We love true crime here , but there are some things a Lifetime TV movie cannot capture.
True crime podcasts are the new frontier of the genre, allowing listeners to go deep on cases, form their own theories, and occasionally even help out the investigators in real-time.
The best true crime podcasts are ones that say something about society while providing an intriguing narrative, and those are the kind we’ve listed here.
Allow us to present: Our 39 picks of the best true crime podcasts currently available. There’s plenty to binge-listen to on your next long road trip or train ride or just, you know, Sunday. (And for our round-up of the best podcasts of 2020 in all genres)
On May 25, 1996, Kristin Smart was last seen walking back to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University at 2 a.m. Now 24 years later, the case is still unsolved. Host Chris Lambert brings the disappearance of Smart back into the spotlight with new interviews from family members, tracing the steps of her said-to-be-killer and uncovering new evidence.
Like any crime junkie, unsolved missing people cases fascinate and also trouble me at the same time. The Vanished highlights a new missing person case each week in hopes of getting the word out and making a case that was once unsolved into case closed status. Interviews from the family members of the missing to the police who desperately want to find them make the podcast extremely gripping. Love these true crime podcasts.
If you’re into a little chitter-chat before getting down to the gritty details of a case you haven’t heard before, then add Killer Queens to your queue. The two hosts, Tori and Tyrella, are sisters who like to report on the latest cases but with their own kind of charm. Get ready for a lot of ’90s references (always a good thing) and a cuss word or too.
Another of Vicary’s favorites, Serial Killers covers one person per episode who is a—you guessed it—serial killer, digging deep into their motivations, what they said or didn’t say about their crimes, and what we’ll never really know about what went down.
Consider yourself the ultimate true crime junkie? Put yourself to the test with this trivia podcast and follow along with the two competitors going head-to-head with their true-crime facts, and see if you can beat them. Interestingly, Dr. Vicary says there’s a good reason you’re obsessed: “My research suggests that women are drawn to true crime because of the information they can learn from it, even if they aren’t always aware that that’s why they’re listening,” she says.
When Susan Powell disappeared from her home in December of 2009, the man suspected of killing her was never arrested or charged. Now ten years later, this podcast looks at the missing case of the mother and wife—and of course, there’s always more than one side to every story.
In the first season of Conviction, we met New York Times reporter Saki Knafo as he followed detective Manuel Gomez as Gomez took on the biggest case of his career. Now in season two, the podcast will take a hard look at John Quinney, a man who stood to testify against his father when he was 10 because he believed he was a leader of a satanic cult. Years later, the panic that swept America in the ’80s has vanished, but the results of those cases still stand despite the fact they lack evidence.
A retired FBI agent interviews other retired FBI agents on their most high-profile cases to help the public understand a little bit more about one of the United States’ most secretive organizations. Interviews range from agents who worked on cases in the foreign and domestic terrorism department to those who dealt with mobsters.
Most true crime podcasts hardly ever get audio from the people themselves who were convicted in the case. In Criminal Perspective, hosts Chris Duett and Andrew Dodge have a combined 20 years behind them of dealing with some dangerous criminals. This makes them the perfect people to interview some of the craziest real-life villains out there. From a one-on-one chat with the ‘Selfie Killer’ to heartbreaking discussions with survivors, it’s everything a crime lover could want to listen to and more.
In 2017 when two teenage girls went missing and were then found dead in Delphi, Indiana the news shocked the nation. Now in the Scene of the Crime the podcast looks back on one of the most famous unsolved cases in the 21st century with new interviews from the officers on the case, theories on where the murderer could be today, and more.
Best friends and improve queens from Dallas, Christie Wallace, and Heather McKinney, chat all things sinister in this funny and well-researched podcast. McKinney is a corporate lawyer, so her small blurbs of background legal information are totally helpful when it comes to understanding a case. Not all episodes cover murder mysteries despite the title; some of their best ones highlight the theory of the Mandela Effect to the Kennedy Family Curse.
Two female criminologists focus on a new case each week involving women who were wrongfully convicted as they give their expert opinion on how the criminal justice system wronged those accused. Dr. Sacks and Dr. Shlosberg guide you through the cases with ease and make it seem like you’re apart of their group.
This podcast comes from the creators of the addictive and jaw-dropping HBO docuseries The Jinx, but its first season has more in common with The Sopranos in that it’s all about the way organized crime has shaped the history and culture of different American cities. Season two narrows that concept down further, following the saga of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who may or may not have been involved in everything from wire fraud to murder-for-hire.
Major scandals are like a trainwreck: You can’t really look away. Whether it’s a celebrity, a politician, or an entire corporation brought down by errors, lies, crimes, and misbehavior, scandal is as American as apple pie. This podcast from Wondery goes deep on some of the biggest ones to ever make headlines—the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Iran Contra Affair, steroid use among athletes—exploring why they happened and who took the fall.
Swindled takes a closer look at white-collar crimes, con artists, corporate villains, and all-around terrible events that happen to good people. Topics range from a coal mining freak accident that isn’t what it seems to a woman who faked her husband death after 9/11 to become famous. The anonymous host is “a concerned citizen” like the rest of us when it comes to seeking out justice—one who wants you to know the truth.
Nothing gets our blood pumping (besides coffee) like talking about creepy things. Hosts Whitney and Dani talk everything from true crime to paranormal activity on Creepy Caffeine, and discuss their favorites, stories, movies, and books about them. They even have a GoodReads account, so you can always be in the loop on what has been giving them goosebumps.
The hosts of True Crime Garage are two brothers from Columbus, Ohio who keep things casual when it comes to discussing crime. Each episode begins with the brothers cracking open a cold one as they dive into infamous cases like JonBenet Ramsey to the Malibu Creek Murders, taking a more in-depth look at the famous cases you thought you knew.
Detective Trapp follows Julissa Trapp, the only female detective on the homicide team in Anaheim, California. When she finds a woman’s body at a recycling plant, Trapp starts to think the case could be linked to the disappearance of three other women in nearby Santa Ana. She’s soon lead down a path darker than anything like she’s seen before.
If you’re a true crime junkie, you’ve probably heard about Fred and Rosemary West, the English couple who killed at least 12 women, including their own daughter. The duo cut up their victims and buried them under their house, continuing to live unnoticed for over 20 years. This 12-part podcast follows the cassette tapes of Howard Sounes, the author of the crime book Fred & Rose. Listeners will hear his unheard research tapes from 1994 as well as interviews from new witnesses.
Crime in Sports is exactly what you think it is: a podcast about crime in the sports world. Two comedians, James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman look at athletes who were known for winning, but somehow ended up losing big time to the law.
Crime never takes the day off, so neither should your podcast. Meet Today in True Crime, a daily podcast that looks back at true crime events from that day in history. The episodes are only 20 minutes, so it’s great if you have a quick commute.
Not all true crimes are murder stories—case in point: Gangster Capitalism. Season 1, from award-winning documentarian, Andrew Jenks, focused on the 2019 college admissions scandal, digging deep into just how this wide-ranging, totally captivating scam worked exactly (because you know you’re fascinated by this scandal, just like everyone else).
True Crime Fan Club has been a staple of the genre since it launched in 2016. Host Lanie Hobbs and her small team of researchers and producers give listeners a glimpse into some of history’s most evil minds.
DIE-ALOGUE: a true crime conversation is a weekly true crime podcast in which host Rebekah Sebastian interviews “fascinating people connected to true crime in unique ways.” Rebekah and her guests dig deep and try to get to the heart of the “why” that drives true crimes.
Small Town Dicks is the podcast for anyone fascinated with the biggest crimes that go down in the smallest of towns. Now in its fifth season, Small Town Dicks brings listeners a captivating case from Small Town, USA in every episode, complete with interviews with the detectives who broke the case, the suspects, 911 call audio, and more. Identical twin detectives Dan and Dave anchor the show, which is hosted by actress Yeardley Smith.
This one is almost like a reverse-engineered crime: It begins when 40-year-old April Balascio realized that her father, Edward Wayne Edwards, was actually a murderer. We follow her journey from that realization to her call to a police detective, to the emotional upheaval that such a revelation causes a person.
From Wondery and the L.A. Times—the team that brought us one of the greatest true crime podcasts of all time, Dirty John—comes this series on the man who would come to be known as the Golden State Killer, one of the most prolific serial killers in California history. Though finally brought to justice recently after decades at large, this podcast sets out to answer deeper questions about the case, like: How can we make sure this never happens again?
On its face, this podcast investigates the case of four bodies that were found in a couple barrels in the woods of New Hampshire. But then it goes way further, looking at the forensic technologies used to figure out who put the bodies there, and how they could have repercussions on the way crimes are solved—and who’s found guilty—that extend far beyond these murders.
This addictive podcast from journalist Neil Strauss follows the disappearance of Adea Shabani, a beautiful aspiring actress from Los Angeles who got into her boyfriend’s truck one day and never came back. But if that makes it sound like you already know what happened, strap in: There are twists and turns here that you’ll never see coming. Another true crime podcasts.
Released as a companion to the TNT show I Am the Night, “Root of Evil” explores a very intriguing theory about the killer behind the infamous Black Dahlia murder of 1947, when an actress named Elizabeth Short was found brutally dismembered at the side of the road. The story is told from a family member of the alleged killer, so you know it’s juicy.
Less true crime and more deep dive into news stories both obscure and mainstream that occasionally intersect with true crime, this award-winning podcast by Al Letson is dedicated to the nitty gritty process of investigative reporting. You’ll learn a lot and sometimes get really freaked out about what goes on in the world.
I love these guys! Billy Jensen is an investigative journalist, Paul Holes is a retired investigator, and together they are Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad. In each episode, the pair attempts to solve cold cases using everything from brand new tech to old fashioned know-how. And listeners play an important role here, calling in to offer their own tips and theories along the way. You can be an investigator, too! That’s the beauty of true crime podcasts.
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the two hilarious women behind this hit podcast with a major cult following (fans call themselves “Murderinos”). Each episode, they select a different real-life murder and chat about the circumstances around it, ranging from the mega-famous cases to the ones you’ve never heard about before. Also, they are very funny, so if you aren’t okay with irreverence around serious topics, you might want to skip this one.
Hosted by an anonymous Australian, this gloomy podcast goes over in excruciatingly researched detail the play-by-plays of murder cases. I once listened to it while driving alone at night and had to immediately call my mom and have her talk about cats just so I didn’t feel like I was going to get axed myself—that’s how scary it is.
One of the lovelier podcasts in the true crime genre, Criminal takes an almost Radiolab approach to the cases it presents each episode, looking at not just the crimes themselves but the motivations, cultural workings, and almost poetic undercurrents present in each one. It’s a surprising and addictive listen, and with years of back catalog, there’s much to explore.
Host Robin Warder picks a new missing person each episode and talks about their lives, their last known whereabouts, and where….the trail went cold. It’s basically that classic, long-running television show Unsolved Mysteries, but for your ears.
So this NPR show isn’t strictly true crime, though sometimes it veers in that direction. Rather, it takes something buzzy from today’s news—say, vaccinations—and contextualizes it in history. When did we start getting vaccinated? Why? Whose idea was it to attempt herd immunity, and keep those who didn’t agree away from some of the sections of society where they might pose a risk? This podcast will tell you.
Enjoy listening to true crime podcasts – thanks to Marie Claire magazine!