I don’t actually understand how my podcast obsession got to where it is just now. But it all started with Vix Meldrew’s podcast ‘She Did What’ about three or four months ago. I hadn’t really listened to podcasts before one of my ultimate favourite bloggers decided to start one. I honestly had never listened to a podcast before then because I thought it might be a bit weird listening to someone chatting, but I actually found it relaxing. Almost like I was listening to a pal gab at me. After Vix’s podcast eased me in to the whole podcast thing, I delved into true crime podcasts and that’s what I’ve lost the majority of my time to.
My first true crime podcast was recommended by to me by a work friend, you have probably heard of ‘My Favorite Murder’ (yes, it’s spelled the American way) by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I listened from start to finish (so over 145 episodes) in about a month. It got me through the summer travel that comes with my work. Every train journey, road trip or flight I had, I listened to a few episodes to get me through. I loved it. Karen is the person I fully expect myself to be in 20 years. I can relate to her far too much. I loved the chatty, hilarious and personable approach Karen and Georgia took to telling these pretty horrific stories, and I’m actually praying that they come back and visit Scotland on their next European tour…but after every episode I found myself googling the cases because I wanted to know more. I needed something a bit more serious and factual. So I did some investigating of my own and found exactly what I was looking for in the rest of the podcasts I’m going to tell you about in this post!
Someone Knows Something by David Ridgen (CBC Radio)
Someone Knows Something was the first documentary style podcast that I listened to. David looks into unsolved murders and missing persons’ cases, finds new information and in some cases has helped solved them. I’ve decided that I’m going to give you a season by season break down because it’s THAT GOOD. The sound itself makes you feel like you’re listening to tv show. It’s so stylised, from the car dar opening and closing, the gravel as he walks to the door, the water bubbling as one of the divers in season 1 heads in to the water and the various animals David comes across and meets barking, purring or cawing in the background. He records the raw moments, talks about the mistakes he makes throughout the process, and supports the families involved rather than intruding.
Season 1 – Adrien McNaughton
Adrien McNaughton went missing in 1972 whilst on a family fishing trip. David investigates all theories throughout the podcast. Was he taken? Did he wander off? Was there an accident? Did he drown? David finds information that the police hadn’t, he talks to witnesses that the police didn’t speak to at the time, and he using new search techniques to help solve this case and give the McNaughton’s some closure.
Season 2 – Sheryl Sheppard
Sherly Sheppard went missing in January 1998, just two days after a shock New Years Eve proposal. David spends time with Odette, Sheryl’s mother in the hopes of finding some answers and closure for her. David explores why Sheryl’s fiance, and the prime suspect, hasn’t spoken to or cooperated with the police since Sheryl’s disappearance. He speaks to those that knew Sheryl, Michael and the ins and outs of their relationship. David retraces Sheryl’s last steps, as told by Michael, and attempts to find out what happened to her. David also delves into the media discourse that surrounded the case, and talks about how the media attempts to dehumanise victims and the missing.
Season 3 – Charles Moore and Henry Dee
This season blew me away. David revisits a documentary film he made back in 2007 following the unsolved murders of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, who were once described as ‘the wrong body’ in the news. Police had been searching for the bodies of three murdered civil rights activists on the day they discovered the partial remains of Charles and Henry in the Mississippi River in 1964. They had been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, and their murders went unsolved for 40 years, despite the police and the community knowing who committed these awful crimes. I cried multiple times whilst listening to this season. Thomas Moore, the brother of Charles Moore, joins David as they investigate the murders and confront law enforcement and those involved to find answers. Thomas Moore is inspirational. His strength and integrity was admirable. I definitely couldn’t face someone involved in a family members death as calmly as he did.
Season 4 – Wayne Greavette
Wayne Greavette was murdered when a flashlight bomb was mailed to his house, it could have been his son. His son was the first one to attempt to turn on the flashlight. Wayne’s son was sitting directly next to him on the couch when the bomb went off, he survived with minor injuries. David get’s Wayne’s disjointed family back together to investigate what happened to Wayne. They visit suspects, they investigate the bottled water industry and try to piece together why Wayne was targeted. During the process, David uncovers some difficult and pretty hard to hear information about Wayne. Wayne’s kids are incredible. They listen to a potential suspect talk about their father in such a degrading way, but keep their cool and listen intently hoping to hear some new and useful information. The case is still unsolved.
Season 5 – Kerrie Brown
Kerrie Brown went missing after attending a house party in 1986. Her body was discovered three days later. Her murder is still unsolved. David meets Kerrie’s brother Trevor, who I can’t help but love, to begin his investigation into her murder. Trevor is an alcoholic, he has good and bad days since the loss of Kerrie. David meets Kerrie and Trevor’s half brother, Ian, who is an alcoholic and is now homeless. David talks to Kerrie’s friends, he talks to witnesses that saw a car leaving the road where Kerrie’s body was later discovered. He finds out information that Kerrie’s family didn’t know, and he chases up witness accounts and finds some new suspects in the case. Even though the case is still unsolved, it seems that David got further than the police ever did.
