So, confession: I’m a podcast addict. Living in New York City means I spent 90% of my life wearing headphones…which makes it really easy to ignore everyone around me in favor of continued, gluttonous consumption of true crime media. Thankfully, the genre’s rising popularity gives people like me a virtual all-you-can-eat buffet of options. But, this makes it harder to wade through the shit and find something worth your time.
That’s where I come in. It was tough, but I’ve managed to make a list of my top eight favorite true crime podcast episodes—or, in some cases, series of episodes. Give ’em a listen. Do your earholes a favor.
1. Last Podcast on the Left: Episode 222 – Manifestos
Full-disclosure: I’m a die-hard Last Podcast fan. Well-researched and darkly funny? What else could a girl want?
In this episode, hosts Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski, and Ben Kissel do a systematic exploration into the different motivations of spree killers old and new and the fucked up texts they’ve left behind. From Elliot Rodger’s so-called Virgin Videos to Kyle Odom’s Martian Blowjob Manifesto to ex-cop Christopher Dorner’s I-can’t-believe-this-is-real shout-outs (seriously, he dedicates part of his manifesto to telling Natalie Portman she’s beautiful and to tell Chris Christie to go on a diet), Last Podcast will teach you something new and probably make you laugh without completely ruining your day. Plus, they do a great job of pinpointing why exactly Elliot Rodger is one of the worst human beings to have ever humaned.
But fair warning: if dark humor isn’t your thing, Last Podcast on the Left might not be for you. I can laugh at morbid, fucked up jokes when they come paired with quality research and an understanding of human psychology, but I understand it’s not for everyone and that’s okay. Hail Gein. Hail Satan.
2. The Night Time Podcast: Emma Fillipoff is Missing (Parts 1-7)
I know, I know: I said podcast episode, not series of podcast episodes. But the quality and thoroughness of host Jordan Bonaparte’s reporting warrants–if not demands–its inclusion on this list.
Emma Fillipoff vanished from Victoria, British Columbia on November 28, 2012, under mysterious and heartbreaking circumstances. In its continued coverage of Emma’s case, The Night Time Podcast has featured interviews with her mother, friends, roommates, and even a former suspect in her disappearance. You really get a sense of Emma Fillipoff as a three-dimensional person, rather than just a missing person case, and it will probably break your heart in the way quality true crime media should. As we approach the five-year anniversary of Emma’s disappearance, it’s more important than ever for this story to be told. Emma simply cannot be forgotten.
Listen: The Night Time Podcast on iTunes
3. The Dollop: Episode 160 – Fed Ex Flight 705
While not a dedicated true crime podcast, this episode of The Dollop—an American history-slash-comedy podcast that even not-history people can get into—might be one of my favorite podcast episodes ever. Not that history people won’t enjoy it; as a history person, I’m hooked. But comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds inject wit and humor (and oftentimes, some quality accents) into the stories they tell.
Anthony and Reynolds relay one of the most bizarre attempts at airplane hijacking and mass murder, along with the bad-assery that thwarted it.
Not sold yet? Let me tell you this: There’s a speargun (a speargun!!!!) and a barrel-rolling plane. But a warning: while there’s no death in this story, there is a
bit decent amount of gore that might make you squirm.
Listen: The Dollop on iTunes
4. Casefile: Case 49 – The Moors Murders (Parts 1-3)
What I love about Casefile, and this series in particular, is that the story doesn’t end after they catch the bad guy. In discussing the crimes of you’ll an Brady and Myra Hindley, the anonymous, delightfully Australian host commits the same amount of time to the murders as he dedicates to what comes after. It’s easy to forget just how far-felt the consequences of violent crime can be, and I think that does a disservice to those who were affected.
In addition to thoroughly exploring the lead up to and details of the Moors Murders, Casefile explores the legal procedures that followed Brady and Hindley’s apprehension, the offenders’ time in prison, and the monumental loss and grief felt by the families of their victims. While not the first podcast to tackle the Moors Murders, Casefile does the best job relaying the entirety of the story, rather than just the talking points.
Listen: Casefile on iTunes
5. Thinking Sideways: Lake City Quiet Pills
Lake City Quiet Pills is one of the biggest internet rabbit-holes down which one can fall, and Thinking Sideways was the first—and the best, in my opinion—podcast to cover it. A story that begins with a “jailbait” subreddit moderator’s death leads down a path of cryptic communication, shady hotel parties, and even speculation of a network of international mercenaries?
Hosts Joe, Devin, and Steve each bring something different to the table, resulting in a organized and mostly well-informed discussion that still feels casual. I enjoy the systematic way in which they explore every theory (Devin has, like myself, professed her love of bullet-points), as well as their obvious attempts to avoid bias in favor of respect.
Listen: Thinking Sideways on iTunes
6. The Unresolved Podcast: The “Hughes” Family (Parts 1-3)
You want to hear one of the most fucked up true crime stories that’s ever been told? Listen to the Unresolved Podcast’s three-parter on the so-called Hughes family—that of Franklin Delano Floyd, Suzanne Sevakis, and Michael Hughes.
Seriously. I don’t want to elaborate and give too much away, because the plot twists are so M. Night Shyamalanian that they wouldn’t make for believable fiction. I’ve known about this case for a while, but—to the best of my knowledge—Michael Whelan is the podcaster to do a deep dive into this very tragic story. You’ll never be able to forget the names “Suzanne Sevakis” and “Franklin Delano Floyd.”
Listen: The Unresolved Podcast on iTunes
7. Generation Why: Episode 238 – Butcher of Kansas City
From studying trends in serial homicide committed by non-heterosexual offenders in college, I was familiar with a mostly forgotten serial killer named Bob Berdella prior to listening. And yet, this episode of Generation Why captivated me. Even though I knew what was going to happen next, I was on the edge of my seat! Hosts Aaron and Justin are relatively chill dudes who avoid the sensationalist tone that often plagues true crime media. But the details of this lesser-known serial killer’s last attempt at murder necessitate a certain level of listener anxiety.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to slap a gore warning on a podcast about The fucking Butcher of Kansas City, but now you can’t say you haven’t been warned. The brutality is somewhat balanced out by the act of a survivor’s heroism that put the Butcher behind bars.
Listen: Generation Why on iTunes
Despite its relative youth, Cults is a finely-tuned, well-engineered podcast that explores the psychological and sociological dynamics of both notorious and lesser-known new religious movements. Cults is well-researched, thorough, and professional. However, maybe it’s just me, but the high production value and obviously scripted banter can sometimes come off as a bit too perfect in that creepy kind of way. But its Stepford Wives moments, hosts Greg and Vanessa cover the UFO cult from the early shared delusions of its leaders—Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles—in the 1970’s, all the way to the largest mass suicide on U.S. soil nearly three decades later. Even those of us more acquainted with Heaven’s Gate will learn something they didn’t know before.
Listen: Cults on iTunes
Got a podcast suggestion? Did I miss one of your favorites? I wanna hear about it! Drop me a comment and let me know.