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We were so lucky to chat with Homicide Detective Sharon Kim about her life of catching killers in Los Angeles. Detective Sharon even had to reschedule our interview because she was in the middle of arresting a murderer.  Badass! It’s all a day in the life of a hero! Detective Sharon is a real life Olivia Benson, and previously worked in the sexual assault unit of LAPD earlier in her career. We sat down to discuss her love of true crime and what inspired her to become a detective.

What you do for a living, how did you choose your career, and how you get to where you are today? 

I’m currently a detective assigned to Valley Bureau Homicide for the Los Angeles Police Department.  I investigate murders, and occasionally suspicious deaths that turn out to be suicides or accidental deaths.  It’s been quite a long road and journey to get here, but I have always had a love of true crime and a (some would say) morbid fascination with murders since I was young.  

I think a major part of my fascination with true crime has been in the burning curiosity of all the “hows and whys,” and the motives behind human behavior.  As people, we all look for patterns to try and make sense of the world around us when things appear jumbled and confusing. During my early childhood years, I suffered great trauma in the form of sexual abuse at the hands of a close family member.  Carrying that around with me growing up, I remember always asking myself, “why? And how?” in many forms. Why did this happen to me? Why did this person, who was supposed to love, care, and protect me above all else, commit such a series of atrocious, heinous acts on a defenseless child?  How did this person live with themselves? How was I supposed to live with myself? In order to make sense of something that made very little sense to me, I spent my entire life doing just that – trying to make sense of things I didn’t understand. I became obsessed with puzzles of every kind – jigsaw, crossword, sudoku, word searches, Rubiks cubes, amongst many others; and felt a sense of triumph and accomplishment in arranging an organized pattern out of initial discord and chaos. 

I wanted to become a police officer for two reasons: so that I could handle any situation life threw my way; to give a voice to those who couldn’t fight for themselves.  For anyone unlucky enough to have experienced the true feeling of powerlessness, I promise you it is such a terrifying feeling that one will never forget it, and will do everything in their power to never feel it again for the rest of their lives.

There were exactly two times I have felt utterly powerless, the first of which I already mentioned in being a victim of sexual abuse.  This childhood trauma left me with a lot of conflicting feelings that stemmed from issues dealing with the loss of control I felt during the incidents.  In order to cope, I was determined to conquer any feelings of inadequacy and/or fear by tackling them head-on and learn how to acquire the skills to deal with the unknown.  The second was when I witnessed the immediate aftermath of a hit-and-run when my younger brother’s third grade classmate got hit by a car after school. I’ll never forget the ear-piercing screams and the feeling of helplessness as I tried to help but had no idea what to do.  It was through both of these events where I figured, “what is the job of a police officer other than to handle the unknowns, the emergencies, to help people, and bring order and control to any and all situations”?

Once I was sworn in as a Los Angeles police officer, my career took a series of interesting turns.  While my first love was working patrol roaming the streets in a black-and-white (cop slang for police car) and responding to emergencies and calls for service, I soon realized that my interests lay beyond the initial emergency response to the deeper follow-up in figuring out what happened afterwards.  What happened after the cops leave? What happened beyond the surface?  

I realized this was where the real investigation began.  The in-depth work began after the initial report was taken, when a detective attempted to uncover the truth and figure out whether there was enough evidence and facts to piece together a case to be presented for a criminal filing.  This involves a great deal of work–re-interviewing victims and suspects, searching for additional witnesses, looking for patterns of past behavior, combing for evidence, canvassing for surveillance footage, analyzing phone data, and digging for digital and social media.

I began working investigative assignments.  I worked gangs in South LA and realized the key in solving gang-related crimes was through the years I had worked in building my knowledge of that gang, the relationships I built with gang members and their families, and with community members.  I developed informants, friendlies, and ran operations. I made key arrests in serious crimes such as shootings, ADW’s, robberies, and attempted murders, and had seen many of them through completion, some of which ended in life sentences. I learned the importance of connecting with people, and the depth to which genuine-ness and tenacity enhanced the success of my cases.

A short time into one’s career as a cop, their reputation as a worker (or lack thereof) is widely known.  As a police officer attempts to move into a specialized unit, spots are made or broken depending on that reputation.  Although I may have been inexperienced and green in the beginning, I was lucky enough to have worked with amazing, talented teachers and leaders who tapped my eagerness to learn and develop my potential.  Many of these officers and detectives were unmatched and unparalleled in their field of expertise, and I owe all of my success to every single one of them.

Several years into my career, I officially decided to dedicate my life to understanding the twisted minds of those who committed the most heinous of all crimes – murder.  I became a homicide investigator when one of my former supervisors from my old gang unit was scouting for a detective in his new homicide assignment. He told me he had remembered the relentless nature at which I’d worked my cases, and my keen attention to detail.   At the time, I was working surveillance in a major narcotics unit. I was eager to get back to a more investigative-heavy assignment, and realized this was the perfect opportunity to work the assignment I had always dreamed of. It brought me back full circle to my interests and passions as a child, and when I finally became a homicide detective. I realized that the puzzles I loved so much as a child translated into me as an adult solving some of life’s biggest puzzles – not only the whodunits, but for me, the more fascinating, why-they-did-its.  

I was making order out of initial chaos.  I was uncovering truths from lies. And I have never looked back.

Is there a certain case that you have worked on that has always haunted you or that is particularly memorable that you can share with us? 

The cases that will always haunt me are the ones involving innocent children.  I worked many during my assignment as a sexual assault detective. There were a select few that mirrored what happened to me as a child, and these were always the toughest for me to get through.  As a detective, you have to remember your number one priority is the case, and in bringing justice and closure to the victims and their families.

When you hear about a big case in the media that you are not working on, do you ever do a deep dive to try to solve it yourself? If so, can you tell us about a case that has piqued your interest? 

This might be a boring answer, but I’ve never attempted to seriously solve a case that wasn’t mine.  I’ve often got enough on my plate I’m working on, and solving a case, especially a murder, takes immense time, effort, and resources.  I’m always cognizant of the fact that any outside meddling can compromise the integrity of a case that a detective is already working on.  Re-interviewing victims, witnesses, or suspects, especially on a case in which you are not familiar with all the facts, can be detrimental.  Obtaining evidence often means getting warrants which you cannot get unless you have jurisdictional and investigative control of the case.

That being said, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been piqued by cases that have been heavily covered in the media.  The most memorable case I have been interested in was the murder of Hae Min Lee, which was covered by Season 1 of Serial.  I’ve done quite a deep dive on that one, and definitely have my opinions on it.  For those who want to know my opinion based on the present facts, I believe Adnan Syed did it.  But that’s a conversation for a different time.

Where can our readers find you? Are there social media accounts you would like them to follow or a project you are working on?  

The first was the annual Victory for Victims walk/run put on by CATS (Center for Assault Treatment Services), the only 24-hr service in the Los Angeles area that provides resources and services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.  Several members of the My Favorite Murder podcast Facebook community in Los Angeles participated, and we had a blast!  

This year, we are continuing that tradition with the 18th annual Victory for Victims walk.  You can find out about it here:

The second was a Q&A session in which I was featured that was hosted by Bethany Jones from the Pros & Cons podcast at the Golden Road Brewery in Glendale.  My mind was blown by the turnout, and by all the amazing people I met during the Q&A session. All proceeds from the event and the beers were given to CATS.  We plan on doing it again this year!  

Bethany is one of the moderators of the MFM Murderino FB page, and constantly keeps everyone updated on the events going on.  If you’re in the LA area, join and keep your ears open!

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