The Blotter Presents

The Blotter Presents

By The Blotter Presents

The true crime worth YOUR time, reviewed weekly. Sarah D. Bunting, desk sergeant.


123: Frontline, POV, Independent Lens, The Confession Killer, Moxley, and JonBenét

It's a six-pack of DVR clutter this week as I let you know what I'm granting a continuance...or a motion to dismiss. Netflix's latest on Henry Lee Lucas, plus a Frontline on a predator on the reservation, a doc on Oakland PD, the continuing fascination with the murder of Martha Moxley, yet more JonBenét Ramsey theories, and a new hope for the oldest profession. Get ready for some justifiable deletions, people: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 123. SHOW NOTES A year of Best Evidence ( is just $52, now 'til 12/15! Murder & Justice: The Case Of Martha Moxley // Dominick Dunne on Martha Moxley // New York on Dunne vs. RFK Jr. // Timothy McVeigh: In Defense Of // POV S32E14, "Blowin' Up" // Hunting JonBenet's Killer: The Untold Story // Independent Lens, "The Force" // Frontline S37E12, "Predator On The Reservation" // The Confession Killer //
04/12/1929m 52s

122: Slow Burn S3 and Hunting Warhead

[CONTENT WARNING: language; discussion of child sexual abuse investigation] Toby Ball is back to talk about two fairly recent podcasts: the first, a departure from politics for Slow Burn, as the podcast's third season delves into the still-unsolved murders of Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. Am I too impatient with a project that is, after all, called "Slow Burn" -- or are the attempts to give far wider context to these murders too unfocused? And ARE these killings ever going to get solved? Later, we confront Hunting Warhead, a CBC/VG joint venture about a white-hat hacker's investigation into child pornography consumers in Norway that got much bigger...and as the podcast goes on, the story gets much, much darker. Is the excellent reporting worth the harrowing experience of listening?  SHOW NOTES Slow Burn Season 3 Ep 22 on Biggie: The Life Of Notorious BIG Ep 47 (with Toby Ball) on Unsolved Connie Bruck in The New Yorker: "The Takedown Of Tupac" (and now that I've reread it, I think it absolutely informs Slow Burn's third ep Ep 50 on In Ice Cold Blood Hunting Warhead Crime Writers On… (
27/11/1959m 25s

121: The Devil Next Door and two crowd-solving longreads

Stephanie Green is back to discuss Netflix's latest original docuseries, The Devil Next Door, in which John Demjanjuk may or may not have been a Nazi extermination camp's Ivan The Terrible...and his true identity may or may not have been the point of the series. How is trauma "remembered"? Why did the U.S. consider some war criminals "useful"? And what did Demjanjuk really do between 1942 and 1952? Later, we talk about two different takes on crowd-solving cold cases: CrimeCon's "true crime experience," CrowdSolve; and the Vidocq Society. The Crime Report's piece on the former raised more questions than it answered, but The Telegraph's 2009 overview of the latter had me and Stephanie wondering if a hybrid isn't advisable. The panel will not be taking questions on Jack The Ripper; it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 121. SHOW NOTES  The Devil Next Door: Netflix to amend docuseries following complaints from Polish government: "My Weekend As An Amateur Cold Case Detective": "The Vidocq Society: Murder on the menu": "Crowdsourcing Criminal Investigations in the Digital Age": Stephanie Early Green's site: The Blotter Presents's sponsor, Zola: (
20/11/1952m 53s

120: The Preppy Murder: Death In Central Park and Killer Legends

The Preppy Murder is Sundance's five-part look at the murder of Jennifer Levin by Robert Chambers, and how it gripped New York City for years starting in August of 1986. Guest Piper Weiss and I remember those headlines well, but the miniseries corrects our memory on some points -- though we're still not sure why this is coming out now, or why Linda Fairstein's participation isn't asterisked in some way. In the Cold Case section, Piper and I revisit one segment of Zeman and Mills's Killer Legends, with Piper theorizing on why the "call coming from inside the house" urban legend gained traction and both of us recommending Zeman's Cropsey. We also talk about ghost apps, snack diplomacy, and more in The Blotter Presents, Episode 120. SHOW NOTES  The Preppy Murder: Death In Central Park: The book I loaned to Piper: Michael Stone's NYMag cover story: Killer Legends:  Contemporary coverage of Janett Christman's murder: Mueller's suit against local law enforcement: Piper's book You All Grow Up And Leave Me, now in paperback:
13/11/191h 1m

