true crime podcasts

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Canada Delivers Dark Poutine

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

Dark Poutine: “The Crimes of Peter Demeter”

This true-crime podcast hosted by Mike Browne and Scott Hemenway got a big boost in listenership after My Favorite Murder hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark name-checked it during a recent episode. And I’ll admit that endorsement was the push I needed to finally press play on this most Canadian of podcasts. (Seriously, listen for Hemenway to exclaim “holy crackers!”) This week’s episode focuses on the case of Peter Demeter, a Hungarian-born real-estate developer who was tried — in Canada’s longest trial on record — for arranging to have his wife, Christine, murdered in 1974. While the crimes here are fairly straightforward, the backstories are not. (Christine was apparently involved, for a time, with famous photographer and Brigitte Bardot ex Gunter Sachs, for example.) —Amy Wilkinson

Listen: Spotify | Apple | Website

Mind’s Eye: “Swiss Army Knife”

This scripted podcast is a nasty little delight about lustmord nightmares, dead daddies, and eyeball-happy female serial killers. Detective Kate McClay’s nightmares have piqued the interest of her husband, Miles, who wants her to be the subject of his next on-air journalistic feature — sort of like a podcast, you might say. Kate’s been having nightmares about the Blind Butcher, the female serial killer who murdered her father, but in her dreams, she’s the one enacting the crime and the sexy stuff that’s a prelude to the murders. Kate becomes more and more sure that she’s having visions of the murders themselves, and once bodies with the Blind Butcher’s M.O. start turning up after her dreams, she could have a point. The police are chalking it up to a copycat, but Kate doesn’t think so, and everyone around her is looking suspicious. This is only the fifth episode, but the screws are tightening, and we might find out who the Blind Butcher is sooner than expected. It’s been a promising, well-produced story so far, but I hope it gets a little twisty-turnier than the end that I (and some redditors, let’s be real) suspect it’s headed toward. But, hey, at least we’ll have fun on the way? —Jenni Miller

Listen: Spotify Apple | Website

Uncertain Terms: “Brooks Bellay, 1979 Vero Beach”

Uncertain Terms is a brand-new entry, and if this is what true-crime podcasts look like in 2019, I’m all-in. From the TCPalm out of Florida, this episodic take on true-crime sets itself apart by getting truly personal. Focused on kids and teenagers who committed murder and were sentenced to life in prison, the podcast follows them as they return to court for their resentencing. Will they go free? Episode two centers on Brooks Bellay, who was 14 when he killed 4-year-old Angel Halstead in 1979. What will his fate be 38 years later? The stories are wrenching, and they have the potential to stay on your mind for days. —Hillary Nelson

Listen: Spotify Apple Website

Last Podcast on the Left: “Mark Twitchell Part 1 — Favorite Duck of the Month” and “Mark Twitchell Part II — Some Kinda Ketchup Party”

If, like me, you watched that one Dateline episode nearly a decade ago about the crimes of Canadian killer Mark Twitchell but can now recall only the scantest of details, I highly recommend revisiting the case with this two-parter from Last Podcast on the Left. Because, chances are, the story is way wilder than you remember. An overview: In 2008, 29-year-old Twitchell used a fake online dating profile to lure 38-year-old Johnny Altinger to his garage, stabbing him to death and later dismembering his body. The Edmonton, Alberta native would go on to earn the nickname the “Dexter Killer” after it was revealed that he took inspiration from the serial-killing forensic investigator at the heart of the Showtime series. But all that is really just the tip of the oddball iceberg. Transformers cosplay, Ricky Gervais’s sitcom Extras, and Boba Fett actor Jeremy Bulloch all somehow find their way into this sordid tale of a wannabe filmmaker chasing acclaim through any means necessary. Hollyweird, indeed. —Amy Wilkinson

Listen: Spotify | Apple Website

Cold: “Charlie”

This deep dive into the tragic 2009 disappearance of Susan Powell powerfully illustrates how easy — almost how mundane — it can be to get sucked into a relationship with an abusive person. These last few episodes ratchet up the tension as her husband Josh’s behavior becomes more and more unpredictable; pressure is mounting from Susan’s friends and family, the media, and police, who have Josh down as their No. 1 suspect. It doesn’t help that Josh’s father Steven’s pathological obsession with Susan doesn’t waver for a second, even as everyone around her, including her oldest son, Charlie, presumes she’s dead. This episode in particular focuses on Charlie’s increasingly strange behavior, alongside the bizarre tug-of-war between Susan’s family and Josh and Steven Powell over Susan’s old journals. And before you wonder why Susan didn’t just, you know, leave, the show crucially illustrates the complex emotions victims of domestic violence experience, and how often even trying to leave an abuser can result in escalating violence or murder — as, presumably, it did for Susan Powell. —Jenni Miller

Listen: Spotify Apple Website

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

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Canada’s Dark Poutine