Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nashville veteran detective Sgt. Pat Postiglione retires

Brian Haas

Nashville TN Feb 27 2013 It was a familiar place for Sgt. Pat Postiglione: surrounded by the media, questions flying at him about the latest high-profile cold case murder he’d cracked.
One reporter asked if he could describe how the suspect reacted when told he was being indicted on a murder charge.
“I CAN tell you, but I’m not going to,” he said wryly, his New York accent undiluted by three decades in Nashville.
But this case — the 55th cold case he has helped crack since 2005 — was different no matter how the accused man reacted. The 1996 murders of Tiffany Campbell and Melissa Chilton, both 18, will likely be Postiglione’s last case solved as a police officer.
He is retiring Thursday, leaving behind a long list of murder files — some thought to be impossible or too old to crack — that he has marked “solved.”
He has busted serial killers and mass murderers, solved 30-year-old cases. Hits have been put out on him.
In public, he has all the appearances of a tough-nosed “cop’s cop.” When talking to reporters, he always stuck to the facts and avoided attention.
In typical fashion, he’s refusing all interview requests until Tuesday — and then he’ll be speaking to the media about his career only because the department told him he should.
But criminal defense attorneys have long known how good he was.
“When I was public defender and saw Pat Postiglione in court, I knew I had my work cut out for me,” Mayor Karl Dean said Friday. “Pat dedicated his police career to helping families find justice for their loved ones. His work has been absolutely exemplary, and I personally thank him and the city thanks him for more than 30 years of service.”
To victims’ families, he is both tireless and compassionate, a hard-boiled homicide cop with, well, heart.
“He has a heart for Nashville and he has a heart for victims’ families,” said Virginia Trimble Ritter, whose 9-year-old daughter, Marcia, was murdered in 1975. Postiglione helped crack that case in 2008, putting the killer behind bars for life. “He cared so much about Marcia, he wanted it so badly. He wanted it like we did.”
Postiglione came to Nashville in 1980 from New York and joined the Metro Police Department. Seven years later, he joined the department’s homicide squad.
He had found his calling.
His supervisor at the time, detective Sgt. Robert Moore, wrote in 1992 that Postiglione was an investigative whirlwind.
“Det. Postiglione is most likely the most dedicated investigator I have ever served with,” Moore wrote. “He is totally committed to his job and always gives 100% with very little supervision. He is probably the most talented investigator I have seen.”
Much of his success came from his tenacity and attention to detail, said Metro Councilman Bill Pridemore, who worked as a homicide detective with Postiglione until he retired in 2008. He recalled the still-unsolved 1994 murder of Carl Williams, who was shot to death after his car broke down on Interstate 40. Pridemore said a truck driver was likely the killer.
“I can’t tell you how many trucking companies that Pat and I investigated, determining who could have trucks passing by that location at that time. He investigated many trucking companies and got logs and did tedious work,” Pridemore said, chuckling. “Even I said, ‘I can’t do it, Pat. I can’t do it.’ ”
Pridemore paused.
“We all have our cases that haunt us,” he said. “I think that one’s his.”
He didn’t find that killer, but he has 55 cold cases he can put behind him. Whether it was the murder of little Marcia Trimble or the capture of Paul Dennis Reid — who killed seven people in 1997 — Postiglione has helped round up a remarkable menagerie of murderers.
“At one time I thought it was magic,” Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson said at Thursday’s news conference. “But what I’ve learned over the years, it’s just hard work. It’s dedication, it’s paying attention to detail and, most of all, it’s being able to draw out the best in others.”
Postiglione acknowledged Thursday that it was good to go out with one more closed case.
“We’ve been working on this case relentlessly actually for the last four years,” Postiglione said. “The timing just happened to come around the time I’m retiring. Needless to say, it’s very good to be able to retire with this case gone to the solved side.”
So who is Pat Postiglione? Surely there’s more to him than a badge, a gun and a who’s-who list of murders that he’s locked up?
Postiglione has a wife and three grown children, two daughters and a son. But hobbies?
“I don’t know of any hobby he has,” Pridemore said, laughing. “That’s all he does. He’s all work.”
He said Postiglione liked watching baseball and boxing and liked to work out. A 2007 Tennessean profile on Postiglione noted that he ran 15 miles a week.
“He’d get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and work out — which I thought was nuts,” Pridemore said.
The Cold Case Unit will go on, with veteran Sgt. Gary Kemper in charge. Kemper for years has headed up the department’s Gang Unit and has overseen the prosecution of several major gangs in Nashville.
“It going to be tough,” Kemper said when asked about filling Postiglione’s shoes. “There’s no replacing Pat.”
Still, Postiglione won’t be far away.
His idea of “retirement” is a plan to start working for the Davidson County District Attorney General’s Office as an investigator.

1 comment:

Connie Williams said...

Today marks 22 years since my brother was murdered. I know Pat gave it his all trying to solve my brother's case. I thank him and my family thanks him for his diligence and hard work for all those many years he worked on cold cases. Maybe Carl's case is one of those that is to remain unsolved - for whatever reason. Nonetheless, we think the world of Pat Postiglione, and the MNPD.
With much respect,
Connie Williams (sister of Carl Williams)