Detective Pat Postiglione is known for his good memory, but this one murder he says he'll always remember for how senseless it was.
It was March 17, 1990, and Gul Telwar, 55, a native of Afghanistan who taught economics at Tennessee State University and also worked as a used car dealer, had been brutally shot to death. Postiglione was celebrating his daughter’s birthday when he received the call.
Postiglione, a New York City native with over 25 years of experience as a Nashville homicide detective, is recognized for remembering every detail of the crimes he has been tasked to solve. Postiglione is the host of a new true-crime series on Investigation Discovery (ID) titled “Deadly Recall,” which chronicles some of those shocking slayings and how he was able to solve them.
Families and friends of the victims, including Telwar’s daughter Lisa, participated in the docuseries.
Postiglione told Fox News he agreed to appear in the show because those loved ones would be involved.
“[This show] is going to allow the families to be able to speak who their loved ones were, what they could have been, what they aspired to,” he explained. “That’s what propelled me into agreeing to do the show was because of the families who would be able to tell the stories. In other words, speak for the victims.”
Postiglione moved to Nashville in 1980 after visiting the city while on vacation. He and his wife happily raised their three children in Nashville while he immersed himself in solving crimes. Postiglione admitted Telwar’s death hit close to home.
“He was a father, I’m a father,” said Postiglione. “As a matter of fact, the day Gul Telwar was killed was my daughter’s sixth birthday. So I was in the process of celebrating her birthday when I got called out on Gul Telwar’s death.”
In “Deadly Recall,” viewers learned how Telwar was a dedicated family man who juggled multiple jobs to make ends meet. However, the professor had no idea of the dangers that came with running a used car lot.
“He wanted to sell used cars to help his family,” said Postiglione. “He was raising several children… He didn’t realize at the time there was a [dark] underbelly to the used car business, and ultimately the underbelly of the used car business is what led to his death.”
In 1991, a criminal court convicted Ronnie Oller of premeditated murder, burglary and robbery in the shooting death of Telwar, his former boss, The Tennessean reported. The then 27-year-old said he drove his brother-in-law, Terry Lee Blanford, to Telwar’s car lot on the morning of March 17 so Blanford could steal a truck. According to the publication, the jury heard Oller tell police detectives in a videotaped statement that he and Blanford “joked” about shooting Telwar and he gave Blanford the gun used in the crime.
At the time, Oller testified that he fabricated that story for police in hopes that they would “go easy on” his wife Penny Oller, who gave birth two days after she rode with her husband and Oller to Telwar’s business.
The Tennessean added Telwar hired Oller to manage the car lot, but then accused him of stealing $3,750 that Telwar had entrusted to him to buy three pickup trucks. According to police, Blanford admitted shooting Telwar after breaking into his office and waiting for him to arrive for work. Blanford also told police the shooting was Oller’s idea and that the gun he used belonged to Oller.
Nashville Scene previously reported Telwar was helping Oller with expenses related to his wife’s pregnancy before his murder.
Postiglione said after the dispute over money, Telwar had filed a police report shortly before his death.
“The police report was filed, and then within two days Gul Telwar was dead,” said Postiglione. “We had several different suspects that we were looking at. People that had made threats, people that were involved in the business that looked like potential suspects. We investigated all of them. It came down to these two. And as it turns out, these two were the ones that did it.”
Postiglione admitted he was still stunned that Oller and Blanford would be willing to participate in such a heinous crime.
“What surprised me the most is the complete senselessness of the act where their goal was to steal vehicles, sell vehicles,” Postiglione explained. “They could have done that… [but] they chose to wait for the victim to come in there, and then kill the victim. It didn’t have to happen that way. If robbery was their only intent, they could have certainly done that while the victim was not there, but they chose to do it while the victim was coming in and wait on the victim to get there, which is precisely what they did. It’s such a senseless thing. To me, that was the biggest surprise. It makes no sense what they did.”
Postiglione confirmed Oller and Blanford were both sentenced to life in prison. And while Postiglione has helped bring justice to Telwar’s family, he still stays in touch with Lisa.
“She’s a fantastic person and she’s incredibly supportive of the police department,” said Postiglione. “The detective is a lifeline to the families. Literally a lifeline. And that’s how it was with Lisa. We were able to bring some closure, and arrest, and answer some questions for the family.”
Telwar’s death was part of what true crime author Michael Arntfield described as “the dark age” in Nashville, when homicides were rampant below the Mason-Dixon between 1975 and 2007. In Arntfield’s book titled “Monster City,” he focused on the many serial killers Postiglione was responsible for capturing.
“I would say back in 1990, I’d only been in homicide for three years,” said Postiglione. “I went into homicide in 1987. We had a lot of homicides averaging 80 to 100 homicides per year, and for Nashville, that’s a lot of homicides. In 1990 we had a few serial killers starting to come through. I can’t explain why that was. I suspect it’s because of the interstate system… But during the early ‘90s, we had some LA influence coming, and some gangs coming in from Los Angeles, and that created a lot of the homicides for us.”
Postiglione hopes “Deadly Recall” will offer audiences a glimpse into the lives of detectives, and the tireless work that entails to help loved ones in need.
“Homicide detectives, for the most part, are incredibly dedicated to the families, to the victims, to trying to solve the case, to trying to bring some sort of justice, some sort of closure for the families,” said Postiglione. “At the same time, I think you’ll also get the family’s point of view about their loved one who had been brutally murdered, whether it’s Gul Telwar and any of the other victims that we cover. You get to see a different perspective on the victim other than just being a homicide statistic.”
"Deadly Recall" premieres March 5 at 10 p.m. on ID.