true crime podcasts

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Over My Dead Body, Bardstown, and More

Photo: Vulture

The true-crime-podcast universe is ever-expanding. We’re here to make it a bit smaller and 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 noteworthy and the exceptional. Each week, our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists will pick their favorites.

Over My Dead Body: Joe Exotic: “The Tiger King” and “More Wicked Than a Bobcat”

Over My Dead Body, which premiered earlier this year with the story of murdered Florida attorney Dan Markel, returns with a brand-new host (Rob Moor) and a brand-new case. Meet Joe “Exotic” Shreibvogel, a flamboyant performer and proprietor of a zoo in Oklahoma. Now meet his sworn enemy, Carole Baskin, an animal advocate and owner of a big-cat animal sanctuary in Florida. For years, Shreibvogel ran his exotic animal business — which included “cub pettings” at local malls — largely undisturbed. That is, until Baskin got wind of what she considered to be abusive practices on his part (cub pettings are only possible through unnecessary overbreeding), and began calling the shopping centers and asking them to drop Shreibvogel’s act. In retaliation, Shreibvogel began co-opting Baskin’s brand name, Big Cat Rescue, for his own purposes. And, thus, a feud was born. While this two-part introduction doesn’t address the ultimate outcome or fallout of that feud, it’s clear that these two are destined to collide in a dangerous — and potentially deadly — manner. —Amy Wilkinson

Bardstown: “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America” 

Here’s what to know about Bardstown, Kentucky: In 2017, it had a population of 13,165. It’s known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. It was named the most beautiful small town of America. And since 2013, it’s seen four murders and one disappearance (the missing person, Crystal Rogers, has been presumed dead), all of which have yet to be solved. Bardstown, a ten-episode podcast created by VAULT Studios and co-hosted by investigative reporter Shay McAlister, of WHAS11 in Louisville, will examine the crimes, the connections that may or may not exist between them, as well as the impact they’ve had on the small town, and what’s lurking beneath the surface of a place where everyone supposedly knows and loves each other. In the first episode, McAlister takes listeners back to the beginning, the death of Officer Jason Ellis, who, on his way home from work on May 25, 2013, stopped to examine a pile of debris on the road and was ambushed and murdered. Who was Jason? Who was waiting for him and why? Is his death connected to those that followed? You’ll wish this whole series dropped all at once, à la Netflix — waiting patiently like an adult to find out where it’s going is really a lot to ask. —Chanel Dubofsky

This Is Actually Happening: “What If You Had to Fight for Your Life?”

Listeners of the podcast Dirty John are familiar with the demise of the show’s namesake John Meehan. (Spoiler alert: His estranged stepdaughter Terra Newell stabbed him 13 times after he attacked her outside her apartment complex.) August 20 marked the third anniversary of that day, and Terra has given several interviews recounting her recovery from the terrifying incident, including on this bonus episode of This Is Actually Happening. Listeners hear from Terra during an extended monologue in which she tells the story of her mother Debra Newell’s whirlwind romance with John, whom she met on a dating site, to what happened after he was exposed as a fraud. Terra candidly talks about her struggle with PTSD and how a therapist specializing in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) helped her move forward. She also uses the platform to express her hope that her story will inspire other women to fight back and survive. Her own survival led her to launch a new podcast, which, while not crime-related, will serve as a venue for people to share their stories in a lighthearted but empowering space. —Lara Bricker

DIE-ALOGUE: A True Crime Conversation: “Daryn Carp”

DIE-ALOGUE is a different sort of true-crime podcast, and that’s the point. In each episode, host Rebekah Sebastian interviews someone connected to true crime. These interviews aren’t dry or full of technicality and gore, they’re candid and fast-paced and funny. In this latest installation, Sebastian sits down with Daryn Carp, co-host of Martinis & Murder (and Andy Cohen’s “chief of staff”). They discuss her support of the Innocence Project, as well as why women are obsessed with true crime (the makeup of CrimeCon this year was 85 percent women), the wrong way to talk about victims and perpetrators, citizen detectives, what keeps her up at night, and more. (FYI, watching crime documentaries is now “norm core,” according to Carp.) DIE-ALOGUE’s format is refreshing; it leaves room for the organic, the random, and the urgent to emerge, and they do. —Chanel Dubofsky

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Mystery in Kentucky