I’m a big crime fan, I have been for years – factual or fictional, I lap it up. What that says about me as a person is another question altogether, but the genre completely fascinates me. I’d love to study Criminology, but thanks to knowing full well I haven’t a hope of ever passing a Garda medical, the practical side of me has left it as an armchair hobby for the moment. The genre has grown massively in popularity in recent years, in particular with documentaries and podcasts. I’ve been enraptured by True Crime podcasts for the last few months, they’ve drawn me in with eyes wide open. I guess everyone is an armchair detective at heart!
Here’s a look at True Crime Podcasts that any fan of the genre will love.
If you’ve not heard of Serial, what rock have you been living under? Sarah Koenig of This American Life went viral in late 2014/early 2015 with the investigation into the murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore in January 2000. Currently imprisoned for her murder, Adnan Syed’s guilt comes into question over the 12 episodes. Did he really commit this crime of passion, or has he been framed? If you’ve not listened to it before, it’s well worth checking out Series 1. (And if you have already finished it, head over to the folks at Undisclosed Season 1 for even more discussion of the case from attorney and family friend of Syed, Rabia Chaudry, and her team).
This February, Audible released a new chronological true crime podcast about the murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier in West Cork in 1996. For anyone who has never heard about the crime before, Sophie Toscan Du Plantier was a French woman who was staying in her house just outside Schull in West Cork, Ireland just before Christmas 1996. Her body was found outside the house one morning a few days before Christmas, and the case has remained unsolved ever since. The 13 piece documentary podcast goes into great detail with interviews with lots involved in the case and will definitely give true crime fans and curious folks alike food for thought. It’s currently only available on Audible but it is free of charge (sign up for a 30-day free trial here AND you can get a free audiobook to boot), so I definitely recommend it.
One of the best out there, Casefile is on my subscribe list and has been for a while now. With an anonymous host, this Australian podcast is full of mystery and intrigue. It’s well researched and informative, but VERY dark in parts. In particular, the podcasts on Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, a case which I had been familiar with, required some happiness breaks in between. The podcast expertly covers murder and abduction, sometimes walking the listener through the criminal’s trial. At other times, they discuss potential theories for a crime whose perpetrator was never caught. There’s a mix of crimes from around the world, some I’d heard of, others completely new to me. It’s fascinating, but I’d definitely have something Sunshine-and-rainbows on hand for the darker episodes.
Real Crime Profile
I’ve been a big fan of Criminal Minds since it first starting airing on RTE after Tubridy Tonight. When I spotted that the folks behind the facts of Criminal Minds, Jim Clemente, Laura Richards, and Lisa Zambetti had a podcast discussing true crime cases, I was hooked. Jim Clemente is a former FBI agent, a Supervisory Special Agent in the Behaviour Analysis Unit. (Yes, the real life version of the one in the show). Laura Richards is former New Scotland Yard. She has spent her career working with and advocating for victims of dangerous crime and stalking. Their insights into crimes such as that of the OJ Simpson trial, the murder of Meredith Kercher, the murder of Reeva Steenkamp and many more drew me in and left me wanting even more.
The Generation Why Podcast
If you’re a bit of a conspiracy theorist, or left wondering if that was really all that was behind a case, the guys behind The Generation Why Podcast will be right up your alley. Most episodes are one-offs and about an hour long. Topics range from the Death of Princess Diana, to the 9/11 Truth Theories, the Zodiac Killer Hoax and the mystery of the death of Elisa Lam. They’re never boring, that’s for sure! If you’re looking for something a bit different, I’d recommend giving this a try.
