With so many fantastic true crime documentaries out this year you might be looking for some more haunting stories to listen to while on the go.
Here we provide you with the very best true crime podcasts to binge while cooped up at home (and make you sleep with the light on).
1 – Serial (Season 1)
Serial has to be top of the list because it’s the crime podcast that started off the world’s global obsession with podcasts. Season 1 tells the story of Adnan Syed, who was found guilty of killing his teenage girlfriend in 1999. He was found guilty and remains in prison. The thing is, he says he didn’t do it. This show is notoriously addictive because there are so many aspects of the case that just don’t add up. It’s the kind of show that will keep you turning things over in your mind for weeks after you’ve listened.
One of the major parts of intrigue centres around the evidence provided by a man named Jay Wilds. The police had nothing on Syed until one of his friends, Jay Wilds, went to them and said Adnan killed Hae Min Lee and together – they buried the body of the 19 year old. Yet – his testimony kept changing. The host Sarah Koenig masterfully shares her own journey, admitting she cannot be certain of what really happened.
Though season 1 was released in 2014 it has bounced around the podcast charts for years afterwards. That’s because it truly is one of the best – and will make you flip between thinking ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’ more times than you can say ‘podcast’.
Produced by: This American Life.
2- Who Killed CJ Davis?
CJ Davis was 14 years old when he was shot dead beside a park in East London at 3pm in the afternoon on a Monday in September 2017. No one has ever been charged with his murder.
Over six parts we hear of how CJ’s mum fought to protect him from the criminal gangs grooming him to sell drugs and how his expulsion became a precursor to him going missing – his family suspect in order to sell drugs.
This show was produced in real time. Its host John Simpson investigates the case and hunts down leads, divulging further revelations each episode.
John goes back to the scene where the shotgun was fired and takes the listener into the grim underworld of London’s gang culture.
It also creatively manages to explore both the wider issues that impacted CJ’s life, whilst inching closer to answers over who was responsible.
Full disclosure – your humble author may have had something to do with this one.
Produced by: The Stories of our times daily news podcast.
3 – Dirty John
Dirty John is a smash hit crime podcast. It sparked the creation of both a Netflix documentary and fictionalised depiction of the case. Once you’ve listened – the success is no surprise – as this show is truly addictive.
The show follows the story of a relationship between high flyer Debra Newell and the handsome surgeon she’s just started dating.
Pretty quickly we see that everything is not as it seems- and John Meehan is not who he says he is. The creators write that it’s a story of: “love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival.” This is a conman tale for the ages. If you’re thinking about watching one of the TV shows I would say – definitely start with the podcast.
Produced by Wondery and the LA Times.
4- Who the Hell is Hamish?
Another con-man story for you all here – Who the Hell is Hamish is the gripping story of a serial manipulator. Hamish presented himself to most as a “surfer dude from Sydney” but through a number of aliases managed to reinvent himself time and again. How has this man got away with it for so long? And will there ever be justice for his victims?
This story is so brilliantly told and has some genuinely ‘oh my god!’ moments.
The podcast really takes you into the lives of different people affected and serves as a chilling reminder that your trust can be betrayed by those closest to you.
Produced by The Australian Newspaper.
5- The Teacher’s Pet
The Teacher’s Pet is one of the most influential crime podcasts of all time to date – with close to 30 million downloads so far. The secret to its success has to be in the shocking nature of the story at its heart: a school teacher has an affair with a sixteen-year-old school girl and then his wife disappears. Since 1982 there has never been a trace of Lynette Dawson alive or dead. Her husband Chris Dawson has now been charged with her murder and is facing trial.
The 2018 podcast can take credit for the public outcry that led to Dawson being charged.
Produced by The Australian Newspaper.
6- The Missing Crypto Queen
A mysterious cryptocurrency, a woman who can’t be found and two BBC journalists on her tale, The Missing Crypto Queen has it all.
Dr Ruja Ignatova persuaded millions to purchase something she dubbed ‘One Coin’. Then she disappeared. The creators call it a story of “greed, deceit and herd madness.”
With promise of a documentary series off the back of its success, do yourself a favour and subscribe to this brilliant podcast.
Produced by BBC Sounds.
Casefile is a bit different to the others on the list because it offers a different case each episode. It is incredibly well researched and neutral in its delivery. If you want gripping, unsensational crime stories – Casefile might be the one for you. It examines cases that will be familiar with forensic detail you will have missed, as well as exploring crimes you definitely won’t have heard of before. The team cover the life and crime of killers like the Original Night Stalker.
8- To Live And Die in LA
This podcast takes ‘lives investigation’ to a new level. Host Neill Strauss is asked to help in the search of a missing woman called Adea Shabani, who’s gone missing from her home in LA. Very quickly Strauss is thrown into a suspected murder investigation – speaking to friends and family trying we join him as he tries to get to the truth of what happened to Adea. We also learn about her dreams of being an actress, and the relationships she had with the men in her life
This podcast shows Strauss to be a skilled investigator with a sensitivity to telling crime stories in a humane way.
Produced by: Tenderfoot TV and Cadence 13.
9- Dr Death
This podcast is not for the faint hearted.
Christopher Duntsch was a successful Texas surgeon. Well, so it seemed. Questions were asked about his abilities after a number of his patients were left injured after his surgeries.
In the end he was convicted of gross malpractice after thirty-one of his patients were left seriously injured after he operated on them, and two patients died during an operation. This podcast fascinatingly seeks to understand why he carried on – even when the evidence of major problems were right in front of him.
It also reveals major problems in the US healthcare system which leave you wondering what other cases like those of ‘Dr Death’ might be out there undiscovered…
Produced by Wondery.
10- The Fred and Rose West Tapes
Howard Sounes began investigating a case of serial murder in an English cathedral city in 1994. The murders he was investigating are now notorious: those carried out by Fred and Rose West.
All told the couple killed at least twelve women and girls, including their own daughter. They cut their victims up and buried the remains of nine bodies under their house at 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester.
Howard recorded his interviews with witnesses on cassette tape. Twenty-five years on, Howard revisits these previously unheard tapes and reflects on what he found.
What can we learn from this trove of research and what is the legacy of these monstrous crimes? This is a podcast that will leave you lying awake – long after listening.
NB: You may want to include a guide to downloading podcasts (Use the Spotify or Apple app) etc.
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