For 4 seasons retired NYPD homicide detective Steve Di Schiavi and his partner Amy Allan have starred together on The Dead Files. It is an investigative series that goes where no other paranormal show goes. Steve Di Schiavi investigates claims of paranormal activity from a detective’s point of view. Amy Allan goes to the source. She talks directly to the dead. After they both investigate, they meet the clients and reveal what they have found. Now Steve joins me to talk about his life and more on The Dead Files.
Abby: Steve, let me start out by saying thank you for your life of service. First as a Marine, defending our country. Then as a police officer, homicide detective, and now… How would you describe how you’re helping people now?
Steve: That’s a really good question. It’s different, obviously. I’m not dealing with a murder victim’s family. It almost has the same satisfaction because I’m kind of bringing them peace or, at some point, an answer. There’s nothing worse than not having an answer or an open door as to what the hell’s going on. Everybody wants closure when it comes to problems they’re having. I think that’s one of the things we bring.
Abby: Absolutely. Did you believe in the paranormal before you worked on the show?
Steve: I wouldn’t say I was a paranormal person, I’m open minded. I would never discount anything. We’re not here in this universe alone, obviously. I never watched ghost shows. I never watched any of this stuff on purpose. But being on the street for so many years and dealing with so many no-so-mentally-stable people, sometimes you tend to take things with a grain of salt. Our vetting is pretty intense when it comes to our clients. I know that by the time we get to them, I’m not dealing with a housewife who drinks martinis during the day and pops Quaaludes and says there are elephants coming through the window. So when I’m talking to clients, I would say they’re 99.99% legit. But I take everything they say with a grain of salt. I don’t believe everything 100%. And I never will. It’s just not in my nature. It’s from working the street and being lied to for 20-something years. It’s just part of my DNA at this point.
Abby: So you are a true skeptic?
Steve: I’m an open-minded skeptic. I get this question constantly. I’ve never had a paranormal experience, nor do I go looking for one. Nor do I want to have one. I’m not interested in any of that. I’m interested in helping a client and finding out what the hell is going on in their home. And that’s it. I’m not there for my own interests.
Abby: How do your family and friends feel about you working on The Dead Files?
Steve: Well, you know, I’m away a lot. It’s not something anybody, friends or family, would have expected I would get involved in. To say the least! I talk to the guys I worked with for years, and you know they always give me the same, “Oh, you drank the Kool-Aid” this that and the other thing. I’m like, “No, that’s not the case.” If you worked with Amy or met her, you’d have a different outlook. Like people ask if I believe in the paranormal. I believe in Amy and her abilities. Obviously, there’s no way she knows this stuff, so there’s got to be something else going on, on a different plane. So I’d be ignorant not to accept it at that point. I think anybody that knows her and works with her would say the same thing. I get so protective about her, it drives me nuts. Sometimes I want to punch people, especially people I know. They’re like, “You’re full of it! She’s full of baloney!” I thought the same thing, because I had worked with a couple of psychics on some homicide cases I’d had. I wasn’t impressed. Wrong psychic. Wrong time. And that money came out of my pocket. The NYPD frowns on that stuff. Most law enforcement agencies do. It’s not admissible in court, anything you have. So it’s all in that ‘nice to know’ category. When you need a lead, you do whatever you have to do get it. Had I known Amy beforehand, I probably would have used her on a lot of my old cases.
Abby: How long do you have to complete your investigation?
Steve: We film for seven or eight days. I get a background; they do a vetting process to make sure they’re not former actors trying to get on TV. I don’t know what I’m going to need until I talk to the client. So I may need to see a genealogist, a historian or I may need to see a descendant of somebody. So I’ve got to have all those ducks in a row before showing up at the scene – or location, I should say. It can take up to a month before I’m ready to hit the road running.
Abby: Does working on The Dead Files conflict with any of your religious views?
Steve: No. I was raised Roman Catholic. Fish every Friday, the whole nine yards. I’m not very religious, but everybody has their own beliefs. My own beliefs don’t change anything as far as me doing the show. I always believed there was an afterlife. I was raised that there was a Heaven and a Hell, and all this other stuff. But now as I work with Amy, I actually wish I didn’t know some of the stuff I know now. Religion is black and white. You die and you go to Heaven. I don’t want to get stuck sticking around and being miserable.
Abby: You’ve been helpful to everyone in this life. I can’t even fathom that would happen to you.
Steve: I do have a past, so you know, not everybody would say that.
Abby: Is that the New Yorker coming out in you?
Steve: Oh yeah. Hell yeah!
Abby: Were you born in New York?
Steve: I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I’m a New Yorker.
