“Cold Justice” premiered the second half of its second season Friday night, the investigative duo of former Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigator Yolanda McClary and former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler were back at work dredging through the cold case files of yet another small city, trying to find answers to a crime that, for one reason or another, provided police with few answers or not enough evidence for a case to be prosecuted. This time they were in Bay City, Texas, a municpality located about an hour-and-a-half’s drive southwest along the Gulf Shore from Houston. In “Stranded,” they’re investigating the 26-year-old murder of Alma Henderson, a 41-year-old former Honduran beauty queen and mother of five who was found naked in a parked car and shot in the back of the head in 1988.
As Emily Wilkinson at the Houston Business Journal noted June 20, criminals that have avoided prosecution in cold cases in Small Town, USA, should hope McClary and Siegler don’t come snooping around their old cold cases. That is especially true of Kelly Siegler, who has chalked up a 90 percent success rate.
Siegler has stated on the show that as a prosecutor for Harris County (where Houston is located) she never lost, getting 68 convictions in 68 trials. And it appears that her successful methods are translating well for small town cold cases.
She told the Houston Business Journal that in her 21 years of working cases in the Harris County district attorney’s office, the most challenging cases to deal with were the cold cases.
“Those are the hard ones that nobody wants to mess with,” she said.
Soon after starting her own legal firm in 2008, she pitched the idea for “Cold Justice” to Dick Wolf, legendary creator and producer of the “Law & Order” franchise and “Chicago Fire”/”Chicago PD” shows. A few years later, the show began production, premiering on TNT network on Sept. 3, 2013.
In the promotional trailer video for the upcoming season, the team of McClary and Siegler’s record of successes over one and a half previous seasons. Prior to Friday night’s nineteenth episode, the duo had helped local law enforcement and prosecutors secure 12 arrests, eight criminal indictments, four confessions, two guilty pleas and a 22-year prison sentence for murder.
Not bad for eighteen hours of television…
As for the Alma Henderson murder, McClary and Siegler, working with the Bay City police and Johnny Bonds, a former investigator Siegler worked with over the years (and known to “Cold Justice” fans from several prior episodes), put together their suspect board and begin building their evidence lists in order to potentially eliminate or prosecute, as is their custom, which they will methodically do throughout the show.
What they knew was Alma Henderson was last seen in a bar the night she went missing. She was discovered naked in a car two days later in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn. She appeared to have been sexually assaulted and had been killed by a shot to the head. It is believed that Alma’s murderer was likely someone she met at the bar that night in 1988.
They have three major suspects, both males. One admits to having sex with Alma in the Holiday Inn parking lot but left her alive, he says, after just a few minutes of fooling around, going to his room at the Holiday Inn. However, he quickly becomes a bit skittish and lawyers up, refusing to cooperate further.
The second suspect is Cecil Kinerd, a man also staying at the Holiday Inn. Kinerd was also accused of sexually assaulting another woman that same night.
And then there’s the security guard who gave a description of a man he saw a man fitting Kinerd’s description leaving her car at 4 a.m. the night Alma disappeared. Could he have committed the murder, then simply tried to throw law enforcement off his trail?
Before it is over, the “Cold Justice” team settles on a suspect that had means (the gun) and opportunity (he was staying at the Holiday Inn at the time of the murder) to commit the crime, not to mention sexual predilections that fit certain areas of evidence concerning the sexual assault. After a few lies, it looks very much like Cecil Kinerd is good for the crime and Siegler presents the case to the local district attorney, who likes what he sees and agrees to take it to a Grand Jury. (For an in depth recap of “Stranded,” see Entertainment Weekly’s extensive recap.)
As reality television series, “Cold Justice” is not just a police procedural or investigatory docu-series that follows its stars around with cameras. It is a series that gets results and touches the lives of the families of the victims. In each episode, McClary and Siegler meet with one or more family members of the victims to let them know they’re reopening the case. And it is in those moments when you see that the women connect with the families, that they make the cases personal, giving themselves added incentive to try solve the cases or at least get some answers. At show’s end, after working a case to its evidentiary conclusion (and sometimes that conclusion does not result in an arrest or conviction or any legal action), the duo always meet with the family again to give them an update on the case. More often as not, the two tough investigators are left with misted eyes.
In short, the results matter. Putting together the cases and solving them matters. To the families. To the “Cold Justice” team. To society. And to the viewers. If nothing else, the show offers a bit of hope that perseverance and hard work and some critical thinking can sometimes provide answers to even the toughest problems.
You can’t get that kind of relevance from “The Voice” or “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or “Duck Dynasty.”
“Cold Justice” airs on Friday nights at 9 p.m. (EST) on TNT.