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Hey guys! I am mixing things up on Cort In Session today and sharing my favorite true crime podcasts. When driving in the car, taking long baths, and going for runs, I will undoubtedly pick a podcast over music (much to the dismay of my husband). As such, I have logged countless hours listening to the creepiest true crime podcasts the genre has to offer. There have been hits and there have been misses, but I am here to share my honest opinion of all of them.
Now I don’t want to spoil any of these for you, so I’m going to skim the surface with a quick synopsis. I hope y’all listen and love these because I need some gals to chat with about them!
Sword & Scale
I have listened to Mike Boudet describe graphic, psychological, unsolved, shocking, and otherwise crimes for over 110 hours now and without question, this is THE BEST podcast. Period. I am actually jealous if you haven’t listened to any episodes yet, because you have so many hours ahead of you while I’m impatiently waiting for Boudet to release a new show every other week.
Sword & Scale covers a new crime every episode or two and goes into the twisty details that would never make the news – we’re talking interviews with the murderers, NSFW content, descriptive details of the crimes, etc. So let this be a warning, this podcast is not for the faint of heart. Many episodes are rough. But Boudet is such an amazing storyteller that it is tough not to get hooked.
Where to Start: Because each episode is stand-along, you can read the descriptions and begin anywhere. I would suggest starting with Episode 11 if you are looking for a twisty psychological case about suicide and Munchausen’s by Proxy. If shock is what you’re looking for, Episodes 26 and 33 are the scariest murders that I’ve never heard of. But be forewarned – these episodes are tough to get through.
If you LOVE Sword & Scale but are all caught up (like me), Casefile is the podcast for you. The format is similar to S&S – each episode features a different crime and covers the intricate details. The difference, other than the narrator being Australian, is that they leave out many of the gruesome details. I’d call this a PG version of the above-mentioned program.
Where to Start: Case 59 about missing woman Amy Lynn Bradley was fascinating and tragic. Amy went missing while aboard Royal Carribean’s Rhapsody of the Seas. The details of her disappearance have me scared to get on a cruise ship again!
Up & Vanished
Talk about a twist! Up & Vanished had me hooked from the first episode and my mouth was gaping as the story unfolded. Documentary filmmaker Payne Lindsey got far more than he bargained for when he decided to tackle one of Georgia’s coldest cases, the disappearance of teacher and pageant queen, Tara Grinstead. He reexamines the largest case file in the history of the state of Georgia and actually inserts himself into the narrative, interviewing all of those closest to Tara and re-sparking interest in this cold case. What’s most fascinating about this story, other than how it unravels, is learning about who people really are when they think no one is watching. You never know what’s going on behind closed doors…
Serial: Season 1
I like to call this podcast the true-crime gateway drug. It is one of the most listened-to podcasts of all time and for good reason, Sarah Koenig is an amazing storyteller and journalist. Serial actually won a Peabody Award for its innovative telling of a long-form nonfiction story.
Serial investigates the murder of high school student, Hae Min Lee. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was eventually convicted of first-degree murder after a mistrial. But the details of the crime aren’t clear cut; they’re surprisingly murky. Koenig, after being reached out to by Syed’s family member, decides to investigate the crime herself and spends hours interviewing Syed and others involved with the case, in search of the truth. I honestly walked away from this podcast with more questions than answers.
This is a quick podcast and far less graphic than the aforementioned. I would recommend this if you are going on a roadtrip because the whole series is about five hours long. Dirty John follows the story of Debra Newell, a successful single mother living in southern California. When she connects with John Meehan on an online dating site, she thinks she has met the man of her dreams. But her and her daughters soon find out that John is not at all who they thought he was. The rabbit hole goes deep with plenty of twists and turns, culminating in a shocking conclusion.
Atlanta Monster is narrated and produced by the same folks as Up & Vanished and currently has one episode left until its conclusion. It re-examines “The List” of Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered Children between 1979 and 1981 and Wayne Williams subsequent conviction. But while Williams was convicted of the murders of two adult men, the Atlanta Police Department announced that he was responsible for 23 of 25 child murders. Strangely enough, none of the victims whose murders Williams’ was charged with were even children. He was at best in the wrong place at the wrong time, and at worst a serial killer. Host Payne Lindsey lays out the facts and lets you decide.
S-Town: I began listening to S-Town under the impression that it was a true crime podcast. And thank goodness I did. While it begins that way, it is ultimately a character study of one of the most unique individuals you’ll ever hear from. You will undoubtedly come out of this podcast with a different view of the world.
Heaven’s Gate: On March 26, 1997, 39 members of the religious cult, Heaven’s Gate, were found dead following a mass suicide. They believed that they were teleporting themselves to a UFO spacecraft following the Hale-Bopp comet. This podcast provides unique interviews and information about Heaven’s Gate, the participants, and how it turned so tragic.
Well, that’s it y’all – my favorite true crime podcasts. If you guys have any suggestions on what I should listen to next, please let me know in the comments. I am always looking for a new podcast 🙂