Last Updated: November 13th
For years now, true crime and podcasts have proven themselves the perfect pairing. The format just seems to lend itself to sprawling, often nuanced stories of crime, punishment, and the wide-ranging effects of both. With the massive successes of Serial, The Jinx, Making a Murderer, Abducted in Plain Sight, and so many more, it’s clear that listeners have an insatiable appetite for all things true crime.
To all the Murderinos and true crime aficionados out there: you’ve got a wealth of choices when you’re all up to date on your favs. Far too many to list here (check our Best True Crime Podcasts of 2018 list if you want even more options). But we can tell you our picks for the 30 best true crime podcasts right now. So draw the shades, cuddle up safely in bed, pour a cuppa, and start streaming one of these noir gems.
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In this story you will hear about, bodies from many years ago being discovered in barrels, an abandoned little girl, a serial killer is discovered, and many more mysteries are still yet to be solved. Barbara Rae-Venter a genealogist helped to put the many pieces of this puzzle together. Because of her amazing gene detective work in this case she was asked to help Paul Holes in his quest to discover the identity of the Golden State Killer. #bearbrook
Back in 1985, two bodies were discovered in Bear Brook State Park in New Hampshire: An adult and a child. Then, two more bodies were found and it became clear that this was the work of a serial killer. Bear Brook cracks open the cold case files and dives into figuring out who the victims were and who killed them. The show is a masterclass in investigative podcasting and grabs your attention from the very first moment.
Where To Start: Start at episode one and work your way through the next six episodes. With each episode clocking in at around 45 minutes, it’ll be hard not to binge them all at once. There are also shorter “update” episodes that range in the 20 to 30-minute mark.
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Wednesday Podcast Recommendation! Check out Bardstown! Investigative journalism and true crime! 5 unsolved murders in this small Kentucky bourbon town, all possibly linked. It’s Up and Vanished meets S Town. If you like mystery with some southern twang, you’ll love this! #bardstownpodcast #podcastrecommendation #truecrimepodcast
There’s something rotten in America’s “Most Beautiful Small Town.” Five murders have rocked the small community of Bardstown, Kentucky since 2013. Hosts and investigative journalists Shay McAlister and Jessica Noll tear into the unsolved murders to figure out who might have committed them and why. Where the show really shines is in revealing Bardstown’s seedy underbelly, while maintaining compassion for its residents.
Where To Start: Start with “The Most Beautiful Small Town in America.” Episode one is the only place to start this journey. From there, each episode runs between 25 and 35 minutes with nine episodes so far, making this a very easy binge-listen.
If you earn the moniker “Dr. Death,” you’re probably a monster. Host Laura Beil investigates the story of Doctor Christopher Duntsch — a Dallas neurosurgeon who like doing back surgeries. We bet you know where this is going. Dr. Duntsch was all about getting rid of his patient’s back pain and billed himself as the best surgeon in Dallas. Problem was, 33 of his patients became his victims. Then, tragically, those victims found out there were very few repercussions for the doctor through the medical establishment. At least until other doctors started to take note and take Dr. Duntsch to task for his malfeasance. And that’s when things really start to go crazy in this story.
Where To Start: This is a serialized podcast. You’re going to need to start at episode one and listen your way through the eight episodes — all of which are currently free on Apple Podcasts. Each episode clocks in at around 45 minutes, making this one the perfect work out or commute listen. Maybe just don’t listen to it right before major surgery.
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This podcast is amazing also. True and local crime at its best. This couple should be executed 👌🏽 #bags#vintage#sewing##sew#vintagefabric #california#glendale#lacrescenta#quilt#quilting #handmade#estatesales#sewingmachine#dogs #alexanderhenry#cottonandsteel#joann#fabric #sewsweetness#lazygirls#tote#boxcar#sleuth tote#dialastitch#singer#ribbon#podcasts
Sleuth is a fascinating take on true crime. The podcast is following a crime tale as it unfolds in “real time.” Investigative journalist and host Linda Sawyer is currently following the story of someone on trial right now. The show is looking at the murder case of Daniel Wozniak, a theatre actor in Southern California who lured two victims into the theatre attic, killed them and then dismembered the bodies. He later went on stage that same night and performed, which is pretty chilling. Wozniak is already on death row at San Quentin. However, his ex-finance is currently on trial as an accessory and that’s where the meat of the show lies as Sawyer follows that trial in a play-by-play fashion while talking to lawyers and even family members of the victims.
Where To Start: You need to start from the beginning here to get a real sense of the whole story. This serialized podcast is super engaging since it’s happening right now. You can jump on episode one which is only 50 minutes and covers Wozniak’s case. By episode four, the trial begins and Sawyer takes you right into the heart of the proceedings with a two-and-half-hour episode. Then there’s one more episode and you’ll be caught up on this fascinating podcast.
THE TRAIL WENT COLD
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Just started listening to podcasts and for anyone interested in unsolved crimes/missing people/cold cases, I can't recommend this one enough 🎧 #podcast #podcasts #thetrailwentcold #trailwentcold #robinwarder #unsolvedmysteries #unsolvedcrimes #crime #truecrime #truecrimes #truecrimepodcast
Writer and host Robin Warder takes listeners down the ol’ Unsolved Mysteries path via The Trail Went Cold. Each episode of the podcast focuses in on a cold case with plenty of mystery wrapped around the crime. There isn’t really a supernatural element like Unsolved Mysteries but Warder more than makes up for that with the depth of reporting and how engagingly he tells these stories. It’s just good podcasting, all around.
Where To Start: Each episode is a stand alone. Our recommendation is to start with the most recent episode. It covers the inexplicable disappearances of Amanda Tusing and Dana Stidham in Arkansas. Each woman disappeared from their respective cars and was later found dead in the woods. Their deaths were so bizarre that experts couldn’t even figure out the cause of death for Tusing. It’s a great listen and will give you a clear insight into the show’s format and draw.
THE LAST PODCAST ON THE LEFT
The Last Podcast on the Left blends true crime, paranormal, and comedy into one delicious smoothie of madness. Hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski play the straight man, enthusiast, and wild card respectively as they retell some of the craziest stories humanity has encountered. Each episode is banter and riff-heavy as they talk serial killers, sex cults, crimes of passion, close encounters, ghosts, and the straight-up odd. It’s a refreshing way to parse the true crime world by taking it seriously enough to tell a great story but not so seriously that you can’t have a good laugh.
Where To Start: There are currently 300 free episodes available on Apple Podcasts, so jumping in is basically a dealer’s choice. If you’re looking for a solid entry point, we recommend starting with episodes 269 and 270 titled Kurt Cobain Part I and Part II. It’s deep dive into the death/suicide/maybe-murder of the Nirvana frontman. This is a great place to get a feel for the show and the hosts. From there, jump around to whatever episode feels interesting until you’re hooked.
Criminal is one of the best podcasts out there regardless of genre. Each episode is expertly researched and presented in a straightforward, no-nonsense way. It’s spell-binding story-telling at its best. And it drives deep into the heart of the human stories behind the headlines and police reports.
Where To Start: You can start from the beginning of the 90+ episode run or start at the most recent episode. You’ll get hooked either way.
WHITE WINE TRUE CRIME
White White True Crime is hosted by comedians Kari Martin and Caitlin Cutt. The show takes hilarious and deep dives into the world of true crime with plenty of white wine to wash down all the terror. The show doesn’t make light of the subjects and the jokes are often as dark as the stories. It’s a great way to spend an hour getting a wholly new take on old (and new) true crime stories.
Where To Start: You can jump in at any point in the 90+ episode run. We recommend starting with episode 91, “Bernie on Valencrime’s Day!,” where Kari and Caitlin talk about one of the weirdest true crime stories and docufilms starring Jack Black, Bernie.
S-Town is a spin-off of the insanely popular Serial — which sort of felt like all anyone could talk about as 2014 turned into 2015. This iteration finds This American Life producer Brian Reed heading to Alabama to do some true crime digging at the behest of one John B McLemore, a resident of “Shittown.” After someone ends up dead, “the search for the truth leads to a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.” Add in some southern gothic characters and Spanish moss and you have yourself a must listen.
Where To Start: This is a serialized story, so start with Chapter One. And good luck not binge-listening to the whole thing.
