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Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda

Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda

Photo Credit:  Kim Cook / Investigation Discovery
  • Premiered: 
    October 25, 2011
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: ID
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Docudrama
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Crime
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Plot Synopsis

Retired detective Lt. Joe Kenda investigates murder cases, from the point he receives the initial homicide call through the time he closes the case. By using personal interviews and providing intimate details, Kenda unveils the emotional and psychological effects of murder on the investigator himself. In each 60-minute episode, Kenda focuses on a different case, such as: a woman who was never seen alive again after being dropped off at a bar by her sister's boyfriend; a young woman who was found strangled in the backseat of her car; and many more adrenaline-packed murder cases.

HOMICIDE HUNTER returned for its third season on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 9pm ET/PT on Investigation Discovery with a season opener that featured the case of a young woman found naked and strangled in a park less than 200 yards from her apartment. Later episodes in Season 3 relived these cases: a bloody car is found by hunters on a remote mountain road, leading investigators to the buckshot-riddled body of the car's owner; a mother of two who is brutally run over in a quiet neighborhood on Memorial Day; and many more cases that continue to plague Lt. Kenda.

On Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 10pm ET/PT, Investigation Discovery aired the Season 4 premiere of HOMICIDE HUNTER, shortly after a six-hour (2-8pm) marathon of episodes from the show's third season. In the season opener, Lt. Kenda investigates a rogue's gallery of hustlers, thugs and career criminals after a park ranger discovers the corpse of amateur boxer Corey Edge floating in a shallow creek, but he soon realizes the real killers have been hiding in plain sight.

HOMICIDE HUNTER returned for its fifth season on Tuesday August 18, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT on Investigation Discovery, with Lt. Joe Kenda coming back to reveal more chilling memories of murders that still haunt him. In the season opener, "Bad Blood," a popular army vet is found bleeding to death on the cold asphalt of a shadowy parking lot -- his chest littered with too many knife wounds to count. A gruesome clue leads Kenda's team to an unlikely killer whose motive for murder is as heartless.

Season 6 of HOMICIDE HUNTER premiered on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 10pm ET/PT on Investigation Discovery, Lt. Kenda opens up to the camera to reveal vivid memories of the most disturbing murders still haunting him today. The result is a personal journey for Kenda as he chips away at the long-suppressed nightmares that have plagued him for so long, re-opening his "murder books" for viewers -- folders in which every detail of his murder cases is held -- to revisit each case and detail the beats and process of how he solved each crime. In the season opener, "Avert Your Eyes," Lt. Kenda explores the shocking case of Pamela Edwards, a beloved mother shot and killed in her own home with her young daughters upstairs. When Kenda arrives to the house, his first task is to shield her daughters from the horrendous scene. Seeing their pain only strengthens his determination to find the killer, and when they close in on him, the story ends with an intense foot chase across Colorado Springs. Additional cases covered this season include one where a dog finds a dismembered head, and Kenda's very first case as a rookie beat cop, where he was shot at in the line of duty.

The eighth season of HOMICIDE HUNTER premiered on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT on Investigation Discovery. In the season opener, "My Second Case," a woman's mangled body is found beside a lonely stretch of highway. When the coroner suspects foul play, Kenda is called in to solve the second homicide case of his career. But along the way, the rookie detective learns a painful lesson.

Season 9 of HOMICIDE HUNTER premiered on Wednesday, August 29, 2019 at 9pm ET/PT on Investigation Discovery. In the season opener, "Cynthia," the naked body of a vibrant young mother is found frozen solid in a deserted cemetery. When all leads dry up, the case runs cold. But years later, Kenda reopens the investigation and recognizes the sinister hallmark of a serial killer.

On Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at 9pm ET/PT, Investigation Discovery premiered "The End," the series finale of HOMICIDE HUNTER. Detective Kenda is called in to investigate a triple homicide and discovers one of his most personally brutal murders to date -- the slaying of a young boy. The search for the trio's killer reveals a family driven by superstition and murderous tendencies. But the case also forces the grizzled veteran detective to face his own personal demons, unlocking personal truths long held at bay. After making one of the most consequential decisions of his career, Kenda must look ahead to chart a new path. This examines the cases that forced the veteran detective to face his own personal demons and exit the only career he ever knew as a policeman. With commentary from his wife, Kathy Kenda, as well as his grown children, Dan and Kris, the episode breaks the fourth wall to reveal how Kenda went from gruff police officer to unexpected TV star...and how he found the best therapist he ever knew -- the camera.

On Wednesday, August 17, 2022 from 9-11pm ET/PT, Investigation Discovery premiered "Homicide Hunter: Never Give Up," a two-hour special. The body of a 20-year-old active-duty soldier, Darlene Krashoc, is found dumped behind a restaurant in Colorado in March 1987. A victim of torture and sexual assault, Lt. Joe Kenda and his team recall the series of events that occurred throughout the investigation and the many leads which turned into dead ends. But before the case goes cold, Kenda has the foresight to meticulously package and preserve every piece of fluid evidence found at the crime scene, a costly and complicated endeavor at the time, noting, "it may never come to anything, but it could come to everything." More than three decades later and the advent of new DNA technology, what it came to is definitively putting a name to Darlene's killer: Michael David Whyte. In this feature-length HOMICIDE HUNTER special, viewers follow along as Kenda and his team painstakingly recount the investigation from 1987 and the 2,000 pages of case files that never pointed them toward Whyte. Now, with DNA evidence collected at the scene more than three decades ago and with help from the cold case team at the Colorado Springs Police Department, the shadow in the night has a name, Darlene's parents have justice, and Kenda has one less nightmare.

On Sunday, November 27, 2022 from 9-11pm ET/PT, Investigation Discovery premiered "Homicide Hunter: Devil in the Mountains," a two-hour special. After a man is found stabbed and burned alive in his Colorado Springs apartment, Lt. Joe Kenda and his team find themselves at a standstill. But when a string of unexplained murders begins to plague the community, Kenda uncovers a similarity between the crime scenes that launches a 100-mile-wide manhunt. This two-hour special presents a career-defining case that brought Lt. Kenda face to face with the rarest and deadliest of violent killers -- his one and only serial killer case. This is the second of three feature-length specials, with the third installment scheduled for 2023.
"The Man with No Face," the finale of the trilogy of feature-length specials, debuted on Wednesday, March 8, 2023 from 9-11pm ET/PT on Investigation Discovery. In 1988, young mother Mary Lynn Vialpando is found raped and murdered in the heart of one of the most historic neighborhoods in Colorado Springs. At the time, Kenda was a Sergeant and the Supervisor of the Homicide Unit, assigned Vialpando's case. When every promising lead goes up in smoke, the case goes cold, leaving it as one of the few that the legendary detective couldn't close. Although forensic evidence was new technology at the time, Kenda and his team meticulously processed and stored the evidence, putting faith in a science that wasn't fully developed yet.

In 2018, a routine DNA database search by Colorado Springs PD matched the evidence collected by Kenda and his team at the crime scene decades ago. James A. Papol was arrested after analysis matched him to semen found on Vialpando's body, and he pleaded guilty in May, 2021, putting an end to another of Joe Kenda's unsolved crimes. This premium, two-hour special, HOMICIDE HUNTER: THE MAN WITH NO FACE, bridges the gap between the different generations of detectives, highlighting how Kenda and his team's thorough investigations and precise evidence collection led to detectives being able to solve the case when science made it possible.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by ITV Studios