"Being the best of the best," is what inspired Sgt. Fred Barnes III to join the Harris County Sheriff's office in 1982. Before joining homicide in 1999, Barnes worked Warrants, Child Abuse and Adult Sexual Assaults. He credits diligence as a key quality in a good homicide detective.
Barnes has 2 daughters and loves to travel in his spare time.
With a strong desire for a rewarding career, Houston native Sgt. Curtis Brown signed up for the Harris County Sheriff's Office in the late 1970's. Brown, with over 32 years of experience in law enforcement, has worked in a variety of units including Patrol, Robbery, Financial Crimes and Criminal Warrants.
Since joining the HCSO in 1977, Brown has had two stints in Homicide. His first started in 1990 and lasted until 2003. In 2009, Brown returned to Homicide but in a different capacity--squad supervisor. "You really never become comfortable being around death," says Brown, "however you begin to tolerate it, and try not to get too mentally involved."
Brown is married with children. When he's not working he loves to ride his motorcycle and construct as well as fly model airplanes.
"As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a police officer," says Harris County Sheriff's Office veteran Sgt. Craig Clopton who has been with the department since 1991. "I remember watching police programs and wishing that it was me catching the bad guys."
Clopton is one of four boys, all of whom are in law enforcement. He has been in homicide since 2006.
"I live for what I do," says Clopton. And while homicide scenes may wear on other investigators, Clopton uses them as springboards to jumpstart his investigation. "I don't feel that the scenes and death bother me. Rather, I think that they motivate me. I believe that murder is the ultimate crime--the worst a person can do to another. I feel that it should never go unpunished; I strive to make that so."
Clopton is inspired by his fellow homicide investigators. "I'm very proud of the people I work along side of. I think that I work harder when I know that my partners are working just as hard as me."
Clopton has been married for over ten years to a very supportive wife. He also has a son and daughter. "All of my spare time I try to devote to quality time with my family."
"The work we do is the most important work to be done," says homicide Sgt. Larry Davis. Born and raised in Houston, TX, Davis knew he wanted to be in law enforcement since the age of 13. He joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in August of 1982.
Davis, at the urging of his wife, joined homicide in 1995 after working Patrol, Robbery and Auto Theft. Davis has a secret to staying positive and preventing the job from wearing too heavily on him. "My sense of humor," he says, "helps me deal on a daily basis."
Davis is married and has 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren. When he's not working he officiates high school football games and loves to travel.
"I enjoy helping those who cannot help themselves," says Harris County Sheriff's Office veteran Sgt. James Dousay. "I enjoy searching for pieces of information that put the story together."
Born in Tucson, AZ, Dousay joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1989. After working Patrol for 14 years and having 2-year stints in both Burglary/Theft and Vice/Narcotics, he came to Homicide. "I enjoy the high pressure, high profile job that I do. I am proud to this work because I feel people respect what we do."
Even with over 20 years experience, Dousay still finds law enforcement both challenging and educational. "I try to learn from everyone I encounter," he says, "and strive to be the best at what I do." Faith plays an important role not only in his personal life but in his professional life as well. "I pray everyday that the Lord will make me the investigator that he wants me to be."
Dousay is married with two daughters. "They are the support," he says, "and answers to my prayers."
Though he initially wanted to pursue a career as a lawyer, Sgt. Ronald Hunter decided to go into law enforcement while working as a community service officer in college. He joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office 25 years ago.
"I have always felt that homicide is the epitome of law enforcement," says Hunter, who has spent the past 7 years in homicide. "I have learned to look beyond the blood and gore and look for clues to help me solve the crime."
Hunter describes working homicide as a constant test of his stamina. "Most of the cases are not solved overnight. The job is physically taxing on your body because of the long hours, and it is also hard on family life." But despite this, Hunter is honored to work on behalf of the deceased. "We work for God and He orders our steps to bring evil doers to justice."
Hunter is engaged and has 3 children, two of whom are in college. "The most important things to me at this point in my life," Hunter says, "is my relationship to Christ and to my family."
Sgt. Kuhlman grew up in Houston and says he was answering his calling in life, when he enrolled in the Harris County Sheriff's Academy in 1989. He has been answering that call ever since and has an extensive history within the Sheriff's Office. When he first started out, he worked in the Detention Bureau, while volunteering in a ride along program. He later transferred to the Patrol Bureau until he was promoted to the rank of Detective in 1994. Since then he has worked in the Criminal Warrants Division, Child Abuse Division and Internal Affairs. The Sgt. has spent a combined twelve years in the homicide department.
