True crime book and podcast lovers alike will relish the experience of listening to a true crime audiobook. The perfect combination of brilliantly-written books and captivating, suspenseful narration provides for an immersive—and chilling—listening experience.
What’s more, many of these true crime books are written and narrated by those at the center of the case: Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, Amanda Knox and more. Grab your headphones, double-lock the windows, and settle in for a chilling afternoon with these 13 true crime audiobooks.
In 1983, Oregon mother Dawn Downs told the police a harrowing tale, of how she and her three children had been shot in their car, after a stranger flagged them down on the side of the road. There was something fishy about Downs’ story, however, and the deeper authorities dug, the more they were convinced that Downs was lying about what had truly happened on that fateful day. Small Sacrifices is narrated by its author, the prolific true crime writer Ann Rule.
Related: 15 True Crime Books by Ann Rule That You Won’t Be Able to Put Down
Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bedroom by deranged religious fanatics in 2002. Her abductors held Smart captive, in chains, and repeatedly raped and abused her. In this memoir, narrated by Smart herself, Smart revisits her nightmarish ordeal, and the hope, perseverance, and faith that kept her alive.
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson
In Manson, author Jeff Guinn gained unprecedented access to Charles Manson’s relatives, friends, and former “Family” members to provide an authoritative account of one of America’s most notorious criminals. Guinn sets out to answer previously unresolved questions about the Manson Family’s crimes, while honing in on the particular combination of factors that made Manson so irresistible to his followers—and so dangerous.
Related: Charles Manson Is Dead. Where Is the Rest of His Murderous Clan?
A Stolen Life
In this brutally honest and powerful memoir, Jaycee Dugard narrates the story of her 18-year-long abduction by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. The victim of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, Dugard was manipulated and tortured by her captors, forbidden even from speaking her own name. It was only after Garrido appeared on U.C. Berkeley’s campus in 2009, with his daughters by Dugard in tow, that the chain of events leading to Dugard’s rescue were set in motion.
If I Can’t Have You: Susan Powell, Her Mysterious Disappearance, and the Murder of Her Children
In 2009, Utah wife and mother Susan Powell went missing. Her husband, Josh Powell, was immediately named a person of interest. As the investigation began, a series of secrets about the Powell family surfaced: Josh’s father was a pervert who was sexually obsessed with Susan; Josh’s brother, Michael, who would go on to commit suicide, might have been involved in Susan’s disappearance; and Josh was so deeply disturbed that he killed both of the Powell children and then himself in a murder-suicide.
Waiting to Be Heard
In 2007, American student Amanda Knox was arrested and charged for the murder of her roommate during a semester abroad in Perugia, Italy. Though all charges against Knox were eventually dropped, during her arrest and trial she was eviscerated by the media, persecuted by an Italian magistrate out for blood, and sentenced to 26 years in an Italian prison: four of which she served. In Waiting to Be Heard, narrated by Knox, herself, the woman at the center of one of the most infamous international murder cases in history tells her story in her own words.
Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony
In the 2011 case that shocked the nation, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of the 2008 murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, despite what many saw as massive evidence to the contrary. In this bestselling work, written and narrated by the lawyer who prosecuted Anthony, Jeff Ashton explains why he is still absolutely convinced of her guilt.
John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster
John Wayne Gacy is one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. Despite Gacy’s notoriety, the story of the lawyer who defended him during his 1980 trial is not as well known. Sam Amirante had just opened his first practice when he got a call from his friend, a well-liked member of the community named John Wayne Gacy. The man said he was having some trouble with the police. Gacy, of course, went on to be charged with heinous acts of violence. Amirante was obligated to defend him.
Evil Beside Her: The True Story of a Texas Woman's Marriage to a Dangerous Psychopath
Linda Bergstrom’s marriage to her husband, James, in 1986, seemed idyllic. Then, when James took a post in the Navy, and moved the family from Texas to Washington State, a horrifying side to James’ personality emerged. By the time the family moved back to Texas, Linda could no longer deny the mounting evidence: James was a dangerous man—a serial rapist, who was attacking women and girls in the area. Until 1992, when James was finally apprehended, Linda struggled through an impossible nightmare, trying to protect her family from James, while pleading with skeptical authorities to believe her claims about her dangerous husband.
Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three
In one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American history, three teens were convicted—despite an astounding lack of evidence—of the murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993. In the years after the conviction, the witch-hunt-style nature of the trials led authorities to realize their error, and the West Memphis Three were released in 2011. Investigative journalist Mara Leveritt’s account of the West Memphis Three case is unique in its detail and insight into the utterly shocking case.
A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Sue Klebold, mother of the 1999 Columbine mass-murderer Dylan Klebold, narrates this hauntingly honest account of her life in the years after her son’s horrific crime. Sue reflects on her guilt and shame over what Dylan did, her confusion over how her son came to be so disturbed, and what parents and mental health professionals can do going forward to prevent tragedies.
Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial
Adnan Syed’s case became a national sensation thanks to the smash-hit podcast Serial. In 2000, a young Syed was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend, despite shaky evidence and Syed’s insistence that he was innocent. His family friend, Rabia Chaudry, has always believed in Syed’s innocence. In this award-winning book, which Chaudry narrates, she reveals heretofore unknown facts about what really happened the day of the murder, in her attempt to prove that justice has not been served.
The Stranger She Loved: A Mormon Doctor, His Beautiful Wife, and an Almost Perfect Murder
In 2007, Michele MacNeill was found dead in her Utah home. Her husband, doctor and lawyer Martin MacNeill, was the one who had discovered her. Michele appeared to have died from natural causes. But when Martin moved his young mistress into the family home just days after the funeral, the MacNeill children grew suspicious and began their own investigation. In time, MacNeill’s criminal record, extramarital affairs and sexually-abusive nature came to light, shattering the illusion of the perfect family man, and leading to a first-degree murder conviction for Michele’s death.