched people long enough and interrogated enough people to be able to really see those tells sure. and using your keen memory, you’re able to suss out when they didn’t stay consistent with key details and suddenly you’re telling you something different.

Now, I, I know that in this particular case, it’s going to be part of this feature. It really centers around that familial DNA. And there’s a couple of other really notable cases that have come through. including the golden state killer also called I think the east bay stalker or the original night stocker, something like that which was solved by familial DNA. How do you see this coming into play? Now? I’ve heard some people in the, uh, profession say that they don’t think any case anymore is unsolvable with enough DNA.

LT. Joe Kenda: Well, if you have the DNA evidence and there is your problem, you know, you don’t always find perpetrator fluid or blood or stains or whatever.

In the crime scene, it’s very common in sex offenses for obvious reasons, but it’s very, very difficult in other crimes. There may not be evidence there to pursue. So there is still going to be cases that are unsolvable. What if you’re a shooter? Is a rifleman and kills the victim from 100 yards away from an unknown spot where the shot was fired from a general direction is observed.

But exactly where was it? Those sorts of things can happen. Nobody hears him, nobody sees him so on and so on. There is no DNA when there is, that is very true. It’s very possible. Still not guaranteed. First of all, there’s an offender file. If you’ve been arrested, particularly for a sex crime to take a DNA sample and you’re placed in a, in a, in an offender file in a recent past.

So if you find him people who commit those crimes tend to repeat the crimes. So they’re found they are arrested, they are charged, and then a DNA sample is taken. The first place you look is the offender file. Has he done this before? Let’s say you don’t find him. Okay. So now we need to place our faith in the fact that somebody in his family wants to know if they’re Irish and they dutifully send in their money to these companies that provide these services.

But what if they don’t then the database doesn’t contain his family or anybody connected it to. so to say that every case is solvable. No, it isn’t not that way. Not anyway. They’re all unique. They’re all unique unto themselves. What are the circumstances? So it’s still, uh, a question of luck in this case that we’re talking about on August 17th, it was someone in his family that he hadn’t contacted in 20.

Who decided for whatever reason that they just decided to go ahead and spend the money. And for the sake of who knows, find out about their heritage and they found a killer in their family, but they could have also not done that. And the guy would still be walking around.

Julie Lokun: So what do you think about. DNA 23 ancestry, those things.

Do you think they’re helpful? Well,

LT. Joe Kenda: There’s nothing wrong with it.  I mean, they’re a business, like anything else? Mm-hmm uh, so yeah, of course they’re in the business of providing you with information, uh, which most people, a lot of people like to have, they wanna know about their families.

They discover family secrets that were unknown. They discover family. They’d never heard. Lots of things happen with that result. You have to be careful what you wish for when you wanna find out your history. Maybe you’re not gonna like your history or people in your history or whatever, but those are choices.

People make the difference is that their public record. So therefore that exposes your heritage, your DNA, your identity, your family, whatever to scrutiny by law enforcement, if becomes necessary. They don’t do this very often, cuz it’s very complicated and it’s rather expensive, but on a murder case, there’s no statute of limitations.

So we can pursue you until the day you die for a crime. You may have committed in a case. If it’s a murder statute of limitations, doesn’t apply. Yep. For example, this guy, 34 years later, he’s in the he’s in the can, which is where he should have been 34 years ago. But he wasn’t bad, better, late than never as they.

Corinna Bellizzi: So, what is your hope with this effort and with all of the work you’ve done by televising some of these stories from your past is your hope that the populace will become more involved, get more informed?

LT. Joe Kenda: Well, hopefully they’ll become more aware of what the police do, because if we stick to the, the, the media presentation of the police, they only seek out.

Hmm. They only want to present something when somebody does something bad and we have policemen who shouldn’t be policemen. However, we are faced with a terrible problem. We have to recruit our members from the ranks of the human rights. it’s so disappointing. We’re fall. You just get, we asked Elon Musk very nicely, but he’s, but he is busy doing other things, but if he could build police robots, Ooh.

You know, but the technology just isn’t. So there are people who make mistakes in law enforcement, mm-hmm and they are crucified for that. And they are prosecuted and they’re jailed and whatever, but that’s all depressed, wants to talk about. They don’t wanna talk about good news cuz good news. Isn’t news people have a pure interest.

If it bleeds, it leads and if it’s failure, they want to talk about it by. The postal service failed to deliver your BA the, the garbage band did not empty. Your can completely film at 11 mm-hmm . Okay. You know, I said, where do you stop? Just stop, you know? Uh, but it, it doesn’t stop. Now. I wanted this to at least show the public, which is why I’m also doing the program American detective, which is now on ID, a new series with me.

