Spooky season is officially upon us. If you’ve been feeling like you’ve already exhausted your annual list of Halloween-themed movies early on this month, or you’re looking for something fresh but certainly still bone-chilling, perhaps it’s time to get in the mood with storytelling like no other: true crime podcasts.
Halloween’s mysterious, grim origins may come from the ancient Celtic festival of the dead known as Samhain, but if superstition and magic aren’t quite your cup of tea, then earnest recountings of truly horrifying tales are bound to give you goosebumps. We’ve compiled a shortlist of seven spooky shows for you to sample during the rest of October…read on!
1. Crime Junkie
Easily one of the most iconic names in the true crime genre, Crime Junkie first launched in December 2017 and has gained critical acclaim over the years, for good reason. Hosts Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat have incredible chemistry as friends who have bonded over their fascination with the wide world of crime.
The duo doesn’t shy away from unsolved crimes that demand justice, and while some viewers might feel iffy about how certain episodes can be more politically charged than others, the general consensus among true crime fanatics is that Crime Junkie’s storytelling will give you full body chills guaranteed. From missing persons to conspiracies to one-off murders to full-fledged serial killers, Crime Junkie has covered over 630 true crime stories and has seen over 500 million podcast downloads to date.
Originally a spinoff of “This American Life,” a national public radio show, Serial started in 2014 and stands out among other selections for telling one full true crime story throughout the course of an entire season. Host Sarah Koenig takes you along with her on gripping journeys through the freaky facts surrounding each case, sometimes even conducting cases with the criminal themselves!
So far, Serial has completed entire seasons on Adnan Syed, accused of murdering Hae Min Lee, U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, accused of deserting his country in Afghanistan, and a deep-dive into Cleveland’s riveting criminal justice system. Koenig narrates Serial with a delicate flow and pacing that keeps your heart pounding with each episode, so it’s no wonder the podcast has won all major broadcasting awards!
3. Park Predators
With a tagline like “Sometimes the most beautiful places hide the darkest secrets,” you know you’re in for a jaw-dropping ride with a podcast like Park Predators. Park Predators got its start when journalist and host Delia D’Ambra married her love for the outdoors and America’s national park system with her drive to investigate unsolved crimes and cold case homicides.
D’Ambra has received high praise for the niche subject matter she covers and her steady delivery of the facts on each case, covering cases in America’s park system such as Mount Rainier National Park, the Grand Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and abroad, like Australia’s Belanglo State Forest and Africa’s oldest national park in the Congo, and more. Here’s a tough challenge: Listen to a few of these episodes before your next trip to a national park!
4. Let’s Not Meet
Suspenseful anthology series Let’s Not Meet is a true horror podcast narrated by host Andrew Tate (note: not the Andrew Tate who got booted off social media for his misogynistic advice) who takes listeners on a journey of up to six true stories each episode. If you’re looking for serial killer content, Let’s Not Meet might not be your cup of tea because Tate’s show consists of submissions from real people about terrifying moments in their everyday lives.
From kidnappings at gunpoint to subway stalkers to borderline homicidal exes to bomb threats to Tinder dates gone way, way wrong, Let’s Not Meet is a binge-worthy podcast full of spooky real-life encounters that might make you think twice about your own interactions with strangers.
Casefile got its start in 2016 when its anonymous host, known as “Casey” to listeners, started covering true crime while injured at home. Since its inception, Casefile has released new episodes almost every Sunday and has a full team conducting thorough investigations into unsolved and solved cases worldwide.
Casefile covers all forms of true crime, from cult and religion to serial killers to shootings to abductions and much more in full detail that leaves you at the edge of your seat. Between its thoughtful music composed for each episode and the suspenseful case facts narrated carefully by Casey, Casefile is a great listen for anyone looking for hard evidence, not speculation, and respectful storytelling.
6. Parcast’s Serial Killers
Dahmer and Gacy got your attention? You might want to listen to Parcast’s Serial Killers, a podcast dedicated to true crime’s most infamous names as well as many you’ve probably never heard of like Australia’s Jack the Ripper, the I-95 Killer, the Angel of Death, the Teacup Poisoner, and many more. When you listen to Serial Killers, you’re taken through the psychology behind each killer’s motivation, mental state, methods, and descent into madness.
If you’ve ever felt a wee bit curious about how a person could ever stoop to such lows, you need to give Serial Killers a listen to learn about each killer’s story from start to finish. Each episode gives straightforward, facts-based insights into the serial killer’s story without any added reactions or opinions so that listeners can get the full picture. After all, these stories are spooky enough on their own!
7. Southern Fried True Crime
Live in the South? You might want to give Southern Fried True Crime a listen. Tennessee native Erica Kelley’s podcast isn’t necessarily as psychologically in-depth as other true crime shows, but instead focuses on the most interesting parts of cases that would appeal to a listener who loves true crime.
A critical thinker and victim advocate, Kelley has a calm but caring approach to her podcast episodes (over 160 episodes to date!) that has no banter between hosts and or any reaction-seeking dramatization. Since Southern Fried True Crime has a regional focus, the lesser-known stories make each episode feel that much more impactful.
While we’re certainly not making light of any victims, their families, and anyone who has been affected by real-life crime, true crime podcasts serve as a good alternative to the darker content we all seem to crave at this time of year. So before October is over, perhaps it’s time to indulge in a healthy dose of fascination with evil and the human psyche by listening to an episode or two!
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