119: American Elections: Wicked Game and The Fear Of 13

It's another Wondery podcast up top this week -- I'll try not to make a habit of it -- as guest Eve Batey and I contemplate American Elections: Wicked Game. Eve thinks the deep weekly dive into every single U.S. election, and the adjacent chicanery/felon...ery (?), might have worked better with visuals, while I confess I've still never seen/heard Hamilton but think the podcast is primed to get really good with a few tweaks. But is it crimey enough? We'll compare it to existing properties so you can decide. In the Cold Case section, Eve makes her pitch to turn 2015 documentary The Fear Of 13 into a podcast instead. Is Nick Yarris's highly personal Spalding Gray-esque tale intimate and credible, or strained and stagey? Is it...both? And who should play him in the scripted version? Philly accents, that notorious milk ad, and yes, the cutting of cheese: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 119. [Editor's note: Apologies for residual barking that I couldn't scrub out of the track. Mr. Bear E. Williams is not always a good dog.] SHOW NOTES American Elections: Wicked Game: ( / The Presidential podcast from WaPo: Irving Stone's Those Who Love: Jon Meacham's American Lion: Andrew Jackson In The White House: The Fear of 13: Nick Yarris talks to The Innocence Project about The Fear Of 13: Still not subscribed to Best Evidence? Check it out:

118: Bad Batch, Tell Me Who I Am, and After The Eclipse

I'm on my own for a round-up episode, reviewing 1) the latest from Wondery and Dr. Death's Laura Beil, Bad Batch; 2) a documentary about twin mind and malleable memory, Tell Me Who I Am, that just hit Netflix; and 3) a 2017 crime-oir, Sarah Perry’s After The Eclipse. SHOW NOTES Bad Batch: Tell Me Who I Am: ( After The Eclipse: ( The Forensic Files ep on Crystal Perry's case:
30/10/1929m 23s

117: Leavenworth and Criminal #77, "The Escape"

The five-part documentary series from Starz, Leavenworth, looks at the very complicated case of Clint Lorance, and after the first episode, guest Jeb Lund and I were a little impatient with the painstaking set-up -- but mostly because we wanted more of the textured, compelling stories that all converge on a single incident in 2012. Will we keep watching? And should you? Later, we revisit what's probably an all-time top-ten true-crime topic: the 1962 escape from Alcatraz, this time as considered by Phoebe Judge on Criminal. I'm seldom NOT going to recommend a Criminal episode, and this one's no different -- so why is that? What sets Criminal's treatment of this well-trodden ground apart? And what do Jeb and I think happened to the three who got out? Dig, dash, dive into The Blotter Presents, Episode 117. SHOW NOTES Leavenworth on Starz: Daniel Fienberg for THR on Leavenworth: Mike Hale for the Times: Dr. Nathaniel Frank, Unfriendly Fire: Dexter Filkins, The Forever War: Ep 078 on Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath: Criminal #77, "The Escape": Spitting Image IS getting a reboot:
23/10/1957m 8s

116: The DNA Of Murder and Direct Appeal

Paul Holes joins the Oxygen family with The DNA Of Murder; Blotter Holes-ologist Mike Dunn joins me again to talk about the new show, and whether it's really anything new at all. Was local law enforcement just waiting around for Holes and Yolanda McClary to help them out on the Burkert/Atkison case? Why didn't anyone catch the toothpaste detail before? And why can't two criminologists make their theory of the actual crime make sense? Later, we discuss another project headed up by two criminologists: Direct Appeal, in which two Fairleigh Dickinson criminology profs agree to look into Melanie McGuire's case, even though she's still appealing her conviction for her husband's murder (and dismemberment). The set-up's got a lot of potential, but a couple of structural decisions may have led to a disappointing result, though we hope Professors Shlosberg and Sacks take a run at another case...and we hope you'll take a run at The Blotter Presents, Episode 116. SHOW NOTES The DNA of Murder: Iowa Cold Cases site summary of the case: Direct Appeal: Murderpedia's Melanie McGuire page: Mike and I discuss I'll Be Gone In The Dark in Ep 048:
16/10/191h 8m

