A&E’s ‘Homicide Squad Atlanta’ features familiar faces seeking Bridget Shiel’s murderer

Originally posted Thursday, January 10, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“The First 48” has been a sturdy crime series for A&E for 15 years and it has mined Atlanta several times.

A&E decided to change things up with “The First 48 Presents: Homicide Squad Atlanta,” debuting January 10 at 9 p.m. This series takes an entire case from beginning to conclusion focused on the murder of 19-year-old Bridget Shiel in June, 2016, found naked in a Southeast Atlanta park.

Adam Lee, the major crimes commanding officer at the time, said in an interview Thursday that “The First 48” producers asked him for a case that could work for multiple episodes. He pinpointed the Shiel case. Why?

“Her case was an absolute mystery,” said Lee, who now works as a sheriff for Fulton County Jail. “There was no evidence around her. It’s like she fell out of the sky.”

It also didn’t hurt that Shiel was attractive and had appeard in music videos. She had a falling out with her mother and had been living out of her car and staying with friends at the time. “Her story,” Lee said, “was just tragic.”

Lee said he had a daughter at the time just slightly older than the victim so he felt a connection to Shiel. “I felt so horrible for Bridget’s mom,” he said.

Credit: � 2018 Cox Media Group.

Credit: � 2018 Cox Media Group.

The first episode airing tonight is very much like a traditional “The First 48” as the homicide detectives figure out who she is, when she was last seen and where her car was found. A Sprite bottle becomes potentially helpful evidence. The local media jumps on the case. A&E shows footage from Fox 5 and CBS46.

“The First 48” filmed much of that early  footage for its regular series but did not immediately use it.

The episode reveals recognizable faces, veterans of Atlanta crime cases. Homicide detectives David Quinn and Vincent Velazquez, who were active on this particular case, now have their own crime series called "ATL Homicide" on TV One, which aired its first season last year. And fedora-wearing Det. Summer Benton was part of TLC's "Women of Homicide" in 2014. (The show later moved to ID and became "Inside Homicide.")

Quinn plays narrator in the opening seconds of the show. “I had a lot of people’s sorrow dripped onto my lapel,” Quinn said in his distinctive Southern accent. “After 32 years of being in this city, I hate to say it, but every street looks like a crime scene... I can see the tape. I can see the shell casings, I can see the bodies... To be a homicide detective, you have to have a love for murder... You’re an author. You’re a poet... It’s all about seeking the truth.”

The perpetrator was eventually found. The AJC covered the case and last year, a gang member was arrested and tied to the murder.

It was, without a doubt, a compelling case.


“The First 48 Presents:  Homicide Squad Atlanta,” 9 p.m. Thursdays, A&E