10 Great True Crime Podcasts

I love learning, I am a self-proclaimed nerd. History is normally my jam. I love to sit down and just devour documentaries. I grew up reading the encyclopedia Encarta CDs [oh wow, remember those?!]. I even occasionally can handle some NPR. So it shouldn't be any real surprise that I fell in love with podcasts. I guess what really surprises me most is that I somehow found myself immersed in the world of true crime stories and investigations...and I am obsessed!  

It's hard to believe that just not so long ago, I didn't even know what a podcast really was! [this is a simple explanation, just in case you really don't know.] They have seriously transformed the way that I do my desk work - it makes the time go by so much faster! 

I love true crime podcasts, especially the ones that include lots of investigation, where an interesting case is revealed throughout a series of episodes. Most often, hosts will go into the history and complete life stories of individuals and the background of their criminal activity. It's not a fascination with the crime itself, or the criminal themselves, but rather the psychology behind their actions, why it happened. I think my fascination of true crime comes from my love of psychology. [I would love to be a criminal profiler!!!]

Since diving into this entire world of true crime podcasts that are available, I've had a lot of trial and error. There are certain things I personally look for in a true crime/investigative podcasts.....

  •  a nice, audible, interesting voice [as opposed to a computer generated/newscaster-y voice]
  •  interesting topics that are well researched
  •  Just one or two hosts [any more and I start getting confused]
  •  relatively clean language [people are going to do what they want and all, but it's annoying to me to hear certain four letter words every 5 seconds, literally - and makes it hard to listen to at work]

I can deal with some sub-par audio quality, and an occasional special guest author joining in on a case [really don't like those, though]. What I can't deal with is what I consider "over the top" podcasts. The one that comes to mind for me is The Sword and The Scale. That is a popular true crime podcast, and it is very well produced. If you can handle gory audio and many gritty details, it's worth listening to. But I have a limit, or rather, I force myself to have a limit. Some things you just can't unhear or unimagine, you know? 

Here are my top choices that I am subscribed to on the Apple Podcasts app [my favorite podcast app, but there are many other apps dedicated solely to podcasts, like podbean]. These true crime podcasts are the ones that I regularly update for new episodes, and subsequently spend my work week devouring! 

casefile logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

Casefile

It takes a moment to a adjust to the 'anonymous' host's Australian accent. But once you do, you'll hear well written crime cases of both from home and abroad. Each episode is about 1 hour long.

 Try: The Moore Murders, case 49 (3 episodes)

cold case file logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

Cold Case Files

Brought to you by the cable channel A&E and one of it's famous shows, Cold Case Files, the podcast showcases little known cases that seem to not be solvable, and then how they are resolved. Sometimes you even get a good dose of Bill Kurtis' well known voice! Episodes are usually around 30 minutes each.

Try: She Never Came Home, episode 1

in the dark logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

In The Dark

Distributed by American Public Media Reports, In The Dark is a serial episode podcast which talks specifically about the case of Jacob Wetterling and the controversies not only surrounding the case itself, but the response of law enforcement of that area. It was very illuminating and well written and researched - truly great journalism. Also, the website it FULL of information, pictures, stats, etc., check it out if you listen! 

In the Dark will return in Spring of this year for season 2, with a new case. [yay!]

Try: Episode 1, The Crime [this is a serial, start at the first!]

once upon a crime logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

Once Upon A Crime

Hosted and written by Esther Ludlow, this podcast is mostly only factual yet poignant case telling. Like Casefile, it comes across very story-like, and her case choices are always interesting. Can be factually graphic at times, so be aware! 

Try: Holiday Homicides, Chapter 2: The Lawson Family Murders

serial logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

Serial

I would say this is the most popular podcast that is on this list. It is very "investigative" in nature, much like In The Dark. Offers top notch reporting, brings out a lot about the cases and the accused, and ultimately the justice system and moral questions.

Try: Season 1, episode 1, The Alibi [start at the beginning!]

generation why logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

Generation Why

When I found Generation Why, I thought I had hit a gold mine! Not only are the crimes and happenings discussed interesting, they are well described, discussed, and there are 271 episodes! I've went through quite a few over the last six months or so. Hosted by two friends, Aaron and Justin, they dive deep into cases so well, that I couldn't just pick one episode to recommend. 

Try: Episode 203, Holly Bobo or Episode 157, Lululemon Murder

the serial killer podcast logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

The Serial Killer Podcast

This focuses on what you would expect - well known serial killers and the details behind them. Although the host sounds like he is from Transyvania, he is actually Norwegian! It takes a while to get used to his voice, but it adds a spooky vibe to the already dark material. Like Once Upon A Crime, this one can be factually graphic.

Try: Ted Bundy Parts 1-4

true crime garage logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

True Crime Garage

TCG, Nic and the Captain, will always be my first true crime podcast love. My husband introduced me to True Crime Garage, and I have been hooked ever since. The only episode I have not listened to is Sandy Hook [emotionally cannot handle it, I turned it off]. But they do take the time to do much less known murders and disappearances, often ones that are yet unsolved. I love their banter and the laid back format of the show. I also couldn't just pick one to recommend! 

Try: Brandon Lawson, episodes 85 & 86 or Boys on the Tracks, episodes 93-96

the vanished logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

The Vanished

This one, although rarely graphic, is usually pretty emotional. But, it is an important one. Cases of missing persons are reported, along with audio interviews from the family who are searching for answers. It is so well produced. 

Try: Brookelyn Farthing episode [it is a case that is close to my home, still unsolved]

up and vanished logo great true crime podcasts a cheerful life blog

Up and Vanished

This one follows then rookie podcaster, Payne Lindsey, as he investigates the disappearance of beauty queen teacher, Tara Grinstead, in rural Georgia. I did become bored with this with one at times, but at the beginning was I hooked, and then invested. Note: there's lots of Q&A episodes - which are helpful, but teeter on the edge of overkill and can be largely skipped, in my opinion. 

Try: Season 1 Episode 1, Cold As Alaska [start at the beginning!]


Podcasts are an amazing way to pass the time while you're waiting, working, or relaxing! If you haven't tried them, give it a chance and see if it's your thing. And if you are into true crime, make sure you check these out!