Serial by Sarah Koening (This American Life)
Serial is another documentary style podcast which I found when a fellow blogger, asked for podcast recommendations on Instagram. Someone in the comments suggested Serial. I’d recently decided that I much preferred listening to well written docu-series style podcasts and Serial is just that. Sarah’s writing is amazing. I love the relationships she and the other reporters she works with, Dana and Emmanuel to name a few, form with the people they are working with and effectively reporting on. Initially I wasn’t sure that I was a fan of the fact each season is different, but my god. It’s good. I actually love the variety. Each season is so different. I’ve learned something new from all of them.
Season 1 – Adnan Syed
Hae Min Lee was murdered in 1999. Her high school ex-boyfriend was sentenced to jail for her murder. Most people believe they got the wrong guy (as I do after listening to this, and undisclosed). Sarah speaks to Adnan over the phone for a year about the case, about his relationship with Hae Min Lee, his relationship with his family, his religion and culture and his behaviour. It’s sometimes difficult to listen to because of the blatant racism from the police and a complete lack of understanding of Islam as a religion. The police and the prosecution often refer to Adnan as being from Pakistan, which is not true. He’s an American. His Mum and Dad are from Pakistan. But that’s just one of things in this case that’s absolutely disgusting. Wait until you hear about Jay… he basically creates this timeline for the murder and implicates Adnan, even saying he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. The testimony has roughly 10,000 holes in it, and both Serial season 1 and Undisclosed point this out. You should listen to both Serial and Undisclosed to give yourself as much information as possible if you’re interested in this case. #FreeAdnan
Season 2 – Bowe Bergdahl
Remember that ‘deserter’ that Trump talked about shooting in his presidential campaign? Season 2 of serial is all about him. Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier who wondered off his post whilst in Afghanistan and spent five years in captivity, caught by the Taliban as a Prisoner of War. Sarah investigates, and tries to find out more about the solider who survived horrific torture and conditions for five years and still, half of America hates him. Sarah investigates the political implications of the diplomacy that led to Bowe returning home and how this fed into the election. Sarah interviews soldiers from Bowe’s platoon, other army officials, members of the Taliban and mental health professionals. It’s a fascinating case, and until a few months ago it was still ongoing.
Season 3 – Cleveland Courthouse
This is amazing. Honestly, this season was fascinating. I didn’t really know what to expect from this season, but what you get is an insight into the daily events of a Cleveland Courthouse over the space of the year. The season is ongoing at the moment, and is son episode 9. I am hooked. I feel so attached to the people in these cases; Josh, Jesse and Arnold to name a few. Sarah and Emmanuel investigate the police brutality of the City of East Cleveland Police force, their specific targeting of Jesse Nickerson, a man who was brutally beaten by two police officers, who actually ended up in prison (shock), and the secret ‘locker’ room where the City of East Cleveland police occasionally hold people they have arrested when they don’t want to put them on the books. This season looks into the judges, how different they all are, and how the justice system, quite frankly, gives judges too much power and control over people. It also looks into the conditions in prisons for informants or ‘snitches’ who are forced by police to give evidence, when the police, prosecution and everyone in the courtroom knows they will be targeted by gangs in prison. It’s a really interesting insight into the justice system in America.
Uncover by CBC Radio
I loved Someone Knows Something, which came from CBC Radio, so I when I saw yet another CBC podcast, Uncover, pop up on my search I thought I’d give it a try… I absolutely loved Season 1, and I actually hope Josh just continues to follow the case with Sarah as it goes on.
Season 1 – Escaping NXVIM
That’s right. NXVIM. The cult which that one actress who was semi-famous for being in Smallville was a leader of. The sex cult. YEP. I’d seen the story about this cult crop up on the daily mail, probably about a year ago, and it all clicked together. Josh had been on holiday when he bumped in to an old friend, Sarah Edmondson. Sarah had just left a cult. NXVIM. NXVIM basically started out as a pyramid scheme. You join the company, you make money, you get other people to join the scheme, you make more money and so on. It spread across North and South America and Canada. It was everywhere, and people were making a lot of money. I mean, to an outsider, who knows very little about cults other than what I’ve learned watching documentaries, it seems VERY obvious to me from the get go that this pyramid scheme business was a cult. It was all about changing the way you thought about things, it was all about ranks, and belonging. It was a cult. Sarah was in the cult for 12 years before she even realised it was actually a cult. She only realised when she joined a side group… Dos and was branded. Branded with the initials of Allison Mack and Keith Raniere. The story unfolds from there and is fascinating. The trials are still ongoing, with updates coming by the day.
Season 2 – Bomb on board
Season 2 hands over to a new host, Ian, it’s only on episode 2, so there’s actually not that much to say about this case so far. The basics are that in 1965, a commercial flight carrying 52 passengers was bombed. There were no survivors. The case has gone unsolved. There were 6 suspects, and the police have concluded that although they don’t know for sure who was responsible. They are convinced it was someone on board the plane. Ian and Johanna investigate the case in this season, speak to the family of the victims of the bombing and delve into the secrecy surrounding the case.
SO, that’s it. That’s the round up of my favourite true crime podcasts. This is probably the longest and easiest blog post I’ve written in months. It felt so natural talking about something I actually love and have so much interest in, so go and listen to these. I have spent the past 5 months at work listening to podcasts to get me through the tougher days at work when I’m trying to not be disturbed whilst getting through some boring data work.
Let me know if you have some good true crime podcast recommendations, I’m always looking for more to listen to and also please do message me if you want to chat about any of the cases… I love a good chat true crime!