Anyone who knows me knows that I am a true crime addict, from long before Serial made true crime podcasts a thing. From a very young age I’ve been fascinated by crime and murderers. I toyed with the idea of being a Criminologist my senior year of high school and wrote an epic paper about the commonalities between mass murderers and serial killers being basically white men with similar mental health illnesses growing up with a history of abuse (no shocker this is now widely known but for a 17 year old in the early 00’s I thought I was onto something!)
I have listened to a BUTT LOAD of true crime podcasts over the years, some of them have been amazing and others not so much. To celebrate that spooky season is now upon us, here are my favorite true crime podcasts to keep you company as you countdown to Halloween.
True Crime Podcasts
- The following list is broken out by standalone episode series. Meaning, they are not dedicated to a particular story. You can pick and choose the episodes you want to listen to as they are different every week. These are my favorite to pick up when I want a one-off adventure.
1. Crime Junkie – it’s no wonder this is the top of the list, Ashley Flowers is amazing at telling stories in such a captivating way that is easy to follow and digestible. She features so many stories that I’ve never heard before and her co-host and best friend Brit is the perfect balance to Ashley. Plus- I LOVE their voices (which is truly important when you pick a podcast). I love this podcast so much I’ve been a Patreon for years and will continue to do so because I believe in Ashley’s mission. She created the Podcast network Audiochuck and co produces many other crime podcasts that will also be on this list. She works with the Indianapolis Crime Stoppers unit and really wants to make a difference on spreading the word for missing persons cases. If you truly are curious about learning more about how you can help and only have one podcast you can devote to true crime, this is it. You can hear her devotion to victims and their families on their quest for answers. Also, I’m a big fan of the production and music. 10/10
2. Park Predators – co created by Ashley Flowers but hosted and investigated by Delia D’Ambra, Park Predators is a themed podcast over the last two summers around missing persons cases and murderers that have happened within national parks across America. This is something I find fascinating especially since John and I have hiked throughout much of California’s parks and even here in Texas. We listened to this podcast as we moved across country, conveniently as we drove through Utah and Colorado. Again, it being part of AudioChuck means that the production overall is great. 10/10
3. Killer Queens – sister duo Tori and Tyrella are the sweetest southern liberal ladies with a knack for telling chilling tales but mixed in with 90s references to lighten it up. They have so much content, from story overviews to mixtapes to doc jam reviews – it’s definitely worth it to be a Patreon like myself. Because true crime can be hard to discuss, their sisterly chemistry makes it lighter. The one downside is that their recordings tend to be rather longwinded (almost 1.5 hours) and sometimes come in two parts. I personally prefer more streamlined and concise narration and less straying away from the script (when it comes to true crime material), but I thoroughly enjoy their perspectives and they have a cute sisterly vibe. Also it’s worth noting that they are usually pretty biased. 9/10
4. Going West – this is a newer podcast I recently came across that I have devoured. Hosts Daphne and Heath discuss a new case each week and share a lot of stories that are not widely known. They are very precise and streamlined in their story telling which makes them engaging to follow. The production value is also very good. Episodes are around 45 minutes each and they are pretty unbiased, IMO, in their explanations. 9/10
5. Morbid – I also just recently got into this podcast though it’s been around for a while. So far I am really digging the energy of the hosts Ashleigh and Alaina – they are really fun and witty but super smart. I love their perspectives and how they try to understand different angles, but also they seem really fun, like people I would love to be friends with. Of course talking about murders and disappearances can be hard so their dynamic is a breath of fresh air. New episodes come out each week though they have plenty to choose from! 9/10
6. Anatomy of Murder – Anna and Scott, former homicide prosecutor and Deputy Sheriff, team up to dissect a crime from all angles. They share a lot about their previous process and what to do and not to do during an investigation, including all of the red flags. This is a pretty straight forward and sometimes dry angle, but every now and then I like just hearing about the facts. 8/10
