We love true crime here at Marie Claire, but there are some things a Lifetime movie cannot capture. Podcasts are the new frontier of the genre, allowing listeners to go deep on cases, form their own theories, and occasionally even help out the investigators in real time. The best true crime podcasts are ones that say something about society while providing an intriguing narrative, and those are the kind we’ve listed here. We’re all friends here, and by friends, I mean lovers of true crime.
Allow us to present: Our picks of the best true crime podcasts currently available. There’s plenty to binge-listen to on your next long road trip or train ride or just, you know, Sunday.
‘Tom Brown’s Body’
A small town in Texas gets a taste of crime when a popular 16-year-old goes missing the night before Thanksgiving. For two years, no one in the tight-knit community knows what happened to him until his remains are found suddenly. Award-winning journalist Skip Hollandsworth gets down to what happened and why everyone in Canadian, Texas seems to be a suspect.
‘Supernatural with Ashley Flowers’
You might need to sleep with the lights on after listening to this one. Ashley Flowers, one of the two hosts on Crime Junkie, digs deep into the most bizarre true crime occurrences ever. Whether it’s a girl who was pronounced dead after falling down the stairs only to wake up an hour later speaking an entirely different language later to a ghost-ridden ranch, Supernatural has it all.
Fifty years ago, in a number of small New England towns, four different young girls went missing over a series of years. All of them last seen just miles away from the others. But that’s not the craziest part, for not one arrest has been made since it happened. That is until host and true crime author, M. William Phelps, gets a phone call that sets an investigation in motion.
‘The Something Scary Podcast’
If you’re into listening to true crime podcasts, then you’re probably cool with all levels of horrifying things. You know, like ghosts, haunted houses, cursed woods, possessed children, etc. So it’s no wonder why we’re obsessed with this podcast that takes inspiration from creepy real-life events and turns them into goosebump-worthy fictional stories. (They even turn the tales into animated YouTube videos!)
‘And That’s Why We Drink’
Murder and paranormal stories? In one podcast? In the wise words of Ms. Hannah Montana, “It’s the best of both worlds!” Hosted by Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz, the two friends discuss weekly out-of-this-world crazy occurrences that are so outrageous there’s no way it can be real…or can it? This pod has been downloaded over 80 million times and counting.
‘The Orange Tree’
Two University of Texas students cover the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave in this limited series podcast. The 21-year-old went out one night and disappeared—and then her body was found at The Orange Tree, a condo complex near the university. This story takes such a crazy turn you’ll find yourself binging all the episodes in one day.
The ability to control someone’s mind seems like something of a superhero comic book, and for most the part, it is, but not always. Host Michelle Shephard looks into one of the biggest conspiracies of all time, Project MKULTRA. Many believe that the CIA produced several mind control experiments between the 1950s and ’60s and never really stopped.
It would be a travesty not to shout out RedHanded. It’s the perfect balance between comedy, banter, and true crime storytelling from British hosts Hannah and Suruthi. They tackle everything from serial killers to some incredibly creepy hauntings—so basically, you’ll never be bored again.
‘Son of a Hitman’
Bet you never knew that legendary actor Woody Harrelson’s father was a hitman. Yup. The actor’s father, Charles, is the subject in this 10-episode podcast by Jason Cavanagh as he tries to separate the true-crime fan fiction from the truth. There are interviews from the Harrelson family on what they think happened, why Charles claimed to have been involved in the JFK assassination, and tons of other eye-opening stuff.
‘Welcome to Your Fantasy’
Historian Natalia Petrzela takes us back to the coked-out 80s where a ragtag group of men take a male strip club called Chippendales into mainstream culture. The performers sell a fantasy to their all-female audiences–women’s liberation in the form of a greased-up man in a bow tie. This gripping podcast exposes the dark underbelly of their business that eventually gives way to greed and murder.
The one that started it all. You’ve probably heard about season one about Adnan Syed, which captured the attention of the whole world when it came out in 2014, but the This American Life-backed podcast has two more seasons to dig into: one about Bowe Bergdahl, one about our justice system.
