true crime podcasts

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Joe Manganiello’s Latest Role

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. And to see our list of the 10 best true-crime podcasts of 2018, click here.

The Angel of Vine

This is a fun, scripted neo-noir podcast for when you want something a little more lighter and bingeable to listen to on, say, a stressful holiday plane ride somewhere you’re maybe not that excited to go. The premise: The host of a true-crime podcast hits the motherlode when he’s contacted by the daughter and granddaughter of a tough-talkin’ private dick who dies and leaves them his house and its attic full of audio tapes. The late Hank Briggs kept obsessive voice recordings during his ongoing investigation of a young Los Angeles woman’s lurid murder in the ’50s, with details that will sound familiar to anyone who’s gobbled up all they can about the Black Dahlia, and along the way he meets the sorts of L.A. characters that pepper James Ellroy’s novels. Angel of Vine has an impressive cast that includes Joe Manganiello as Hank, plus Constance Zimmer, Alfred Molina, Misha Collins, Mike Colter, Alan Tudyk, and writer-actor Oliver Vaquer. All ten episodes are now available on Stitcher, but if, like me, you’re super cheap and will definitely forget to cancel your subscription after a month, you can listen to the first six via iTunes and just hope Hank does a better job than the LAPD did. —Jenni Miller

True Crime Bullsh**: The Story of Israel Keyes: “Negotiations”

Have you heard of Israel Keyes? I hadn’t and I was blown away once I understood the magnitude of his crimes. The master manipulator who obsessively studied serial killers for years before going on to take up his own reign of terror. He had kill kits all across the United States, and was able to get his victims to come to him; he went almost undetected for years. Without divulging too much more, Keyes admitted to killing more than 11 people (only 3 have been officially confirmed as his victims), burglarized 20 to 30 homes, and robbed several banks from 2001 to 2012. So who was this man, and how did he successfully hide his crimes for over a decade? —Hillary Nelson

Kingpins: “Gangster Queen of Philadelphia: Thelma Wright”

I had been subscribed to the Kingpins podcast since it launched in October, but I hadn’t yet clicked play for one very simple reason: I was waiting for a queenpin. If you ask me, there’s nothing terribly remarkable about a bad man leading a bad organization. But a bad woman leading a bad organization? You have my attention. Enter Thelma Wright, otherwise known as the Gangster Queen of Philadelphia. Hosts Kate Leonard and Howell Hargett delve into Wright’s Catholic upbringing and her early entanglements with the Black Mafia — followed by her marriage to drug-dealer Jackie Wright, which would be the catalyst for her ascendancy to big-time drug distributor. While Wright’s truly illicit acts will be visited in part two, this week’s episode does a good job of laying the groundwork for later exploration of her criminal enterprise — and eventual redemption. —Amy Wilkinson

Obscura: A True Crime Podcast: “Zack and Addie”

The tale of Zach Bowen and Addie Hall starts with one of the most damaging natural disasters on record, during Hurricane Katrina. Obscura’s host Justin Drown dives deep into the atmosphere in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of the storm and the media coverage, which lacked in fully exposing the horrors on the ground for sensational depictions. Obscura brings that to light while focusing on Zach and Addie’s story as they rode out the hurricane instead of evacuating. In the aftermath, the duo treated the situation so bizarrely that they gained media attention, Addie was known to flash cops patrolling the deserted streets while Zach would offer to make cocktails for anyone who stumbled by. By all accounts the two flourished (in their own unique way) after the storm, so what happened after they began picking up the pieces and tried to live a more normal life? Fourteen months after the storm it all came crashing down and both Zach and Addie were dead. This is that story. —Hillary Nelson

Small Town Dicks: “Stolen”

This week’s, er, featured dick is a man by the name of Sergeant Rick, and he has quite the yarn to spin. It all starts with a seemingly routine traffic stop, as Sergeant Rick pulls over a car doing 35 mph in a 55 mph zone. But when the driver — who has a 2-year-old girl accompanying him in the passenger seat — claims that he has no license, no ID, and no previous address, suspicions arise. To tell you any more would ruin this twisty tale, but suffice to say it involves faulty windshield wipers, Interpol, and the Rajneesh cult (yes, of Wild Wild Country fame). It’s a wild, wild ride, indeed. —Amy Wilkinson

Southern Fried True Crime: “Santa Claus, Georgia: The Daniels Family Murders”

On December 4, 1997, 20-year-old Jerry Scott Heidler murdered Kim and Danny Daniels, their 16-year-old daughter, and 8-year-old son, then kidnapped and subsequently abandoned three of their girls, including one foster child, on the side of a road. He left the two smallest children, who were also fosters, alive in the Daniels’ house. Jerry not only knew the Daniels but had briefly stayed with them; his sister was also a short-term foster child of theirs. Host Erica Kelley paints a vivid picture of the Daniels, especially Kim, whose triumphant life story ended in true tragedy. Kelley also delves into Heidler’s life and his own abuse at the hands of his alcoholic mother, Latrelle Moseley, not to excuse his behavior but to give it context. It’s truly some uneasy holiday listening. —Jenni Miller

Cults: “Kashi Ashram — Joyce Green”

This is the first of a two-part series on Joyce Green, a Jewish housewife in Brooklyn who reinvented herself as Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, the charismatic and eccentric leader of the Kashi Ashram. This episode sets up Green and how she went from being your everyday housewife looking to lose a few pounds through yoga to wild visions, claims of stigmata, oodles of hippie followers, the respect of people like Ram Dass, and the sinister dealings that will come to light in the second episode — plus, we might imagine, more details on how Ma Jaya lured in a strange gaggle of financial backers that included Ivanka Trump, Julia Roberts, and Arlo Guthrie. —Jenni Miller

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

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Kingpins, Obscura, More