Jennifer Marshall, host of the CW Network series “Mysteries Decoded,” only had one problem when people started comparing her to Dana Scully from “The X-Files.” She had only a vague idea of who the skeptical researcher of the strange and weird was.
“I had never seen an episode of ‘The X-Files’ until 2020 when I binged it during COVID,” Marshall says. “When I heard that floating around, I really didn’t understand it. Then when I started watching it, I realized it was really a compliment.
“That was an amazing character and those are big shoes to fill. I think it is great because I believe people should be more skeptical and really evaluate things based on the facts.”
Once she had a clearer picture of Scully, Marshall embraced the comparisons. It makes perfect sense because her job on the network series is to look into the unexplainable and try to explain it. The episode that airs at 8 p.m. tonight (Aug. 17) takes her to Cerro Gordo, a California location considered to be one of America’s most haunted ghost towns.
What sparked the investigation in Cerro Gordo was an unexplained fire that destroyed the hotel that was the centerpiece of the small town. Marshall’s task was to determine whether it was the actions of a supernatural presence or just faulty wiring that caused the blaze.
Her investigation in Cerro Gordo is the latest of the many of the great unsolved mysteries for Marshall. Her work has taken her from the Phoenix Lights to the Werewolves of Kentucky. The selection of Cerro Gordo was a combination of the rich supernatural history of the location and the fact it was isolated enough to be safe during the pandemic.
On a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to being cynical, Scully started out at a 12 on “The X-Files.” Marshall stresses that while she doesn’t go out of her way to be cynical, in the end she would give herself an 8.5 on the cynical scale.
The number went a little higher when the initial discussions of looking at Cerro Gordo started. The abandoned city had just been purchased to be turned into a tourist attraction. Attention from a network TV show would give the location and new owner a lot of publicity.
“That definitely went through my head especially since he had just purchased the town,” Marshall says. “But, when I spoke to him he did seem to be very honest. And, he was very upset that the hotel had burned down. I found him to be very credible.
“On top of that, once the hotel burned down there really wasn’t any angle that he had because there was no place for anyone to stay at that point.”
Marshall brings a natural curiosity and an accomplished background in the U.S. Navy and as a private investigator to each story. While in the military, she worked as a member of the Ship’s Security Defense Force Team as well as the Repair Locker Fire Team. Marshall separated honorably from the service as a Second Class Petty Officer, earning, among other awards, a Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal. A vocal veteran advocate, Marshall currently serves on the Veterans and Community Oversight and Engagement Board (VCOEB) on a federal level.
Marshall – who comes from a military family – credits the Navy with giving her the need to pay attention to details that she doesn’t believe she would have gotten anywhere else.
“Being a woman in the military was especially hard,” Marshall says. “You cannot just be a normal sailor but you have to go above and beyond to be seen and treated like your peers.
“The military did amazing things for me as a person both personally and professionally.”
After her stint in the Navy, Marshall graduated Magna Cum Laude with undergraduate degrees in International Politics and Spanish from Virginia Wesleyan University, and later obtained her graduate degree in Criminal Justice from American Military University. Marshall is a licensed private investigator and the owner of Deep Source Investigations.
All of her training comes into play once the subject of an episode has been made. How much research she does in advance depends on the location.
“It all depends on what I want to know going in and what I need to know,” Marshall says. “Sometimes if I have a preconceived notion of something I might not be as open minded as I should be. I generally try to have a basic idea of it.
“The fact the fire had just happened at Cerro Gordo led us to that story. Before that, it was like a lot of other old mining towns.”
Episodes of “Mysteries Decoded” can be found on The CW Network streaming service.