Fans of the hit true crime and horror podcast Last Podcast on the Left revel in the show’s well-researched, darkly hilarious take on everything from cryptids and conspiracy theories to the world's most depraved serial killers. Hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski are pros at dissecting the horrors of the world around us. However, there's only so much ground one can cover in an hour-long podcast episode, or even several episodes.
For those who want a deeper dive into some of the grisly crimes that have been discussed on the show over the course of its eight-year run, this list is for you. From the Vampire of Sacramento to Chicagoland's Killer Clown, rise from your grave and crack open these true crime books for Last Podcast on the Left fans. They'll take you down the rabbit hole…
The 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy looms large in American History. From enduring questions about Lee Harvey Oswald and second shooters to intricate conspiracy theories involving the mafia and CIA operatives, the case of Kennedy’s murder will likely remain open forever. In episode 400, the Last Podcast crew launched their own multi-part investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Throughout, they reference Case Closed, the New York Times bestselling book by Gerald Posner. Posner was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for this thoroughly researched narrative, delivering “the most lucid and compelling account… of what probably did happen in Dallas—and what almost certainly did not” (The New York Times Book Review).
The Hillside Stranglers
In the fall of 1977, women’s bodies began turning up in the hills outside Los Angeles. They had been raped, tortured, and ultimately strangled to death. It wasn’t until Kenneth Bianchi was arrested nearly a year later, that the public learned that the Hillside Strangler was not one man, but two: Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono, Jr. The cousins worked together on their killing spree. The Last Podcast crew delves into the case of the Hillside Stranglers in episodes 225, 226, and 227. For those who want more, author Darcy O’Brien combines a novelist's flair for storytelling with the laser-eyed focus of a hardened investigator in this indispensable book on the case.
A Thirst for Blood
Few serial killer cases are more perfectly suited for a LPOTL investigation than that of the so-called “Vampire of Sacramento.” Richard Chase earned his nickname by drinking the blood of his victims in order to “prevent his heart from shrinking.” Chase also blamed his brutal crimes on “Nazi UFOs.” The Last Podcast crew discusses Chase's crimes in episodes 245 and 246. For those who want to hear more about the crime spree that inspired the 1987 William Friedkin film Rampage, look no further than this true crime book, co-written by the lead detective on the case.
Before Last Podcast on the Left covered the crimes of Aileen Wuornos in episodes 266 and 267, she had already been the subject of the 2003 film Monster, for which Charlize Theron won an Oscar. For those who want to know more about Wuornos, her string of murders, and ultimately her execution, the journalist who first broke the story delivers a brilliant account in Dead Ends.
From 1971 to 1983, Robert Hansen kidnapped at least 17 women near Anchorage, Alaska, flying them to a remote part of the wilderness where he proceeded to hunt them down. His grisly crimes shocked the nation and served as the focus of Last Podcast episodes 308 and 309—not to mention the inspiration for the 2013 John Cusack/Nicolas Cage thriller The Frozen Ground. In this chilling nonfiction book, Walter Gilmour, an Alaska State Trooper who worked the case, teams up with author Leland E. Hale to tell the full story of the killer who became known as Alaska's “Butcher Baker.”
The Truth about Belle Gunness
She's one of America’s most notorious female serial killers and her mysterious death led to more questions than answers—including whether the charred headless corpse found in her burned-out farmhouse truly belonged to her. She’s Belle Gunness, and the mysteries surrounding her life and crimes provided great fodder for episodes 374 through 376 of Last Podcast on the Left, not to mention Lillian de la Torre's carefully-researched book, which was an Edgar Award finalist.
Die for Me
When police investigated a cabin where Charles Ng and Leonard Lake had been staying, they found a torture dungeon and more than forty pounds of burned, crushed bones belonging to men, women, and children—not to mention videotapes documenting some of the heinous acts the duo committed. The crimes of Charles Ng and Leonard Lake were the subject of episodes 203 through 207 of Last Podcast, as well as this riveting book by accomplished true crime author Don Lasseter.
The Boston Strangler
Author Gerold Frank won the Edgar Award for this New York Times bestseller about the crimes of Albert DeSalvo, better known as the Boston Strangler—one of America’ s most notorious serial killers. DeSalvo’s crimes were also the subject of episodes 159 and 160 of Last Podcast on the Left, which examined the methods and motives of this chilling serial slayer.
Fred & Rose
We tend to think of serial killers as loners, outsiders, people on the fringes. But some killers come in pairs. One such example? Fred and Rose West. Fred and Rose were British serial killers. They were a married couple who between them killed more than a dozen people, including members of their own family. They buried many of their victims' bodies beneath their unassuming Gloucester home, which came to be known as the “house of horrors.” Last Podcast on the Left examines the Fred and Rose case in episode 153. For a deeper dive into the life and crimes of the couple that slayed together, crack open Fred & Rose by Howard Sounes, the journalist who first broke the story and who covered the West trial.
John Wayne Gacy is one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, and one who is at least partially responsible for our collective fear of clowns. The Last Podcast crew examines Gacy in episodes 105 and 106. For more, check out Tim Cahill’s heavily-researched book, which draws on four years of investigative reporting to cover every aspect of Gacy’s life and crimes—including words from the serial killer himself.
The Search for the Green River Killer
Gary Ridgway, who was convicted of murdering 49 people, stands as the second most prolific serial killer in American history. Prior to his capture, however, he was known as the Green River Killer. The LPOTL crew discussed Ridgway's murder spree in episode 116. For more, check out this gripping read that traces the investigation that ultimately brought Ridgway to justice written by the journalists who first covered the story.
Bind, Torture, Kill
For decades, the killer known as “BTK,” so named for his modus operandi of binding, torturing, and killing his victims, terrorized the residents of Wichita, Kansas. When he was finally captured, he proved to be a family man who had been living a brutal double life that he kept secret even from his wife and children. Dennis Rader, better known as the BTK Killer, has served as the subject of many books and movies, not to mention episodes 59 and 61 of the Last Podcast on the Left. But four of the journalists who reported on the story deliver one of the most in-depth books on Rader's crimes in Bind, Torture, Kill.
Cries in the Desert
He’s called the Toybox Killer, though he was never actually convicted of killing anyone. With the help of accomplices, 59-year-old David Parker Ray kidnapped and drugged women and brought them to a lakeside trailer that he called his “toybox” where they were restrained, raped, and tortured in ordeals that would make the most grotesque horror films seem tame. Parker’s crimes were the subject of the 53rd episode of Last Podcast on the Left, and this horrifying true crime book by John Glatt.
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