The Book: The Godfather of Homicide

Foreword by Jeanine Pirro

Return to Practical Homicide


Jeanine PirroJeanine Pirro

I didn't know Vernon, the altar boy, the paper boy, the bugle boy, the Boy Scout or the lifeguard. I missed those years. The Vernon I had heard about and finally met when I was the elected District Attorney of Westchester County was the star homicide detective that cops, including those who worked in my office, wanted just two minutes with to talk about their unsolved case. The Vernon I met was a cop's cop who knew more about murder then just about anyone - and everybody in law-enforcement knew it. As you read 'The Godfather of Homicide' I am sure you will come to the same conclusion.

So how did Vernon become bigger than life in law enforcement circles? As you step into his world, you see Vernon grow through the ranks, an unconventional cop with a razor, sharp wit an audacious tongue and unyielding courage that set him apart from others. Vernon was an instinct guy who never hesitated to think outside the box, who engendered tremendous loyalty from those who worked with him, and more often than not consternation from bosses above him. He was also someone who was willing to share his expertise with fellow law-enforcement, always, with a smile on his face.

Vernon's book reveals the man behind the practical homicide legend, and how he got there. As he patrols, the gritty streets of The South Bronx and Fort Apache, Harlem, Little Italy, and midtown New York City, you witness his irreverent humor and no holds barred attitude that earned him tremendous loyalty, and the attention of the FBI who often sought his assistance.

I had to smile as I read Vernon's book, recognizing his signature, blend of brains and yes, balls. During the wild 1977 blackout in the upper West Side Manhattan and Harlem, Vern and his men decided to meet out their own justice by promising not to arrest looters if the criminals agreed to his form of justice. He didn't tell the looters they didn't have the manpower to take them in, instead asked if they would rather spend the night in jail or submit to his justice. The looters submitted and assembled in the very supermarket they ravaged and were sentenced - street justice - a hit in the head with a frozen turkey. As soon as they were "sentenced" The looters returned to the streets. Vernon and his men soon ran out of turkeys and they resorted to frozen chickens. This "sentence" not only served as retribution, but sent a powerful message on the street that for some for some crazy cop, crime would not go unpunished and that justice would be swift, albeit unconventional.

I imagine that you will silently applaud him, as I did, when he made the decision to jump into his own car on his day off and engage in a high-speed, bullet-punctuated chase through the streets of Little Italy after witnessing a kidnapping and armed robbery of a diamond merchant. Although he got into trouble with his superiors, he caught the attention of the FBI, along with the NYPD Intelligence Division who later identified the heist as one sanctioned by the Gambino crime family and that John Gotti was one of the perpetrators. Vernon's true mission was not just to investigate and arrest when his bosses told him to. It was to fight crime whenever, and wherever he saw it.

Even Vernon's last big collar in the NYPD, was the arrest of Larry Davis, a fugitive who shot six cops was criticized by his bosses. The truth? They didn't know what they were doing and he did. And like everything else, he did it his way, which always turned out to be the right way.

As a former district attorney and County Court judge myself, I can tell you that Vernon Geberth's career is one of an unparalleled maestro in crime solving. He is a man whose life was dedicated to understanding the unspeakable and solving the inexplicable, bringing solace to victims left in the wake of violence and closing cases. His groundbreaking use of science, his organizational skills, as well as a commitment to standardized practices, have left an indelible mark in the landscape of homicide investigation that will provide a guiding light for generations of investigators.

Vernon's attention to detail, and his keen analytical mind in developing strategies and tactics to capture even the most elusive of criminals has literally transformed him from enforcer of justice into a mentor and leader, guiding law enforcement toward greater effectiveness and efficiency in their roles as the guardians of peace.

Indeed the man who believed that cops 'Work for God' and created the definitive Bible of homicide investigations finally lets us in on how he did it.

Jeanine Pirro, Fox News Host
Former Judge & Prosecutor
County of Westchester, New York State

"Remember, We work for God."®