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Crime News Crime Podcasts

New Podcast Takes On Homicidal Family That Targeted Women From Donut Shops

New podcast takes on the Donut Shop Murders, an alleged multi-state murder spree led by Sherman Ramon McCrary and his son-in-law Carl Taylor, that has left behind deep generational wounds. 

By Gina Tron
The Donut Shop Murders Podcast

A new podcast is exploring one of America’s most dangerous families — who allegedly traveled the country in the '70's, abducting women from donut shops and killing them.

“Families Who Kill: The Donut Shop Murders” dropped its first two episodes on Tuesday, though all seven are available for Wondery+ subscribers.

“In the era of some of the most heinous serial killers of all time, one murderous family went curiously unnoticed: The McCrarys,” the podcast description states. “Led by a psychopathic patriarch and his cunning son-in-law, this Texas clan roamed the country robbing, kidnapping, and killing up to 20 people, most of them taken from donut shops.” 

The podcast features the taped confessions of one of the two convicted killers of the family: Sherman Ramon McCrary and his son-in-law Carl Taylor. It is believed they led their family on one of one the nation’s first serial killing spree, the Deseret Times reported in 1988 when McCrary died by suicide behind bars in a Colorado prison.

McCrary and his family were suspected in at least 24 other murders, mostly of young women who were last seen alive at donut shops in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Kansas City and Utah in 1970 and 1971. 

Both McCrary and Taylor were sentenced to life for the 1971 kidnapping and murder of Lakewood, Colorado donut shop employee Leeora Looney, 20, the New Yorker reports. She was kidnapped, strangled, raped, and shot in the head, a pattern that investigators say matches what happened to their other alleged victims. McCrary’s wife Carolyn, his son Danny, and Taylor’s wife Ginger all allegedly watched as McCrary terrorized and murdered Looney, the Associated Press reported in 1988. Ginger and Carolyn were both sentenced to just a few years for their roles, according to the New Yorker. Danny received a life sentence for another murder the family was linked to. He died behind bars in 2007.

″They’d consider killing a person the same way you and I would consider stepping on an ant,” Lakewood Police Detective Joe Fanciulli said decades ago, according to the Associated Press. “They were classic sociopaths. Absolutely no regard for human life.”

McCrary confessed to murdering three other women in Texas, but the statements were not admissible under Texas law. He later refused to repeat the confessions.

McClary and Taylor also were also charged with the kidnapping of 17-year-old murder victim Sheri Lee Martin, who died while working a summer job at a donut shop in Kansas.

The first episode of the podcast explores how "lifelong petty thieves Carl Taylor and Sherman McCrary, facing heat in their hometown of Athens, Texas, gather their family and take to the highways in search of criminal opportunities in the American West."

"In Utah, Carl and Sherman’s small-time cons suddenly escalate when they rob and kidnap 17-year-old Sheri Martin from a Winchell’s Donut Shop, killing her in the Nevada desert. The men’s bloodthirst is awakened," the podcast states.

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