Kelly and Yolanda: ‘The hardest part is telling the family if you can’t solve it’

Have you seen Cold Justice? It’s our new, real life crime series that follows former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and former CSI Yolanda McClary as they dig into small town murder cases that have lingered for years without answers or closure.

Cold Justice interview

Cold Justice

In Series One, we saw these experts in their field assist local law enforcement in securing a total of five indictments and one guilty plea. Kelly Siegler is an attorney and former Texas prosecutor who successfully tried 68 murder cases in her 21 years on the job, and Yolanda McClary is a former crime scene investigator who worked more than 7,000 cases in her 26 years with the Las Vegas Police Department.

Recently, we caught up with crime-solving duo to talk about their on-screen chemistry and the secret of their success. You can catch Series Two of Cold Justice at 10 pm on Fridays - NEW and EXCLUSIVE to REALLY.

What is the hardest part for you about investigating these cold cases?

K: The hardest part about investigating these cases will always be having to tell the families of the victims if we are not able to bring the investigation to a point where the criminal justice system can proceed. As you can tell from the cases and the show when that has happened, it breaks everyone’s heart.

Y: Agreed. The hardest part is telling the family if you can't solve it.

You share such chemistry. Can you tell us about the first time you met each other. Did you hit it off immediately?

K: Yolanda and I first met after the idea started to become a reality. We hit it off instantly and love doing what we do together.

Y: We met for the first time on a phone call that producers set up to see if we could get along. We did and then actually met in LA to pitch the show to networks. We got along great from the first conversation we ever had.

How did you choose your team for Cold Justice?

Y: Johnny Bonds and I worked together for many years at the DA’s office in Harris County. I first met Alan Brown when he was in his twenties as I was when he worked Patrol for the Houston Police Department; so we have kind of grown up together in our careers. Steve Spingola is from Wisconsin and Orlando Martinez is from the LAPD and they have been wonderful additions to our team.

Kelly, was it more difficult going back to your hometown in Matagorda County to investigate a cold case because you knew so many of the people or was it easier?

K: It was more difficult going back home but the reason was because of the added “expectations” or pressure that I probably put on myself in trying to make sure my “old” world looked great and my “new” world was happy with the job and the investigation. All probably silly on my part but true.

With so many cold cases, how do you choose the cases that appear on the show?

K: Choosing the cases is probably the most challenging and difficult part of my job. It is also the most fun because I love to read and I love to think about the possibility of solving them ALL. We have a great team in place for doing all of it.

Kelly, what’s the “secret” to winning 68 homicide cases?

K: The secret to that as it is to anything in life is hard work and preparation!

How do you prepare yourselves to tell the victims’ families the horrible news that they will not have closure in cases involving the murder of their loved ones?

K: Having to have that traumatic conversation is not something I ever had to do as a prosecutor. You can’t prepare for it. The thought of it keeps you up at night and only makes you more determined to never have to have that conversation again.

Y: There is no real way to prepare for this. You have to deliver horrible news and it's very hard on us and the families emotionally when we have to do this.

Is it correct that only law enforcement agencies can submit requests for you guys to investigate cold cases?

K: In order for us to do a thorough investigation, we MUST have access to all of the files and reports that only law enforcement has access to; in order to have that, we must be invited to work on any given case.

What is normally the time span when there are no longer traces of DNA on evidence?

Y: Not measured by time. If DNA is preserved and protected it can last years, some reports say forever. Again, that's if it is preserved and protected. Unfortunately, many items of evidence that might have DNA are not preserved or protected in order to save it.

Yolanda, you’re the real-life inspiration for Marg Helgenberger’s character, Catherine Willows, on CSI. How did that happen?

Y: I was working at the LVMPD Lab when a writer did a ride along with me. He developed the idea for the show and when Marg auditioned for the role, he chose her because she was a lot like me. She then spent time with me at my job to get a feel and understanding for my personality and what a CSI does