Fedora-wearing APD detective featured on Oxygen’s ‘The Price of Duty’ July 30

Retired Atlanta Homicide Detective Danny Agan  will be featured on the July 31, 2018 episode of Oxygen’s “The Price of Duty.”

Credit: Phil Skinner

Credit: Phil Skinner

Retired Atlanta Homicide Detective Danny Agan  will be featured on the July 31, 2018 episode of Oxygen’s “The Price of Duty.”

Originally posted Friday, July 27, 2018 by Bill Torpy/btorpy@ajc.com on the AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Over the course of a quarter century, Danny Agan was the dapper symbol of murder and mayhem on the streets of Atlanta.

As a newbie 25-year-old homicide detective in 1979, Agan donned a fedora because he thought the squad should look sharp and stand out. It set the tone for the unit for decades to come – it was known as the Hat Squad.

Although Agan had a hand in some 800 homicide investigations, it wasn’t a murder that gnawed at him through the years. It was a series of attacks 30 years ago by a serial rapist, crimes that went unsolved for decades until he got the investigation reactivated after his retirement.

It seems that urbane Atlanta detectives are becoming a television genre. Former Atlanta homicide detectives David Quinn and Vince Velazquez this month kicked off a show called "ATL Homicide" on TV One.

My TV-writing bud Rodney Ho calls that series "Dateline" meets "Starsky & Hutch."  Agan hasn't been afforded a series (yet) but his episode features old-school investigating and modern era technology.

The show features Atlanta police trying to crack a string of rapes in the late 1980s in northeast Atlanta near I-85. The rapist gained entry to women’s apartments posing as a handyman and then attacked them. He was so bold he twice returned to women’s homes to attack them again.

“People talk about how murder is the worst (crime) but a rape – and these were in their own homes – terrorizes and victimizes women for the rest of their lives,” Agan said. “It bothered me that we worked our butts off but could never catch the guy.”

Years later, in the 2000s, Agan spoke with Fulton County prosecutor Sheila Ross, who was then heading up a cold case squad. He talked her into re-investigating the string of rapes. Detectives (including Agan's son) were able to find the long forgotten evidence.

The old rape swabbings provided DNA evidence that matched a man being held in a prison in Kentucky on drug charges. In 2014, justice finally came for the numerous long-ago victims. Daniel Wade, who was 64, was convicted and sentenced to six life prison terms plus 140 years.  

The story is a heartening tale of victims getting some closure. But, it’s more than that, Agan says.

“This story also is relevant today since it involved the use of rape kits that were 20 plus years old, which means these vital bits of evidence had to have been properly obtained, cataloged, and stored for years before they were pulled from storage and analyzed,” he said. “We had no way of knowing back in the 1980's that a tool as strong as DNA would ever be developed. But it was, and strict adherence to SOP allowed this predator to be identified and prosecuted.”