Podcasts are a brilliant way of immersing yourself in a story wherever you are – whether that’s on your commute, in the car, at the gym or relaxing at home.
For true crime fanatics, there’s nothing better than these investigations into real-life crimes often stranger than fiction.
From well-known cases of crimes that have made the headlines to obscure cold cases as yet unsolved, here’s the best in true crime podcasts to add some mystery and menace to your downloads.
15 of the best true crime podcasts:
Amongst an array of fantastic American true crime stories, They Walk Among Us is dedicated to British crime and uncovers the stories of some of the UK’s most chilling cases. Painstakingly researched by husband-and-wife team Benjamin and Rosie, each episode lays out all the known facts of one crime and even outlines what’s happening in the case now. Focusing on stories close to home, including cases that have hit the headlines, its tales are as familiar as they are unexpected. An addictive, cult hit.
What really happened to Tara Grinstead? A history teacher and former beauty queen who vanished from her home on 22nd October 2005. Her case is yet to be solved. Compelled by this very, very cold case, host Payne Lindsey examines the evidence, interviews relevant people and follows the real-time investigation, even uncovering new leads. For the first time in twelve years, answers have been unearthed… but is it the end of the story? If you’re interested in on-going investigations, you won’t be able to stop listening.
Season 1 was the podcast that got everyone talking – an investigation into the murder of 18-year-old student Hae Min Lee in a Baltimore High School in 1999. Host Sarah Koenig will get you hooked as she narrates the story documentary-style over twelve episodes. Season 2 is just as compelling, investigating Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a US soldier charged with desertion after being held captive by the Taliban for five years. Both explore justice and truth and make for fascinating and addictive listens.
Three seasons of this brilliant podcast tell the stories of three unconnected deaths. The first, that of Adrien McNoughton, a five-year-old who went missing on a family fishing trip in 1972. The second, of Sheryl Sheppard, who disappeared in Hamilton, Ontario and third, of Charles Moore and Henry Dee, two black teenagers murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. All cases are narrated by host David Ridgen, as he investigates the deaths and searches for truth and justice.
Narrator Christopher Goffard tells the real-life story of Debra Newell, an interior designer, who met the man of her dreams online, except he wasn’t all that he promised to be. Told through interviews from Newell herself and her family, it’s a story about seduction, love, denial and ultimately, survival. Goffard drip-feeds the horror of the situation to draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.
In October 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered. For 27 years, the investigation into the case provided no answers. Now reporter Madeline Baran details how law enforcement teams mishandled the case and couldn’t identify the murderer who was sitting right in front of them. A chilling investigation into a tragic murder. Catch up on the first series now – as the second series is coming soon in 2018!
Sword and Scale does not shy away from detailing the most horrific crimes. Using audio, music and narrative to detail real-life cases including murders, manslaughter, sex crimes, mobsters, heists and conspiracies. Hosted by crime reporter Mike Baudet, it covers the stories as nakedly as possible, divulging names, dates and intricate details to shed light on some of the most abominable cases of our time. Visceral and enthralling, but not for the faint-hearted.
Is it possible to simply disappear? Hosted by crime writer Tim Weaver, this award-winning podcast series investigates in forensic detail the world of missing people. From who goes missing to who is on their trail, Tim meets with leading experts from around the world in surveillance, data, forensics, psychology and technology to find out whether it’s possible for someone to vanish without a trace and how you can go about tracking them down.
A unique look at crime in America, as each season investigates the way organized crime has shaped different American cities. The first season focuses on Providence, Rhode Island, where crime and corruption percolates every aspect of public life. Hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier, there is no single narrative but instead several recurring, interrelated characters, events and stories that run through a season. Telling stories where it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, it’ll change the way you view the criminal landscape.
Season 1 uncovered the story behind the murder of Elizabeth Andes in her Ohio apartment in 1978 and investigated the aftermath of an innocent verdict years after the murder was committed. For season 2, New York Time journalist and host Amber Hunt and Amanda Ross investigate the murder of a prison minister in her Kentucky apartment and what happens when the conviction of the supposed killer is overturned. An authoritative and in-depth exploration of truth and justice through complex and compelling cases.
In 2012, a top Chinese politician, Bo Xilai, was disgraced and toppled from power allowing one of his greatest rivals, Xi Jinping, to dominate Chinese politics. But how is this connected to the murder of British business fixer Neil Heywood in the Lucky Holiday Hotel? BBC China editor Carrie Gracie investigates Heywood’s murder in this six-part series. Told through multiple voices and pithy soundbites, this BBC podcast is as unexpected as it is engaging.
Introduced as Australia’s first true crime podcast, each episode tells the story of a devastating Australian crime and on a case-by-case basis takes the listener from the beginning of the story through to the trial, or through theories for crimes where a perpetrator has never been caught. With an anonymous host the podcast focuses solely on the facts of the story and explores darkness, evil, justice and truth. Fans of Serial or Sword and Scale will love this.
“Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle” make up Criminal’s collection of straight-talking true crime episodes. Each bite-sized episode is between fifteen to twenty minutes, making it an easily-digestible listen, which is slickly produced and confidently hosted by award-winning reporter Phoebe Judge. Incorporating interviews with perpetrators, victims and bystanders, it explores how and why we make bad decisions and what it means when we do.
When a loved one goes missing they leave behind endless unanswered questions, some of which may hold the key to their disappearance. This ongoing podcast features one missing person per episode and seeks to answer the questions left behind when they vanished. Detailing who they are, how they disappeared and what was known about their story when they went missing, host Marissa Jones interviews family members, friends, colleagues and sometimes apparent strangers, to try and get closer to the truth. Well-researched and sensitively delivered, it honours each missing person and the events surrounding their disappearance and is a gripping encyclopaedia of current cold cases.
Whilst many true crime podcasts are hosted by documentary journalists, Undisclosed is created by three lawyers fascinated by the US criminal justice system and the wrongful convictions that take place. Each season focuses on The State vs. and takes a closer look at the perpetrators of each crime, the investigation, the trial and the verdict, with the aim to find new evidence that never made it to court. With multiple seasons available, listeners can immerse themselves in the minutiae each case. Start with The State v. Adnan Syed, of Serial podcast fame.
Have we missed any of the best true crime podcasts? Let us know in the comments below!