Abby: When did you join the military?
Steve: Early. I was asked to leave high school. I wasn’t exactly an altar boy as a kid. Which probably made me such a good cop because it takes a thief to catch a thief. I’ll leave it at that. I joined right after I got thrown out of high school. While I was away. And when I came home on leave I took the test to be a cop. I got discharged June 29th. July 16th I went to the police academy. For me it wasn’t that I wanted to be a cop – I hated cops when I was growing up. But for me, it was, alright, I’m out of the Marine Corp. I need a job. The rest is history, I guess.
Abby: Were you doing your own penance?
Steve: Yeah, just about. But things happen for a reason. I’m a believer in that. Had I not gone into the military, I probably… you know it’s a cliche, but I probably would have wound up in jail or dead. I was running with a rough crowd. I was doing some pretty bad things, and I was 16 years old and was carrying a 9 mm.
Abby: A very bad boy.
Steve: I was the whole nine yards. We drilled the serial numbers so they couldn’t be traced. So this is what I grew up in, that lifestyle. I grew up in the gangster, mob lifestyle. My neighborhood, your local hero was a gangster. It wasn’t the banker or the doctor. It was the local gangster driving a Cadillac.
Abby: That explains why you really enjoyed doing an episode of The Dead Files at Alcatraz and hearing about the gangster, Al Capone.
Steve: Oh, yeah. There’s a lot of history with Capone, especially in Brooklyn. His father had a barbershop on York Street in Brooklyn. Where the projects are now. And he lived on Garfield Place in South Brooklyn. I knew a lot of history about him growing up obviously. Everybody thinks he’s from Chicago, but he’s not. He got that scar in Brooklyn. He didn’t get that in Chicago.
Abby: What has been your favorite episode of The Dead Files?
Steve: I think the favorite for me was investigating the Santa Fe prison. I got to talk to a guy that had been tried for murder, was in jail and was there for the riots. I felt almost like I was a cop again.
Abby: Steve, what scares you?
Steve: A guy with a gun in his hand pointed at me.
Abby: Have you faced that?
Steve: I’ve been in three shootings. I fear the living, not the dead. I haven’t had anybody try to kill me that’s dead. It’s always the living. I’ve got the scars to prove it. I come from a different background. I respect that people are having experiences where maybe something paranormal has tried to hurt them. I haven’t had those experiences yet. Maybe my attitude would change. But I’ve had enough problems with the living, so I’m going to leave it at that.
Abby: I’m going to ask a morbid question. Did you worked on a case with a baby in a microwave?
Steve: Ya. The guy microwaved the baby in the microwave. I was a cop at the time and responded to it. Microwaves were pretty big in those days. They were huge. A crack head wanted to stop his kid from crying, so he figured he’d stick him in the microwave.
Abby: Tell me that guy did time.
Steve: Ya, ya. But that’s just one of thousands of incidents I’ve witnessed and seen. When I get asked, “What’s the creepiest place you’ve been in?” or “What’s the worst thing you’ve done on the show?” I’ll empathize with the client that this looks creepy, but in the back of my head, I’m saying to myself, “I’ve seen 20 times worse than this.” I’m not trying to dismiss any question or dismiss anybody’s feelings about anything. I’ve just pretty much seen and done it all.
Abby: Do you watch TV?
Steve: I do. I’ll tell you my favorite show, and you’re going to laugh, is Supernatural.
Abby: With the Winchester boys?
Steve: Ya, for me it’s just about the guys kicking ass. I really enjoy that show. I found that show by accident. It’s funny that you mentioned the Alcatraz case. I was in San Francisco and I turned on the TV. They were on and I started getting into it.
Abby: It’s just funny that it went down the paranormal line.
Steve: Ya, that’s the funny thing about that. I get the best of both worlds, if you’re into that stuff. I watch Burn Notice a lot and Sons of Anarchy, those types of shows. I watch The Dead Files when it’s available in my motel room!
Abby: Of the shows you listed The Dead Files is my favorite! I am a fan.
Steve: Thank you. I think The Dead Files have got the most dedicated and ‘have your back’ attitude fans out of all the shows I’ve seen. They are diehard fans, and I love them all. I try to respond to all their questions; I read all their comments on my Facebook page, and I do “Like” them. And the ones I don’t like I don’t “Like”, you know?
Abby: Indeed I do. I am looking forward to seeing you on more episodes of The Dead Files on Friday nights on The Travel Channel. Thank you Steve!
Steve: You’re welcome!
The Dead Files airs on Saturday nights at 10 PM ET/PT on The Travel Channel.
To watch an episode or to get more information on The Dead Files just click this link: http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files