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Episode 30 - Uncovering the Truth: A Retired Detective's Quest

In this Blue Money Podcast episode, hosts Jim Donnelly and Kevin McGarry welcome Chris McMullin, a retired police officer and detective, now serving as a lieutenant at the Bucks County Sheriff's Department. McMullin discusses his current role and involvement in a nonprofit called Cold Case Initiative dedicated to solving cold cases, sharing insights from his extensive experience in law enforcement.

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Episode 30 – Uncovering the Truth: A Retired Detective’s Quest

Jim Donnelly (00:00:00) – I want to welcome everyone back to the Blue Money podcast. This is your host, Jim Donnelly. I’m here with my co-host, Kevin Gary.

Kevin McGarry (00:00:06) – What’s up? Jimmy.

Jim Donnelly (00:00:07) – Much? Kevin. Today on the show, we have a special guest, Chris McMullen. I was fortunate enough to work with Chris for over 22 years and Bensalem Township Police Department. He was one of our lead detectives. Great detective. Earlier days, he was a police officer in Philadelphia for a couple of years. And now currently he’s a lieutenant at the Bucks County Sheriff’s Department. He got sworn in there on March 28th, 2022. So he’s been here for a few years. So Chris, I want to welcome to the show.

Chris McMullin (00:00:29) – Welcome, Chris. Hey, guys. Thanks for having.

Jim Donnelly (00:00:31) – Me. Blue money Podcast is really a platform for police officers as well, not just investing advice and talking about portfolio. So I thought today was there’s not a better person out there, especially in Bucks County, that a platform could be used to help you out.

Jim Donnelly (00:00:43) – So Chris, first tell us a little about yourself, pal.

Chris McMullin (00:00:46) – Well, I was born and raised in Philadelphia, lived in Mayfair, and I got into law enforcement when I was 20. I was actually a seasonal police officer in North wayward new Jersey, 89 and 9089. I was a dispatcher, and in 90 I was an officer. And then in the fall of 90, I wanted a Philadelphia police. And I stayed there for about two years until 1992. And then I went to Bensalem, where I stayed for another 30 years. Wow. Yeah, I, I, you know, I’m fortunate and I, I had, you know, I had a lot of fun working and all the places. But Bensalem was where I really cut my teeth.

Kevin McGarry (00:01:20) – Chris, how was Wildwood?

Chris McMullin (00:01:21) – That was a lot of fun. You know, my, I was fortunate that my and my grandmother owned a summer home down there, and it was very close to the police department down there. And from the time I was a little kid, I would sit on the patio and watch the officers go in and out.

Chris McMullin (00:01:34) – And I always, you know, was enamored by them. And then when I after I was out of high school and I was looking for work, I knew that they had, summer employment, opportunities there. And I took advantage of it.

Kevin McGarry (00:01:47) – Right, right. Chris. And the reason, you know, Jimmy and I wanted to get you on the podcast is everything you have going on. You you mentioned you spent 30 years in and Bensalem as a police officer and detective. Now you retire, right? Most people, when they retire, they go to that recliner. You’re not doing that. You’re busy. You got a nonprofit, you wrote a book, you got some TV stuff going on. Tell me what goes through your mindset. And before we dive into some of these projects, when you retired, what you wanted to do.

Chris McMullin (00:02:23) – I just I had a lot of things that I wanted to accomplish. one of them was writing a book. I remember, you know, going back to 92 when I got hired in Bensalem, the director there was Frank Friel, and, Friel had written a book about his career in Philadelphia, where he was the captain of the Organized Crime Task Force, and he wrote this book called Breaking the Mob.

Chris McMullin (00:02:45) – And he was very involved in the investigation into the Philadelphia mafia with Nicky Scavo and things like that. And I thought that was unbelievable. I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. You know, this guy wrote a book and I had a copy of it, and I read it, and I couldn’t put it down. And I, I remember I brought to work with him one day and I asked him to sign it for me. It’s awesome. And of course he did, you know, and, you know, it was back then. So I was at the time I was 22 years old, and I, you know, I said, you know, I hope that by the end of my career, I have something that’s worth writing about. So it was way back then that the seed was planted that like, I want to write a book. I had no idea what it was going to be about at the time, but I just I had the goal of writing a book and getting published, so it took me 30 years.

Jim Donnelly (00:03:28) – But Chris talks about the book. And when’s it getting released?

Chris McMullin (00:03:31) – it’ll be at the end of this month. the end of May. The title of it is Three Decades Cold. It was inspired by a case that I had, reopened in 2002, back in 1984. Unfortunately, a 14 year old girl named Barbara Rowan had been, murdered in the Trevose section of Bensalem. And although that, they did a good job investigating it back then, the evidence that they had was pretty much circumstantial. And long story short, charges were never filed. So the case remained unsolved. And it was opened and, I reopened it in 2002. I was actually recovering from knee surgery, so I was on light duty. I couldn’t go out into the field and work. And, I had heard about that case. So I, you know, I grabbed the files. They weren’t in the computer because they didn’t have computers back then. So I had these old dusty three ring binders. But I took the, you know, I took the files home and read them cover to cover multiple times.

