BY MELANIE BUCK –
Johnny Bonds, a detective on the popular TV show, Cold Justice, visited the Mena Lions Club as special guest on Friday, October 21st. Bonds spoke in length about his time in law enforcement and on the show, to which he will return in the spring.
Bonds recently moved to Pencil Bluff with his wife after retiring. Bonds is originally from Kemp, Texas. He moved to Houston in 1967 and joined the Houston Police Department. In 1972, Bonds was promoted to detective.
For 41 years, Bonds investigated crimes in the Houston area before retiring. He talked of how DNA and computers have changed the way investigations work, mostly for the better. “It still takes weeks and months to get toxicology tests back. It’s not like CSI,” laughed Bonds.
Around four years ago, Bonds and a few others, launched Cold Justice on TNT network. The show centered around solving cold cases. Some of the cases they have worked on the show are decades old, and many have had new results. Ironically, a girl from Hatfield, Arkansas was the first case on the show. She had been murder in cold blood in Texas.
The investigative efforts on the show have brought peace to many who still wander what happened to their loved ones, who killed them, and why they were killed. “Cold cases usually have a 25% clearance rate [meaning they are solved]. But, on the show, we were at 72% clearance rates. We only had one out of 30 cases cleared by DNA. Most of it was from just talking to people who were witnesses, knew the victim, or the suspect,” Bonds explained. “In 90% of cases, the victim is killed by someone they know.” Although the show was cancelled after three seasons, it will begin a new season next year.
One of the cases solved on the show was a 16-year old cold case and the suspect was arrested in Polk County. Gorden Craig Houser was apprehended in February 2014 from his residence in Wickes, Arkansas and charged with two felony counts of Capital Murder for the deaths of Charles and Kathy Hayes of LaPorte, Texas in 1997. He is to face trial on the charges in the coming months.
Bonds is also the subject of a highly acclaimed book, The Cop Who Wouldn’t Quit. After only being a detective for a few years, Bonds had a case that he couldn’t let go of. A man, his wife, and infant, had all been shot in the head. Although no gun was found at the scene, the medical examiner ruled it a murder-suicide, that the wife had shot the child, her husband, and then shot herself. Again, no gun was found at the scene. Bonds spent two years investigating the crime before it was finally solved. Four men were sent to prison over the matter, all due to Bonds’ unwavering commitment to the case.
Known for his true grit and never back down attitude, Bonds has spent much of his life bringing justice to victims’ families and sending criminals where they belong, and he will continue to do so on Cold Justice, airing next spring on Oxygen.