Conspiracy theorists, rise! It’s our time to shine. Hosts Molly Brandenburg and Carter Roy go deep into the world’s most talked-about conspiracy theories, like did Edgar Allen Poe really die from alcohol poisoning to the belief the Bush family had something to do with John F. Kennedy’s assassination. (Crazy!) Prepare to have your mind blown.
‘Forgotten: Women of Juarez’
El Paso journalist Mónica Ortiz Uribe looks at the border city of Ciudad Juárez, where hundreds of women have gone missing since the ’90s and later found dead. When discovered, their bodies were carved with strange symbols, leading people to believe its not just the work of serial killer, but perhaps a Satanic cult.
‘The Officer’s Wife’
Told over seven episodes, The Officer’s Wife looks at the death of Jessica Boynton, found inside a locked closet with a gunshot wound to her head. Underneath her body, police discovered the service weapon belonging to her husband police officer Matthew Boynton. This murder changed one small town forever.
One of the most well-researched podcasts out there, Morbidology is the ultimate choice for listeners who want all the details. This weekly podcast hosted by Emily G. Thompson takes hour-long looks featuring audio from the 911 calls, trial testimonies, and interviews of the same of the world’s most famous cases.
‘911 Calls Podcast with The Operator’
Hear from the world’s most known middleman, a 911 phone operator. Each episode, you’ll hear from two different 911 calls from around the world: one message relating to the world of crime, and one that will for sure make you smile.
‘Obscura: A True Crime Podcast’
Listeners who enjoy the nitty, gritty details of true crime will devour Obscura: A True Crime Podcast. While the details at times talked about in the episodes can render an appetite nonexistent, host Justin S. Drown knows how to tell a story with the utmost compassion.
Calling all true crime newbies—this is the podcast for you. The hosts, Aaron and Justin, have been around since 2012 and have the episode log to prove it, with over 360 episodes to listen from.
We’re all about the details when it comes to true crime, and that’s why we can’t stop listening to Criminology. Most of the episodes focus on cold cases as the hosts zero on the many different pieces of evidence that could lead to cracking the case.
There’s a certain kind of relief that comes with knowing the person(s) who did the crime is behind bars. But what if they aren’t? Court Junkie looks at the criminal justice system and its role in true crime, from cases of arresting the wrong person to an “accident” being a murder investigation in disguise.
‘The Dating Game Killer’
From the same people who brought us Dirty John and Dr. Death comes the six-part series The Dating Game Killer. In 1978, Rodney Alcala won a date on the TV show The Dating Game. Little did the people know that he was actually a prolific serial killer on the run, posing as many different people on the way. It’s as crazy as it seems.
‘Morning Cup of Murder’
Ah yes, the best way to wake up: a tale of murder. This under 10-minutes podcast has a new episode every single day (yes!), and tells the tale of murder, abduction, cult, etc. that happened on that day in true crime history. It’s uber interesting and never dull.
‘Mens Rea: A True Crime Podcast’
Mens Rea is a fancy way of saying “guilty mind,” so naturally, this bi-monthly podcasts focuses in on crimes! The twist? The crimes took place in Ireland and the United Kingdom and looks at the court cases that followed each crime.
‘My Favorite Murder’
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the two hilarious women behind this hit podcast with a major cult following (fans call themselves “Murderinos”). Each episode, they select a different real-life murder and chat about the circumstances around it, ranging from the mega-famous cases to the ones you’ve never heard about before. Also, they are very funny, so if you aren’t okay with irreverence around serious topics, you might want to skip this one.
‘Up and Vanished’
This podcast has two seasons so far and is hosted by investigative reporter Payne Lindsey, who spends each episode—which span between 30 minutes and an hour—on the case of a missing person. The podcast also has its own TV show on Oxygen in case just listening isn’t enough.
If you’re into a little chitter-chat before getting down to the gritty details of a case you haven’t heard before, then add Killer Queens to your queue. The two hosts, Tori and Tyrella, are sisters who like to report on the latest cases but with their own kind of charm. Get ready for a lot of ’90s references (always a good thing) and a cuss word or too.
Crime Junkie, one of the most popular and well-known shows of the genre, even has a fan in psychologist Dr. Amanda Vicary, who specializes in crime analysis for a living and loves to listen to a good true-crime Spotify podcast in her downtime. She lists as a favorite Crime Junkie, which deep-dives into one crime per episode. The creators have even hinted at plans to turn the podcast into a drama series.
Best friends and improve queens from Dallas, Christie Wallace, and Heather McKinney, chat all things sinister in this funny and well-researched podcast. McKinney is a corporate lawyer, so her small blurbs of background legal information are totally helpful when it comes to understanding a case. Not all episodes cover murder mysteries despite the title; some of their best ones highlight the theory of the Mandela Effect to the Kennedy Family Curse.
‘Women and Crime’
Two female criminologists focus on a new case each week involving women who were wrongfully convicted as they give their expert opinion on how the criminal justice system wronged those accused. Dr. Sacks and Dr. Shlosberg guide you through the cases with ease and make it seem like you’re apart of their group.
Major scandals are like a trainwreck: You can’t really look away. Whether it’s a celebrity, a politician, or an entire corporation brought down by errors, lies, crimes, and misbehavior, scandal is as American as apple pie. This podcast from Wondery goes deep on some of the biggest ones to ever make headlines—the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Iran Contra Affair, steroid use among athletes—exploring why they happened and who took the fall.
Swindled takes a closer look at white-collar crimes, con artists, corporate villains, and all-around terrible events that happen to good people. Topics range from a coal mining freak accident that isn’t what it seems to a woman who faked her husband death after 9/11 to become famous. The anonymous host is “a concerned citizen” like the rest of us when it comes to seeking out justice—one who wants you to know the truth.
‘Crime in Sports’
Crime in Sports is exactly what you think it is: a podcast about crime in the sports world. Two comedians, James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman look at athletes who were known for winning, but somehow ended up losing big time to the law.
‘Small Town Dicks’
Small Town Dicks is the podcast for anyone fascinated with the biggest crimes that go down in the smallest of towns. Now in its sixth season, Small Town Dicks brings listeners a captivating case from Small Town, USA in every episode, complete with interviews with the detectives who broke the case, the suspects, 911 call audio, and more. Identical twin detectives Dan and Dave anchor the show, which is hosted by actress Yeardley Smith.
Hosted by an anonymous Australian, this gloomy podcast goes over in excruciatingly researched detail the play-by-plays of murder cases. I once listened to it while driving alone at night and had to immediately call my mom and have her talk about cats just so I didn’t feel like I was going to get axed myself—that’s how scary it is.
One of the lovelier podcasts in the true crime genre, Criminal takes an almost Radiolab approach to the cases it presents each episode, looking at not just the crimes themselves but the motivations, cultural workings, and almost poetic undercurrents present in each one. It’s a surprising and addictive listen, and with years of back catalog, there’s much to explore.
‘Root of Evil’
The grisly, disturbing Black Dahlia case remains unsolved after more than 75 years, but sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile, the hosts of this podcast, posit that their great-grandfather, Dr. George Hodel, is the one who killed Elizabeth Short. They lay out their reasoning in this eight-part series, as well as the rest of their shocking family history.
‘In the Dark’
Hosted by investigative journalist Madeleine Baran, this podcast reexamines two high profile cases using deep data dives and a commitment to comprehensive sourcing to uncover exactly how law enforcement fails. The first season follows the disappearance of the child Jacob Wetterling, while the second entry focuses on the conviction of Curtis Flowers, a Black man from Mississippi who’s likely innocent.
‘Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo’
In the 1970s, a young Saskatchewan Cree girl was taken from her family by social workers and adopted in the United States. After she disappeared without a trace, her family launched a decades-long search to find their daughter. CBC journalist Connie Walker joins the effort to uncover the truth about Cleo. The podcast doesn’t only dig up revelations about the missing persons case–it also gives us a look into the institutionalized oppression indigenous people in Canada face.
Hosted by Rabia Chaudry, Susan Simpson, and Colin Miller, Undisclosed dives into wrongful convictions and the unfair criminal justice system in the United States. Each season focuses on a different case, bringing new evidence to light that puts the investigation, trial, and verdict into sharp relief. It’s also had real-world impact: the podcast has raised money for defense teams and even won exonerations for the wrongful convictions that they’ve covered.
Believed charts the story of the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar, who sexually abused the women under his care. Told through the victims’ eyes, this podcast traces exactly how powerful men get away with their crimes.