10 Essential True Crime Podcasts You Need to Binge
If you’re one of the unlucky Joes who has to put up with a morning commute or sit by your PC all day, you’ll know just how much of a godsend a good podcast can be. And if you’re anything like us, you can’t help but get sucked into the dark and murky worlds created by true crimes podcasts.
But with so much on offer, it can hard to know which ‘whodunnit’ podcast to listen to next. Chances are by now you’ve all done Serial and it got you hooked onto the genre. So with that in mind, here’s our run-down of 10 essential true crime podcasts you should be listening to after Serial.
As soon as Crimetown billed itself as being ‘from the creators of HBO’s The Jinx’, we were sold. Each season of Crimetown focuses on the culture of crime in a different American city. Season 1 had journalist hosts Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling focused on the organised crime and corruption of Providence, Rhode Island, including its ties to enigmatic mayor Buddy Cianci. Crimetown is some of the best storytelling you’ll find around and the production is the best we’ve found on the medium. The theme song is also worth the listen alone!
Criminal is a real stalwart in the genre. Having been going since 2014, unlike Serial, the podcast is easy perfect for commuting as it delivers a full story in less than half an hour – which we understand sounds impossible but it really works! Billing itself as ‘stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle,’ the podcast is made by Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer who use original reporting including interviews with perpetrators, victims and onlookers to tell their stories.
One of BBC World Service’s gems, The Assassination fuses true crime investigation with politics and history to look into the death of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Including interviews with those accused of her murder, journalist and former friend of the victim, Owen Bennett-Jones, presents something visceral and compelling without straying into some of the usual true crime podcast tropes.
Up and Vanished
A classic in the ‘re-examine forgotten cases from the past’ genre, Georgia-based Up and Vanished is probably the most successful to date. The podcast follows the story of high school teacher and beauty queen, Tara Grinstead, who disappeared from her apartment in 2005. Documentarian Payne Lindsey sets out to find answers and killers. Without giving too much away, he does find them…
All Killa No Filla
As much as we love them, true crime podcasts can get a little heavy at times. Which is why British comedians Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard decided to produce something a little lighter, while still focus on their shared passion; serial killers. Each episode focuses on one murderer – we’re talking the Rose Wests and Aileen Wuornos’ of the world – with the duo somehow managing to crack some jokes along the way.
Death in Ice Valley
One for anyone who’s into their Nordic Noir, Death in Ice Valley is a newly-released podcast from the BBC World Service and the Norwegian NRK. It opens the mysterious cold case from the 70s of the ‘Isdal Woman’, an unidentified woman who was found in bizarre circumstances in the icy Norwegian fjords. Blending personal stories and raw resources, Death in Ice Valley really does a job in blending the bleak scenes of Bergen with the intrigue of the case.
Set in Dunedin, New Zealand, Black Hands looks into the slaughter of five members of the Bain family back in 1994. The only suspects were David Bain, the oldest son and only survivor, and Robin Bain, the father. Narrated by veteran journalist Martin van Beynen, the podcast looks at the facts of the case to try and understand how David Bain was convicted of the murders only to be acquitted years later.
One for lovers of music, as well as true crime, Disgraceland is a podcast by Jake Brennan which tells various stories about famous musicians getting away with murder and behaving very badly. Episodes include the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Jerry Lee Lewis’ fifth wife, and whether there’s more than meets the eye to Sid Vicious’ fatal overdose. It’s a must-listen for any music buff.
Not nearly as risqué as it sounds, narrator Christopher Goffard tells the real-life story of Debra Newell, a wealthy interior designer, who met the man of her dreams online, only to realise he wasn’t all that he seemed. Told through a series interviews from Newell herself and her daughters, Dirty John is a story of love, manipulation, family and survival. If ever a podcast could be described as ‘edge of your seat listening’, this is it.
In the Dark
In the Dark is a real classic of the genre. While it’s not necessarily a ‘whodunnit’ given you’re told the answer at the start of the podcast, it’s a great expose of the failings of small town America’s policing. The first series follow the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, a case which took 27 years to resolve, despite the killer being well known to the police, and resulted in the US’ sex-offender registries. A second series has also just been released.
If you love your documentaries as much as you love your podcasts, here’s some of the best documentaries around on Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube.