The View Cohost Sunny Hostin on How Uncle's Stabbing Changed Her Life: 'I Felt Very Helpless'
Sunny Hostin remembers one of the most defining moments of her childhood like it was yesterday.
“I was 7 years old and was very close to my father’s only sibling,” the View cohost and host of new I.D. docuseries The Truth About Murder With Sunny Hostin tells PEOPLE. “He was the fun uncle. But he had his demons: he drank too much, did drugs too much, and was a partier and a womanizer.”
“He was dating someone who he did not know was married,” she continues. “Her husband found out and tried to kill him — and tried to stab him to death right in front of me. It was so tragic and I felt very, very helpless.”
While her uncle survived that initial attack, he died a few years later due to complications from the stabbing. The assailant was never punished. “A lot of times, children are left out of the equation, especially in low-income communities,” Hostin says. “You don’t get taken to a therapist. It colored the way our family operated, it changed how my father operated.”
“One of the things that was pretty horrible for me was that my family never talked about it. Ever,” she continues. “We moved out of my neighborhood. I left all of my friends. And then, on top of that, we never spoke about it.”
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The incident helped motivate Hostin, 51, to pursue a career in law — and is part of the reason she’s focusing on crime in her new series, The Truth About Murder With Sunny Hostin, which premieres tonight at 10 on Investigation Discovery.
On the 6-episode television show, Hostin travels across America to explore the stories behind some of the nation’s most intriguing unsolved homicides, from the 2001 murder of pregnant Kelsey Monahan inside her own home to the mysterious death of Elizabeth Ferrell, whose body was found floating in a swamp 300 miles from her Texas home.
Through it all, Hostin shows viewers the process of solving cases by examining evidence with law enforcement and forensic experts who were first assigned to the case.
“I wanted to choose cases that not everyone has heard of,” says Hostin, an Emmy-winning legal correspondent for ABC who used to work as a federal prosecutor. “And these stories deserve to be told. These families are still living with these crimes, and many of them want to get the closure of telling their stories.”
Hostin says she thinks about her own story when she speaks to victims’ families on the show. “I have made it my mission to talk about things,” she says. “When you go through trauma, it’s important to talk about it. And that’s what I’m doing.”
Above all, Hostin says her show offers hope. “The human spirit is one of triumph and survival, ultimately,” she says. “You can see that in the people on my show. I believe that we, as a community, come really back from the worst of it all.”
The Truth About Murder With Sunny Hostin premieres October 22 at 10 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.