115: Scam Goddess and Ghost Adventures: Serial Killer Spirits

New "con-gregational" podcast Scam Goddess kicked off last week with Paul F. Tompkins joining host Laci Mosley to talk about Anna Delvey, and Stephanie Early Green joined ME to talk about the newest comedy-convo crime pod on the block. How is it possible PFT never heard of Anna Delvey/Sorokin? Do comedy podcasts about true crime need to be better researched? And did you expect to get a wire-transfer primer on The Blotter Presents? Spoiler: you get one, "you're welcome." Later, we contemplated the long-running, impatience-making Ghost Adventures franchise's miniseries foray into serial killers, Serial Killer Spirits, and its premiere on H.H. Holmes. Unintentional hilarity aside, is this a show for true-crime fans, or does it lack context? What do those instruments actually do? And what is Samantha StarBrite's...whole deal? Even a ghost-hunting show has opportunities to make interesting connections, but the only connection we made to this one was with the delete button on the DVR, in an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Scam Goddess: Nash/Cons and Con Men: Anna Delvey Court Looks Insta: Williams's VF piece: My review of Williams's book, My Friend Anna, on the Patreon page: Ghost Adventures: SKS: Episode 015 with Toby Ball on HH Holmes: The Haunting Of…'s Illeana Douglas episode: Stephanie Early Green's story, "Host Mother," in the Chicago Tribune:
09/10/1950m 16s

114: Motive and Snowball

Toby Ball and I took on two newish podcasts this week: the first from WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times, Motive, looks at the strange case(s) of TJ Jimenez. But is a competent, ambling narrative -- one that might have worked better as a longform magazine piece -- enough during peak true-crime? Unraveled returned with a fourth season last month, and we're talking about that season, "Snowball," in the second Most Wanted section. Snowball builds its timeline differently from Motive, doesn't try as hard to be literary, and works better for us overall -- but do we just like a scam story better? Before you spend $25 million buying a gang, have a listen to The Blotter Presents, Episode 114. SHOW NOTES Motive landing page: Snowball landing page: "Read" Snowball at the ABC website: Ep 097 on Who The Hell Is Hamish?:
02/10/1950m 29s

113: Unbelievable and Sports Criminals

It took me and AB Chao a little longer than most people to get around to Unbelievable, but it lived up to its name in the best ways, nailing us to our seats and making us think about elegant exposition, acting choices, and everything SVU tries to get right and misses on. It really is "that good." Our other Most Wanted topic, Parcast's latest podcast Sports Criminals, isn't just not for us in the way Parcast content can sometimes be; it...really is not good, unfortunately. We tried to figure out how a seemingly foolproof choice of premiere topic could have gone so tiresomely wrong. If you can figure out what "subsiding a turmoil" is, let us know after you listen to The Blotter Presents, Episode 113. SHOW NOTES Unbelievable: Pro Publica's reporting on the Unbelievable case: A Walk With A Miserable Merritt Wever Sports Criminals: Pistorius Wiki:
25/09/1948m 8s

112: Murder In The Bayou and Betting On Zero

Dr. Marcia Chatelain joins me for the first time to talk about a first for Showtime: the network's foray into the true-crime-series space with Murder On The Bayou. The five-part series looks at the so-called "Jeff Davis 8" -- their lives, their deaths, what connected them and what didn't -- as well as at small-town class divisions, the economies of addiction, and the pointlessness of task forces.  Later, we discussed Betting On Zero, the 2016 documentary about Herbalife, and financier Bill Ackman's attempt to kill the MLM off by short-selling the stock. It's hard to say what the real difference is between an illegal pyramid scheme and a legal MLM...and what the ethical difference is between exploiting "the downline" for profit, and exploiting government intervention to back up an investment gamble. Does the doc answer those questions? Listen and find out what we thought on The Blotter Presents, Episode 112.  SHOW NOTES Murder In The Bayou: Betting On Zero: The Waves podcast on Slate: Support the podcast on Patreon, get extra eps and reviews!:
18/09/191h 15m

