Metro detective retires after solving 56 cold case murders
Feb 26, 2013 05:37 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
He's spent more than 30 years on the Metro police force, known best for his work as a cold case homicide detective.
Pat Postiglione is retiring on Thursday, after helping solve 56 cold case murders in Davidson County.
Postiglione remembers falling in love with Nashville in 1977 while on a trip here. He applied for a job as a Metro police officer after seeing an ad in the paper.
"I saw they were looking for police in the newspaper and they put in an application," said the native New Yorker, from Long Island.
Postiglione started his career as a patrol officer, but after seven years chasing criminals on the streets, he was ready for a change, a change he refers to as "his calling".
"I feel like I wanted to go and do some sort of investigation," explained Postiglione. "I felt homicide was a place I wanted to go, and I put in for it and was lucky enough to get it."
He got that job on September 1, 1987.
Postiglione can't remember when he knew he was meant to be a homicide detective, he just knows he was.
"I think experience was a big factor for me," he said. "I learned from the many crime scenes I've been on and the many schools I've been to and I've learned a lot along the way."
One of the biggest things he learned, said Postiglione, was how to keep his emotions in check during an investigation and throughout interviews.
"I do a whole lot better when I'm on an even keel," said Postiglione. "I don't show any emotion, I don't show any anger. I may fake emotion, possibly, but I understand who I'm interviewing and I realize what's at stake in terms of a confession and I approach it with that. I try to be as thorough as I can."
During his more than 30-year career with the department, Postiglione helped solve 56 cold cases and put some of Nashville's most notorious murderers behind bars.
"I think the one I felt the most pressure with, pressure I put on myself, was probably the Paul Reid investigation where he killed seven people in the Nashville area in a very short period of time," explained Postiglione. "I think that one probably stands out more than the others."
Reid is currently on death row in Nashville.
Postiglione also solved one of Music City's most famous cold cases.
"Virginia Trimble would be at the top of the list of notifying a family member that you've identified the person who killed your nine-year-old child selling girl scout cookies 35 years ago," Postiglione told Nashville's News 2. "She probably thought, and understandably so, that we would never solve the case."
Jerome Barett was convicted of Marcia Trimble's murder in 2009 and sentenced to 44 years in prison.
"It's an exhilarating feeling to know that you identified the person that killed whoever your victim happened to be," he added.
Postiglione's specially honed instincts came into play the summer of 2007, after 25-year-old Sara Hulbert's body was found at a truck stop on North First Street in June.
"We had a truck we could see on the video the night Sarah Hulbert was killed," said Postiglione. "We saw a truck on the video that looked like it could be possibly involved in her death."
A few weeks later, while investigating her case, Postiglione would spot what he thought looked like a similar truck in that area.
Postiglione followed the truck into the Truck Stops of America on North First Street.
"My instincts told me don't let him leave without looking in the truck."
His instincts would pay off.
"I asked him [Bruce Mendenhall] if he would come down, and he did, he agreed to come down," Postiglione told Nashville's News 2.
"He acted like he had been asleep, like I had just awoken him. That's when I saw some blood on the door and blood on his thumbnail," he continued.
Mendenhall allowed Postiglione to search his truck and Postiglione found a large bag of evidence.
Mendenhall was later convicted in Hulbert's death and sentenced to life in prison.
"All walks of life, the good the bad and the ugly," said Postiglione. "We've dealt with them all. The commonality seems to be a lot of them are sociopaths, where they have no conscious. If they show remorse, it's fake remorse. It's made up to act as if they're upset about what they did, when in reality they're just upset they were caught."
Postiglione will officially hang up his detective hat with the Metro Police Department on Thursday.
"If you second-guess yourself or rely on your emotions, they'd have to carry me out behind the desk, because I would never leave and I know that," he said.
After decades of answering middle-of-the-night phone calls and investigating gruesome crime scenes, Postiglione plans to take some time off.
However, he'll be back, working as a special investigator for the Davidson County District Attorney's Office.
"Whether it's now, or ten years from now, you'll have the same emotions, I think," said Postiglione, "You have to accept that and just leave when you think you need to leave."
The cold case unit still has over 400 unsolved cases.