10 Captivating Podcasts for the True Crime-Obsessed
If you’re hungry for stories of true crime, download any of these podcasts to get your mystery fix on the move.
Something about true crime—tales of real-life murders, kidnappings, disappearances, and the efforts to solve them—is irresistible to many people, and the same is true for crime podcasts. Like the best podcasts of any category, the best true crime podcasts are entertaining and informative in equal measure, and there are plenty out there to appeal to any preference.
Podcasts—true crime or otherwise—continue to be a powerful platform when it comes to content consumption, with research indicating an increase in people tuning in and the number of podcasts they’re listening to regularly. And one podcast genre that continues to dominate the scene? True crime, with groundbreaking series such as Serial (now in its third season) garnering cult followings, media attention, awards, and even laying the groundwork for mainstream specials and documentary series. (The case discussed in the first season of Serial became an Emmy-nominated documentary series from HBO.)
Whether you’re looking to dig up and delve deep into notorious—and sometimes unsolved—true crime stories of the past, learn more about the white-collar crimes and crime culture impacting society today, or put your own investigator instincts to the test, read on for 10 eye-opening, bone-chilling podcasts that will keep you and your curious mind mesmerized. You might just want to refrain from tuning in too close to bedtime.
Investigative podcast Serial became a national phenomenon when it was released back in 2014, at the time revisiting the case of Adnan Syed, who claims to have been wrongly convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend while in high school. Since then, the journalistically minded podcast, developed by the creators of This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig, has brought us two additional seasons, one involving an American soldier who was held captive for five years by the Taliban and, more recently, looking at cases within the Justice Center Complex in Ohio. Each season is a new story, all impeccably reported and fascinating to the final moment.
Like Serial, Up and Vanished is an investigative podcast. Each season (two have been released so far) focuses on a cold crime case in which someone has vanished, never to be seen again. Tune in as documentary filmmaker and host Payne Lindsey revisits evidence and interviews key witnesses surrounding the disappearances of teacher and former pageant queen Tara Grinstead (Season 1) and young mother Kristal Reisinger (Season 2) in an attempt to bring attention to their stories and uncover new leads. The release of Season 1 actually led to new leads (and arrests) in the disappearance of Grinstead, proving that these podcasts are entertaining, sure, but also serve a larger purpose.
Atlanta Monster is another podcast produced by Tenderfoot TV (in collaboration with iHeart Media) and hosted by Payne Lindsey. This true crime podcast is centered around the disappearance and murder of more than 25 African American children and young adults in Atlanta (otherwise referred to as The Atlanta Child Murders). In Season 2, the podcast turns to another notorious and unsolved serial killing mystery, dissecting the haunting—and often taunting—details surrounding The Zodiac Killer.
It’s hard to discuss notorious unsolved murders without mentioning Elizabeth Short, aka The Black Dahlia, the 22-year-old woman whose body was discovered in a Los Angeles neighborhood in 1947. Root of Evil is a podcast companion to TNT’s limited series I Am the Night. In the crime podcast, sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile delve into their family history in an attempt to investigate their own great-grandfather, George Hodel, who many believe to be behind the murder, unveiling shocking secrets about him and their family along the way.
April Balascio suspected her own father, Edward Wayne Edwards, might be a serial killer. In The Clearing, an eight-part podcast from Pineapple Street Media (in association with Gimlet), host Josh Dean tracks her journey from realizing that her suspicions might be true to reporting her findings to authorities and the aftermath. You might want to save this true crime podcast for a day when you have a good amount of free time on your hands: Once you’re sucked in, it’s nearly impossible to press pause.
Criminal, a podcast from Radiotopia hosted and co-created by Phoebe Judge, covers all sorts of crime, from true crime to white collar crime to the occasional oddball case. Counterfeit money, identity theft, stowaways—they’re all here for your intent (and we do mean intent) listening pleasure, often complete with interviews with those involved in or even behind the crimes. You’ll file the best ones under bizarre stories to share with your family at—or, depending on the topic, after—dinner.
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This independent podcast hosted by an anonymous “Concerned Citizen” is all about white-collar crime, exploring true stories of corporate corruption, fraud, con-art, and other financially motivated crimes that have had large and often far-reaching effects. Recent Swindled episodes include probes into the Flint water crisis and the rigging of the McDonald’s Monopoly game (also spotlighted in a recent HBO documentary series).
Crimetown, produced by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier in partnership with Gimlet, focuses on not just individual crimes, but rather the culture and evolution of crime in various cities. In the latest season, the true crime podcast takes a closer look at Detroit, Mich., and its historic relationship with issues surrounding race, drugs, poverty, and more.
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The hosts (Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark) of weekly true crime podcast My Favorite Murder use each episode to dig up what they consider some of the most interesting and downright shocking murder and survivor stories of the past. Their discussion of the dastardly details makes it as if you’re listening to two crime-obsessed friends having a conversation at brunch—in other words, it’s a fun listen despite the subject matter.
This interactive who-done-it podcast presents a new case inspired by a true crime each week, then offers listeners the chance to crack it themselves. Put your detective hat on and tune in to Solve for a murder mystery–style podcast that will help you sharpen your investigative skills: You’ll interrogate suspects, piece together evidence, and otherwise try to solve the mystery, all through your headphones.