111: Happy Jail and Ghosts Of Attica

Netflix's recent documentary series, Happy Jail, looks at daily life and administration inside the Filipino detention center whose famous Dancing Inmates re-enacted the Thriller video so virally a decade or so ago. There are so many stories to choose from here, but Eve Batey and I agree that the production doesn't do well at organizing them, interrogating the issues in play, or giving us context for what we're seeing as it compares with life behind bars in the U.S. 2001's Ghosts Of Attica, recently re-issued to VOD, is much more straightforward and workmanlike -- and that's a good thing! It's no-frills, but it knows what its audience doesn't know, and brings two narratives that seem like they're competing together to indict the state, Governor Rockefeller, and the ignorance of the American populace about life inside.  SHOW NOTES Happy Jail: Ghosts Of Attica: Ep 002 (!) on Kalief Browder: Frank "Big Black" Smith's obituary: And Ms. Fink's: Support the podcast on Patreon, get extra eps and reviews!:
11/09/191h 1m

110: Gangster Capitalism and the 2016 Bridge Scandal

(Not the Chris Christie thing; the card game.) John Ramos returns to dig into a podcast from Andrew Jenks on the college-admissions bribery kerfuffle, Gangster Capitalism. Is documentarian Jenks learning the audio-narrative format on the job? Do episodes improve as you go along? And does that Loughlin stan have her priorities in order? Later, I get into it with John, a bridge pro, about the cheating scandal that rocked bridge in 2016: what it meant for the game at the higher levels, how it changed competitive bridge, and whether it qualifies as a "crime" the way we usually mean the word. Get ready for a whole bunch of puns involving "trump" and "dummy": it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 110. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES The Gangster Capitalism podcast: John Colapinto's piece on the bridge scandal for Vanity Fair: David Owen's for The New Yorker: Michael Clark walks you through the Fantoni/Nunes cheating on YouTube: And the Fisher/Schwartz cheating: John Ramos's bridge portal: Special Guest: John Ramos.

109: Mindhunter Season 2 and The Informant!

Mindhunter returned for a second season on Netflix last week, and I talked with Will Leitch about the gifts director David Fincher brings to this kind of narrative, who's the real heart of the FBI BSU story, Fringe reunions, and whether the Li'l Tench, Creep In Waiting storyline worked for us. This section does contain spoilers for the second season, so if you haven't watched yet, skip ahead to... ...the Cold Case section, where we're talking about 2009's The Informant!, a genre-busting take on Mark Whitacre's elaborate, self-satisfied frauds against his employer in the '90s. Steven Soderbergh's understanding of southern-Illinois-ness, a vanity-free performance from Matt Damon, and a host of Hey, It's That Guy!s looking flabbergasted join a fizzy Hamlisch score to create a hilarious portrait of a deluded secret-agent con...that's also an object lesson in how to tell complicated white-collar crime stories visually. Screw your toupees on tight: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 109. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES Mindhunter: Zodiac: The Informant!: Will Leitch's newsletter: Special Guest: Will Leitch.
21/08/191h 5m

108: Down City and The FBI Files (Yahweh ben Yahweh)

(Content warning for suicide and addiction issues.) Alex Segura somehow made time amongst his new babies -- a human AND a just-published last book in his Pete Fernandez series -- to talk about Leah Carroll's 2017 Down City, her memoir of her childhood after her mother's murder when Carroll was just four years old. The subject matter, which also includes her alcoholic father's decline, is rough going, but the storytelling is flawless. Alex and I talk about the poetry in austere prose, transitions that are harder than they look, "the repeated thing," and when an author's entrance into a crime story makes it a better story. The FBI Files take on Yahweh ben Yahweh in S03.E10 isn't nearly as successful, as a story that spanned decades, multiple states, and a variety of RICO-predicate offenses needs a different approach from TFF's dry, linear narrative method. And while it's good at some things, like concise overviews, it's not good at giving context to, say, how many cult hitmen keep their dirty machetes between the couch cushions. One story we couldn't stop thinking about, another we almost couldn't get through, in The Blotter Presents, Episode 108. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES Down City by Leah Carroll: True-crime memoirs at Goodreads: Alex Segura and Carolyn Murnick on the "dead-girl trope" at CrimeReads: The FBI Files S03.E10:\_3p\_sd\_ep?autoplay=1&t=0 ( Alex Segura's Amazon page: Special Guest: Alex Segura.
14/08/191h 3m

107: Free Meek and ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?

