true crime podcasts

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Minds of Madness, Criminal, and More

Photo: Vulture

The true-crime podcast universe is ever expanding. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week, our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists will pick their favorites. To read last week’s edition, click here.

Hell and Gone: “We’re Not Stopping”

Every armchair true-crime expert knows that if a woman has been murdered, the first suspect tends to be her partner — a husband, a boyfriend, an ex — but in the case of Rebekah Gould, local law enforcement long ago wrote off her sensitive boyfriend Casey as a suspect. Personal investigator and writer Catherine Townsend’s investigation has kicked up local chatter and some very nervous sources that cast doubt on Casey’s alibi, his relationship with Rebekah, and temperament, and those aforementioned local law-enforcement folks have been stonewalling Townsend at every turn. In episode eight, we learn that investigators are reaching out to witnesses once again, but is it too little, too late? This is the last episode in the series for now, but there’s no doubt that if there’s more information to be had, Townsend will dig it up and share it. —Jenni Miller

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Limetown: “The Bridge”

I have been telling anyone who will listen to binge the fictional true-crime series Limetown as soon as possible. And when the second season finally came out, I was excited and nervous — excited for more of this enthralling story, and nervous it wouldn’t live up. Turns out, it’s still great. With season two, a soon-to-be-released prequel book, and a video series coming to Facebook Watch (featuring Jessica Biel and Stanley Tucci!), the Limetown brand is at an all-time high. This week’s episode, “The Bridge,” brings the series to a major high, and now is the perfect time to catch up before next week’s season finale. —Hillary Nelson

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Last Podcast on the Left: “The Order of the Solar Temple Part III — December 4th, 1994”

Every true-crime obsessive knows about Jonestown and their Flavor Aid or Heaven’s Gate and their matching Nikes, but not as many probably know the story of the Order of the Solar Temple and their ornate robes. Formed in 1984 by Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro, this “secret society” — supposedly based on the tenants of the Knights Templar — was headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, and counted among its ranks some very affluent members of Swiss, French, and Canadian society. And while not as much academic literature has been dedicated to this cult (and its deadly end) when compared to Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate, Last Podcast on the Left’s turned up enough research to fill three robust (and pretty ridiculous) episodes. Let’s just say host Henry Zebrowski gets a lot of use out of his fake French accent. —Amy Wilkinson

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

The Minds of Madness: “Tara Grant”

It’s not a spoiler that Tara Grant was murdered in 2007, nor is it a surprise that she died at the hands of her husband, Stephen. The murder of women by their male partners is an epidemic, and it’s not going away anytime soon. What’s particularly tragic about this case is that Stephen seemed like a garden-variety ding-dong and creep to everyone except for his wife, and perhaps the parade of nannies the Grants employed. Tara’s murder is infuriating; she was killed by someone she shared her life with, she left behind two small children, and her murder was random and senseless to everyone around them. Luckily, her family and two children, who were adopted by her sister and brother-in-law, are keeping her memory alive and continue to advocate for victims of domestic violence. These two episodes feature interviews with local Detroit reporter George Hunter and Steve Miller (no relation!), author of A Slaying in the Suburbs, as well as media from the investigation as it unspooled. — Jenni Miller

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Criminal: “Episode 104: Witness”

Host Phoebe Judge once again delves into one of the deep, dark corners of the American criminal-justice system, welcoming Gerald Shur as her guest. And though you may not know the man’s name, you surely know his handiwork — Shur is credited with the creation of the Federal Witness Protection Program. As an attorney in the Justice Department’’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section in the 1960s, Shur often struggled to secure the evidence he needed, as many witnesses feared the dire repercussions of testifying. (And with good reason: A lot of would-be snitches turned up dead.) So Shur devised a highly clandestine operation to secure and relocate these witnesses, creating a brand-new life for them in, say, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It’s this origin story — and many other intriguing factoids (did you know witnesses get to keep their first name and last initial!?) — that Shur divulges in a conspiratorial tone that says, “If I tell you anymore, I’ll have to kill you.” —Amy Wilkinson

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Hostage: Katie Beers Kidnapping Pt. 1: A History of Betrayal

The sheer resiliency of Katie Beers is a testament to humanity’s ability to cope and heal, but she should never have been faced with the sort of trauma she endured in the first place. What prepared her to survive being kidnapped and held in a tiny, soundproof chamber for 16 days by John Esposito — a man who had already allegedly molested her older brother — was almost 10 years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. This first episode explains how Katie came to be in a weird maternal tug of war between her godmother, Linda Inghilleri, whose husband, Salvatore, was later convicted of sexually abusing Katie, and her biological mother, who severely neglected Katie and her brother when she was around. It’s a story of adults who failed a little girl at every turn, and how she survived despite it all. —Jenni Miller

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

This week’s reviewers: Jenni MillerHillary Nelson, and Amy Wilkinson.

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Limetown, Hostage, more