Richmond County sheriff’s Investigator Paul Godden grew up not knowing a single person who had a crime committed against them.
In the south of England, the only time he saw an officer was when they came to school to talk about drugs or road safety.
As an investigator in Richmond County’s violent crimes division, Godden has worked more than 100 homicides since being promoted off road patrol in 2000.
“It’s a whole different culture,” Godden said. “This is just like I used to watch on TV as a kid.”
His journey to becoming a Richmond County officer is different from most, though he has police work in his blood. His uncle worked his way up the ranks in England to be a chief inspector, and he has two cousins in law enforcement.
After high school, Godden joined the British military. While on a tour in Brussels, he met and married a girl in the U.S. Army.
At the time, she had a better chance of being promoted, so he left the military and moved with her to Arizona. She became part of the Signal Corps and was
stationed at Fort Gordon. Once in Richmond County, Godden applied to become a deputy.
“I’ve kind of been protecting people most of my adult life,” he said. “It just made sense.”
While working at the jail, he was on the same shift with his current supervisor, Sgt. Dan Carrier.
When Capt. Scott Peebles created the major case squad in December 2005, Godden was one of his first team leaders.
“We were called to every murder. No matter what, you showed up,” Godden said.
Peebles said one of the most important traits of a good investigator is passion, and Godden has that in spades.
“He is a very good investigator because he cares about what he does,” Peebles said.
Now married to his second wife, who was also a violent crimes investigator, Godden is happy to be with someone who understands what he goes through every day. His son has also picked up on it over the years.
“He calls his grandma and says, ‘Bubba, dad’s bringing me over. He’s gotta go to a murder,’ ” Godden said with a laugh. “Then he asks me about the details during the ride.”
There are many cases he has been proud to bring to conviction, but a few nag at him. He was one of the first investigators on the Natalie Clark case in 2003, in which the 18-year-old was found suffocated in the backyard of her Hephzibah home. It remains unsolved.
“Her case file is three or four volumes now,” he said.