Why is law enforcement so interested in bringing cases against a hip-hop star when he's alive...and not as interested in solving the case when he's dead? Eve Batey is back to talk about Amazon's Free Meek, which takes on the story of Meek Mill, punitive probation, an activist judge with opinions on remixes, and how "police contact" and the art of rhymes feed each other. But is Free Meek as good at telling Mill's true-crime story as Mill himself is? In the Cold Case section, we dig into the ReMastered doc on the still-unsolved murder of Jam Master Jay, and we don't just have questions about why a seemingly straightforward case still hasn't gotten cracked. We're also wondering why the show takes so long to get to the murder; why crackpot theories even the interviewees don't seem to credit get so much airtime; and what it's going to take to get a podcast about David Seabrook's failed Plan Bs. Grab Nicki Minaj and come to our office: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 107. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES Free Meek:\_1\_1?keywords=free+meek&qid=1565117324&s=gateway&sr=8-1 ( Paul Solataroff's coverage of this and other cases at Rolling Stone: ReMastered: Who Killed Jam Master Jay?: Special Guest: Eve Batey.
07/08/191h 2m

106: No One Saw A Thing and The Doorstep Murder

Sundance continues staking out space in the prestige-true-crime space with No One Saw A Thing, a six-parter on the killing of Ken Rex McElroy in Skidmore, MO in 1981 and what that's meant to the town since then...but although it's well made, Allison and I agreed that both-sides-ism and a certain cynical willingness to let correlation be causation undermined the series overall. Are you better off with MacLean's In Broad Daylight? Another small town struggles with the legacy of an unsolved case in BBC Scotland's The Doorstep Murder, a podcast series from last year that surfaces the story of Alistair Wilson's mysterious 2004 murder. The Beeb pedigree, and presenter Fiona Walker's authoritative accent, lulled us for a while into thinking the podcast was good storytelling, but alas, this story too is undermined by self-indulgent tape and nothingburger interview questions we're beyond tired of. Two good stories, both marred by narrative choices, in The Blotter Presents, Episode 106. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( (join the tipster team or up your donation by August 1 and get a tote bag!), and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES No One Saw A Thing: The Doorstep Murder:\_doorstep\_murder\_alistair\_wilson ( Allison Lowe Huff's author page at MHZ Choice: My review of In Broad Daylight at Best Evidence (free to all subscribers!): Special Guest: Allison Lowe Huff.

105: Uncovered (The McMartin Family Trials) and Bundyville: The Remnant

Toby Ball and I liked Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials well enough, but we still wished Oxygen were less whodunnit and more whydunnit in its coverage of this most famous of Satanic-panic cases -- how it got so big and lasted so long. We'll never know what really why not spend more time on why THIS was allowed to happen? The second season of Bundyville gives us just the Frontline-ian perspective we craved, but without underlining its own conclusions. After investigating the rebellion of Cliven Bundy in its first season, Bundyville expands its scope in S02 to look at anti-government groups, white-supremacist code, Pacific-Northwestern crime sprees, and how they all connect to a seemingly random suicide bombing in Nevada. How domestic terrorists become radicalized, the ethics of undercover work, and why we wish host Leah Sottile had worn some body armor on location, in The Blotter Presents Episode 105. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( (join the tipster team or up your donation by August 1 and get a tote bag!), and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials on Oxygen: Lawrence Wright's "Remembering Satan, Part I" for The New Yorker: Bundyville: The Remnant companion piece(s) on Longreads: A complete list of Frontline episodes:\_of\_Frontline\_(American\_TV\_program)\_episodes ( Special Guest: Toby Ball.
24/07/191h 6m

104: Injustice With Nancy Grace and Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

...Why is Nancy Grace so successful? What is the point of her new Oxygen joint, Injustice With Nancy Grace, a show that complains about the very rushes to judgment in which she usually specializes? Does she make these grand banal pronunciamentos about pure evil at home, like after she walks through a spiderweb or something? Lani Diane Rich is back to help me tackle those questions. Later, we preview Who Killed Garrett Phillips?, and while we may not get an answer to the titular question, we CAN tell you with authority that Liz Garbus's latest project is a well-structured, organized, suspenseful, and deeply compassionate look at a case's interminable toll on an entire community. This one doesn't air 'til next week, so you may want to put a pin in this podcast for now...and go set your DVRs, because while this one's maddening too, that's thanks to effective storytelling. Oh, and also idiot cops. Clichés, bad law-enforcement math, and much more in The Blotter Presents, Episode 104. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES Injustice With Nancy Grace: Who Killed Garrett Phillips?: A Dangerous Son: (or try HBO Go) All of Lani Diane Rich's projects at Chipperish: And don't forget, we've got an actual tipline! 919-75-CRIME Special Guest: Lani Diane Rich.
17/07/191h 25m

