EXCLUSIVE: 'Killing Fields' Detective Says True-Crime Docuseries Has Helped Bring Attention to Cold Cases


“At first, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect and was afraid that we might be portrayed in a bad light,” Major Ronald Herbert, head of the Criminal Investigation Division, tells ET about Discovery Channel’s true-crime docuseries, Killing Fields, coming to his Louisiana Parish to reinvestigate cold cases in the area.

However, his biggest fear turned out to be the exact opposite as the show, now airing season two, has brought extra attention not only to the cold cases, but has shed light on how competent the authorities of Iberville Parish are. The reinvestigation into the two cold cases featured on the show, Herbert says, has demonstrated the importance of the team’s jobs and how far technology has advanced since Curtis “Cochise” Smith went missing in 1991 and later, in 1997, when former Louisiana State University student Eugenie Boisfontaine’s body was first found in nearby swamplands.

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“The exposure has helped connect us with the public who watch and call in tips,” Herbert explains. “We run across people in local stores who tell us things that otherwise we’d have no clue about. And it’s turned out to be invaluable information. It’s just amazing how it worked out.”

And in season two of Killing Fields, which has expanded the caseload for not only Herbert but original detective on the cases, Rodie Sanchez and his new partner, Det. Audbrey St. Angelo, those tips have led to major breakthroughs as the team gets closer to bringing justice to Smith and Boisfontaine’s murderers.

“It would be like winning the lotto,” Herbert says of finally bringing both cold cases to a close. But as the docuseries has demonstrated, it takes time and patience putting all the clues together -- and in the case of Smith, who is believed to have been murdered by local businessman Tommy Francise, the key evidence linking the two men together.

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In the exclusive clip from the latest episode of Killing Fields, the team looks for blood stains in Francise’s home that may prove a murder took place there. The clip also gives audiences a glimpse at Herbert in the interrogation room.

Known for his silver tongue, Herbert takes pride in his interrogation skills and believes he can get a confession out of anyone. “You need to have a game plan,” he explains to ET about the secret to his success.

“You have to, number one, treat the suspect and witness with respect. You have to gain their confidence, be persistent and never take no for an answer. You need to know what to ask and stick with that plan,” Herbert continues. “And again, never take no for an answer.”

Killing Fields airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel.