Between his 12 years as a Chicago police officer and his 17 seasons hosting his syndicated talk show (which has led to the arrest and conviction of multiple murderers and child abusers), Steve Wilkos has seen it all when it comes to homicidal behavior. “People watch TV and movies, and they think, ‘OK, I won’t make that mistake,” he says, adding that he’s shocked that criminals think they can commit the perfect murder in the day and age of the internet and cellphones.

“Fifty years ago, it was probably much easier to commit a crime,” says the 59-year-old star of The Steve Wilkos Show, who made his TV debut as a security guard on The Jerry Springer Show in 1994. “DNA and forensics were not as advanced. There was a murderer who was tracked by his Fitbit. Even if you’re smart, there are so many different ways to trip yourself up!” Here, the married dad of two (he wed TV producer Rachelle Consiglio in 2000) talks to In Touch‘s Katie Bruno about his late mentor, Jerry (the longtime host died in April at age 79 of pancreatic cancer), dream guests and more.

What do you think is going on in people’s minds when they kill?
SW: It’s amazing to me. I’ve been in relationships that have ended, I’ve been divorced…you move on. I never thought, “I want out of this relationship so I’m going to poison or kill them.” That’s not the normal thought process. People think they can get away with it.

What’s the most shocking crime you’ve seen on your show?
SW: The highest-rated show we ever did was a woman who believed her young daughter was poisoning her. The daughter seemed so sweet and innocent, but she failed the lie detector test and admitted she was putting bleach in her mother’s orange juice every day.

Jerry Springer and Steve Wilkos
Bruce Glikas/Getty Images

Any dream celeb guests?
SW: Will Smith and also Jussie Smollett. When I heard about his story, I thought the whole thing stunk. [In 2021, the Empire actor was found guilty of lying to authorities after claiming he was attacked in a hate crime.] He’s sticking to his story — I’d love for him to come on and take a lie detector test.

You’ve now been in the TV business for 30 years. How does it feel?
SW: When I first started on The Jerry Springer Show, I was a policeman. I had hair! I thought it was just a security job for one day. My role kept increasing, and I hosted when Jerry was on Dancing With the Stars [in 2006]. Then they gave me my own show. I’m very blessed.

What’s one of your wildest moments from his show?
SW: We had two little guys on — one friend was sleeping with the other friend’s wife — and they started fighting. We ran up on stage, and they started throwing us around. I’m 6-foot-3 and weighed about 245 pounds — it was embarrassing! Backstage, the producers tell us they’re champion wrestlers!

What did you learn from Jerry?
SW: At one time, Jerry was the biggest star in the world. He was a gentleman with great manners who always showed up on time. I’m sure there are people who worked with me who say, “He’s a d—head,” but nobody’s ever going to say that about Jerry. He was truly the nicest guy in the world.

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