103: I Love You, Now Die and Patty Hearst (1988)

Erin Lee Carr has had a busy year, but I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter proves she's not too busy for nuance. The two-part documentary film, airing this week on HBO, looks at both sides of Conrad Roy III's tragic death, acknowledges the human instinct to find someone to blame, and takes us back to our own gusty teenage girlhoods. "Enjoyable" isn't the right word, but it's evocative for sure. Paul Schrader's late-eighties look at Patty Hearst and the SLA is less so, but we're not sure if that's down to a certain failure of nerve on the script's part, or the fact that we've just consumed too much Hearst-iana at this late date for any biopic to move the ball. Good performances don't save what is, here in 2019, a superfluous narrative -- but WE might save you some time/room on your watch list in The Blotter Presents, Episode 103. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES Ep 071 on Conrad & Michelle: Jesse Barron for Esquire on the Carter/Roy case: Smooth Talk: Carr talks to Rolling Stone: Ep 049 on Patty Hearst/The Lost Tapes: Ep 064 on Patty Has A Gun: Special Guest: Eve Batey.
10/07/191h 9m

102: 16 Shots and The Thin Blue Line

Showtime's 16 Shots looks at the murder of Laquan McDonald in 2014, and why this police-involved shooting galvanized Chicago. Kevin and I talk about the excellent access filmmaker Richard Rowley gets on both sides of the issue; give suggestions for police procedural manuals; and wonder when the "a few bad apples" line of rationalizing will stop getting trotted out. Another police-involved shooting, of a police officer, and the injustices that rolled downhill from it are the topic of Errol Morris's legendary The Thin Blue Line. Does it hold up, more than three decades after its release? Or does it mostly feel relevant because of the dozens of instances of misconduct and false confessions we've seen (and heard) laid bare in the meantime? The police, the public('s) trust, and the power of testimony in The Blotter Presents, Episode 102. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES 16 Shots: Vic Mensa’s “16 Shots”: Bill James’s Popular Crime: Local 5-0 confiscate discipline records at Summit, NJ schools: The Thin Blue Line:\_2mj1V8w ( Jill Lepore on Joe Gould and Joseph Mitchell: Special Guest: Kevin Smokler.
26/06/191h 29m

101: The Old Man & The Gun and Incendiary: The Willingham Case

I'm so glad I could finally welcome Omar G to the TBP guest chair...and that it was to talk about David Lowery's The Old Man And The Gun, a charming joint about a senior bank robber and escape artist, Forrest Tucker, that flew totally under our radar last year. It shouldn't fly under yours, though; it's fun, smart about managing story, and elegantly shot, and an American legend is having the time of his life in his last go-round. And the movie's based on a New Yorker story by the great David Grann... is the documentary we watched for the Cold Case section, Incendiary: The Willingham Case. This too got the scripted treatment, in a Laura Dern vehicle that's already left theaters after it premiered last month, but the doc had a lot of good things to say about the frailty of the forensic science we take for granted, the CYA maneuvering of state governments, and...a defense attorney's attention-whore rooster? Just listen, you'll see. Why Tom Waits should be in everything, why we shouldn't use space heaters for anything, and much more in The Blotter Presents, Episode 101. Get even more true-crime content reviewed: support the pod/site on Patreon ( , and sign up for the newsletter, Best Evidence ( ! SHOW NOTES The Old Man And The Gun: (Relevant Grann-ule: Incendiary: The Willingham Case // on iTunes (or whatever it's called now), Vimeo, et al. (Relevant Grann-ule: Omar's Los Espookys piece on Primetimer: Special Guest: Omar Gallaga.

