He’s had one of the longest runs as a homicide investigator in the country but today Tulsa Police Homicide Sergeant Mike Huff turned in his badge.
"Thirty-six years, four months and 15 days, but who's counting? It was a good run,” says Huff.
Sergeant Huff joined the Tulsa Police Department in 1975 and entered Homicide Division five years later.
Many consider him an encyclopedia of death investigations in Tulsa and across the country.
Huff has investigated over a thousand homicide cases in his career but there is one that stands out.
FOX23’s Abbie Alford sits down with Huff and reports on his last day as he says goodbye to his brothers and sisters who consider him a legend.
Tonight marks 30 years since Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler was gunned down leaving Southern Hills Country Club.
Homicide Sergeant Mike Huff put many of the players away but he is still determined to arrest Boston-area gangster James “Whitey” Bulger who ordered the hit.
It's a case that marked a turning point in this legend's career. Thirty years ago tonight, Huff’s career changed.
"I started off and I was very naive,” says Huff.
Looking back he considers himself Elliot Ness in Paramount Pictures, The Untouchables.
"Where Sean Connery is telling Kevin Costner to not go through that door,” says Huff. “Kevin Costner was just full of himself and had to be involved and had to do it."
Huff was going after the mob hit on Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler.
"I looked back and had that same conversation, 30 years ago tonight, with Sgt. Roy Hunt and he told me my life was about to change, did I really want to do that?” says Huff. "I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought this is going to be a big case, I'll love this case."
He testified before Congress and put an FBI agent in prison.
"You can walk over here and say 'do you know anything that sounds like this, that could have happened sort of near here?' He is a walking encyclopedia of cases,” says Homicide Detective Margaret Lovell.
She’s one of the longest standing detectives who currently worked under Huff’s leadership.
During the interview, Huff continues to clean out his office.
"You just find little pieces of stuff and it was just in a drawer,” says Huff.
He finds a list of phone numbers in his suit jacket.
"This dates back to 1982 or 1983. I was evening shift at the time, everyone except for one on this list is gone on the department,” says Huff.
Sketches of the names of his Tulsa Police brothers killed in the line of duty.
"Carl Kime, we went through the academy together, I was a pallbearer. Gus Spanos, I broke that murder case. Dick Hobson. All of these officers were murdered,” says Huff.
For Sergeant Huff it’s not the cases that define a career but the little things this life-long officer has carried with him for so many years.
"It's a small little box you walk in and say 'wow all of the memories.' When I was turning my radio in, I remembered the last time I was screaming for help on it, you think about those things. You look at those handcuffs, you think about how many times you used those,” says Huff. "It’s been my life. I know it's time to move on but it's not that easy."
As the lead homicide investigator Huff dedicated his life to bringing justice to families and so did his own family.
"I have slept many, many, many nights here including my kids, I mean we had sleeping bags,” says Huff.
Sergeant Mike Huff is considered one of Tulsa’s finest legends.
"I count the days I have been here not the days till I leave. I made it to the finish line,” says Huff.
As you can imagine Huff didn’t get much sleep throughout his career and not just because the demands of the job but he suffered several injuries, including one while chasing a murder suspect.
He’s had several surgeries, which is one reason he’s retiring. Huff is scheduled for another big surgery in June.
This won’t be the end of his career as an investigator.
He and retired TPD Detective Mike Nance created the International Association of Cold Case Investigators.
Robbery Sergeant Dave Walker is moving taking the leadership over the TPD Homicide Unit.