The Homicide Detective: Leigh Maroni

January 17, 2012

A female homicide detective.  Ok, that’s just hot.

Is it wrong of me to think of a homicide detective as sexy?  Considering the sad and difficult circumstances that come with the job, yes, it would be wrong to consider that part sexy.  Considering the woman, who is fearlessly determined to serve justice, that part is most definitely sexy…and definitely inspiring.

I’m still awestruck from meeting Wendy Whelan, principal dancer with the New York City Ballet.  When Wendy tells me she has a sister who is a homicide detective, I can’t believe it, how is it possible?  It just keeps getting better…


Where are you from?
I am from Louisville, KY and I work for a local department there.

Why did you become a homicide detective?
I was working as a social worker with Child Protective Services pursuing a Masters in Social Work.
While there, I was assigned to a specialized team that worked jointly with the police investigating child physical and sexual abuse. It was there that I got to see several female detectives at work and they inspired me to become a police officer. I thought if they could do it, so could I! I became a homicide detective because, aside from child abuse cases, it is the worst crime against humanity. I love the process of an investigation- having very little to go on, uncovering information and putting the puzzle together. The challenge of solving a case is exciting to me. Police work is a thankless job but having a family member hug you and thank you for your work means so much.

We met your sister, Wendy Whelan, in the feature story, Girl Crush. The Dancer.
How proud are your parents of their New York City principal  dancer and the homicide detective?
Our parents are very proud of all of their children (we have a brother too). Seeing Wendy accomplish so much and learn to be so independent at a young age was a leap of faith for our parents. I think it’s safe to say they took the same leap of faith when I told them I was going to be a police officer. I guess for them it was second to hearing their daughter say she wants to join the military. Seeing that we both love what we do makes them proud that they supported us in our decisions. I’m sure they didn’t expect them to be at opposite ends of the spectrum though.

What is a typical day like at work?
There is no typical day at work. Every day is different. Most days I come to work at 8:00 and do interviews and paperwork. It is rare to make it through the day without picking up an unplanned call to a homicide or unnatural death scenes (Suicides, overdoses, SIDS cases. Anything that isn’t a natural death, we work it). Some days I get home on time and some days I work well into the next day.

Do you ever get nervous or scared during an investigation?
I never get nervous or scared during an investigation. I get a little nervous when a case goes to trial, but that’s only because I never want to lose a case.

Hollywood comes calling and wants to recreate one of your cases.  Which one would it be?
I love this question! It would be a double murder at separate locations on the same day by the same suspect. The case involves sex, drugs, murder, arson and a cross country search for the young, handsome, suspect and the crimes that he committed on his way to the city, where he was captured. It had everything Hollywood looks for in a thriller.

Are you able to separate work from your personal life?
I used to take work home with me but I learned quickly that I have to separate work and my personal life or I wouldn’t get any sleep or have any successful relationships. My husband is also a police officer and for the most part, we don’t discuss work at home but it’s nice to have someone who understands this line of work to vent to, when needed.

How do you sleep?
I slept great until last year when we adopted a newborn baby. Since then, it’s been hit and miss, mostly miss.

Do you watch cop shows or movies?
I don’t watch cop shows but I do catch an occasional cop movie (My favorite is Traffic followed by Silence of the Lambs).

Does it bother you when I say “cop”?
Not at all. I’ve been called much worse in this job.

Which shows, if any, are most accurate?
Most if not all are very inaccurate and misleading. The only shows that are somewhat accurate are the reality shows like The First 48 (which featured our Homicide Unit). Even though they are factually correct it’s misleading to think a case is initiated and wrapped up completely in a one hour program or 48 hours. Just because an arrest is made it doesn’t mean the investigation stops. The investigation doesn’t stop until there is conviction or acquittal in trial.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job is not having all the answers for a grieving family. Interviewing reluctant witnesses is another difficulty in this job but in almost every case, someone eventually talks. But the grief of a family never goes away, even when they have the answers.

Who would play you (and your partner) in the movie about your career?
That’s a tough one. Holly Hunter has a natural southern accent that would work well. I don’t have a permanent partner; I just grab whoever is on duty. If I had to pick a celebrity partner it would be David Duchovny (I love him)

You’re taking a break from work for a month. What will you do?
I’d go to the beach with my family, eat some fresh seafood and read a few good books.

Would you encourage your child to follow in your professional footsteps?
I will let my daughter decide for herself what she wants to do and support her in that decision, just as my parents did with us.

What do you do when you’re not working?
Currently I am training for my second half marathon. My husband and I joined a local Cross fit gym last year that we love. Other than that, I spend as much time as I can with my daughter because I miss so much time with her during the week.

what’s your most delicious creation in the kitchen?
Italian Crème cake from scratch

what do you collect?
I started collecting turquoise and silver jewelry after receiving several items from my sister. I don’t buy it regularly but I do have several pieces that I love. I’ve also started collecting owl themed décor for my daughter’s room. My sister-in-law Michelle Maroni Urbanek hand painted a toy box for her room that is adorable.