Deadly Recall detective Pat Postiglione uses his photographic memory to recount cases that he worked serving on the Nashville Police Department’s Murder Squad and Homicide Cold Case Unit. But on the Investigation Discovery show, Postiglione is primarily concerned with one aspect of those cases: the victims, whether they’re NFL quarterback Steve McNair, who’s profiled in the season two premiere, or victims who received no media attention.
In my interview with Postiglione, which covers everything from where it’s filmed to his celebrity to the reenactment scenes, Postiglione mentioned the victims and their families repeatedly. “I really had no idea that I’d be involved in a show like this,” he said of Deadly Recall. “It’s a surprise to me. I’m happy to do it for the victims, but I had no idea of something like this would happen after I retired.”
Deadly Recall returns tonight with six new cases (ID, Wednesdays at 10), more than a year since the show last aired, prompting people to wonder if it’d been cancelled. It hasn’t, obviously; ID just staggers premieres of personality-driven shows throughout the year. For example, the first and second seasons of Homicide Hunter with Joe Kenda were separated by about 11 months. And ratings for Deadly Recall season 1 were strong: it premiered with 1.25 million viewers, and its season finale had 1.06 million viewers.
The new season starts with the murder of NFL quarterback Steve McNair in 2009, and what ID describes as “two serial killers on the loose.” (The season two episodes are listed below.)
“The biggest difference” between seasons one and two, Postiglione told me, “I knew what to expect in season two versus season one. Season one, I had no idea the preparation that was needed, and how much time was involved to do a particular episode. I was absolutely clueless.”
He’s referring to production, not to the cases, which he had first-hand experience with, and which his photographic memory allows him to discuss and recall with ease. “All the cases are cases that I’ve had some involvement in. Some cases, I was a supervisor over; in other cases, I was actual lead detective and I worked all through the case up until its conclusion,” he said.
Postiglione and the show’s production company, Joke Productions, review potential cases, and he said that the “police department is fully aware of the cases that are being worked, and they have no issues. All these cases have been adjudicated, but the Metro Nashville Police Department has been incredibly cooperative with this.”
Pre-production work for Detective Postiglione mostly involves connecting with people. “My preparation was really locating family members and asking them if they want to participate and tell the victims’ stories,” he said. “And many times, it’s the first time that anyone’s ever heard the story of the victims being something other than the victim of a homicide.”
“A lot of the victims I’ve had over the years, absolutely legitimate victims contributed in no way to their death—they were just innocent victim,” he added.
Where and how Deadly Recall is filmed
The show is filmed on location in Nashville, Tennessee, where all of the original investigations took place, but also in Los Angeles. “So I had to make a lot of trips out to California,” Postiglione told me. Filming on this season wrapped up in February, just as travel began to be affected.
The interviews, during which Postiglione is interviewed by a producer and recounts details from the case, take “several hours.” And that’s not unfamiliar for him. “I worked homicide for many, many years, so discussing homicides and discussing what happened to victims, unfortunately, it’s natural for me to do. It’s something I’ve done for many, many years.”
But he also does more than just sit in a studio and answer questions.
“They recreate a crime scene and then you spend many hours at the recreated crime scene,” he told me. “In addition to that, you also revisit the location of the crime—actually physically go to the location of the crime that occurred, and you talk about it, literally standing in front of it. Some of the cases, I hadn’t been back to that crime scene since I was investigating the homicide.”
That’s different than other true-crime shows; many use reenactments, but tend to use actors, even to portray their show’s star. (For example, Joe Kenda told me about working with the actor who played him in recreations.) Of course, Postiglione is not an actor. “I certainly don’t feel like I’m acting,” he said. “I speak from the heart.”
Postiglione thinks the recreations are “an important part of it” because they give viewers “somewhat of an idea of what the victims went through—the horrific nature of what happened to the victims.”
Long before his time on ID, Postiglione was frequently interviewed by the media and, two years ago, was the subject of a book about his work, Monster City: Murder, Music, and Mayhem in Nashville’s Dark Age, written by To Catch a Killer host Dr. Michael Arntfield.
While Postiglione is now the star of his own show, he doesn’t think that has changed him. “I don’t believe I’ve changed at all—at least, I hope I haven’t changed. I’m pretty sure my family would hit me in the head if they thought I’d changed,” he said. “This celebrity stuff—I definitely don’t feel anything along those lines.”
“It’s just something that I’ve done for so long,” he added. Deadly Recall is “highlighting some of the cases, and I’m happy to speak on behalf of the victims. That’s what gives me strength is to be able to speak about the victims and what they went through and the fact that we were able to bring the victims, you know, justice and bring some closure hopefully to the families.”
Deadly Recall season 2’s episodes
These are the six episodes of Deadly Recall season two, from ID’s press release:
AIR MCNAIR – premieres April 15th at 10/9 p.m. CT
Pat learns that one of Nashville’s celebrities, former Tennessee Titan quarterback and public hero Steve McNair, has been found dead in his condo. The body of a young female was also present in an apparent double homicide. With a high-profile case on its hands there is only one detective the Chief of Police wants on the case, and that is Det. Pat Postiglione.
TRUCK STOP – premieres April 22nd at 10/9 p.m. CT
In the middle of the night, Pat is called to the scene of a homicide at The North First Street Truck Stop. Police found the body of the victim just past what the truckers call “Party Row,” and quickly identify her by the bracelet with her name on it: Sara Hulbert. Pat and his team comb through surveillance footage, searching for any evidence of the crime. That’s when Pat recognizes an unlikely pattern, leading to a race against the clock to apprehend an active killer before he murders again.
CRIS-CROSS – premieres April 29th at 10/9 p.m. CT
On a lazy summer morning, two college friends are gunned down in their apartment just outside of Fisk University. Pat is immediately called to the scene. Through questioning he learns about one of the victims’ girlfriend. When he finally tracks her down, Pat finds she is a homicide victim as well. This immediately sparks a compare-and-contrast of the two crime scenes, but with no murder weapon, Pat is left to rely on unorthodox clues from abnormal sources.
RING – premieres May 6th at 10/9 p.m. CT
It’s 1987 and Pat is a young detective just starting on the general homicide unit. During the night shift, he is called to the scene of a murder. A young mother, Vanessa Rucker, was murdered with her children in the other room, and her body was found in a position that signals sexual assault. Without much evidence or clear suspects, the case is put in the hands of the Murder Squad, an elite unit of homicide investigators and still goes cold. Almost one year later, Pat is promoted to the Murder Squad and given another opportunity to solve the case that haunts him to this day.
CHECK LIST – premieres May 13th at 10/9 p.m. CT
Late in the morning, the manager of the Esquire Inn goes to check on the status of the guest in room 23. They were due to check out, but the inn’s staff has not heard from them. After a few unanswered knocks, the manager opens the door to a gruesome discovery: the deceased body of a young woman, beaten and left naked at the foot of the bed. Pat is called to the scene and commits the room to memory. The case goes on for a year, and Pat fears he will never get justice for the victim and her family. Never giving up, one piece of evidence blows the whole case wide open.
STOPWATCH – premieres May 20th at 10/9 p.m. CT
Pat is called to the Days Inn off Interstate 24 to the brutal homicide of the night clerk. He’s greeted by the Metro PD robbery division, signaling that greed was at play in this homicide. He finds the victim killed with a single gunshot to her back. After uncovering critical footprints and finding the murder weapon, he follows the evidence of the case across multiple states, leading him to vital comparisons that reveal the profile of the killer.