Chris McMullin (00:04:30) – And I said, you know, I want to work on this case. This case is solvable. And I was able to, get the blessing of, my supervisors to do it. And, as time went on, I, teamed up with, my buddy Mike Wozniak, who worked for the DA’s office, and then Jennifer Sean, who is now our Da. She was the prosecutor on the case. They both shared my belief that the case was solvable and they wanted to solve it. It took us a while. I mean, reopened it in oh two, and we didn’t make an arrest on it. Until 2015, but that was through the help of the of an investigative grand jury. And we were able to, we made two arrests and we were able to get a conviction on it. And, you know, unfortunately, you know, the guy had gotten a 31 year pass, but he’s he’s serving his time now.

Kevin McGarry (00:05:18) – That’s awesome. Yeah, it.

Jim Donnelly (00:05:19) – Was a great job, Chris.

Jim Donnelly (00:05:20) – I saw you put a lot of work in there, especially with your team. like I saw. Yeah, that was it was a lot, a lot for you guys. But it was a long time. And you had to wait years and interview. Go back and interview everyone. You put a lot of time and effort. Your team did that. It was such a great job watching that. It was one of your cold cases that you know, you are known for the cold case guys, and I think the Cavs not law enforcement. The one thing that anyone that’s not law enforcement that don’t understand when you’re working cold cases is the patience, the determination to go back and speak for a victim that can’t speak anymore because we know in law enforcement that, you know, murders happen every day. And, you know, when two or 3 or 4 years, if someone’s not looking into them anymore, they just they just fall by its side. So that’s one thing that you always did do. And I think anyone that knows you, I mean, that was your specialty doing cold cases and, you know, hats off to you for what you did.

Chris McMullin (00:06:06) – Yeah.

Jim Donnelly (00:06:07) – Thank you. Me and Kat were speaking earlier about your nonprofit, and I was giving Kevin run down with the cold case initiative is. So why don’t you dive into that? Chris, why don’t you tell us really what the Cold Case initiative is and why? Why you started it.

Chris McMullin (00:06:18) – Yeah. So with Cold Case Initiative, that’s a nonprofit organization I solved right before I retired. Well, I started I filed the paperwork with the IRS right before I retired, but it took a little while to get it approved. But, it’s a registered 501 C3 charity. And basically, you know, after the Barbara rolling case, I started diving into other cold cases. And, one problem that I was always having was, you know, these cases were cold. And one of the things I wanted to do was bring them, not the current standards as far as using modern day investigative techniques, which obviously, you know, involves a lot of forensics and DNA and things like that, which is great, but it also is is costly, the lab work and things like that.

Chris McMullin (00:06:59) – And, you know, even coming from a well-funded agency like Bensalem, at times it just wasn’t in the budget.

Kevin McGarry (00:07:06) – Chris, what’s something like that cost.

Chris McMullin (00:07:09) – For for DNA genealogy, for example? I mean, that depending I’ve done 4 or 5 cases like that now, depending on anywhere from like 5 to $10,000, depending on what kind of evidence you have, you know, and what kind of testing you have to do. and then, you know, I’m fortunate enough that, you know, I worked with genealogists that basically donated their time to me, a woman named Jennifer Moore, who was fantastic. she solved a lot of cases. She’s out of, Emporia, Virginia, with innovative forensic investigations. And then a woman named Yolanda McClary who helped me with, the public or Jane Doe case. And Yolanda solved several cases, too. But so my frustration, you know, was not being able to have the money available to get that stuff. And right away, at times, I had to beg, borrow and steal.

Chris McMullin (00:08:02) – And then so I thought, well, if we start this nonprofit with just the goal of raising money to offset the cost to help agencies solve cases, then you know that that that was important to me to to make it easier for other people to solve, cold cases because there’s there’s plenty of them out there.

Kevin McGarry (00:08:21) – How like how many cold cases are there in Pennsylvania or Philadelphia? Do we know.

Chris McMullin (00:08:28) – Pennsylvania? Philadelphia? I I’m not really sure the number on that. I know that, you know, nationwide well over 200,000.

Kevin McGarry (00:08:35) – Wow.

Chris McMullin (00:08:36) – Now, you know, some of them are unsolved homicides where, you know, the victim is known. And then there’s other, you know, there’s the John Doe’s and the Jane Doe’s, these unidentified decedents. And sometimes, you know, the cause and manner of death is very clear, but other times it’s not. I’ve taken part now in identifying three Jane Doe and one John Doe, at least two of the Jane Doe’s they were classified as the manner of death was homicide.

Chris McMullin (00:09:00) – And the other one is unknown, but I it was classified as unknown. But I believe that was also a homicide, because after I identified her knowing the circumstances.

