Crime fighter's high-profile career reads like a rap sheet - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Retiring crime fighter's high-profile career reads like a rap sheet

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - For more than a decade, his phone has been ringing in the middle of the night as he worked around the clock tracking down killers. After 33 years on the job, sheriff's homicide Lt. Dennis Brugos is trading in his badge for the laid-back lifestyle of a retiree.

Lieutenant Brugos is described by his superiors as a talented investigators and a true gentleman who will be greatly missed. His abilities have been admired by deputies and police officers around the state.

It's a voice and face familiar to News 8 viewers when a murder is being investigated by sheriff's deputies. Lieutenant Dennis Brugos is turning in his badge to live out his golden years away from tragedy.

"I've ruined a lot of birthday parties by leaving and holidays and that type of thing, so that's going to change very quickly," Brugos said.

The 60-year-old came to the sheriff's department in 1982, working his way up from patrol to homicide investigations.

"You come into this particular aspect of law enforcement because you have a passion for this work, and you really look at yourself as an advocate for the victims and their families," Brugos said.

He says on several occasions while trying to crack a case, he would wake up in the middle of the night with a theory.

"I used to keep a Steno pad on the nightstand next to the bed and I'd get up and write down what the idea was," he said.

He says the November 1992 murder-suicide involving international businessman Ian Spiro and his Rancho Santa Fe family still haunts him today.

"I think it was some type of twisted act of love," he said.

Spiro's wife, son and two teenage daughters were found shot to death in their beds. He took his own life four days later by swallowing cyanide. Brugos recalls reading one of the girl's diaries.

"She talked about going to a dance, an upcoming dance and she hoped a boy was going to ask her to dance. So you read that and you see these children -- it really gets to you," he said.

The 1985 murder of prostitute Donna Gentille, where suspects included San Diego police officers, is still one that fascinates him 26 years later.

"That case never was solved, and certainly I'm sure there was a cloud over the police department for a long time but there was nothing to suggest that anyone in their organization had anything to do with her death," Brugos said.

The evidence in that case also pointed to convicted killer and serial rapist Ronald Porter as a possible suspect in Donna Gentille's murder.

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