Almost two years after Cold Justice aired its last season, the show is back, but with two major changes: it’s on a new network, Oxygen, and as fans noticed when it debuted last Saturday, it is now without cast member Yolanda McClary.
Kelly Siegler has returned with a group of four investigators helping her out. (Update: The Cold Justice cast has changed in 2021; details are below.)
Where did Yolanda go? In February 2017, she tweeted, “Can thank everyone enough for the support. Won’t be back on Cold Justice, but I’m looking at other projects I’ve been invited to.”
She posted something similar to Facebook: “I won’t be returning to new episodes of Cold Justice. But you know I’m all about my job, and am looking at new projects I’ve been invited to.”
In a comment, she explained that it was her choice, though didn’t say why she made that decision:
“Cold Justice is going to be on Oxygen. I’ve decided not to go back, and am instead looking at other projects I’ve been asked to be on.”
As Yolanda noted, she wasn’t as much of a presence in the final few episodes of the final TNT season.
When a fan recently asked her directly why she wasn’t returning, McClary didn’t reply—but she did, however, like another fan’s response, suggesting it answered the question.
That person wrote, “I think it was just time for her to move on to something new. I think we’ll be seeing her again soon, though!”
Cold Justice was cancelled, then returned
After airing its third season in the fall of 2015, despite its strong ratings, Cold Justice was unceremoniously cancelled by TNT, which was under new management.
It wasn’t picked up for another seasons, but its stars had no idea that was coming, and its publicists refuse to even say that the show was cancelled.
Kelly Siegler told Variety “we didn’t know that was coming, so when we went on break, there were victims’ emails in my inbox and files I was waiting to read and people expecting us to come work on their cases. A lot of hopes were up that we were going to be able to do something to help their local law enforcement move forward, but then it went away. We were surprised and disappointed.”
Siegler also explained that, to even work a case for the show, besides having the approval of the producers and network, they have to have buy-in from law enforcement and victims’ families:
“Before we ever work on a case, the local law enforcement agency has to invite us or want us. Otherwise you don’t have access to all of the evidence. So [they] invite us; the victim’s family has to want us; and the DA also has to approve us—all before we can ever go somewhere and start working on the case. Those are three pretty significant hurdles we have to jump before we can even start reading the cases. Then I read the cases with a partner who is a former cold case/homicide guy from HPD who I’ve known forever. We read and summarize them and then present them to [producers] Dick Wolf and Magical Elves to see what they think. If everybody agrees, we go work on the case.”
Correction, Aug. 1: This story has been edited and updated to add the Facebook comment in which Yolanda said she chose not to return, and to remove my suggestion that she was not invited back. I apologize for the error.
Cold Justice 2021 update: its new cast
Cold Justice season six is back in November 2021 for its second half, and it has what Oxygen describes as a “rotating team of seasoned detectives” as its cast. Kelly Siegler is, of course, the only cast member who doesn’t rotate.
Here is the Cold Justice 2021 team, along with their Oxygen bios:
Kelly Siegler is a veteran prosecutor, known nationwide for her toughness, tenacity and skill in the courtroom. For over 21 years, Kelly fought for justice for Harris County, Texas residents and crime victims until she resigned from the District Attorney’s office in May 2008. She has prosecuted some of the hardest cases with some of the toughest criminals Harris County has seen and has done so against the most formidable and respected criminal defense attorneys in the state. She has tried approximately 200 jury trials and is not only respected for her ability in the courtroom but also sought out as a speaker and expert in effective courtroom advocacy. She has lectured all over the country on topics such as, “Final Arguments,” “Jury Presentation,” “Arguing Effectively for a Death Sentence” and “How to Pick a Jury.” Kelly has tried over 65 murder cases and secured convictions in all of them. A fierce advocate on behalf of crime victims and their families, she also has the respect of members of law enforcement agencies, not just in Harris County but also nationwide.
An investigator with a national reputation for excellence, Steve Spingola has been on Kelly’s team for the last few seasons. Now retired, Steve served as a Lieutenant Detective of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), supervising all major categories of criminal investigations, including stints in the Homicide Unit, Vice Control Division, Sensitive Crimes Unit, and Violent Crimes Division. He further served as the lead investigator for the Critical Incident Unit, a group that probes police related shootings, use-of-force incidents, and other significant events. As a detective, Steve spent several years conducting death investigations for a homicide unit with one of the highest clearance rates in the country. He was heavily involved in the high-profile case of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. He is also the author of Best of Spingola Files, Vol. 1, and Predators of the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.
New to the “Cold Justice” team, Tonya Rider has over 26 years of experience as a detective working for the Toledo Police Department (TPD) in the Crimes against Persons/Homicide unit. During her career, she received a Meritorious Service Medal for her work on a high profile cold case homicide investigation. The case involved the murder of a Catholic nun by Father Gerald Robinson, who was convicted of killing her in 2006. In addition to her work as a homicide detective, Tonya’s passion to help others took her to TPD’s Sexual Assault Unit where she successfully obtained hundreds of sexual assault convictions, including more than three Federal Internet Crimes Against Children’s (ICAC) convictions while working in conjunction with the United States Secret Service. Since 2009, she has served as a Consultant to the State of Ohio Attorney General on Sexual Assault Investigations. She retired from the Toledo Police Department in 2016, and is currently a full-time Instructor at Bowling Green State University in the Forensic Investigations Program.
Born and raised in Long Island New York, Abbey Abbondandolo went to college on Long Island and joined the Houston Police Department when he was 19-years-old. He spent five years in patrol, followed by six years in the tactical unit before moving into the homicide division where he spent 21 years of his career. In 2012, he was recognized by The Houston Police Department Foundation as police officer of the year. Married for 33 years with two children, Abbondandolo is retired from the force and currently serves as a Security Director for St. Luke’s Health System in The Pacific Northwest.