Golden State Killer Investigator Paul Holes on the Reality of Solving Murders for TV

paul holes
Image: Hayu

In 2018, the Golden State Killer was caught after evading law enforcement for 45 years. Paul Holes is arguably the most well known investigator on the case, after spending 24 years on it. A couple of years later, Holes has his own TV show, The DNA of Murder.

The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes

In each episode, Paul Holes applies modern scientific investigation techniques to cold cases. But as Holes has discovered throughout his career, particularly with the Golden State Killer, murder investigations don’t stick to a neat production schedule.

“That is that that’s really the biggest challenge,” Holes told Gizmodo Australia.

“The TV world is very different than the law enforcement side and so I’m learning on the fly in terms of production cycles and schedules that need to be met. Then the network and the producers are learning what it takes to investigate a cold case and it’s a lot of work and things don’t always go the way that you expect it to go.”

And how could they when one season involves 10 cold cases that need to be extensively researched? As Holes points out, it takes an enormous amount of time to not only investigate these crimes for the show, but to also get permission from and work with the families of the victims and the local law enforcement.

One case file was 8000 pages long. Imagine reading a novel 8000 pages long,” Holes said.

“Just getting to know the case, looking at all the crime scene photos and all the forensic testing that was done even before I got involved could take weeks. 

Hole said that he would often be looking into multiple cases at the same time as filming the show

“It was a lot of work. I went after 10 cases in a matter of about eight months.”

Image: Hayu

The reality of cold case investigations

As a result, the episodes don’t end with a neat resolution. The viewers aren’t given that catharsis at the end of the 60 minutes. And that’s point.

“What we’re doing with The DNA of Murder is giving the viewers the insider perspective of how these investigations occur,” Holes said.

“We’re going into these law enforcement agencies and hearing from these detectives sometimes for the very first time. What their theories are about the case.  [The Audience] seeing the evidence in the evidence room. They’re hearing from the victim’s family, they’re watching me interview witnesses and in some instances actual suspects in the case.”

The popularity of murder investigation shows and podcasts have exploded over the past decade. In some cases it has transformed a gruesome and horrific part of the human condition into entertainment.

While many of these shows are respectful, they can also be divorced from reality due to the restrictions of their mediums.

“[The audience] are actually getting to see a glimpse into what it takes to work on cold cases,” Holmes said. “That’s really what The DNA of Murder is — a ride for the viewers to basically sit and watch and learn how this type of work is done.”

Holes also wanted to use the show to bring attention to cases that aren’t well known by a mainstream audience or even true crime enthusiasts.

“The cases that we covered … very few people really know much about because they’re unsolved. The beauty of the show is we’re actually giving the cases this public presence — somebody out there may know the answer.”

And fortunately, the cases don’t end after the episode has aired. According to Holes, we can expect some updates in the future.

“These cases of course are are ongoing,” he said. “They have to figure out how they want to get updates to the viewers. I will say that there are updates and that there’s at least one big one coming. I can’t divulge it right now but it’s going to be happening shortly.”

The DNA of Murder With Paul Holes is available to stream now on hayu.