Being a homicide detective "calls for full dedication, the ability to make decisions and take decisive actions. In his opinion, "An investigation... is an unbiased finding of fact... My job is not to judge people." Kuhlman credits his strong moral foundation to his parents and Christian upbringing. It's created "an appreciation for the need of fairness, morality, respect for others and order in society." "At the end of the day, I can lay my head down to sleep knowing that I have worked and acted appropriately.
When he's not working, Kuhlman is enjoying life; he enjoys traveling, being in the great outdoors and is a people person. "I enjoy people and seeing them in action whether it is their technique of launching a boat, milking a cow, giving instructions or just about anything. I enjoy humor and look for humor."
Sgt. Kuhlman is proud of his Texas roots because of the state's distinguished history of famous lawmen.
Miller was born and raised in Mississippi and has over twenty years of experience in law enforcement. Prior to being promoted to the rank of homicide detective in 2002, Sgt. Investigator Miller was assigned to the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force and Burglary Apprehension Response Squad. Becoming a homicide detective was the fulfillment of a career goal he had since first joining the Sheriff's Office in 1991. "It is an everyday learning experience and for now, my calling in life."
To Miller, a good homicide detective must be able to withstand pressure in critical situations, remain objective, and rely on the evidence to lead to the truth. A good detective must be able to communicate with people from all walks of life and develop a sense of when someone is lying and when they are telling the truth. Above all else, a "detective must have a personal sense of obligation in seeking justice for the victims of homicides and their families." Miller's Christian faith helps him cope with being around death.
The Sgt. has been married since 1988 and has one adult daughter. Spending quality time with his wife is what he enjoys outside of work. He appreciates his wife's constant support. When the opportunity arises, they enjoy going to sporting events.
A lifelong resident of Houston, TX, Sgt. Palacios joined the S.O. in 1989. He worked in numerous departments before joining Homicide in 2002, including Patrol, Narcotics, Major Violators and Child Abuse. Helping those who can't help themselves was a major motivation for the Sergeant to join law enforcement. A good homicide investigator is able to "care for someone you've never met... and doing everything you can to find the person who caused their death." The greatest reward for Sgt. Palacios is making the case. "At first you start with nothing and by your own will and drive you crack the case."
Working out and punching a punching bag is a great source of relief from the stress that comes with being a homicide investigator. The Sgt. also likes spending time with his wife, fishing and doing yard work. He and his wife have one son.
Sergeant Mark Reynolds was born in the Texas Midwest and raised in Houston. He spent the first 5 years of adulthood as a machinist in the oil related industry before joining the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1983. Sgt. Reynolds was promoted to Detective in 1991 and assigned to the Child Abuse Division in 1992; he transferred to the Homicide Division in 1994, where he is still assigned.
Sgt. Reynolds is married and has an adult son.
Harris County homicide Sgt. Felipe "Phil" Rivera knew he wanted to work in law enforcement at a young age. "Growing up in a tough neighborhood I saw lots of crime and wanted to make a difference by helping people."
Rivera, who has more than 26 years experience in the Harris County Sheriff's Office, has been in Homicide for almost 10 years. He sets the bar high for himself and says, "My goal going out to a scene is to solve all my cases." While Rivera loves the challenge of homicide, he admits that at times the job can get to him. "When the case is not going well and there are no leads, and no suspects--it begins to wear on me, due to the fact that I do not have answers for the victim's family."
Rivera has been married for 28 years and has three children. When he's not solving murder, he enjoys spending his free time with his family and friends.
"There is no better satisfaction for me than to solve a murder," says Snr. Deputy A.J. Kelly. "Because no matter what your mother used to tell you," he says, "there are real 'monsters' out there."
As a child, Kelly was inspired by a family friend who was Chief of Police in the town he grew up in. "I used to ride with him while he was on duty. I always looked up to and respected him. He, more than anyone else, got me interested in law enforcement as a career." Kelly joined the Harris County Sheriff's office in 1991.
Kelly was promoted to homicide in 2006. "You're told not to take the job personally, that it will consume you if you do. I don't think that's possible in Homicide," he says. "If you are not a little consumed and do not take each of your cases personally, it's not fair to the person you're working for, the decedent."
As an investigator, Kelly's learned to approach every case with an open mind. "Each scene I am sent to, I do my best to not have any preconceived notions prior to my arrival or before the initial investigation," he says. "No short cuts--no matter how redundant or insignificant they may seem."
