His record of solving high-profile crimes is impressive and unmatched. Pat Postiglione has cracked some of the most difficult homicides and cold cases. Before he retired from the Metro Police Department in 2013 he served as Detective Sergeant of the Homicide Cold Case Unit and was the lead detective on at least 130 cases.
The big ones include cross-country serial killer Bruce Mendenhall, the disappearance of Janet March, the murders of Steve McNair and Marcia Trimble, and the ongoing hunt for Tabitha Tuders.
With our upcoming special report July 12 on cold cases, we turned to the expert for some perspective on cold cases and seeking justice.
What unsolved case keeps you up at night?
Postiglione: “Not really one over another. Any unsolved case keeps you up at night. You work hard for all victims particularly the innocent victims, like Captain D’s victims, you wake up all hours, you sleep it. Coincidentally I got a message from Carl Williams’ brother today”
What’s the most memorable case of your career and why?
Postiglione: “Paul Dennis Reid. He was convicted of killing 7 but we know he killed 8. The whole city was on edge for months. It was tremendous pressure on the detectives. We went literally nonstop. The McDonald’s shooting happened 3 weeks later. Pieces started to fall in place. The same person was responsible. I was shaving one morning and heard the Baskin Robbins headlines on the morning news and I told Mike Roland – we’ve got to go to Clarksville. We connected that it was the same person, fingerprinted Paul Dennis Reid. Items on Ellington Parkway and Cleveland Lane matched his prints. We had three trials. It was very stressful and a tough time.”
“Behind that would be the Janet March disappearance and Marcia Trimble and Sarah Des Prez.
Where did you get your instincts?
Postiglione: “I have always been able to remember things, crime scenes, people – I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse. I remember weapons. I don’t take written notes during interviews, it’s a distraction. I don’t answer the cell phone during interviews. Good police interviewing is a lost art. It’s a big thing with homicides.”
Investigations can be a brutal and long process. Do you form lasting relationships with victims’ families?
Postiglione: “I am close friends with many, and we stay connected. I keep them updated. As a detective, you become their lifeline. They are incredibly grateful. It’s the most rewarding aspect for homicide detectives.”
“Two years ago at a crime victims event at Centennial Park, a man I arrested 20 years ago and sent to prison shook my hand. His cousin had been murdered and he was at the event as an advocate.”
How hard is it to get a conviction without a body?
Postiglione: “Blood is most crucial. Plus, friends and family on the stand at trial establishing the victim is deceased, like in the Janet March case – it was crucial.”
Advice for today’s young detectives?
Postiglione: “I still teach classes, I tell them never stop learning, you never know it all. Technology changes weekly. It takes passion to be a homicide detective. Some leave early in their careers. It takes COMMITMENT. You miss vacations and graduations. I missed my own daughter’s high school graduation because of Paul Dennis Reid. There is a sacrifice. You don’t clock out at 4 p.m.”
Law enforcement runs in your family?
Postiglione: “My brother Danny was a sergeant with Metro Youth Services, now retired. My wife spent 6 years with Metro Police. Brother Ronnie is with the NYPD–he worked 9-11 and is now retired. My son is a probation officer in Metro.”
The case of Patrick Streater – you worked this as a detective and now you’re working on it for the D.A.’s office?
Postiglione: “I will never stop working on that case–I’ve worked it nonstop since 2009.”
Your thoughts on the Tabitha Tuders case?
Postiglione: “It will be solved. It takes persistence and relentless pursuit of this very difficult case. My gut is that she was taken from her bus stop near 14th and Boscobel. I think someone posed as a police officer, maybe, and convinced her to get in a car. It’s been many years. I recently ran down a tip that she was working in Las Vegas at McDonald’s. I hope she’s out there alive.”
Det. Sgt. Pat Postiglione worked for Metro Police from 1980 to 2013. He spent 25 of those years in the homicide unit. Today, he works part-time as an investigator in the Davidson County District Attorney’s office.