Stranger than Fiction: Best Crime Podcasts
Have you heard the latest… podcast? It just rolls off the tongue these days, the seamless transition to a new way of consuming content that shows no signs of abating. Of course it’s crime podcasts we’re hungry for, real stories of murder and deception, be it solved or not, our thirst can only be quenched by more mysterious tales – all the better if there’s doubt and innuendo. Here’s our guide to the best of what’s out there right now, and we think you’ll be thanking us muchly.
Forty years ago the people of California lived in fear of becoming the latest victim of one of America’s most notorious and talked about criminal’s The Golden State Killer. He would break into victims homes in the middle of the night, face covered by a ski mask before tying the couple up and raping the female, he would then steal cash and various items. He often phoned his victims ahead of the ordeal, signifying his intent. He left little physical evidence and presumably as his confidence grew his crimes worsened, evolving into a cold blooded killer. The police have ruled out numerous suspects over the years, but have never come close to unmasking the person responsible, who could quite conceivably still live among one of the communities he terrorised. This true crime podcast delves deep into the mystery, with exclusive interviews with victims and law enforcement, can they unmask the killer?
Many of you might have heard the name Bernie Madoff, he’s the man responsible for the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding his clients of $65 billion dollars. He’s currently serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison and this fascinating crime podcast uncovers the sheer scale of his activities, while getting a first hand account from the man himself. This audio account looks at how the ballsy Madoff pulled off such an elaborate fraud, while holding a position of status and respect and the ramifications on the many victims, including his family, whose life of luxury and privilege was unceremoniously turned upside down. This really is a riveting and superbly curated piece of podcasting.
Hot off the heels of the successful Up and Vanished podcast that looked at the disappearance of high school teacher Tara Grinstead, Payne Lindsey returns with another investigation into the now 40 year old Atlanta Child Murders, where 28 African American children, predominantly boys, went missing or were found dead in the late seventies and early eighties. In this particular case a certain Wayne Williams is behind bars for the killing spree, however that is a mere footnote in a story that deals with racial tension and the criminal justice system in a community where many feel the wrong man is incarcerated. The phone conversations with Williams himself are enlightening, as talk of sex trafficking rings and the Ku Klux Klan add fuel to an already substantial fire.
This engaging, twisted tale is something a bit different from the now quite formulaic true crime podcast approach. Produced by the LA Times the story centres on successful businesswoman and mother Debra Newell, who has met the man of her dreams in John Meehan, an equally successful (at least on the surface) anaesthetist, who had just served time in Iraq with Doctors without Borders. He’s the perfect all American guy, so why do Debra’s family not like him? Listen to the podcast as this dark story unravels, told by the key players themselves, as you wonder about how well do you really know somebody?
The UK’s standout true crime podcast They Walk Among Us has garnered a cult following since it’s launch back in 2016. Husband-and-wife team Benjamin and Rosie take their love of true crime to new levels with their meticulously researched accounts of horrific crimes that for us Brits happened just a tad too close to home. There’s plenty to choose from be it old or new, surreal to the downright sinister, there’s no doubt this award-winning podcast swirls around in the mind long after listening.
Hot off the press this brand new original podcast from the BBC began today (April 16th) and looks at the mysterious case of the ‘Isdal Woman.’ Back in 1970 in the remote Isdalen ice valley in Norway, the badly burnt body of a woman was discovered, with no indication as to why or how she got there. The investigating officers at the time uncovered suitcases belonging to the victim at Bergen railway station; inside which were a number of disguises, it also turns out she had stayed at various hotels in the area. Who was she and why was nobody looking for her? These are answers we look forward to uncovering in the coming weeks.
For anyone into matters of the conspiratorial nature you have to check out The Polybius Conspiracy. This seven part podcast is based around a phenomena that allegedly happened in Portland, Oregon in the early 80s, when mysterious black arcade machines started appearing in video arcades. This Polybius arcade machine was said to induce wooziness, headaches & hallucinations, not to mention horrific nightmares on kids who played it (which could be said for quite a few arcade games back in the day). But adding to the intrigue we have accounts of abductions and shady men in black types collecting data from these particular machines, all adding up to the conclusion that Polybius may have been part of a undercover mind project. Fans of the likes of Stranger Things will relish getting their teeth into this terrific tale, that whether urban legend or actual real life, sends shudders all the same.
Any other crime podcasts you love? Let us know in the comments.