Hello! It’s me. Your resident true crime fanatic. Earlier this year, I shared with you all my top ten favorite true crime documentaries. Quarantine has brought some great new additions, and I hope to update that list soon. For now, here are my ten favorite true crime podcasts that I have binged and enjoyed!
1. Serial: Season 1
Serial is arguably the trail-blazer of investigative true crime podcast journalism. The first season focuses on the 1999 murder of 18-year-old high school student Hae Min Lee and the eventual trial and conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed.
Sarah Koenig, the host of the podcast, unfolds the events of the story while also investigating and criticizing the way the case was handled. Throughout the season, new evidence and witnesses are discovered, and inconsistencies are unearthed. The podcast not only significantly impacted the case but also helped pave the way for the popularization of true crime podcasts.
2. Up and Vanished: Season 1
This story investigates the 11-year cold case disappearance of Georgia high school teacher and pageant queen Tara Grinstead. The host, Payne Lindsey, cracks the case wide open, leading to major developments and an eventual conclusion of the case by authorities. The podcast is exciting, as it narrates the developments of the case in real-time.
3. Motive for Murder
Hosted by Josh Mankiewicz, long-time Dateline correspondent and host, this podcast tells the story of two 2012 murders, both occurring within months of each other in the Houston area. It is a complicated and twisted case, eventually leading to a vast web of crimes. As the title suggests, ultimately, the key to solving the case was in the motive itself.
4. Over My Dead Body: Seasons 1 and 2
More of a traditional true crime story, the first season of Over My Dead Body focuses on the murder of Dan Markel, a Florida law professor. The podcast tells the story of his turbulent marriage, murder, and eventual bizarre and convoluted trial of the accused.
The second season of Over My Dead Body focuses on the infamous story of Joe Exotic, a flamboyant and eccentric zoo-keeper who was convicted of murder for hire. Highly recommend, even if you’ve seen the Netflix documentary as it delves even further into the unbelievable story of Joe Exotic.
5. To Live and Die in LA
This podcast follows the disappearance and eventual murder of an up and coming aspiring actress named Adea Shabani. At the request of the family, journalist Neil Strauss investigates and hosts the podcast, which runs in real-time reporting. The truth is eventually uncovered after numerous breaks in the case.
6. Teacher’s Pet
This is an Australian true crime podcast that investigates the 1982 disappearance of Lynette Dawson. The podcast dives into her marriage to former rugby league player Chris Dawson and the dark side of his life. The sensational investigating exposed the flawed police investigation and eventually led to new evidence and a break in the decades-long cold case.
7. Dirty John
A classic true crime story of abuse, manipulation, and murder. This podcast tells the infamous twisted story of John Meehan and his deceitful relationship with Californian interior designer Debra Newell.
8. 30 for 30 Podcasts: Bikram
Many of us have taken a Bikram hot yoga class or at the very least heard of it. This podcast tells the story of Bikram Choudhury, the so-called founder of “Bikram Yoga.” This ESPN 30 for 30 podcast explores the dark and complicated world of Bikram yoga and the rise and fall of the eccentric and evil man behind it all.
9. Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment
This podcast explores the dark side of the self-help industry, specifically that of former “guru” James Arthur Ray. Ray was a popular self-help lecturer who gained success with works such as The Secret and The Science of Success. He amassed a large following of people and eventually became an unhinged, power-hungry cult-like leader. The podcast focuses on the story of Ray’s intensive 5-day “Spiritual Warrior” retreat and the deaths and aftermath that resulted from it.
Most definitely not your classic true crime investigative podcast, S-Town tells the story of an eccentric, gay, southern, conspiracist named John B. Though there are overall themes of crime in the story, the podcast listens almost more like a novel as it weaves the story of this incredibly complex and ingenious man.
The above series all focus on a single crime throughout the entire season. If you are interested in shorter one episode narrated, true crime stories, definitely check out the Crime Junkies, Dateline, and the Sword and Scale podcasts.