UP AND VANISHED
Tara Grinstead up and vanished 13 years ago. Since then her case has been one of the most sensational and unsolvable in Georgia state history. Payne Lindsey, a former documentarian, decided to take on the case and created a chilling cold-case podcast while he conducted the re-investigation. It’s a gripping tale that blew up again last year — but you’ll have to listen to find out just what happened.
Where To Start: Jump in at episode one: Cold As Alaska.
The minds behind HBO’s hit The Jinx conceived of the brilliant Crimetown as their follow-up. The podcast’s first season follows the life of a Providence, Rhode Island prosecutor as he fights organized crime, becomes mayor, and has his soul whittled away by the realities of America’s criminal underworld.
Where To Start: This is a fully serialized story, start with Chapter One so you get a proper introduction to the whole affair.
Comedy and true crime have a dynamic relationship. It’s hard to say why. Maybe it’s because we need to laugh to quell the terror. Whatever it is, it works and Pretty Scary — part of the Unpops podcast network — hits the perfect mark of being both terrifyingly apt and hilarious. Co-hosts Adam Tod Brown, Caitlin Cutt, and Kari Martin gather in the studio to cover everything from owl murders to flesh-eating diseases with a nice dose of don’t-give-a-fuck-oh-shit-I’m-terrified vigor. It’s a great one-hour listen any day of the week.
Where To Start: The episode titled The Box is a great starter show. The crew welcomes True crime writer Joan Renner to talk about a slew of unsolved murders.
TRUE CRIME GARAGE
The premise of True Crime Garage is pretty simple: Two friends sit in their garage, drink beer, and talk true crime. Every week Nic and The Captain delve into new true crime stories that span the ages. They offer a fresh and well-researched perspective into old and new stories, unsolved mysteries, and plenty of craft beer.
True Crime Garage passed the 100 episode mark a while back and is still going strong, so there’s a lot to choose from. We recommend hitting their 100th episode first. The guys go over their Top Ten Unsolved Cases and the ep offers a solid glimpse into their personalities and the show.
In 1978 Elizabeth Andes was murdered in her Ohio apartment. Two juries later and it’s still not clear who killed her. Accused is the work of investigative reporter Amber Hunt digging back into the case with a wide array of first-person interviews expertly interwoven with in-depth story-telling.
Where To Start: Start with Chapter One to get a base for the crazy crime story that will unfold throughout the nine episodes.
MY FAVORITE MURDER
Comedians Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff host this lovingly rambling examination of true crime stories from the American mythos. My Favorite Murder’s often silly and always gripping coverage of grisly crimes has spawned a close-knit community of Murderinos who send in hometown murders which get covered on mini-episodes and posted up on the show’s blog. It’s interactive!
Where To Start: You can really jump around anywhere in the episode list. But if you have to have a recommendation, Episode 60: Jazz It Up is a great benchmark of the series.
SWORD AND SCALE
Sword and Scale is no laughing matter. Each episode is a deep dive into a darkly fascinating crime, it’s always well-researched and often comes with great interview subjects to bolster the episode’s validity. It’s a comprehensive look at some incomprehensible crimes, cover-ups, and some conspiracies that turned out to be more than just theories.
Where To Start: There are over 100 episodes to choose from, so it’s really dealer’s choice where to start. We recommend trying episode 86 which reexamines the Heaven’s Gate cult on the 20th anniversary of their (spoiler alert) mass suicide.
Hosts Greg Polcyn and Vanessa Richardson decided to take a different route with Serial Killers. Instead of chatting about a case, they tell a straight story by narratively voicing segments and characters. It makes for an audiobook-like experience and helps to raise the stakes of each story.
Where To Start: The podcast started last year, so there are 34 two-part episodes to choose from. If you want to jump in anywhere, start with episode five titled “The Vampire Of Dusseldorf.”
Generation Why is an insanely addictive podcast. Two buddies, Aaron and Justin, spend around an hour recounting various crimes of the past and present. Each episode is well-researched and presented though banter that’s educational without making you feel like you’re in school.
Where To Start: There are over 250 episodes to choose from. A great example is episode 229 about the Belcher Islands Massacre when an Inuit man read the bible for the first time and decided he and his buddy were Jesus and God, respectively. As the episode title suggests, it doesn’t end well.
SOMEONE KNOWS SOMETHING
Crime does happen up in Canada too. Our sleepy neighbor to the north is full of tragedies, stories, and true crime. Listening to the CBC’s Someone Knows Something is like finding a whole new section in the library. Each season takes a deep dive into cold cases through the loved ones and family members of the victims. The harrowing and very personal take on cold case files is an engaging take on the genre.
Where To Start: There are four seasons available. Season four covers the mysterious death of Wayne Greavette who was killed by a mail bomb. There are five 45 minute episodes making the season easily bingeable over a weekend.
TRUE CRIME HISTORIAN
Richard O Jones is a great true crime narrator. His podcast, True Crime Historian, takes a look at some of the most gripping crimes of the past and brings them back to life in the present. Jones’ retelling of big cases from the past and those that have long been forgotten offer a glimpse into the minds behind the madness, the way cases were investigated and maybe solved, and why they were important back then while still resonating to this day.
Where To Start: There are over 200 episodes to choose from. Each one is about an hour and covers one story — so you don’t have to worry about jumping in at any point. Our recommendation is to find a story that piques your interest and start there.
CASEFILE TRUE CRIME
Casefile True Crime is one of the most engaging podcasts out there right now. Maybe it’s the Anonymous host’s Australian accent helping us listen more and more. The true crime stories are truly stellar here. The production value is high, the stories are amazingly researched, and the narration pulls you right into the madness of it all.
Where To Start: There are over 90 episodes to choose from right now. Each one is about an hour or so and really you can jump in anywhere. There are a couple of multi-episode series in the mix. The three episode arc about Jonestown is a great place to dive in and get a sense of the quality of this pod.
Most Notorious is another chance to take a sprawling dive into the crimes that have shook us and shaped us throughout history. Host Erik Rivenes has been obsessed with solving crimes for as long as he remembers and that enthusiasm makes this podcast shine. Rivenes often invites experts on to talk about their books which cover whichever crime is being highlighted in the episode, providing a very deep take on the subject. It’s conversational, engaging, and chilling.
Where To Start: We suggest the episode titled “1897 Chicago’s Sausage Vat Murder.” Simply because who doesn’t want to know what’s up with that story immediately??? Spoiler alert, it’s grisly.
MISSING AND MURDERED: FINDING CLEO
Indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada (and Mexico) are the most at risk of being raped and murdered daily. The numbers are off the charts. With so little reporting in the mainstream media, podcasting has picked up the slack to tell the stories of women and children who otherwise would be forgotten forever. The story of Cleo Nicotine Semaganis, who was taken from her family in the 1960s to be “re-educated” in a boarding school, is a chilling portrayal of how colonial powers destroy Indigenous lives and, then, refuse to come to a reckoning, even today.
Where To Start: Missing and Murdered is another pod where it’s essential to start from episode one and work your way to the finale.
THE LAST DAYS OF AUGUST
The Last Days of August hits that perfect sweet spot of the true crime podcast’s ability to report and entertain. It takes a story you think you know and upends it into something so much more. With Jon Ronson at the helm, the podcast never drifts into speculation or hearsay. It stays locked in on the mysterious suicide of adult actress August Ames and never sensationalizes for dramatic effect. This is a story that sticks to the facts because, well, the facts are interesting enough.
Ronson and co-producer Lina Misitzis tackle the story of porn star August Ames’ untimely death with a grace and precision that touches on how we ostracize porn actors and use social media while making the story painfully human.
Where To Start: You really need to start this one from episode one and listen through.
SOUTHERN FRIED TRUE CRIME
Southern Fried True Crime takes the idea of true crime and zeroes it in on a region. Host Erica Kelley tells stories exclusively from America’s South. It’s a part Gothic nightmare and part classic true crime, filtered through Kelley’s excellent storytelling style. The podcast is all about Kelley telling a story in acts with a beginning, middle, and (not always satisfying) end. She’s able to draw you by sticking to the facts of the case because, put simply, facts are often far stranger than any fiction.
Where To Start: Drop in at episode 33. The biggest reason here is not a shift in content but in quality. The recordings get crisp and clear at this point, making them a dream to listen to. Once you’re hooked, you can go back and give the earlier episodes a listen.
SMALL TOWN DICKS
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Happy #Halloween #SmallTownFam 😈 . Name the @SmallTownDicks episode that #spooked you the most 🙀 Be sure to use #SmallTownDicksPodcast #Halloween2018 when replying. . #TrueCrimeCommunity #Spooky #Scary #HalloweenPodcast #Haunted #TrueCrime #PodernFamily #Podcast #TrueCrimeFan
Small Town Dicks is a hell of a unique show. For starters, hosts Yeardley Smith (yes, the voice of Lisa Simpson) and Zibby Allen work with actual detectives in planning and hosting each episode. Oh, and those detectives happen to be twins. It’s a cool crew that allows the show to bring on the actual detectives from the cases they explore, giving the show a sense of gravitas and realism rarely found in the true crime podcasting world.
ONCE UPON A CRIME
Esther Ludlow’s Once Upon A Crime is a fascinating listen that flies by. Ludlow’s voice draws you in and her storytelling directness keeps you tuned in. Each episode is a 30-minute (or so) stand-alone tome of tragedy and travesty. A nice ripple that Ludlow employs is using themes to explore true crime stories over multiple episodes, making it even easier to binge a couple of eps in a row.
Where To Start: Ludlow’s “Bad Sports” themed run ended with episode 128: Ten Cent Beer Night. The episode tells the tale of a Cleveland Indians game that descends into chaos when the team decides to sell ten-cent beers to their fans. It’s a great introduction to the show.
MAN IN THE WINDOW: THE GOLDEN STATE KILLER
In the spring of 2018, the Golden State Killer — Joseph James DeAngelo — was captured. A random family DNA test finally led to the arrest of one of California’s most prolific and elusive serial killers after 44 years. Man In The Window from the LA Times and Wondery takes a deep dive into not only how DeAngelo was finally captured but how he carried out so many burglaries, rapes, and murders and what, if anything, we can do to stop people like him.
It’s a comprehensive investigation into a harrowing reign of terror that spanned decades.
Where To Start: This is the sort of show that you have to listen to from episode one. That ep, “Phantom and the Fog“, opens the series with an investigation into a spat of brutal dog killings in a small California town that unknowingly at the time would lead to a brutal killing spree.
ROOT OF EVIL: THE TRUE STORY OF THE HODEL FAMILY AND THE BLACK DAHLIA
Root of Evil takes a two-pronged approach to the infamous murder of Elizabeth Short — later dubbed the Black Dahlia. The 70-plus-year-old cold case has led to endless theories but the most common is that a man named George Hodel was responsible for the brutal dismemberment. While the podcast does look into the case of the Black Dahlia the real focus is on Hodel and his family history — past, present, and future. Through Hodel’s great-granddaughters, we get a deep look into a disturbing man and his family.
This podcast is also a companion piece to the TNT show I Am the Night directed by Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins and starring Chris Pine.
Where To Start: Interestingly, you can kind of skip around with this series. While there is a sense of story building towards a climax, a good place to get a taste is with episode six, Supposin’ I Did Kill The Black Dahlia. The episode follows Steve Hodel, George Hodel’s son, as he looks into the piles of evidence against his father and reckons with his family’s unsavory history.
Reveal isn’t a classic “true crime” show per se. It’s an investigative podcast that uses the classic tactics of investigative journalism to tackle issues affecting all us today. Through The Center for Investigative Reporting and in collaboration with The Washington Post, ProPublica, APM, The Marshall Project, and The Investigative Fund, Reveal looks at crimes that span everything from political corruption to suicide to silencing scientists over climate change to imprisoning migrant children. It’s a vast podcast that takes the time to tell stories right.
Where To Start: There are nearly 200 episodes to choose from. If you’re looking for something that leans more true crime, we’d suggest starting with Sins of the Fathers. The episode investigates how the Catholic church in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska relocated sexually abusing priests from white, Asian, and black communities to Indian reservations to hide the abuse.
Of course, the abuse continued once the priests arrived in Indian Country. It’s a harrowing listen.