Kevin McGarry (00:09:10) – And was that through to nonprofit?

Chris McMullin (00:09:13) – the one through the nonprofit was the most recent one. It was actually a Bensalem case. it was a guy named Edward Neese. But, back in October of oh three, He was found along the banks of the Delaware River. He had drowned, and he was unidentified. He had no identification on them. And, there was no missing person reports that matched them. And basically he became a John Doe, and he was actually buried, not far from my office here in Doylestown at the Doylestown Cemetery, just in a John Doe grave. And I always that was a case that, you know, one of the cold cases that I had wanted to solve and wasn’t ever able to. So after I retired and, Cold Case Initiative, which I refer to it as CCI, was up and running and we had raised some money, we were able to actually take on a case.

Chris McMullin (00:10:06) – That was the first case I went after. because I knew about it. And, I knew that the medical examiner had saved some evidence, fingernails and hair clippings, so I wouldn’t have to get a court order to have the body exhumed to get the evidence to test. So it it saved a lot of steps. And then with my, you know, association with the Bensalem police, I was able to get them to agree to help me do the case or to allow us to do the case. So that was the first case we solved. And it, coincidentally, we actually made contact with his family 20 years to the day that he was found. So he was he was found in October of oh three, I think, October 20th. And, the detectives went to the family’s home on October 20th of 2023. And, so that was that was our, our first, solve, which, Jennifer Moore did the genealogy on that. And I was really happy because we had finally, solved the case, you know, through the non-profit.

Chris McMullin (00:11:11) – And that was the whole reason we had formed it. And there’s another one we’re working on right now in Ohio that we’re very close to solving as well.

Kevin McGarry (00:11:19) – Chris, can you tell the listeners and we’ll put this on the show notes as well, like how they can, you know, make donations to the nonprofit?

Chris McMullin (00:11:27) – If anybody wants to help out? We we lovingly refer to it as Adopt the case. if you go to our website Dot Cold Case Initiative, org, that’s our website. And you can see some of it, it’ll say featured cases. it lists the one case that I just mentioned, Edward niece, that we saw, but it also shows some other cases that we’re actively working on. And like I said, we’re a registered 501 C3 nonprofit. Any donations anyone makes is, tax deductible. And, you know, if you want to help solve a case, that’s the way to do it, because we need funding to get this lab work done. All right.

Jim Donnelly (00:12:05) – Thanks for sharing that, Chris.

Jim Donnelly (00:12:06) – Is there anything you like to add before we wrap this up?

Kevin McGarry (00:12:08) – Yeah. First of all, thanks, Chris. I think what you’re doing is unbelievable. Like Jim said, you’re bringing a voice to all these victims. It’s a passion that, you know, I personally have gotten to see over the the few years I’ve known you here. But I think that the most important thing for our listeners is, hey, there are services out there to help these people. Number one. Number two is if you listen to Chris, he retired after 30 years and he just didn’t go sit in the recliner. And that’s your choice if you want to. Chris has a lot going on. As I mentioned, he’s writing a book. He’s he’s head into nonprofits, he’s helping people. He’s into some TV programs going forward. But the point of it is, Chris, and maybe I think it’s the best for you to wrap up on the mindset of what retirement look like for you.

Chris McMullin (00:12:55) – A retirement for me is, you know, now I, you know, my current job, I’m only working.

Chris McMullin (00:12:59) – I don’t want to say only working, but I mean, I’m working normal hours. I’m working, you know, 830 to 430 every day. I’m not doing the shift work. It’s, you know, I have more time and a better set schedule. And there’s just a lot of things I want to do. my father always says, you know, you got to be a moving target. My father is 83 years old, and he. He only retired about two years ago. He was self-employed. And, you know, I just think it’s important to stay active and, you know, do a lot of things. And our, you know, our slogan for CCI is, you know, making a difference. You know, I just I want to make a difference, you know, with these cases, I’ve, I’ve seen the, you know, when when you solve a cold case for a family, I’ve seen the difference it makes, you know, for the for those left behind. And it’s, it’s worth it.

Chris McMullin (00:13:42) – You know, it’s just so like you said. Yeah it is I’m, I’m if there’s something I’m guilty of, it’s having that as a passion. But and so I’m, I’m okay with that.

Kevin McGarry (00:13:50) – That’s good. That’s a, that’s a great passion.

Jim Donnelly (00:13:52) – Oh that’s going to wrap up the Blue Money podcast today Chris thanks for being a special guest. Chris.

Kevin McGarry (00:13:56) – Thank you.

Jim Donnelly (00:13:56) – Chris. If anyone has any questions or wants to contact Chris and find out more information and his his contact information in the show notes. For anyone else out there that like to promote anything law enforcement or want any questions about their portfolios, investment and advice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kevin. I, thank you for listening.

Kevin McGarry (00:14:13) – Be safe, be safe.

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