Pat Marshall, 72, is an ex-homicide detective who worked in Los Angeles for over 21 years. His beat included the Watts neighborhood, where violence had erupted between police and African Americans during the Watts riots in 1965, a mere four years before Marshall started working.
When he ran the homicide unit, they averaged 120 murders a year.
“I worked in excess of 800 murders in 15 years,” Marshall said. “You see every facet of life you don’t want to see.”
Marshall worked his way up to the top. He was born in Southern California on March 23, 1945. His family moved to Missouri when he was 5, and back to Southern California when he was 12. While he was in high school, he worked 50 hours a week, and 60 hours a week during his senior year.
Marshall was always on a track to excel in the police force. As a young man, he worked for five years as security at Jack in the Box, then for seven years at Dodgers Stadium. In the patrol, he worked vice and dealt with bookmaking, gambling, and prostitution.
“There were also dogfights, which I didn’t like,” he said.
A veteran, Marshall was drafted and sent to Vietnam in January 1967. He lived with the Koreans during his service, and still has a fondness for kimchi, a Korean fermented vegetable dish.
His wife, Carol, of over 37 years has passed away. However, Marshall sees his two sons, who live in Vermont and New Hampshire with their wives, and his three granddaughters at least once a year and chats with them regularly on Skype.
“They’ll be here this summer and I’m looking forward to that. We’ll go to one of the fishing holes for young kids,” he said.
Marshall enjoys having granddaughters.
“I had boys and it’s totally different with girls than boys. Taking girls shopping is very different than taking boys shopping, believe me,” he chuckled.
Marshall loves hunting, fishing, automobile racing, football, and baseball. He was a catcher and wrestled in high school before he started working.
He’s been in Columbia Falls for four and a half years and lives in Timber Creek Village today. He says the town has changed during his time here.
“There’s a lot of narcotics here now and I don’t like to see that, because all of our murders (in Los Angeles) came from narcotics eventually.”
Although working murders was grisly and saddening, Marshall wouldn’t change anything.
“I liked being a cop. You don’t enjoy making a death notification, but you enjoy later on going to a mother and saying we solved who killed your son.
Or daughter. Because that’s a real burden on people,” he said.
He noted it takes a certain type of person to work murders.
“You gotta want to be a policeman. You gotta be careful you don’t get yourself hardened so it doesn’t matter to you.”
It’s tough for Marshall to understand the brutality he’s seen, and he doesn’t like sharing the gory details.
“I’ve worked all kinds of murders and there’s no reason to kill anybody else,” he remarked. “There’s a lot I’ve put aside. People are always telling me I should write a book. I don’t want to write a book.”