The call came in to the Cincinnati Police Department’s homicide division. The 22nd murder of the year involved an elderly man who had not been heard from for days. Police found him tied up on the floor of his condominium. Dead. Strangled with his own neckties.
Detective Jennifer Mitsch arrived on the scene, followed closely by the film crew for A&E’s “The First 48,” a television series that chronicles the critical first two days after a death, detailing the investigation process as evidence is collected and criminals tracked down.
Mitsch’s case became “Episode 111: In Cold Blood/Red Handed.” And that’s pretty much how it went down, Mitsch says. She found out where the victim’s credit card was last used, and within hours police had the suspect in custody, caught driving the victim’s car with items stolen from his home.
“It was pretty easy,” she says. “It’s just real sad because he was just an old man.”
The film crew is gone now, and Mitsch has moved on as well, switching from homicide to cold cases—plowing through unsolved murders dating back to 1968. She’s also enrolled in Xavier’s CAPS program, getting set to complete her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in May.
Married with two children, she’s considering getting out of police work and moving into teaching. “I love my job,” she says. “Every day can be different, and there’s a lot of opportunity
in a city this size, but police work can’t go on forever. I’ll be 52 when I retire. Until then, we’re not guaranteed anything, and something could happen, especially in police work.”
Though she’s practically done it all—beat officer, violent crimes, personal crimes, homicide—police work still satisfies the social worker in her. It’s what she did before becoming a cop, and she still believes she can help some criminals change.
“A lot of this job is still helping people,” she says. “I try to explain to people charged with murder that if they step up and admit to what they did, it will make a difference. A lot of people think their lives are over, but I tell them they still have an opportunity to help others not go down the same path.”