The September 2019 edition: Higher power lifts P.I. to calling

An ‘otherworldly’ experience on an otherwise perfectly normal night 15 years ago changed Sheila Wysocki’s life.

She calls the 2004 event at her Nashville home a “God nod” (one of Wysocki’s pet phrases) and tells how she was in bed doing Bible-study “homework,” not at all thinking about the murder of her college roommate two decades earlier.

Wysocki, who is now considered one of the nation’s leading cold-case private investigators, says it was something she “fell into. It’s not what I strived to be in my life. I wanted to be a mom, a good one, and I wanted to be a good wife.

“But I believe in a higher calling and a higher purpose, and I think that being a P.I. – every time I try to stop, a fantastic, complicated case comes along that I know I can resolve – and, I mean, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And it also gives me a lot of joy.”

If you ever meet Sheila Wysocki, you’ll never forget her. I certainly won’t. And neither has Josh Mankiewicz, one of the chief reporters for NBC’s popular Dateline newsmagazine.

This week in the Nashville Ledger, I am profiling Wysocki, who has become one of the nation’s top private investigators, focusing all her time and energy on cold-case murders. It is one of the most compelling stories I’ve written for the Ledger, and it will be online Thursday, Sept. 12, and in print on Friday. I talked to a number of people in her world and reached out to Mankiewicz, who told her story in 2012, of how her first case was helping solve the case of her college roommate Angie Samota, murdered in 1984. 

Unfortunately, it was past my deadline when I heard back from Josh, but I wanted to share his emailed comments, because it really sets the tone for my story in the Ledger.

“We should all hope to have a friend like her. Angie Samota’s murder probably would still be unsolved were it not for Sheila,” Mankiewicz said in his email. “She’s like a force of nature, except forces of nature eventually stop. And Sheila doesn’t.”

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