Those Conspiracy Guys
Speaking of Conspiracy Theories, Those Conspiracy Guys is an Irish podcast series which has been running for the past few years. While conspiracy is definitely the focus of their podcasts, they have also done some in-depth research on various crime cases which I have found fascinating. Unlike other true crime podcasts which can feel like they’re rattling the information off from an article they read on the topic, they’re asking questions of the sources and digging in deep. While a lot of the material they cover can be quite dark, there is also a lot of humour in their podcasts. Many of them are quite long – some up to 5 or 6 hours – so perhaps a stick-it-on-in-the-background type podcast which will open your mind. Also, Wexford accents. Consider yourself warned. I found their episodes on Princess Diana, Jimmy Savile and Project Yewtree, the Unabomber and Amanda Knox to be brilliant, and there are many more that I’m just getting to now as a late-comer to their work. It’s available on lots of podcast sources, I get mine from Apple podcasts here.
They Walk Among Us
Focusing solely on UK True Crime, They Walk Among Us has covered many cases that I was already familiar with, but very in-depth. A bi-weekly UK true crime podcast, They Walk Among Us started back in September 2016. It covers a broad range of cases from the sinister to the surreal. They won Best True Crime Podcast at the British Podcast Awards 2017, showing that even in the short amount of time they’ve been active, they’ve been making big shapes in UK True Crime circles. Some of the cases are two-parters, to ensure you don’t wind up with information overload in the one podcast. Ones to watch out for: Episode 6 (The Tia Sharpe murder), Episodes 11-12 (The Derby Fire).
In The Dark
Just after finishing Serial series 1, I was looking for something similar and along came In The Dark. For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. In the most comprehensive reporting on this case, APM Reports and reporter Madeleine Baran reveal how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving effectiveness and accountability.
As a parent, listening to the details of this child abduction struck fear into my heart. Listening to the mistakes made and the bad decisions encountered in the investigation, I grew angry for those parents involved. Much like the first season of Serial, by the end of the series, the case has furthered since the start of recording. The power of the podcast in advancing these cases is interesting to observe – they’re bringing the cases back into the public eye in a medium where they won’t simply be ignored.
In December 2010, Phoebe Hansjuk’s battered body was discovered at the bottom of a garbage chute in her apartment building in Melbourne, Australia. She lived there with her boyfriend, Atony Hampel. While she survived the 40-meter fall, Phoebe bled out after her foot was severed by the blades meant for compacting garbage. Was Phoebe Hansjuk’s death a “tragic accident” as the coroner ruled? Or, was she murdered? Phoebe’s Fall, a 6 part series presented by The Age newspaper, looks into findings made by the Coroner – including how Hansjuk could have got into the garbage chute without assistance.You’ll be left with a desire to see justice done in a case that has more questions than answers. It’s quite a quick listen – no episode is longer than 45 minutes, and there are mini episodes in between the larger ones of 6-9 minutes. However, for something short it does pack a punch and I found this to be really interesting.
When Elizabeth Andes was found murdered in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Two juries disagreed. The Cincinnati Enquirer investigates: Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free? In murder cases, they tend to look at the boyfriend/husband first – and in this case, Bob Young was the main suspect from the start. He even confessed – but was he telling the truth? I really enjoyed this 9 part series – I finished it in two days and was captivated by the case. Really great journalism from the Cincinnati Enquirer, which, as with other podcasts of its kind, has led to further people coming forward with information previously withheld about the case.
There’s now a series 2 which centres around a prison minister murdered in Kentucky and the potential wrongful conviction of a man for her murder coming to light 30 years later. I’m finding it just as interesting as the original, and again am a fan of the style of journalism coming from the Cincinnati Enquirer.
For something a bit more light-hearted – dependent on your sense of humour.
S’Laughter is a podcast by two British girls, Lucy and Emma, combining true crime and laughter. Looking at the dark issues they discuss, humour is used as a protective layer from the horrors they’re talking about. Generally, each podcast contains the tales of two serial killers/criminals, but there are special episodes, like that of Jimmy Savile, Fred & Rose West and The Moors Murders which warranted their own episodes. I found it to be quite educational without the deep levels of doom I’ve gotten from others along the way.
These are just some of the True Crime podcasts which have been filling my commutes over the last while. I’d love to hear any other recommendations you’ve got – what true crime podcasts have had you enraptured? Let me know in the comments, or over on Facebook or Twitter – I’d love to hear from you.