True crime podcasts guaranteed to keep you up at night

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 02: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark speak onstage during PEN America 2018 LitFest Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 02, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for PEN America)
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 02: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark speak onstage during PEN America 2018 LitFest Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 02, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for PEN America) /

True crime is definitely having a moment right now with multiple podcasts, series and movies currently available. So many choices can be overwhelming and 1428 Elm is here to help you pick the best true crime offerings.

True crime podcasts are readily available on all platforms. While most people are probably familiar with My Favorite Murder, don’t discount it just because it’s so popular. My Favorite Murder draws over 34 million listeners across the globe every month, and there is a reason for that: It takes a lot of the sting out of horrific stories by incorporating some comedy into the mix.

My Favorite Murder

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the hosts, and their devoted listeners have tagged themselves “Murderinos.” Every episode opens with light banter between the two, followed by each of the ladies telling a true crime story.

What makes MFM so compelling is that fine line between horrible crimes and comedy. Murders are never made light of but the elements of comedy are just enough to take the heaviness out of the subject matter.

In the early days of the podcast, every story involved a murder presented by each of the hosts. Eventually, Karen began sharing stories she had seen on the television series I Survived and now it is not uncommon to hear stories involving natural disasters, such as the Silver Bridge collapse in 1967.

My Favorite Murder can be found on multiple podcast apps and each episode ends with the phrase, “Stay sexy…and don’t get murdered!”

True Crime Garage

True Crime Garage is hosted by Nic and The Captain, two lifelong friends who share a fascination with true crime. It feels like it’s just two guys hanging around in their garage drinking beer and talking about true crime.

Unlike My Favorite Murder, each episode is a deep dive, only focusing on one case at a time. Often, one case can grow into two or three episodes and might involve recorded news coverage, interviews with participants in the event or real 911 calls. It makes sense that Nic and The Captain are so thorough, since their fathers are apparently detectives.

Some of the more compelling episodes involve missing persons such as the Brandon Lawson episode. Lawson was a young man who disappeared while driving to his father’s house at night in 2013. After he ran out of gas, he set out on foot and at some point, called 911 on his cell phone but Brandon has not been seen since then.

Other episodes tread on more familiar territory, such as JonBenet Ramsey’s  tragic murder. Whatever the subject matter, each installment of True Crime Garage is compelling and informative.

True Crime
Dirty John cast.  (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images) /

Dirty John

You may have seen Bravo’s television series Dirty John when it aired in 2018, but did you know it originated as a true crime podcast? Host Christopher Goffard not only tells the bizarre story of John Meehan and the woman he manipulated and deceived, he also interviews that woman (Debra Newell) and her adult daughters. What follows is an unbelievable story that just happens to be true.

It would be easy to dismiss Newell as a fool but she was a smart, successful and wealthy woman and as you learn during her interviews, she is super likeable as well. While it’s hard to believe an adult could be so naïve, her demeanor wins you over in the end. It’s also refreshing to hear a true crime story that ends with a criminal receiving rough justice.

The Murder Squad

The Murder Squad features Paul Holes and Billy Jensen, two men who are well versed on true crime. Holes is a retired cold case investigator from California, who worked extensively on the Golden State Killer Case. Jensen is an investigative journalist who assisted in finishing Michelle McNamara’s best-selling true crime novel I’ll Be Gone In the Dark after her untimely death.

The goal of The Murder Squad is to enlist the help of citizens to solve cold cases involving murder or missing persons cases. Jensen and Holes give a rundown on the story, often interviewing police detectives or family members, then ask their listeners to help solve the case. They encourage people to upload DNA results into the GED match database, a process that helped track down the elusive Golden State Killer.

In January, after one of The Murder Squad’s listeners uploaded her DNA results, the man responsible for the sexual assault and stabbing death of Helene Pruszynski was arrested. It’s important to note that Holes and Jensen also caution their audience to avoid naming names or posting photos if they think they know who may have committed a specific crime. Oh, and “don’t be an irony.”

There are many other quality true crime podcasts out there as well, but if you are just starting to dip your toe into the pod-pool, these four options will give you a great start. What are you waiting for, start listening!

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Do you listen to true crime podcasts? Share your favorites in the comments section.