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True Crime Podcasts To Bring Some Holiday Fear To Your Festive Season
From the Murdaugh family to Lori Vallow, these podcasts are must-binges for holiday travel.
Nothing says holiday cheer like the holiday fear and excitement that a good true crime podcast inspires within you.
Thankfully for true crime aficionados, 2021 had no shortage of quality pods. The only complaint we have is that it feels like there hasn’t been enough time to enjoy them all — which is why the holidays are the perfect time to dive into this list we have compiled.
These podcasts are perfect to keep you awake during that long drive to see family. Or, if you finally got some much-needed time off, why not cuddle up on the couch with a blanket while listening to tales of murder and crime?
This riveting podcast dives into the life of alleged cult leader Anna Young, whose abuse of children flew under the radar in Florida for years. It wasn’t until Young’s daughter, Joy Fluker, called law enforcement in 2016 to report that her mother had killed a child decades earlier that anyone got involved. The 14-episode podcast is hosted by journalist Leila Day and former prosecutor and investigative journalist Beth Karas, who some may recognize from Oxygen’s “Unspeakable Crime: The Killing of Jessica Chambers.”
This 12-part podcast investigates the heartbreaking disappearance of the host's 11-year-old brother Jon Kushner. In, 1973, Jon's brother David Kushner — now a writer — asked Jon to bring him an alligator candy dispenser from a nearby convenience store. David never saw Jon again. In “Alligator Candy,” he discovers holes in his memory as he revisits his case as both a brother and journalist. He told Oxygen.com earlier this year that he has a complicated relationship with the media, who he feels sensationalized his brother’s case. Kushner said he hopes he brought “humanity” to his brother’s tale, explaining that he wanted to tell the “story from the inside about what it’s like, how it stays with you, how it stays with all these people.”
If you if have been hearing rumblings of this complicated case but aren’t quite up to date with it yet, it's time to binge on this podcast. It is deeply dedicated to examining the deaths and scandals connected to the Murdaughs, a prominent and affluent family that has exerted undue influence over the Low Country in South Carolina for a century. Host Mandy Matney investigates all the mysterious deaths — including at least two murders — along with a dizzying series of allegations of corruption, intimidation and addiction that came to national attention in the aftermath of the murders of Maggie Murdaugh and her son Paul in June. Their husband and father, respectively, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, only recently apologized for misappropriating funds belonging to the family of his longtime housekeeper (who died at one of his homes) and to whom he's agreed to pay a $4.3 million settlement.
For more on the Murdaugh saga, watch Oxygen’s “Alex Murdaugh: Death. Deception. Power.”
This podcast is especially interesting to those who like hearing tales of dating woes and con men alike. It focuses on a woman named Arya who thought she landed a catch when she met Mordechai Horowitz through online dating. Not only was he sensitive and attentive, but he was also a millionaire — or at least that’s the image he put forward.
But (you guessed it) that wasn’t the reality. The end result was more a mixture of “Dirty John” combined with “Love Fraud.”
“I opened the door. There is a woman standing there, pleasant-looking woman, but it’s still Sunday night after 9 p.m. It’s like ‘What’s going on?’ and she said, ‘I think you know someone named Mordechai Horowitz?’” Arya says in the podcast’s trailer. “And I said, ‘Oh, you better come in.’”
Over the course of the seven-episode podcast, Arya discovers there are many others who have become smitten by Mordechai’s charms. In turn, she learns about his true identity.
This podcasts focuses on true crime stories that involve Black people, and many of whom you've probably never heard of because of systemic racism. Kayla and Kristen research and comment on murders committed by Black offenders, Black serial killers who haven't gotten attention as well as Black missing persons and unsolved cases.
This six-episode podcast dives deep into the highly-publicized Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell case — and the duo's alleged madness. The pair are facing charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Vallow’s children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, who were found buried on Daybell’s Idaho property last year. Daybell is also accused of killing his wife Tammy in 2019 and Vallow is facing charges in Arizona of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her husband, Charles Vallow, a few months earlier.
This podcast focuses on the why of all of it: Why did five people end up dead? To get there, host Sarah Treleaven explores religious fanaticism, brainwashing and greed to try to comprehend just how this couple came to hold such extreme beliefs.
“That was the lens we really used to shape our research,” Treleaven told Oxygen.com this year. “You know, we really wanted to talk to people who could tell us how something that seemed unthinkable could possibly happen.”
Time to catch up on the latest killer doctor in the "Dr. Death" franchise. Perhaps you are still reeling from the season on Dallas neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, who became known as “Dr. Death” after his botched surgeries resulted in at least two deaths and 30 paralyzations. The third season is even more bonkers. It sinks its teeth into Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, an Italian thoracic surgeon and con man who seems to have some sort of power over everyone around him. If only he had focused that energy on actually becoming a good surgeon.
It's no secret that transgender women — and trans sex workers in particular — have been systemically marginalized, overpoliced and underprotected. Alloura Wells and Cassandra Do are two such women whose deaths remain unexplained — and the focus of the second season of "The Village," in which host Justin Ling dives into how the systems failed both Canadian trans women. Do, a sex worker, was found dead in her bathtub in 2003 after having been sexually assaulted and strangled to death. Even though DNA at the crime scene has been linked to the suspect from a sexual assault of another sex worker, her murder remains unsolved, Now Toronto reported this year.
Loved "LuLaRich"? Can't get enough scams and frauds? Well, “Scam Goddess" is likely your jam. It's a podcast dedicated to all things fraud, and there's plenty of episodes to stream. Host Laci Mosley, who refers to herself as the "Scam Goddess," digs in deep into all the latest scams and schemes in our world today. "It's like true crime only without all the death!" she states. "True fun crime!"
Renowned true crime investigator Billy Jensen and producer Alexis Linkletter try to get to the bottom of the ever-frustrating Long Island Serial Killer case in this thorough podcast that features interviews with those close to the investigation.
For more than a decade now, the identity of the elusive murderer alternately dubbed the "Long Island Serial Killer," the "Gilgo Beach Killer" and the "Craigslist Ripper" has remained a mystery. Even the true scope of the killings isn't fully clear: While police have officially linked 10 victims, whose remains were found primarily near beaches along Long Island's south shore in 2010 and 2011, an additional six bodies were found in the same area at around the same time. Although those other victims haven't been officially declared part of the case, theories about how those additional killings could be connected have circulated for years.
Many of the victims were sex workers who advertised their services on Craigslist, hence the "Craigslist Ripper" moniker.
Jensen and Linkletter don't only dive into the deaths but they investigate the investigators, especially the former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke who worked the case. He has since been outed as a corrupt cop and served a 46-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to beating up a handcuffed suspect who had stolen a gym bag from his SUV in a separate case. That suspect, Christopher Loeb, is a childhood friend of Linkletter and is featured prominently in the podcast.
At the time of Burke's conviction, then-District Attorney Tom Spota and another fellow prosecutor were indicted of federal charges of obstruction of justice and witness tampering after federal prosecutors said the pair had “numerous meetings and telephone conversations” where they “agreed to conceal Burke’s role in the assault,” according to The Washington Post. Spota was found guilty of the charges in 2019.