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.
Allen v. Farrow Podcast, “Episode 1”
If you’re hooked on HBO Max’s latest true-crime miniseries Allen v. Farrow, don’t overlook its companion podcast. Directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick re-team with producer Amy Herdy, providing listeners with more information and insights regarding the sexual abuse allegations against Woody Allen. In this premiere episode, the team unveils how the docuseries came about and — most crucially — how they won the trust of the understandably press-shy Dylan O’Sullivan Farrow. A fuller look at the Farrow family is offered through cut-from-the-series audio clips as well as a new interview with family friend Priscilla Gilman. Yet the most fascinating element of this episode is guest Dr. Sheri Vanino, a clinical and forensic psychologist who gives her expert opinion on Allen’s alleged actions and patterns of grooming. Whether you’re intrigued by documentary filmmaking, want to dig deeper into the details of this case, or wish to better recognize red flags of child abuse, this thoughtful companion-cast is worth your time. –Kristy Puchko
Fruitloops: Serial Killers of Color, “Luis Garavito”
This week’s episode of Fruitloops is particularly gruesome, but hosts Wendy and Beth always temper the terror with plenty of historical context and thoughtful insight into who the criminals are, why they chose the people they did, and perhaps most importantly, how they got away with their crimes for so long. In this case, the killer in question is Colombian serial killer Luis Garavito, who was convicted of murdering 138 young boys and teens way back in the ’90s, although he’s thought to have killed even more. As usual, the best part of the show is how thorough Wendy and Beth are in setting up the sociopolitical milieu — in this case, we get a crash course on recent Colombian history, right down to the origins of the phrase “banana republic,” as well as nuanced insight into how colorism played a role in Garavito’s selection of victims. —Jenni Miller
Rotten Mango, “The Trash Chute Murder: Mysterious Death of Phoebe Handsjuk”
If you’re looking for true-crime content that’s a little sweet and salty, check out Rotten Mango. 25-year-old Stephanie Soo is a true-crime devotee who passionately uncovers curious cases, laying out their most grisly details while offering colorful commentary on “bad vibes” and alleged killers. In this episode, she explores the bizarre death of 24-year-old Australian, Phoebe Handsjuk, a recovering party girl who died from a fall down a 12-story trash chute. Police initially ruled her demise a suicide. However, if you’re confounded about how someone might wedge themselves into a high, tiny, metal chute with a weighted door, you’re not alone. Over two hours and with plenty of fire, Soo details Handsjuk’s final days, autopsy report, unanswered questions in the investigation, as well as the could-be case against Handsjuk’s May-December boyfriend, Antony “Ant” Hampel, who has not been charged. –Kristy Puchko
The Followers: House of Prayer, “Katonya” and “Moses”
When you think of the prototypical cult leader, you probably think of someone like Jim Jones or David Koresh or Keith Raniere — which is to say, a man. But charismatic (and caustic) leadership knows no gender, as we see in the new podcast The Followers: House of Prayer, hosted by journalist Leila Day and former prosecutor and investigative journalist Beth Karas. This year-long investigation looks into now 79-year-old Anna Young, the purported leader of a Florida-based cult called the House of Prayer. The first two episodes reveal a manner of sins (with eye-witness testimony from a handful of cult members), but the most troubling are the deaths of two young children. What, exactly, was going on inside this so-called house of prayer, and how did Anna Young seemingly get away with mistreating her congregants for so long? Hopefully, this podcast will have some answers. —Amy Wilkinson
More From This Series
- This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: Hunting the Butcher
- This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: From Maine to the O.C.
- The 10 True-Crime Podcasts That Changed Everything