It remains one of Ireland’s most notorious unsolved murders. In December 1996, just days before Christmas, Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s brutalized body was discovered outside of her vacation home near Schull, West Cork, Ireland. The slaying shattered the peace and quiet of this coastal community; locals couldn’t remember the last time a murder had even occurred there.
Twenty years later, Toscan du Plantier’s death remains unsolved. Now Audible is revisiting this chilling cold case in West Cork.
West Cork is a 13-part audio original series that investigates the enduring mystery of the Toscan du Plantier murder. Three years in the making, the series is sure to be your next true crime audio obsession. And all 13 episodes of West Cork are available to listen to for free, now through May 9.
Here’s some info on the series to prepare you for your binge-listen.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s Death
In West Cork, the death of 39-year-old French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier is referred to as “the murder.” Nothing like it had ever happened in this rugged region of southwest Ireland, an area known as a vacation destination or end-of-the-line outpost for those looking to escape.
On December 23, 1996, neighbors found Toscan du Plantier’s body at the base of her vacation home’s driveway. She was barely identifiable—her face had been bludgeoned, skull cracked, and lip torn from the gum. Her nightclothes were shredded; briars and barbed wire bits clung to her body. Police suspected she’d been running from an intruder or someone intending to do her harm.
Toscan du Plantier often spent the holiday in West Cork. Residents said she was a quiet but well-liked woman who mostly kept to herself. Who would have reason to murder her?
The Investigation Begins, Rumors Swirl
West Cork authorities had never dealt with a crime of this magnitude. Many cite the limited criminal justice resources in the West Cork region as one reason why du Plantier’s death remains unsolved to this day.
As the investigation unfolded, West Cork residents grew wary of one another. Rumors spread, ranging from small-town gossip to connections with the supernatural.
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Some spoke of Toscan du Plantier encountering a spectral local legend known as the White Lady on her last day alive. Others suspected outsiders, or focused on Toscan du Plantier’s personal life. Though married, she was alone at her vacation home that fateful holiday; her husband and son were back in France. While searching Toscan du Plantier’s home, police discovered two wine glasses and a pair of dining room chairs angled toward each other.
Was someone with Toscan du Plantier on the night of her death? Could this person hold the key to the murder?
Why You Should Listen
From the start, listeners are plunged into the investigation as hosts Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey peel back the layers of the cold case. Episode one—“Blow-Ins”—begins with Forde making a call to the last-known person Sophie spoke with on the night of her death. Each episode combines riveting narration with moody sound design and one-on-one interviews with individuals connected to the case, including friends and family, locals, investigators, reporters, and possible suspects. As the series develops, a portrait of the region emerges, populated by an eclectic cast that you won’t soon forget.
Audible is no stranger to original programming. In West Cork, they merge their talent for long-form audio storytelling with the just-one-more-episode experience of podcast listening. Expect the same twists and turns that kept you up all night with Serial, Someone Knows Something, and In the Dark. You’ll be shocked by the revelations along the way—and we’ll be shocked if you don’t binge the entire series right now.
All photos via West Cork