Hardly would you find any cop good in solving homicide cases like Joe Kenda. The former police detective worked for the Colorado Springs Police Department for more than two decades. He is revered for solving 356 homicide cases out of the 387 he handled during his days of active service. The man has an impressive closure rate of 92% and as one would expect, it brought him a lot of attention.
For his legacy in solving homicides, he is featured on the widely watched Investigation Discovery TV show, Homicide Hunter. On the show, Joe recounts the cases he solved. Read more about that and the details of his police career below.
Early Life and Education
The retired Colorado Springs Police Department Lieutenant was named Joseph Patrick Kenda after he was born on the 14th of November 1946. From an early age, it was noticed that Kenda was interested in criminal cases, especially when it has to do with murders.
Kenda completed his high school education at Greensburg Central Catholic High School in 1964 and proceeded to the University of Pittsburgh where he studied Political Science. Later on, he went to Ohio State University where he bagged a master’s degree in International Relations; this was in 1970. Thereafter, Joe Kenda was set to build his career and he started by working for Foreign Services.
However, an encounter he had with the Central Intelligence Agency which was tagged ‘Classified’, changed his mind about working with Foreign Services and eventually marked the beginning of his police career.
Lt. Joe Kenda’s Police Career
Having lost interest in working with Foreign Services, Joe Kenda worked for his father’s truck business until 1973 when he decided to relocate to Colorado Springs with his wife and kids. That same year, he started working for the Colorado Springs Police Department as a Detective.
Kenda was very good at his job as he executed his task impressively. According to him, he was able to solve 356 cases out of the 387 he investigated because of his love for the job. He also pointed out that his ability to tell when someone is not telling the truth helped him a great deal.
Joe Kenda retired in 1996 for reasons related to his family and the conviction that he had reached the end of his journey as a detective. With regard to his family, it is said that Kenda’s wife feared he might lose his life. On the other hand, Joe revealed in 2018 that aside from the fact that his wife mounted pressure on him to resign, he had a very unsettling encounter with a pedophile in August 1996 which also influenced his resignation.
As he divulged, the case involved a grandfather who sexually abused his 5-years-old grandson and claimed that the boy initiated the act. Kenda found the man’s claims to be appalling and he nearly strangled him to death if not for the timely intervention of his colleagues. Filled with disgust, the detective submitted his resignation that day and on the 1st of September, he officially left the police force.
TV Shows and How He Became an Actor
After he retired, Joe Kenda kept to himself for a couple of years as he was not happy with life. He eventually decided to work as a bus operator for a special needs school in 1998 and was with them for 10 years.
In less than a year after he left the special needs school, a popular TV series editor named Patrick Bryant proposed creating a homicide detective series that would star Joe Kenda. This idea was not initially welcomed by the retired detective but he eventually gave in to Bryant’s request. Not too long after he agreed, the production of the TV series commenced and it was based on real homicide cases the Kenda handled.
It was in 2010 that Investigation Discovery bought the right to air the homicide detective series titled Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda. As of this writing, the series which was originally released on the 25th of October 2011 has run for 9 successful seasons. They were all based on the cases Joe Kenda handled which he related to the audience without a script. Well, this pattern turned out to be very effective as viewers and critics have severally commended it. More so, the homicide series has featured various actors who depicted the characters in Kenda’s stories. The American actor, Carl Marino, plays the younger version of Joe Kenda.
Now considered an actor in various quarters, Joe Kenda has been a part of other TV series like I (Almost) Got Away with It: What Would Kenda Do?, Crime Obsession, and WGN Morning News. That’s not all, he appeared as Lt. Joe Kenda in 2017’s Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie.