The retired forensic investigator said the discovery of the Golden State Killer had a personal impact.
Paul Holes is an unlikely superstar in the true crime world of books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts.
Unlikely because he’s not a grizzled homicide detective or plainclothes cop who infiltrated drug gangs and prostitution rings. He is, in fact, something of a nerd – a retired forensic investigator, lab technician, and office administrator with a large following among true crime fans.
“True crime has always been about stories about the ultimate human tragedy, the death of innocent people. It’s something everyone can relate to. They think it could happen to me and wonder how they can prevent that from happening,” Holes said.
Holes is also popular because he is at the forefront of criminal investigations. He earned a degree in biochemistry before being hired as an investigator for the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office in Martinez, California in 1994. After learning how to process DNA on the job, he spent the last years focusing on DNA-based genealogy technology. , the most promising and controversial new tool for solving cold cases and even new crimes in many years.
“If there is an active case, I would say use that to identify the suspect and get him off the street before he strikes again,” Holes said.
Holes is best known for his role in identifying the infamous Golden State Killer, a serial burglar, rapist and killer who committed at least 13 murders, 50 rapes and 120 burglaries across California between 1974 and 1986. Holes l ‘has narrowed down hundreds of suspects over the years to Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., a former police officer. DeAngelo was arrested in 2019 and pleaded guilty to multiple counts of murder and kidnapping in 2020 in a plea bargain that spared him the death penalty.
Holes documents his years of searching for the Golden State Killer and other cases he helped investigate in a new book, “Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases.” Holes will appear at Powell’s Books on Wednesday, May 4, as part of its nationwide book tour.
During his 27-year career in California, Holes worked on many other high-profile cases. Among other things, he helped investigate the 2002 murder of Laci Peterson that resulted in the conviction of her husband, Scott, and the 1991 kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, who was found living with a sex offender. recorded and his wife in 2009.
Several of the cases described in the book are gruesome, but unlikely to shock true crime fans.
However, the book is about much more than the Holes cases. It’s also about the terrible toll that decades of diving into gruesome murders have taken on his life. In harsh terms, Holes is revealed to be an insecure introvert who suffered from panic attacks growing up. His obsession with work undermined his first marriage and the relationship with these children, leading to heavy drinking and eventually therapy to deal with the trauma.
He is now remarried and lives in Colorado.
Holes retired shortly before DeAngelo’s arrest. The termination of the case generated huge publicity, in part because of the shocking nature of the crimes, the suspect’s police history and how Holes tracked him down through his family tree.
As a result, since retiring as a Contra Costa County cold case investigator in 2018, Holes has been featured on actual unsolved case TV shows, including TV shows “The DNA of Murder With Paul Holes. and “America’s Most Wanted”. He also co-hosts the “Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad” podcast. He has also consulted with law enforcement agencies on unsolved cases.
“It’s always a team effort,” Holes said of the investigations. “It’s never just one person who solves a crime.”
Holes’ television career was undoubtedly helped by his good boy-next-door appearance and compassionate demeanor. He clearly sympathizes with relatives and friends of the victims in personal encounters that are part of the broadcasts. The #Hot forHoles hashtag was trending as her media career took off. Journalists have noted that it is frequently swarmed by female fans at real crime-related public events.
“Ninety percent of true crime fans are women,” Holes said.
Holes admits privacy concerns have been raised about law enforcement using DNA-linked genealogy to identify suspects. But he insists it’s far less intrusive than how DNA has been used before.
“In the past, hundreds of suspects could be asked to give their DNA to investigators, depending on whether they matched a profile or someone was reporting them. All of those samples go into law enforcement databases With genealogy, we build family trees from DNA samples donated to private companies who keep them,” Holes said.
When he appears at Powell’s, Holes will be joined by the co-hosts of “Small Town Dicks,” a popular true-crime podcast featuring two police officers from a small town in Oregon who have not revealed their real names, and Yeardley Smith, an Emmy-winning actress, novelist and playwright who is perhaps best known as the voice of Lisa Simpson on Fox’s hit TV show “The Simpsons” since 1987. They will interview Holes and discuss of some of the cases featured on their podcast, which have included kidnappings and murders.
Holes hopes those who attend the event and read his book will understand the pressures on criminal investigators that sometimes make them appear detached and distant.
“It’s important to remember that these are real people with real lives. Just like the victims and their families. True crime may seem entertaining, but is it based on real people and real events,” said Holes.
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