Interviews with the Experts


By LaShawn Howell
Lawrence County Advocate, June 2006

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Vernon J. Geberth is president of P.H.I. Investigative Consultant's Inc. He is a retired Lieutenant Commander of the New York City Police Department with over 40 years of law enforcement experience. Geberth presented "Homicide A to Z" Tuesday during the 10th annual Southeast Law Enforcement Training Seminar (SELETS) in Lawrenceburg this week.

This is your second year: Have you enjoyed your time in Lawrence County?

Oh absolutely. These guys are all my disciples, including Chief Terry Shay. He was in my class back in Gatlinburg. I think that was back in the 90s. But all the troops, all the detectives have been to the Practical Homicide program. In some respects it's like coming back to a neighborhood you know, you know the folks and they know you. It's personal. I love it. I got a whole bunch of disciples all over the United States.

Do you have a single basic, general message you want officers to take away from any seminar that you do?

There are a lot of messages. First of all they are doing God's work in a different format. Nobody likes to talk about that. But unlike some people who preach and carry on and testify these folks do it very quietly and very effectively and represent the community they work in.

And the skills that they learn from Practical Homicide Investigation they apply locally. A lot of folks will say "Why would you go to a school taught by this guy from New York. I'm no longer from New York. I'm from the United States of America. And the textbook's now in its 4th edition. (Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques) so I guess I've done something good here. So what happens is, I get to share vicariously in their good work. So when they do something good they call me up and it feels good. It doesn't get better than that.

I know you've investigated thousands and thousands of cases but do you have any one particular that stands out?

Oh no. It's impossible. I've forgotten more than I can remember. They're all important. There is no such thing as an unimportant homicide. From the media perspective, yeah. It's not sexy enough or it doesn't fit the parameters. It's like the girl in Manhattan who's an aspiring actress and she gets raped. That's the story of the week but the girl in the Bronx on the rooftop who got raped nobody knows about. Nobody cares expect the family and the assigned detective. And that's where I'm coming from. So all my cases are important and there's the message.

What have you enjoyed most about your work as a detective?

I enjoy the interaction. I love the mystique of people. Things change dramatically with forensic science but the bottom line is there's only so many ways to kill and so many stories to tell.


Dr. Lee is a world-renowned forensic expert. He has been involved in many famous investigations including the O.J. Simpson case. This is 7th year to participate in SELETS.

What are you hoping officers will take away from this seminar?

I hope you know, a lot of new technology and they can use the new information in their work. If we can solve every case, to the victim's family, to society, it's very important and law enforcement officer training becomes so important. This workshop really has become one of the best in the world because so many good speakers are here. So many law enforcement people drive 14, 19 hours to get to this.

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