Since October 2011, we’ve come to know and respect Lt. Joe Kenda, a man who retired from the Colorado Springs Police Department after 23 years during which he solved 356 homicide cases and is the subject of the Investigation Discovery television show, “Homicide Hunter.” . By 2017, he was popular enough that he was able to publish a book, “I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime.” Tonight’s show, will be his last and explains why he left the force.
Kenda had announced on Facebook in May 2019 that this season, Season 9, would be his last because the remaining cases are “too simple or simply too disgusting to be on television” to sustain another season and he wanted to end the series while he was “at the top of his game.”
For this episode, titled aptly, “The End,” takes us to 1996. Remember, Kenda joined the fore in 1973, leaving behind his home state of Pennsylvania for Colorado Spring, Colorado, the city where his mother was from. He was promoted to detective in 1977 in the burglary division. Season 4’s finale, “My First Case,” brought him to the attention of the homicide division.
His wife, Mary Kathleen Mohler Kenda or Kathy; retired US Air Force major Kris Kenda Simpson; and his son, retired US Navy commander Dan Kenda, appear in this episode, “The End.” Fans already know their faces from the 6 February 2019 episode “Married to the Job.”
Flashing back, Kenda (Carl Marino) is having a nightmare.
Kathy Kenda (whose younger self is played by Courtney Vanderpool) says, “I could tell when he was having a nightmare because he would thrash around in bed.” Yet when he woke up, “he would shut down.”
Daughter Kris confesses, “As a child, I was not aware of dad’s nightmares.”
Kenda explained he never spoke to his wife about his stress because he felt, “why make her suffer like I’m suffering?”
Yet Kathy insisted, “If you can’t talk to me, talk to someone.”
This particular nightmare takes place in a pure white room, where Kenda faces all the victims of his many cases. “They are in varying states of decomposition” and by now the commander of the major crimes division, he feels there’s “a river of death” that “flows past me every night.”
While we have seen over the nine seasons that Kenda has “always treated my employment as a mission” and he has worked “no matter what it took, no matter what the cost,” we do realize the heavy price he paid.
The two cases covered in this one begins in the ironically nam ed Shangri-la trailer park with three dead people. Among the dead is a young boy who reminds Kenda of his already adult son. Over the years, he’s found that working in homicide one has to “build an armor around your heart” but “children were always my Kryptonite.”
This case is what begins to corrode the armor, but in August of that year, a grandfather will tell Kenda something that will completely tear it away and force Kenda to type out his own letter of resignation. As he says, “I was there on Friday and I wasn’t there on Monday.” Although he left with no ceremony or good-bye party, he’s now ready to bid a fond farewell to his law enforcement career and it’s proved to be therapeutic, ridding him of many of his demons.
Luckily, there are plans for Kenda to continue with Investigation Discovery network. So this won’t be our last look at Kenda’s blue-eyed white-haired face and hopefully ID will find the right vehicle for his deadpan delivery. “The End” is a respectful farewell to Kenda’s “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda” and a reminder that the people who serve communities in blue, do so at a heavy cost, even if they survive 23 years and six months.