This weekend we’ll be celebrating the retirement of Homicide Hunter at Death Becomes Us True Crime Festival (tickets are still available!). Joe Kenda will be joined on stage by his wife Kathy, Carl Marino who so famously plays young Joe Kenda in every reenactment and Thomas Cutler, the show’s longtime producer.
They’re going to take us through 9 incredible seasons of the show. Ahead of that we asked Joe to share some of his favorite episodes. My my my, we got some good ones.
Married to the Job Episode 819
Premiere date: February 5, 2019. Sgt. Joe Kenda and his officers are facing off against a barricaded gunman with hostages. They’re desperately in need of backup, so when Kenda hears Dispatch call him on his radio, he’s hoping help is on the way. Instead, they tell him his wife is calling with an emergency at home. Dispatch inadvertently patches Kathy through to Joe’s radio and she overhears him being shot at, leading her to grapple with the terrifying realities of being married to a cop. She must come to terms with her role in persuading her husband to join the police force and how that decision changed the trajectory of their lives. Anecdote: This episode is mostly told from the perspective of Joe’s wife, Kathy Kenda, and focuses on how Kenda’s work affected her and her family. His two children, Dan and Kristen, also make an appearance to discuss how their father’s career impacted them.
My First Case Episode 413
Premier date: November 18, 2014. In 1977, when an armed robbery at a convenience store turns violent, a shadowy suspect leaves two innocent victims in critical condition. With little evidence and even fewer leads, veteran homicide detectives deem the case “unsolvable”. That’s when rookie burglary detective Joe Kenda sees a chance to realize his dream of working in the Homicide unit, and steps up to find the shooter. But with no clues to run with but a generic charm bracelet found at the scene, Kenda has a long and difficult journey ahead of him. Has the ambitious young investigator bitten off more than he can chew? Why? He put everything on the line when he volunteered to take on that case, and it was all or nothing. The “College Boy” had to prove himself here or else he was going to be chasing stolen TVs for the rest of his career.
Bullet With My Name On It Episode 615
Premier date: January 1, 2017. In his first year on the police force, rookie patrol officer Joe Kenda quickly learns the ropes and makes a name for himself. But on one fateful night, Kenda’s instincts lead him to discover a brawling mob spilling out into a bar parking lot. When he tries to singlehandedly break it up, he finds himself in the deep end and is soon facing down gunfire. Kenda must struggle between his duties as a patrol officer and his desire to help the homicide detectives catch the man who nearly killed him. Anecdote: Kenda has never had to fire a gun in his career, but this is the story of when Kenda first got shot at – while he was a rookie. Episode gives an overview of the Kenda’s background and how they came to find themselves in Colorado Springs and how Kenda ended up being a police officer.
Chance Encounter Episode 105
Premier date: November 29, 2011. When firefighters find Victor Woods stabbed to death in his burning apartment, homicide detective Joe Kenda tracks Colorado’s most notorious serial killer. The trail leads investigators to a popular nightclub and a Hollywood-handsome suspect driving a souped-up muscle car, but then goes cold. The killer has moved south where his violent temper takes more lives. When a report surfaces connecting these new murders with the Victor Woods case, detective Kenda must convince Ronald Lee White to confess, or see him walk free. Why? Kenda believes there are three motives for murder – money, sex and revenge. However, there is one exception – and that is with serial killers. This is Kenda’s first and only case with a psychopathic killer, Colorado’s most notorious serial killer, Ronald Lee White.
Avert Your Eyes Episode 601
Premier date: August 23, 2016. Pamela Edwards is shot through the heart and left for dead at the bottom of her staircase. When police arrive, their first task is to shield her two young daughters from the horrendous crime scene. As the investigation unfolds, Lt. Joe Kenda follows the clues where they take him, be it a US Olympic training facility or a seedy roadside diner. When detectives finally close in on the killer, he arms himself and takes flight leading police on a car and foot chase across Colorado Springs. Why? This one has stayed with Kenda, as well as really struck his wife, Kathy, because of the impact that it had on the girls that he helped. Per Kenda – You don’t realize sometimes the affect you have on people, and you try to do your best, but you don’t know if it’s enough or not. In the show, Pamela’s daughter, Tenayia Adair, says: “they rescued us that night.”
I Now Pronounce You Dead Episode 202
Premier date: October 2, 2012. Mother of three Dianne Hood is shot to death by a masked assailant on her way home from a support meeting for Lupus patients. Because the killer stole the victim’s purse, police initially assume it’s a robbery gone wrong. But based on eyewitness testimony, Lt. Joe Kenda believes the gunman intentionally targeted the victim. As he races to find the killer, Kenda uncovers a sordid web of lust and greed and learns that all the department’s assumptions about this case were dead wrong. Why?: This was a particularly evil crime, where a woman, Jennifer Reali, and her boyfriend, who was the husband of Diane Hood, planned the murder of his wife for eight months before they carried it out to get insurance money. It took them all of three days to unravel the truth. Kenda showed up at Jennifer Reali’s parole hearing in 2011, as she had cancer and was pleading for early release, and Kenda asked the parole board if “could you grant Dianne Hood an early release from the grave?” Reali was denied parole.
Officer Down Episode 618
Premier date: January 18, 2017. Officer Mark Dabling, a beloved member of the community, is brutally gunned down while conducting a routine traffic stop. Sgt. Joe Kenda and the entire Colorado Springs Police Department are devastated by their loss of the friend and fellow co-worker, but must put aside their own grief in order to catch the killer. As the manhunt leads officers throughout the city, detectives uncover a chilling trail of clues leading to the cop-killer’s identity and the path of destruction he has blazed across the entire country. Why? Dabling was a personal friend and fellow co-worker of Kenda’s, and hearing the words “officer down” was a personal fear of his. Also in this role, in 1980, he was moved from homicide to patrol and promoted to Sergeant, and Dabling was one of his officers.
Sacrificial Lamb Episode 603
Premier date: August 31, 2016. When 13-year-old PJ Grant is found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head, detectives assume he took his own life. But when the physical evidence doesn’t quite support that theory, Lt. Joe Kenda turns his eye on the two boys who called 9-1-1. Detectives question the parents of the teenagers, probing deeper and deeper into their lives. But it isn’t until Kenda pays a visit to their high school that the doors open up a world of possibilities-from hatred to human sacrifice “We have a gun-obsessed culture. We have a violence-obsessed entertainment industry. We have 13- year-old boys who play video games and watch TV and see this all the time. They’re anaesthetized to violence. They’re playing with a deadly instrument as if it were a toy truck – and it ain’t.”