They Walk Among Us: creating and curating a true crime podcast
The way we choose true crime cases for They Walk Among Us has evolved in the almost three years since we started the podcast. The first episode we attempted, but never ultimately released, was a case we were following closely in the media. Samuel Harry was a nineteen-month-old that had been shaken to death in the care of his mother and her partner. A conviction fell through as it could not be proven which of them was responsible. The frustrations of Samuel’s birth father were palpable. Wrongful convictions and loopholes in the law became of interest after that and still are in our recent episodes.
One that springs to mind is the case of James Hanratty, which is coming up in season 4. There are so many twists and turns throughout, and the outcome is jaw-dropping.
We started out, particularly in season 1, choosing cases that we had been aware of in the press, but as time progressed and the podcast grew from a hobby to a job we had more time to research. We began to use different and more detailed methods, and in the process, we often get caught down a rabbit hole as we are looking into a subject. This usually happens reading old newspapers or looking through files at the national archive. Maybe it’s just a sentence, but that sparks an interest to dig deeper. An example of this in season 3 was the case of Graham Backhouse that led to the bogus Lady Rosemary Aberdour episode. I read the pair were reportedly engaged. In turn, Rosemary Aberdour’s case has introduced us to an elaborate conman case we will be covering soon.
Crime is a sensitive subject – there’s almost always at least one victim, and the outcome is seldom positive.
We try to keep a variety to the cases we cover, spanning the last eight decades and all types of crimes, not exclusively murders – subjects that perhaps the listeners wouldn’t have heard about on other true crime podcasts. We always have a bit of apprehension on Wednesdays when the episodes are released, particularly the more obscure and surreal ones.
The same diversity and interest have been applied when selecting chapters for the book.
Emails and messages through social media often mention case suggestions, and one of us will look into each and every recommendation we get. The White House Farm murders were such a common request; we covered it over three episodes at the end of last season. Albert Dryden, who shot Harry Collinson, a council planning officer, while being filmed by the BBC in the 1990s is the opening case for season 4 – again, due to a listener’s suggestion.
Crime is a sensitive subject – there’s almost always at least one victim, and the outcome is seldom positive. That’s why we think it’s imperative to not only cover the crime but the aftermath and everything in between. We try to approach each case as empathetically as possible. We hope that comes across in the book and podcast.
Do you have any favourite episodes from the They Walk Among Us podcast? Have you picked up the They Walk Among Us book yet? Let us know in the comments below!