100: Devil's Knot and All The Queen's Horses

Did we close the door on the centenary episode with a bang, or a whimper? ...Whimper, I'm afraid. Toby Ball kindly made room in a packed day to join me for two Cold Case properties, the first a feature film about the Paradise Lost case, Devil's Knot, that doesn't know who it's for, what it wants to say, or how to fit a Shoah-size story into a feature-size runtime. Also, who just has a picture of Robert Johnson in his office if he's not a blues musician? We hoped the second film, All The Queen's Horses, would show better (as it were), but though the story of Rita Crundwell's serial heisting of more than $50 million from the town coffers of Dixon, IL is fascinating, the direction is amateurish...and while we can live with not really understanding the why of this case, a film by an accounting professor should probably be a little clearer on the what. Here's to the next hundred episodes; to spelling "embezzlement" correctly; and to you, dear listeners, in The Blotter Presents, Episode 100. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Devil's Knot:\_dl\_rdr ( The Paradise Lost docs on HBO: The legend of Robert Johnson: All The Queen's Horses: Blotter true-crime newsmag bingo card: Toby Ball’s novels:\_ntt\_srch\_lnk\_1&qid=1560254694&sr=8-1 ( Special Guest: Toby Ball.
12/06/1957m 38s

099: When They See Us and Who Killed Nancy?

Ava DuVernay's four-part masterpiece, When They See Us, hit Netflix last weekend, introducing us to the boys and men who survived getting railroaded for the 1989 "Central Park jogger" attacks; to the outsize acting talents of Jharrel Jerome, Asante Blackk, and many others; and to what it's like to cry when you see Coney Island. Piper and I discussed all that, plus innovations in flashback writing, in the Most Wanted section, but our words won't do the series justice, so just go watch it. But TAKE our words for it: Who Killed Nancy? is a frustrating waste of time, a semi-vanity project from a self-appointed Sid Vicious-ologist that we could tell WANTED to call itself Sid DIDN'T Kill Nancy Spungen, But If He Had, Nobody Would Have Minded. Is this just how the culture talked about "groupies" and "Yokos" until recently, or was Nancy a special case? And who else read Nancy's mother's memoir of her daughter's life and wants to recommend it to Piper? Good podcasts, sad Gerard Malanga stories, and more in The Blotter Presents, Episode 099. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES When They See Us ( Sarah Weinman on Reyes’s other victims for The Cut ( That time the Mystery Writers of America withdrew Linda Fairstein’s Grand Master award ( Who Killed Nancy? ( Deborah Spungen’s And I Don’t Want To Live This Life ( Piper Weiss’s You All Grow Up And Leave Me ( Special Guest: Piper Weiss.
05/06/1959m 55s

098: Two on Rebecca Zahau and Two American Experiences

Recording on Memorial Day, I went guestless to talk about two takes on the contested death of Rebecca Zahau: ID's Murder Mystery version, and a limited series from Oxygen called Death At The Mansion featuring Loni Coombs, Paul Holes, and Billy Jensen. Is either one worth your time? Does the nature of the case mean no TV show about it can maintain any momentum? And what is with the lingering shots of the courtroom death mannequin? Later, I bail out my sinking DVR one teaspoon at a time by reviewing two American Experiences from Season 30, "The Bombing Of Wall Street" and "The Island Murder." One gives good context on post-World War I revolutionary "action," the tension between security and privacy, and the rise of J. Edgar Hoover. The other one is bizarrely flip about Thalia Massie's mental illness. Should you watch either? And will you feel for the narrators? Overlooked victims, colonial injustice, and a reading from Bill James in The Blotter Presents, Episode 098. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! Get more on Blotter Presents episodes, plus extra news and reviews, with the Best Evidence newsletter ( ! SHOW NOTES Rebecca Zahau: An ID Murder Mystery ( Death At The Mansion: Rebecca Zahau ( American Experience, "The Bombing Of Wall Street" ( American Experience, "The Island Murder" ( Popular Crime ( by Bill James
29/05/1928m 42s

097: Who The Hell Is Hamish? and The Woman Who Wasn't There

It’s taking all my strength to resist making a “throw another con on the barbie” joke, so why fight it: today Eve and I are talking about tragedy vampires on today’s episode, starting with the latest limited series from The Australian: Who The Hell Is Hamish?. How did Hamish Watson con so many people? Where did all that money go? And what makes Greg Bearup and The Australian's narrative construction so perfect for the story it's telling? Later, we return to 2012, and 9/11, with Angelo Guglielmo’s documentary on 9/11-survivor faker Tania Head, The Woman Who Wasn’t There. It’s a trim 64 minutes that we both enjoyed...but what got left out? Guglielmo set out to make a film about Head’s primacy in the 9/11-survivor world; what changed? Does she have emotional Munchausen’s? And...where is she now? All that plus a newsletter launch, in The Blotter Presents, Episode 097. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Who The Hell Is Hamish? ( The Woman Who Wasn’t There ( David Dunlap’s piece on Tania Head ( Best Evidence ( Special Guest: Eve Batey.
22/05/191h 11m

