true crime podcasts

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: A Show All About Law & Order: SVU

Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Studios

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.

That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast, “Bully”

If you’ve been looking to combine comedy, true crime, a long-running legal drama, and interviews with actors from said long-running legal drama, have a listen to That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast, new from Exactly Right. (The title, in case you were wondering, is apparently something Ice-T, who plays the detective “Fin” Tutuola, says all the time and inspired a drinking game in the writer’s room.) Every week, hosts Kara Klenk and Liza Treyger recap an episode of SVU, take a look at the real-life crime it was inspired by, and interview an actor who was in it. In this first episode, the inspiration for “Bully” was Leona Helmsley, a business maven who allegedly threw excellent parties, was very good at tax evasion, and had a very important dog, as well as R. Budd Dwyer, the 30th state treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who shot himself during a public press conference in 1987. Listen through for an interview with actor Kate Burton, who has appeared in all the shows in the franchise — SVU, Criminal Intent, and the original, referred to as “the MotherShip.” —Chanel Dubofsky

Historical Crimes and Criminals Podcast: “Edward Dando: Gormandiser”

If you’re hungering for something salty and not too savage, check out the latest from this short and sweet podcast. With a warm Scottish brogue and runtimes of ten to 20 minutes per episode, Steven Connelly’s offerings make for easy-to-digest bites of true crime. This episode is particularly appetizing as it involves a curious English folk hero, known for his insatiable appetite for shellfish and scamming. Edward Dando would swan into restaurants, eat literally hundreds of bivalves, then skip out on the bill. To proprietors, he was a menace — however, as his exploits peppered the newspapers, he became a beloved figure of rebellion to the working class, who envied his mischievousness and the indulgences of the upper class. Connelly captures the delectable appeal of Dando’s crimes, then tops off the episode with a jaunty folk ballad that literally sings the praises of the notorious gormandiser. —Kristy Puchko

Death of a Starlet, “Strawberry Sundae Supreme” and “The Great Playmate Hunt”

On August 14, 1980, 20-year-old Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten was found shot to death in a West Los Angeles home, the victim of a grisly murder-suicide. Unfortunately, this type of Hollywood narrative isn’t entirely unfamiliar — the bright young transplant on the verge of stardom who had her life cut short. But thanks to diaries she left behind, Stratten’s story doesn’t amount to simple, one-sided cliches, at least not as it’s told in the newest Wondery podcast, Death of a Starlet. We’re introduced to the Canadian native (then Dorothy Hoogstraten) as an aimless teen working at the local Dairy Queen. It’s there, slinging sundaes and soft drinks, that she meets her future manager and husband, Paul Snider, who would not only help her land her big break but also, ultimately, be her undoing. (Future episodes will dive deeper into the other man in Stratten’s life, director Peter Bogdanovich.) When a high-profile crime like this occurs, it’s easy to get mired in the salacious headlines and forget that a real victim — a woman barely out of her teens — is at the heart of the matter, but Death of a Starlet gives Stratten the treatment she deserves. —Amy Wilkinson

Tenfold More Wicked, “All That is Wicked: The Devil Incarnate”

Hosted by journalist Kate Winkler Dawson, Tenfold More Wicked brings you tales of true crime you’ve never heard of with the help of historians, psychologists, linguists, and crime analysts. In this first season, Winkler Dawson looks at the story of John Edward Rulloff, his careers (among them as a doctor, carpet designer, and lawyer), and all the people he killed — including his wife, Harriet, and baby daughter, Priscilla, whose bodies were never found. This third episode traces the goose chase on which Rulloff sent Harriet’s family, the Schutts, who weren’t crazy about the marriage in the first place and had their own suspicions. Listen for the story of Rulloff’s escapes, his abbreviated time in prison (hard labor “like something out of a Dickens novel”), and his academic pursuits, which would be pretty impressive if he wasn’t also an psychopath with a predilection for murder. —Chanel Dubofsky

This Week in True-Crime Podcasts: An SVU-Recap Series