7. Women & Crime – Hosts Meghan and Amy, two criminologists, cover female focused stories each episode and thoroughly discuss how women are treated in the criminal justice system. I’ve heard some outlandish cases from this podcast that are riveting. Think – a lot of Betty Broderick type material. And it’s really cool to hear women with previous experience share their insight and tips. 8/10
8. Morning Cup of Murder – Korina hosts this quick podcast where she gives you the highlights of a crime that happened on this day in history. Episodes are usually 10-15 minutes each so it’s perfect for literally making your morning cup of coffee while getting caught up on your murder history. I love the concept of this show. I don’t listen all the time but it’s nice for when you need something short. Of course, due to time, she doesn’t go too deep into anything, but you do get to hear random crimes from all over the world. 7/10
9. My Favorite Murder – ok so this might be controversial but this is my honest opinion and I had to include them on this list. I was THEE biggest MFM fan for years, and I’ve seen them live multiple times in the past. They are arguably one of the largest if not the largest crime podcast in modern age. And they do deserve that because Karen and Georgia are amazingly talented women who are hilarious. And for someone who doesn’t know much about true crime but loves comedy – this is the podcast for you. This is an excellent first touch point in the crime community. It really feels like a community – there are a lot of perks if you join in on their club or Facebook groups. However, over time, I really felt bored. At the time they came out there wasn’t a lot of mainstream true crime material that was weekly and not dedicated to one particular case. So they definitely are innovators for sure. I just felt that the more I listened the more I really wanted the facts of the crimes. I wanted to know what specifically was going on without it sounding too biased – and also, they go in and out of their own dialogue so much that it’s incredibly hard to follow most of the time. To me it feels more like a comedy podcast that chit chats about murder throughout their hangout session. And yes that is fun sometimes and I’m not taking anything away from them – I love the whole Stay Sexy Don’t Get Murdered vibe. I just grew out of casual murder chit chat and graduated to listen to former criminologists and investigative journalists provide immense storytelling quality. 7/10
- The following list encompasses my favorite crime podcast series, meaning the entire season surrounds one story and the episodes need to be listened to in order to fully grasp the situation. Even though it’s nice to pick up random episodes whenever you want as you embark on a long walk, I prefer the build of a fascinating story over multiple episodes.
1. CounterClock – Of course another Audiochuck show is the top of my list, but Delia D’Ambra is the best on this series. The first two seasons are about different murders that happened in North Carolina (Denise Johnson and Stacey Stanton), while the third season focuses on an unsolved murder case in Indiana (the infamous Pelley family murders). It is riveting to listen to and completely bingeworthy. I personally listened to season 3 within a week. 10/10
2. Up and Vanished – Host Payne Lindsey investigates what happens to missing persons over various seasons. Season 1 focused on Tara Grindstead, who was missing for over 10 years when he started the podcast. What I found intriguing about season 1 was that Payne, a documentary filmmaker, had no experience as an investigative journalist, chronicled his journey on how he met various folks who helped him SOLVE THE CASE IN REAL TIME. When I listened to this it felt inspiring, like MAYBE I CAN DO THIS! And maybe someday I can! His first podcast was so successful that he has since launched multiple other podcasts and investigations, even on TV, including Atlanta Monster about the missing children of Atlanta in the 80s, additional seasons of Up And Vanished, and his newer show Dead and Gone, a unique show about the missing people who have attended Grateful Dead concerts. Definitely check him out! 10/10
