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Crime News CrimeCon 2022

'Sometimes You See True Evil': NYC, Atlanta, And OC Detectives Talk Most Memorable Crimes

At CrimeCon 2022, retired NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert K. Boyce, Cobb County PD Det. Sarah Penirelli, and Robin Lindley, a retired crime scene investigator in Buena Park, California, discussed their experiences investigating murders.

By Becca van Sambeck

There are unique challenges that every city in the United States faces when it comes to crime and investigations — after all, each place has its own distinct flavor. That's why Oxygen hits like "New York Homicide," "The Real Murders Of Orange County," and "The Real Murders Of Atlanta" all have a singular focus on one locale. But there are naturally commonalities, too, which were discussed at a CrimeCon 2022 panel.

In "Homicide Detectives: Unforgettable Crimes In NYC, ATL, And The O.C.," moderated by Oxygen digital correspondent Stephanie Gomulka, retired NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert K. Boyce, Sarah Penirelli, a detective with Cobb County PD, and Robin Lindley, a retired crime scene investigator in Buena Park, California, discussed their most memorable experiences investigating murders.

"It is important to know your city," Boyce told Gomulka when asked about how knowledge of the community informs detective work. Penirelli agreed, nothing that in Cobb County, which encompasses parts of Atlanta, "[Our] community is small, but so important. ... When the technology is not there, you can rely on witnesses, what people heard and saw, the videos they have [to help solve crimes]."

While discussing crimes that have stuck out to them during their years of service, Boyce recalled the murder of Joey Comunale, which was featured on an episode of "New York Homicide." After a night of clubbing in Manhattan in November 2016, Comunale attended an afterparty at Larry Dilione's apartment, a man he was only introduced to by girls he had met during that night out. Dilione and his friend James Rackover then stabbed Comunale to death after a minor argument and tried to dismember him before burying the 26-year-old in New Jersey. (Rackover was found guilty of second-degree murder and Dilione pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case.)

Joey Comunale Nyh 101

The case still sticks out to Boyce because Comunale's friends and family worked with police to solve the mystery of what happened to him, and what a beloved young person he was.

"In our business, you don't see a lot of true evil ... but sometimes you do," Boyce mused.

Penirelli cited the murder of Mitchell Jones Jr., a young up-and-coming actor who was viciously attacked and killed in his own home, which was explored on "The Real Murders Of Atlanta." He even managed to call 911 to report he had been attacked, but died before he could provide answers.

Mitchell Jones Jr Rmoa 110

Penirelli explained that, thanks to a conference similar to CrimeCon that a detective on the team had attended, they learned about a new technology called geofencing. As Penirelli explained it, any app owned by Google is aware of your location so it can deliver targeted advertisements. Since they had video of when the suspect was at the house and a timeframe to work with, they were able to get a search warrant from Google to narrow down whose devices were near the home.

This helped lead them to Dunte Holmes, an "occasional hook-up" of Holmes who attacked and murdered him. (Holmes pleaded guilty to malice murder in 2020.)

As Gomulka put it to the CrimeCon audience, "Well, something you learned here could help solve a crime."

For Lindley, a case that's stuck with her was the murder of James Stockwell, also known as Jimmy Casino, in 1987. Casino was a topless bar owner who was shot to death after arriving at his home with his girlfriend. She was raped in the ambush but survived the attack.

The case, which was featured in "The Real Murders Of Orange County," went cold — and was only solved thanks to DNA evidence in 2008. There was finally a DNA match to the evidence from Casino's girlfriend's rape kit: a man named Richard Morris. Morris, who was living in Hawaii, had been arrested for driving under the influence. Because of the DUI, a sample of his DNA was taken and put into a DNA database. A jury convicted Morris of first-degree murder. It's proof, Lindley noted, that cold cases can eventually be solved.

Richard Morris Rmoc 204

Another question Gomulka floated was what it takes to become a homicide detective. Boyce explained you need a "certain savvy" to get into this field and said, "Get ready to work long hours, get low pay and drink a lot of coffee."

Practically speaking, "patrol is the first part," Penirelli said. "That's where you learn everything! You interact with victims, you interact with suspects, you do many interactions with people!"

She explained becoming a beat cop allows you to learn the ins and outs of investigative work and become familiar with the community you're policing, things that are critical to becoming a competent detective.

Lindley, who was the youngest female crime scene investigator in Orange County, had words of encouragement.

"I always encourage everyone who wants to go try, go ahead and get your hands dirty. See what it's like!" she enthused.

CrimeCon 2022 is produced by Red Seat Ventures and presented by Oxygen.