Some of my earliest memories involve me hiding under my covers convinced someone was coming to hack me to pieces with an ax as I slept, and casually asking my mother if someone was going to murder me.
So, yeah – you could say I’m a bit of a true crime fanatic. Nearly bordering on the creepy some days, I’d imagine. However, for me, the appeal lies not in the crimes themselves or the demented killers, but in the stories – the tales that intertwine tragedy and survival, darkness and healing. Since I feel pretty strongly about this topic, here are a few podcasts to get you started. Well, that or keep you going on your true-crime loving journey, just as they did for me.
Of course, you should listen to heavy hitters like My Favorite Murder, Last Podcast on the Left, and Serial – which are some of the most popular of the genre, and some of my personal favorites. However, to give you a better idea of what to look for off the beaten path, these are seven solid listens with excellent storytelling to keep your nightmares alive.
Casefile True CrimeThis true-crime series is hosted by an anonymous Australian man with an accent so soothing, you’ll sometimes forget you’re listening to some of the worst crimes in human history. Covering a new case weekly, the host delves into grim cases, such as the Yorkshire Ripper, the East Area Rapist, and Mr. Cruel. The host not only paints the stories so vividly your hair will stand up on your arms, but treads the careful line of focusing the audience’s attention and compassion for the victims.
Atlanta MonsterThough it’s been decades since Wayne Williams was convicted of two of what is considered the 28 Atlanta Child Murders, many still question whether he was responsible for the grisly crimes that haunted the city from 1979 to 1981. Journalist Payne Lindsey explores the investigation, the media’s handling of the case, as well as how the racial divide between white and black Atlantans, played a part in shaping reactions to the murders and how they’re remembered today.
Missing & MurderedIt’s hard not to have mad respect for Connie Walker, the host and CBC News investigative journalist behind this show. In it, Walker, an indigenous woman herself, looks into the unsolved murder of Alberta Williams, an indigenous woman, and in the second season, Walker tries to help a group of Cree siblings who were separated by the Canadian government as young children find their sister, Cleopatra Semaganis Nicotine. The family believed their sister was murdered as a little girl. Walker wastes no time diving into the painful plights and history of the indigenous people, storylines that are often overlooked, with great compassion. This show will definitely not make you cry! Sniff.
Someone Knows SomethingI’m a big advocate for CBC News podcasts. “Someone Knows Something” is yet another well-reported series of cases, this time hosted by David Ridgen. Like the aforementioned Connie Walker, Ridgen fearlessly takes on cases long dropped by law enforcement, and with the utmost compassion for the victims and the loved ones left behind. Whether searching for a 5-year-old boy who disappeared into the wild on a fishing trip, or helping a mother whose daughter mysteriously disappeared after being proposed to, Ridgen leaves no stone unturned in his hunt to find answers for these families.
AccusedUnfortunately, in our imperfect justice system, there are those who are wrongfully convicted of horrendous crimes and spend years, and sometimes decades, in prison before they are exonerated. Fortunately, we have reporters like Amber Hunt investigating such cases for the Cincinnati Enquirer podcast, “Accused.” Hunt unearths the stories of murder victims Elizabeth Andes and Retha Welch and their wrongfully-convicted supposed killers. Despite the occasional uncooperative public official, Hunt explores these nuanced and tragic stories, highlighting the raw deal those who are wrongfully imprisoned get.
StranglersFollowing what were some of the most notorious serial murders in American history, women in Boston spent a long time fearing the Strangler, a serial killer who supposedly murder 13 women from 1962 to 1964. Though a man by the name of Albert DeSalvo went down for the crimes, many are skeptical that he was responsible, or even that only one man was guilty for the horrendous killings of women that spanned across different ages and races. Follow host Portland Helmich down the unsettling corridor of American history that many believe remains unsolved today.
In the DarkJust as one of the most infamous child abduction case in United States history was solved, in the first season of their show, American Public Media Reports released a detailed analysis by reporter Madeleine Baran showing how investigators bungled the case of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling, and how the haunting kidnapping and murder led to the institution of a state sex-offender registry.