Deputy Jason Brown joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1997. He says that the excitement of the job is what drew him to law enforcement. Before joining homicide in 2008, Brown worked patrol, burglary and child sex crimes. According to Brown the most important skill for a homicide investigator is paying attention to detail.
Outside of work, Brown likes to hunt and spend time with his dog.
A native to Houston, Deputy Carrizal joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1998. Before he joined the homicide team in 2009, Carrizal worked in patrol, the Detention Unit and as a Crime Scene Investigator. When a close friend was murdered, Dep. Carrizal was convinced he should become a homicide investigator and make a difference in the community.
Knowing that he's making a difference is what keeps the job from wearing on him, along with spending time with his wife and three children. A dedicated investigator, Dep. Carrizal spends his free time researching old cases and reading homicide books.
Nicknamed "Big Bird," Deputy James Cassidy has been with the Harris County Sheriff's Office for 8 years. "Homicide is the top of the law enforcement food chain," he says. "We are the tip of the spear."
Cassidy loves the challenge of working homicide but admits that it does come with some drawbacks. "Being around these things definitely takes its toll," he says. "When we get to a scene, it's never because something nice has happened. Sometimes it can be really depressing."
Though he has an enormous amount of passion for his job, Cassidy understands the importance of finding a balance between his professional life and his personal life. "A good homicide investigator," he says, "is able to switch hats from homicide investigator to Dad/Husband when he gets home."
Cassidy has been married for nine years and has two childrena 7-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. He jokingly refers to his daughter as a sour patch kid-- "sometimes sweet sometimes sour. She owns my heart. My family is my life."
"I was drawn to law enforcement because I saw it as a job that not just anybody could do," says Deputy Russell Gonzales. He joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 2000 and spent 3 years in Patrol and 4 years in the Crime Scene Unit before coming to homicide in 2008. "The major appeal to working homicides" Gonzales says, "is that you are entrusted with investigating what are possibly the worst crimes that can be committed."
"At times working homicides and being around death can be somewhat draining on you, but when you are aggressively working a case it helps to keep you focused and not let the idea of death affect you." And while working in Homicide requires long hours, Gonzales finds the rewards outweigh the drawbacks. "Being able to bring a sense of closure to victim's families during their moments of tragedy," he says, "gives you a sense of pride."
Outside of work, Gonzales likes to spend time with friends and family and tries to distance himself from the job as much as possible.
After working construction for a few years, Dep. Cory Pool joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1993 because he found the job stability appealing. In his career spanning the course of two decades, Pool has garnered extensive experience with the sheriff's office, working in the Detention Bureau, Patrol and as a Field Training Officer in the South District. "After being a patrolman for ten years," he says, "I moved into the Criminal Investigations Bureau-Homicide Division so I could continue learning as much as possible about law enforcement."
Pool has incorporated a strategy to prevent the often emotionally charged homicide cases from getting to him. "I try to stay focused on the objective and knowing that successfully completing the investigation will help bring closure to friends and families of the dead."
Outside of the homicide unit, Pool enjoys boating and "most anything that involves spending time with friends and family."
Deputy Mario Quintanilla joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1991. "I wanted to make a difference in the community and the lives of people," he says. In 2005 Quintanilla joined homicide after working in the Inmate Processing Center, District III Patrol, and Hot Spots; a uniformed street level narcotics task force.
Quintanilla has been married to his wife Sandy since 1991 and has three children. When he's not solving homicides he coaches baseball and softball and likes to spend quality time with his family.
"I've always felt the need to serve my country and community," says Dep. Juan Viramontes. Born in Laredo, TX and raised in Houston, Viramontes signed up for the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 2001.
In 2009, Viramontes was promoted to Homicide. "Being around death has made me appreciate life more," he says, "and has made me aware of all the evil people out there." To combat the grave nature of the job, Viramontes has an effective strategy: "I think the best way to cope with the matter is communication with your coworkers and family."
Outside of work, Viramontes loves to ride horses and spend time with his wife and two children.
Born and raised in Houston, Deputy Dennis Wolfford joined the Harris County Sheriff's Office in 1998. He worked in Patrol and in the Burglary Apprehension Response Squad before joining homicide in 2007. "I have always enjoyed exciting things and enjoy the teamwork aspect of the job," he says.
Wolfford lists diligence, thoroughness and the ability to connect with all types of people as qualities that make a good homicide investigator.
Wolfford is married and has two small children. Outside of work he likes to work out, fish and watch football.