3. True Crime Bullsh** – Ok, so this is an incredibly thorough podcast about specific serial killer cases that are mostly unknown to the public. Seasons 1 and 2 focused on Israel Keyes, with Season 3 on female murderer Kelly Cochran. This podcast has a large amount of detail, so if you are fascinated by either of these murderers this show definitely has tons of information, but can be a bit dry. I will say I never knew about Kelly Cochran and listened to that season while I was still living in SF, while I was on walks throughout Golden Gate Park. It’s not for the faint of heart and the episodes are very long – you really have to be in the mood for this one, but you can’t deny the amount of detail and research that goes into this outstanding production. 8/10
4. Suspect – THIS is my current obsession, and I’ve only listened to half of the episodes so far, but I am so intrigued! It’s about an unsolved murder that happened at a Halloween party in Seattle in 2008, and sort of a “whodunit” of different suspects in costumes. You think you know who did it but then you second guess yourself. Hosts Matthew Shaer and Eric Benson do an amazing job of keeping things interesting while unlocking the truth. I can’t wait to see how this unfolds! 9/10
5. The Orange Tree – I lived in Austin and attended UT while the murder of Jennifer Cave happened in 2005, and even know someone who testified in trial. This podcast came out in 2020, as new UT students Tinu and Haley wanted to dive deeper into the strange story of Jennifer’s murder, how she was dismembered and how the suspects fled to Mexico. They did a great job unraveling the story in an intriguing way, even for listeners unfamiliar with the tale. Episodes are on the shorter end and concise. 8/10
6. Tom Brown’s Body – Skip Hollandsworth of Texas Monthly hosts the strange and mysterious disappearance and death of Tom Brown, a teenager in the panhandle of Texas several years ago. I was hooked instantly. This is an exceptional production (would you expect anything less from Texas Monthly?) and I absolutely LOVE Skip’s voice. Side note, I even bought his book The Midnight Assassin about the first serial killer in Austin called the Servant Girl Annihilator. But back to the podcast – I still talk about it to this day! Like what really happened there? 10/10
7. Bear Brook – Two mysterious barrels with four bodies are found in a park in New Hampshire, 15 years apart. Their discovery changes the course of modern day investigations, and links a man across the country through genealogy, after another death. Jason Moon covers this tale full of many twists and turns. I loved it and binged it over a week. 9/10
8. LISK (Long Island Serial Killer) – This is an unsolved case that is currently being investigated, about the deaths of sex workers buried throughout the coast of Long Island, NY, after the search for a missing woman. How are they connected? What is happening to these women? Why are there no answers? Chris Mass narrates and provides incredible detail and insight. 8/10
9. Cold – the disappearance of Susan Powell is something that haunts me to this day. When I first heard about this case, I researched it for clues. Every documentary, trial, and even this podcast – I ate up. Her story is heartbreaking as much as it is completely bizarre. This is an incredibly well made podcast about her horrendous situation. I promise you will binge this. 10/10
10. To Live And Die in LA – an aspiring actress goes missing from her Hollywood apartment and Rolling Stone journalist Neil Strauss was tasked by the family to get answers. Season 1 is the story of missing person Adea Shabani while season 2 focuses on the disappearance of Elaine Park. I got into this podcast quickly because of how compelling Neil is as a journalist. 9/10
- The following are non-fiction and folklore spooky stories that are really fun and a lighter listen.
- Deadly Manners – this is a few years old but I still love this show. It’s a “whodunit” with immense Clue vibes, set in the 1950s. Tons of celebrities voice the characters, like Kirsten Bell and Anna Chlumksy, and the sound effects makes you feel as if you are really there in the middle of the house and murder mystery! It’s a super fun one. 10/10
- Full Body Chills – this is another project from Ashley Flowers and Audiochuck, but this time they are short stories dramatically narrated mostly by Ashley (sometimes the authors or others). Think of Are You Afraid of the Dark or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark vibes. They are about 20 minutes each and only come out in October for the last couple of years. Perfect for a fall walk while you select your pumpkin! 10/10
- Lore – This is an award winning podcast about the darker side of history – true life scary stories, narrated by Aaron Mahnke. There is also an accompanied Amazon series with dramatic re-enactments, but it’s really fascinating to explore folklore behind some of the most popular wives tales. His voice is very soothing and don’t recommend for long drives though! 9/10