Twenty years ago, no one had cellphones, let alone high-tech devices that connected us to the web and fit in the palm of our hands. Now, we can’t go thirty seconds without grabbing our phones and scrolling through social media—or hunting down our next podcast to binge.
Podcasting is now a major force in the media landscape—and one of the most explosive podcast genres is the true crime podcast. 2019 witnessed the debut of some electrifying new listens, from Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad, hosted by Chase Darkness with Me author Billy Jensen and retired cold case investigator Paul Holes, to 22 Hours: An American Nightmare, a WTOP radio production that examines a horrific 2015 home invasion in Washington D.C.
On the hunt for the best true crime podcasts of 2019? We've got you covered. Here are thirteen of our favorite true crime podcasts released this year to jumpstart your next obsession.
Root of Evil
A beautiful young woman named Elizabeth Short moved to Los Angeles in the 1940s to make a name for herself as an actress. Tragically, her dreams would never become a reality. On the morning of January 15, 1947, Short’s brutalized body was discovered in a vacant lot in Leimert Park, Los Angeles. Short's murder baffled investigators, and to this day her slaying remains one of the most haunting unsolved mysteries in modern American history. While we don't yet know who killed the so-called Black Dahlia, we do have a top suspect's name: Dr. George Hodel. Combining never-before-heard archival audio with first-person interviews, this new true crime podcast, which serves as the companion piece to TNT's limited series I Am the Night, makes contact with what remains of the Hodel family and gets them to open up about what they know.
Related: Who Killed the Black Dahlia?
Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad
In late 2018, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, hosts of the hugely popular My Favorite Murder podcast, announced that they were starting their own podcast network called Exactly Right. Slated in their 2019 lineup was Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad, hosted by investigative journalist/Chase Darkness with Me author Billy Jensen and retired cold case investigator Paul Holes. With each episode, Jensen and Holes open up a cold case, often bringing in outside experts to lend their views. The hosts then ask listeners to help try to solve the case. Paul Holes is best known for having helped catch the Golden State Killer, after decades of pursuit, using recovered DNA samples. Billy Jensen, a true crime journalist who specializes in leveraging social media to help solve cold cases, was friends with crime writer Michelle McNamara and helped finish her bestselling true crime book, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, after McNamara's death in 2016.
Man in the Window
Paige St. John, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for the Los Angeles Times, takes her own look at the Golden State Killer case and Joseph James DeAngelo, Jr., the man widely believed to be the Golden State Killer. Man in the Window enhances the conversation surrounding this investigation by conducting new interviews with surviving GSK victims and individuals who personally knew DeAngelo. Together, their stories paint a clear picture of a monster who escaped justice for far too long.
Pineapple Street Studios' riveting new podcast, produced in association with Gimlet Media, pairs journalist Josh Dean with April Balascio, daughter of serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards. Together, they discuss crimes Edwards was convicted of, and others he may have gotten away with. Balascio’s involvement here gives Dean access to intel and personal recordings made by Edwards. The result is truly chilling. Edwards has, at one point or another, been thought to have committed the murders of the Black Dahlia, Jon-Benet Ramsey, Jimmy Hoffa, Chandra Levy, and Laci Peterson. His daughter, Balascio, offers great insight into what should and shouldn't be believed. Her instincts are solid. She’s the one who turned him in, after all.
The Killing of Marilyn Monroe
When Marilyn Monroe was discovered by her housekeeper, dead in her bed in Brentwood Los Angeles in 1962, it was ruled a suicide. Ever since the actresses’ death, however, fans, friends, and family have questioned whether there's more to the story—and whether she was the victim of foul play. The Killing of Marilyn Monroe examines some of the most mysterious elements leading up to Monroe's death, and the dark influences in her orbit that may have had a hand in her demise. Over the course of twelve suspenseful, and often heartbreaking episodes, you come to know a version of Marilyn Monroe that may surprise you.
