Exclusive: Interview With Detective Rod Demery, Star Of "Murder Chose Me"
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Murder Chose Me isn't just the title of former homicide detective Rod Demery's show on Investigation Discovery. It's a philosophy that has shaped his entire life.
When Demery was just three years old, his mother was murdered. When he was in his twenties, his brother was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
During his career with the Shreveport Police Department in Louisiana, Demery was known for his impressive clearance rate — he solved 99 percent of the 60-plus cases on which he served as lead detective — and his ability to get suspects to confess. Demery says that there is no signature secret or "tell" to determine if someone is lying — it's more about getting a whole sense of the person.
He believes that his nonjudgmental attitude is key to getting suspects to confess. He says:
"I think it’s an obvious secret. What I’ve learned is that we interrogate, we look for cues in the body language. They people we're interrogating do the same thing. So if you appear to be judgmental, or seem to have some sort of contempt or anything, it can set them off."
He revealed that he re-established contact with his brother after 15 years of estrangement following his conviction for murder. "My brother was a normal kid," he said. "When he committed his crimes, I never thought of him as a separate person. Just because someone may have committed a horrible act doesn't mean that they are a horrible person."
He pointed out that many people are familiar with shows like CSI, but, in reality, being a great investigator comes down to having "great communication skills" rather than "scientific intricacies."
The key for investigators, he says, is remembering that people are not good or evil, but a mixture of both, and being open-minded enough to put aside their own prejudices. "As a police officer, you don't have that luxury. Good investigators don't get stuck in their own sense of what’s right and wrong," he says. "If the suspect senses that you don’t like gays, or you don’t like white people, or whatever, it oozes out of you, and they can sense it."
Throughout the series, Demery's first-person narration is mixed with flashbacks from his life, re-enactments of the crimes, and interviews.
The premiere episode of the show told the story of Roshenna Crowder's murder. Crowder was killed on July 30, 2011.
When Demery saw the victim's young daughter and son, he flashed back to the moment when officers showed up at his grandmother's door and told him that his mother had been killed. “As I looked at this little boy, I recognize him,” Demery says in a clip from the show. “And I realize that the little boy is me.”
The small boy ended up being a key witness in the case. "Children are the best witnesses, because they don't have filters," Demery told CrimeFeed. "You can always tell if a child has been coached."
But Demery admits that the job has taken its toll on his love life. "For a long time I didn’t have a real personal life, because the job was always at the forefront," he said. "I think it's a singular obsession. It makes it kind of difficult to maintain any sort of relationship. If today is her birthday, or she made some sort of special dinner, but someone gets shot, that has to take priority."
He says that even though past partners — including women who worked in law enforcement — have said that they understood the demands of his job in theory, the day-to-day reality often proved difficult. He admitted that more than one girlfriend has "asked me if she has to get killed for me to pay attention to her."
Still, Demery believes that his career path has been a "a calling from God. I think that I was chosen," he said. "God maps things out for you."
In another episode from the first season, he revealed how he hunted down his mother's killer, a case that had been cold for decades.
Demery still works in Shreveport, serving as a special homicide investigator for the Caddo district attorney’s office. In addition to his role on TV, he says he also aspires to teach fellow investigators in the future.