To show the world that I’m not the lone ranger, they’re a policemen all over this country and county Sheriff’s departments in, uh, in big cities and small places that work just as hard as I do for little or no money, except for this things and arrows of the press and the public to stand in the victim’s shoes and protect their interest against all others.

Cuz they cannot do that. Wow. And that’s the purpose of that program and the very same thing with homicide, let the public, see what the police actually do. Not what they do wrong, cuz they do that too. But let’s show them what they do. Right? Wow. Consistently.

Corinna Bellizzi: Well, thank you so much for your service and for bringing this show to the world. Now, I wanna make sure that we give our audience a clear understanding of how they can watch this show and find your content. Absolutely. It’s amazing. Yeah. Right. Like I am still looking forward to this homicide hunter.

Julie Lokun: We kind of want your autograph and I know as we’re wrapping up, like I just from police officer to TV star. If you could, how did, like, how did this happen? I just wanna know like, well, you weren’t born to be a TV star.

LT. Joe Kenda: No. Oh no, but you are. It’s my wife’s fault. beat me up. And I got a letter from a producer years ago who said that he had this idea for a cop show, about homicide. And he wanted somebody that, and he knew me.

He remembered me. He used to be in news and he had, uh, Taking pictures of me and video of me back in the day when I was working, I didn’t remember the guy, but he said, I worked for this particular channel in Colorado Springs. And then he left news and moved up in the business and became a producer and he remembered me.

And he said, I want, I want you to tell the stories that you used to tell the public in Colorado rank briefly on the news about murder cases. So, you know, I put the letter aside and my wife said, what’s that? I said, it’s a letter from some guy that says he’s gonna put me on TV. Like that’s gonna happen.

She said, you should call him. I’m a calling him. And I like TV people. This went on for four days. My wife has a PhD in nagging from a very good school. So she was not from, from the school

Julie Lokun: of Ken, Jimmy?

LT. Joe Kenda: Yes. Like the school of Ken. She was not going to Atlanta. You’re gonna call him this morning or this afternoon.

What are you doing for lunch? I’m why aren’t you on the phone? Yeah. She’s our kind of girl. So four days of that, four days of that, and I thought, okay, peace in the family is the only way this is gonna work. So I called him and I kind of liked him on the phone and we met and one thing led to another. And here we are. I am living proof that even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.

Corinna Bellizzi: Oh my gosh. well, I’m gonna be going through the archives of homicide hunter. I just started with season eight and now I wanna go back to season one.

LT. Joe Kenda: there’s a, there’s 144 episodes of homicide hunter. They play all over the world in a number of countries, in a number of languages on a number of services.

They’re on Hulu, they’re on discovery. Plus they’re on investigation discovery. They are everywhere if you’re in the UK, they’re on sky network. Uh, and on we’re finding you, we’re gonna find you. And there’s 22 episodes of American Detective and that’s, they’re playing as we speak on ID and Discover+, and of course there’s specials coming up on the 17th two hours long. Describing this case from beginning to end.

Julie Lokun: That’s amazing. we should have a watch party. Let’s just talk about it Corinna.

Corinna Bellizzi: Oh, I love that idea. Yes. Let’s have a watch party. We’re doing that. Very exciting. Well, Homicide Hunter: Never Give Up, exploring the DNA evidence behind the solving of Darlene Krashoc’s murder.

Julie Lokun: And you know, we’re obsessed obviously with Joe Kenda and we have a new, we have a lot of stuff to binge on. If you need a binge worthy show, just Google, Joe Kenda. And August 17th, we’re gonna have a watch party for sure. If Joe doesn’t come with us, but she said he can’t, but we’re good at like twisting people’s arms.

I don’t wanna twist your arm for some reason. Like I’m scared, but, um, no, he’s, you’re an amazing human being. Um, thank you so much for being here. We ask everybody on our show to say one thing, three words, but I wanna. I wanna hear this in Joe Kenda fashion. It’s we always ask to have our guests kick us off by saying let’s kick it.

LT. Joe Kenda: All right. Is that what you want? Let’s kick it.

Julie Lokun: Yeah. With some like Joe Kenda, Joe Kenda.

LT. Joe Kenda: Wait seeing it. Well, in that case, let’s kick it.

Guest

  • About LT. JOE KENDA Lt. Joe Kenda, a 23-year veteran of the Colorado Springs Police Department, spent 21 years chasing killers as a homicide detective and commander of the major crimes unit. Kenda and his team solved 356 of his 387 homicide cases, getting a 92 percent solve rate—one of the highest in the country. After retiring from law enforcement, he starred in “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda,” an American true-crime documentary series that ran for nine seasons on Investigation Discovery (ID), and is now in premieres of season three of “American Detective with Lt. Joe Kenda,” both available for streaming on discovery+. He has written two books, "I Will Find You" and "Killer Triggers.”

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