When former police detective Derrick Levasseur and forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie conjured up an idea for a new show focusing on cold cases, they knew they didn’t want to solely add to the plethora of investigation shows already on television. Enter Breaking Homicide, Investigation Discovery’s newest series, which dives deep into sometimes decades-old homicides that have yet to be solved, and they do just that — solve them.
“We wanted to tell a variety of different stories, but not just to tell the stories, to attempt to find answers and to at least carry it forward,” Mohandie exclusively tells Us Weekly. “And hopefully to answer the question as to what actually happened.”
Levasseur echoes that sentiment, noting that finding the culprit doesn’t always happen by the end of the two hours, but that they take the case as far as they possibly can. “We want to make a difference. We don’t want to just highlight something and leave it at that or just pass it along. We have a team of researchers who work with us,” he says. “We also look at the evidence and the science and technology that’s available today as opposed to 30 years ago. We look through our Rolodex of experts who specialize in an area of this case that could help.”
So the duo first took on the case of Michelle Norris, a young girl from Central Falls, Rhode Island, who went missing from her local playground in 1988 and was later found dead in a nearby wooded area. The case was near and dear to Levasseur’s heart because he grew up a few streets away from Norris and her family.
So they went to work. “We felt like we had to turn over every stone. We owed it to Julie Norris, Michelle, Nate and Billy, all the family members. We needed to talk to everyone we possibly could,” Mohandie says.
Viewers will not only see them uncover awful and sickening details about Norris’ murder but zero in on a suspect and actually confront him in broad daylight.
The combination of Levasseur’s expertise in investigation and undercover work — which he highlighted in his recent book, The Undercover Edge, paired with Mohandie’s deep knowledge of the human psyche, proved their efforts fruitful.
“We have a natural chemistry. We don’t always agree, which is fantastic. We have different perspectives. We often arrive at similar destinations but by different means and methods,” Mohandie says.
“We come from very different backgrounds, both personally and professionally,” Levasseur adds. “Our minds work completely different. We’re independent thinkers. As you will see, we agree on things but we also disagree on things. That dynamic of brainstorming and reverse-engineering these cases is not the same as done on other shows.”
As for why fans will gravitate toward this series in particular? “You’re going on the investigation with us. We don’t know what the outcome will be when we start. As a viewer, you’re coming with us wherever we go based on the information we’re receiving,” Levasseur explains. “If that means we’re going to a manufacturing firm and testing the integrity of a possible murder weapon … we’re going to do it. Because that wasn’t available when it happened. If it means hiring a stunt woman to reenact a particular act to see if the crime could have occurred the way it was described. We will do that. And at the end of the day, if we have a person of interest, or information about the case that can actually solve it, it may be uncomfortable but we’re willing to push that envelope.”
Which is why Levasseur actually confronted the aforementioned suspect in the Norris case — on the street, unarmed, without preparation. “As a father, I look at every situation with the expectation that if it were my loved one, what would I want to happen. That’s what gives me the courage to get out of that car and go confront that person,” he says. “And give them the opportunity to speak, knowing that there are some risks involved. I think that’s what people are going to gravitate toward.”
“From the episode you know what my opinion was, I took the liberty of telling him to his face what I thought about what he was saying. But we want the audience to come to their own conclusions,” Levasseur adds.
Even though they move on to a new case in the next episode, both are very much involved in the ongoing investigations — not because they have to, but because they get so invested in bringing justice to these families.
“There are individuals out there who committed these crimes, in some cases they feel like they got away with it,” Levasseur tells Us. “And we’re here to tell them that may not be the case. One day, one of us may be approaching you.“
“This case in particular and the others, are people,” Mohandie says. “Even if we didn’t get a chance to work certain cases — because we got a ton of submissions — it is our hope that our delving into these cases will inspire [loved ones] not to give up. The other aspect of this story is the triumph of the human spirit, to endure.”
Breaking Homicide premieres on ID Sunday, April 15, at 9/8c.