Monster: The Zodiac Killer
It’s been over fifty years since the Zodiac Killer claimed his first victim in Northern California, and we still don’t know who he was. Between the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Zodiac boasted killing upwards of 37 people, often writing cryptic letters to police and journalists, taunting them to come and find him. To this day, the Zodiac's true identity and the extent of his crimes remain a mystery. Monster: The Zodiac Killer takes a fresh look at one of the most infamous serial killer cold cases in American history.
To Live and Die in L.A.
Rolling Stone journalist and bestselling author Neil Strauss learned about the 2018 disappearance of aspiring actress Adea Shabani while researching a different case. After meeting with private investigator Jayden Brant and getting hooked on the mystery of Shabani's disappearance, Strauss set out to investigate what happened. Soon, he launched a podcast about it, detailing his findings as he went. What sets To Live and Die in L.A. apart from other true crime podcasts is that, in an unbelievable twist, the show ends with an answer to what happened to the individual at the heart of the case.
From the makers of the popular podcast Dirty John, Detective Trapp follows Anaheim Police Department homicide Detective Julissa Trapp as she investigates crimes. Trapp is the only woman on her homicide squad. She's also a crime scene commander and a seasoned undercover cop who uses her background and expertise to elicit confessions from criminals. This true crime podcast follows Trapp's investigation into the murder of a woman and the murder's possible connection to the disappearance of three women in nearby Santa Ana. Her keen instincts and relentless pursuit of justice make this a riveting listen.
Murder in Oregon
In 1989, Michael Francke, a Director for the Oregon Department of Corrections, was found stabbed to death outside his office. No murder weapon was ever recovered, and fourteen months went by before an arrest was made. A small-time criminal named Frank Gable was eventually convicted in 1991, but the arrest felt to many like an attempt to tie up loose ends. Murder in Oregon follows Oregon reporter Phil Stanford, teamed with Francke’s brother, Kevin, as they set out to unravel what truly happened.
Laura Beil, the host of 2018’s jaw-dropping Dr. Death, is back with another true crime podcast dealing with the field of medicine. Bad Batch takes a look at the unregulated, and often criminal, industry of stem cell “miracle cures.” Featured heavily on the podcast is John Kosolcharoen, the CEO of Liveyon, a stem cell company claiming to offer life-enhancing injections at $5,000 a pop—but often delivering drastically different results.
Have You Seen This Man?
In 1965, while out on bail for attempted rape, Lester Eubanks attempted to rape and then murdered a 14-year-old girl. Sentenced to life in the Ohio Department of Corrections, he was awarded a temporary furlough in 1973 to go Christmas shopping. At some point during this outing, Eubanks got away from the officers assigned to watch over him. He hasn’t been seen since. Have You Seen This Man? is a podcast hosted by The View’s Sunny Hostin, and follows U.S. Marshals as they continue their search for Eubanks.
Over My Dead Body
The first season of Wondery's Over My Dead Body focuses on the case of Dan Markel and Wendi Adelson. They were a veritable power couple; Dan was an attorney and legal academic, Wendi was an author and a clinical law professor. But trouble brewed behind the successful facade. Their bitter breakup led to a nasty divorce. Then, in 2014, Dan was shot and killed in his Florida home. Over My Dead Body traces the disintegration of the couple's relationship, the many twists and turns that led up to Markel’s death, and the web of conspirators involved in the murder.
22 Hours: An American Nightmare
22 Hours: An American Nightmare tells the story of a horrific home invasion. In May 2015 an intruder (or intruders) broke into the D.C. home of the Savopoulos family and held hostage patriarch Savvas Savopoulos, matriarch Amy Savopoulos, their 10-year-old son Philip, and Veralicia “Vera” Figueroa, the family’s 57-year-old housekeeper. Absent from the home were the two teenaged Savopoulos daughters, Abigail and Katerina, who were both away at boarding school. Abigail and Katerina's absence likely saved their lives. After extorting $40,000 in cash from the Savopoulos family, the perpetrator(s) murdered all four hostages. 22 Hours tracks this brutal case as it unfolded.
Related: 10 Books Like In Cold Blood