I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime by Joe Kenda
Detective Kenda Solved 92% of 387 Homicides
In I WILL FIND YOU, former Colorado Springs Detective Joe Kenda takes us on a gritty tour of his life catching murderers. The book reads a little like a “police procedural,” and is pretty gory at times in describing the murders. The crime scenes are described in great detail, as are the injuries to the victims. So, if you are sensitive to violence and gore, avoid these sections. (When I came to the parts about child victims, I skimmed over those sections.)
Kenda made his name as a tough guy early on in his career. He recalls a situation early in his career, where a huge man was strangling one of his colleagues. Kenda took quick, brutal action: “I did not intentionally flatten the dispenser with his face, but that was the result.” Kenda thought he might be fired for unnecessary force , but instead, his superiors admired the forceful action of a rookie.
Kenda developed a routine for each crime scene. In the chapter, “I Talk To Dead People,” he explains his routine. He asks, “What did you do here? Why did you do it? What was your first move? What was next?” At the crime scene, he “listened” intently to the victim, or even spoke out loud. His methods were very successful. Of his cases going to trial, 215 out of 217 suspects were convicted.
The author corrects some misconceptions about police work, as compared to what is simplified on TV. For example, fingerprints aren’t checked in just a few minutes. In reality, you send your prints in, and “within a couple of weeks or months AFIS sends you back fifteen possible suspects.”
The author’s approach to making an arrest was simple: He just threatened to blow the suspect away. Pointing his gun right at them, he announced: “My name is Kenda. I’m with the police department. You are under arrest. If you don’t do what I say, I will kill you right here and now.”
The author explained something that has always confused me about cop shows on TV. Why do suspects on TV always start blabbing on without a lawyer? They can’t possibly be that stupid!
Well, it turns out that suspects DO usually talk to the police. Yes, they really are that stupid! Kenda explains that about 80% of suspects waive their Miranda rights to an attorney and “just gab away.” They think they can outwit the police, since they are so used to getting away with lies.
For folks considering buying a hand gun for self-protection, the author recommends that purchase only if you are willing to do the training. Don’t get a gun unless you are “supremely confident that you can use it with great accuracy and protect those you love from it.” This strikes me as good advice.
All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. It has lots of interesting detail, and is a captivating read. Yes, it is on the grisly side, but the gore was not exaggerated. Near the end of the book, the author gives his take on the justice system:
“We don’t have a perfect system. Yet, as imperfect as it is, I don’t see anything better out there. For all of its weaknesses and all of the mistakes that happen, our rate of success is still better than most.”