10 True-Crime Podcasts You Probably Haven’t Binged YetReading Time: 6 minutes
Bone Valley, In the Dark, Root of All Evil, and more shows for the true-crime obsessed.
Way back in 2014 (a millennia ago in internet years), the podcast Serial began, and the whole world stopped to listen. Today, the show is widely regarded as one of the most influential podcasts in history, a cultural phenomenon that popularized the true-crime genre, advanced the conversation around criminal justice reform, and helped to legitimize podcasting as a medium.
Serial’s success proved podcasting could be a medium for high-quality, investigative journalism, and its legacy lingers in the countless true-crime podcasts and investigative journalism projects that have followed in its wake.
Because your search for podcast recommendations no doubt led you to this article, though, you’ve doubtlessly already heard all of Serial, as well as the other shows that strung up after it. But I’m happy to tell you that podcasting is a deep well, and there are still a lot of high quality true-crime podcasts you haven’t already binged. Here are 10 of my favorites—but you don’t have to take my word for it; many of these shows have received the stamp of approval from Crime Writers On…, a true-crime podcast review podcast hosted by two pro true-crime writers.
In the Dark
Hosted by Madeleine Baran, In the Dark‘s first season investigates the case of Jacob Wetterling, a Minnesota boy who was abducted in 1989 and remained missing for 27 years, until his remains were discovered in 2016. It’s fantastic, but for this top ten list, I want to steer you to season two, which focuses on the case of Curtis Flowers, a man who was tried six times for the same crime in Mississippi. Madeleine and her crew did extensive research to examine the flaws in the case against Flowers and underline the ways race and politics may have influenced the prosecution’s efforts. (Like the testimony of a single, inconsistent witness who admitted to lying, and how the prosecution used peremptory strikes to exclude Black jurors from the case.) In the Dark became famous for uncovering new evidence that pointed to Flowers’ potential innocence, including an alternative suspect and possible evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. In 2019, the United States Supreme Court cited the show’s reporting in a decision to overturn Flowers’ conviction—but only after he’d spent 23 years in prison. (Hear to In the Dark reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.)
Bone Valley is about Leo Schoefield, who in 1987 was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife, 18-year-old Michelle Schofield. Leo in still in prison, despite the fact that new evidence matches fingerprints from the scene of the crime to a guy named Jeremy Scott, who has even confessed to murdering Michelle. Host and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King and assistant reporter Kelsey Decker take you down to Florida and through every single step, sifting through evidence, examining Jeremy Scott’s taped confession, and searching for new developments. A looming parole hearing set for May 3 will determine if Leo will be released from prison. If he is, this podcast will have played a big part of that. (Hear Bone Valley reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.)
To Live and Die in L.A.
Hosted by journalist Neil Strauss (known for writing The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists,) the first season of To Live and Die in L.A. investigates the disappearance of an aspiring actress and model named Adea Shabani, who vanished in February 2018 after leaving her apartment in Hollywood. Over the course of 18 episodes, Strauss explores the circumstances surrounding Shabani’s disappearance and delves into the complex and murky world of Hollywood as he interviews detectives, friends, and family members in his quest for answers. The show’s immersive storytelling is as strong as its reporting, which led to renewed interest in the case and eventually resulted in the release of breakthrough new evidence.
Serial fans will remember it was Rabia Chaudry, a lawyer and friend of Adnan Sayed who brought Adnan’s story to Sarah Konig, who made Serial. Post-Serial, Rabia started Undisclosed with two lawyers, Colin Miller and Susan Simpson. The show aims to investigate and analyze wrongful convictions in the American criminal justice system. Each season focuses on a different case and typically includes detailed research, legal analysis, and interviews with key figures involved. Rabia, Susan, and Colin use their legal expertise to uncover new evidence or point out flaws in the prosecution’s case. Three jaw-dropping episodes in particular are must-listens for Serial fans—one about Adnan, one about Hae Min Lee, and one about Jay. (Hear Undisclosed reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.)
Root of Evil
Root of Evil tells the story of the infamous Black Dahlia murder, which took place in Los Angeles in 1947. Hosted by sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile—the great-granddaughters of George Hodel, a prominent physician and a suspect in the killing—the show delves into the history of the Hodel family, their connections to Hollywood, and the shocking revelations that have emerged about George Hodel’s potential involvement case. As you’re diving deep into the Black Dahlia murder, Yvette and Rasha pull one skeleton after another out of their family closet, searching for the meaning of true evil, and what that means for them as descendants of Hodel. Once you’ve binged Root of Evil, listen to their other podcast, Facing Evil, which continues the conversation.
Believe Her flips the true-crime script, forcing you to ask yourself: In a domestic abuse situation, what happens when the victim becomes the killer? Believe Her tells the story of Nicole ‘Nikki’ Addimando, who shot and killed her boyfriend in self defense after years of abuse (his phone had been used to search for the phrase, ‘Will police know if ahe [sic] was asleep when I shoot her?’ just before he died). Yet in 2019, she was found guilty of his murder and was eventually sentenced to 19 years-to-life in prison. Governor Kathy Hochul has yet to approve Addimando’s clemency application, despite an ardent push for freedom from her supporters. Perhaps this show can help change that. (Hear Believe Her reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Suave tells the story of David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez, who was let out of prison in 2017 after being locked up in 1988 for a crime he committed as a 17-year-old. (This followed a 2012 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reopen thousands of cases of juveniles who received life sentences.) But more than that, it tells the story of the friendship between Suave and journalist Maria Hinojosa, who spent nearly 20 years documenting his story. The show covers the time before, during, and after Suave’s release from prison. (Hear the show reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.
In 2008, 24-year-old Arpana Jinaga was found strangled in her apartment after a Halloween party in her building. DNA evidence linked her body to three men, one of them Emanuel Fair, a Black man from Seattle who was held in custody for nine years before being found not guilty. The case remains unsolved, but on Suspect, journalists Matthew Shaer and Eric Benson use extensive interviews to tell a story about racism, injustice, the misuse of forensic DNA evidence, and how we come to our perceptions of guilt and innocence. It’s exceptionally well done—instead of bringing closure, the show seeks to asks lots of important and unsettling questions about why this case remains unsolved. (Hear Suspect reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.)
S-Town is a narrative non-fiction podcast created by the producers of Serial and This American Life. It tells the story of John B. McLemore, a resident of a small town in Alabama who contacts journalist Brian Reed to investigate a murder and other alleged injustices in his town. During Reed’s investigation about the murder, he gets to know the eccentric and troubled McLemore and understand his complicated relationship with his hometown. S-Town has a jaw-dropping third episode that takes listeners on a path they never expected. It’s a story about a murder, but more importantly, about the man who brought Reed to the scene of the crime. (Hear S-Town reviewed on Crime Writers On… here.)
Hosted by Jason Moon, Bear Brook tells the story of a decades-long mystery surrounding four unidentified bodies that were found in a state park in New Hampshire in 1985. It all begins with the discovery of two barrels in Bear Brook State Park, which were found to contain the remains of two unidentified women and two young girls. The case remained unsolved for decades until the advent of new DNA technology allowed investigators to make a major breakthrough in the case. With in-dept reporting and compelling storytelling, Bear Brook touches upon DNA technology, genealogy, and the challenges of identifying and solving cold cases. Season two takes on a new case: the story of a man named Jason Carroll, imprisoned for the murder of Sharon Johnson 35 years ago after making a confession. He remains in jail, despite the fact that evidence suggests his confession may have been based on a lie.
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