096: Extremely Wicked... and In Cold Blood (1996)

Did Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile live up to the hype? ...Not quite. Jeb rejoined me to discuss Berlinger's scripted take on Ted Bundy, or more accurately Bundy's corrosive effect on one of his living victims, his longtime girlfriend Liz Kendall. Did the film do what it set out to, or was the dark gravitational pull of the killer himself too strong? Should Terrence Malick have taken a run at the material? And what's with those lazy music cues? But Zac Efron's performance is pretty good...which is more than you can say for anyone's in the 1996 miniseries remake of In Cold Blood starring Anthony Edwards, Eric Roberts, and Kevin Tighe as Herb Clutter. It's slow, it seems table-read-y, the director -- veteran of several thrillers -- can't make it thrilling, and I for one found myself wishing I were watching something else...specifically, the Clutter-murders documentary Joe Berlinger made a while back. Good blocking, bad exposition, and new angles on old stories: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 096. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile ( on Netflix In Cold Blood ( (1996) TBP 032 ( on Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders TBP 082 ( on The Ted Bundy Tapes Dave And Jeb Aren't Mean ( Five Actors Whose Ted Bundy IMDb Credits ( Might Surprise You Special Guest: Jeb Lund.
08/05/191h 7m

095: At The Heart Of Gold and Cold

Stephanie Early Green was here to talk about Believed in Episode 077, and somehow made it through Erin Lee Carr's excellent but harrowing At The Heart Of Gold also...though we both wept at various points. The film comes to HBO May 3, but you can listen to our discussion about the importance of testimony, the miasma of guilt and responsibility around Nassar, and our admiration for Judge Aquilina right now. And a podcast with a Cold Case section can't NOT talk about Wondery's very deep dive into the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, that's what we did, and while we both liked the podcast, it's got the occasional narrative issue...and Stephanie isn't sure how much further she can go with this bleak and possibly unsolvable mystery. It's not easy listening this week, but good storytelling isn't always fun, as we'll discuss in The Blotter Presents 095. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES At The Heart Of Gold ( on HBO Blotter 077 ( on Believed Cold ( ( Special Guest: Stephanie Green.
01/05/191h 2m

094: Kids Behind Bars and A Crime To Remember (the Looking For Mr. Goodbar case)

The name is a little glib, but A&E's Kids Behind Bars: Life Or Parole looks at the Supreme Court decision that forced the resentencing of juveniles given life without parole as teenagers, and Piper is back to look at the eight-episode series: the incarcerated "former kids" it chooses to focus on, the way each story is built, the perspectives of law enforcement and victims' families, and the conversation we need to keep having about the role of racial bias in sentencing practices. Later, we looked at a better-than-average (but still kind of bad) A Crime To Remember that focused on the murder of Roseann Quinn, whose death heavily inspired Looking For Mr. Goodbar, both book and film. Half-decent re-enactments and A-plus talking-head interviewees (including the late Michelle McNamara) meant I enjoyed it, but Piper wasn't crazy about it -- and was it trying to have it both ways in terms of commenting on the sexism and victim-blaming of the time? Plus, who's going to play us in the docuseries of this podcast, Joe Berlinger's twisted knickers, and more in The Blotter Presents, Episode 094. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Kids Behind Bars: Life Or Parole ( on A&E's page A Crime To Remember S03.E02 ( , "Last Night Stand" Looking For Mr. Goodbar ( Judith Rossner ( on Wikipedia Emily Yoshida on post-film real-life slideshows ( for Vulture Piper Weiss's You All Grow Up And Leave Me, now out in paperback ( Special Guest: Piper Weiss.
24/04/191h 6m

093: We Are Columbine and Most Notorious on Adolph Coors III

Director and Columbine High School graduate Laura Farber made a very personal look at living with the 1999 massacre, featuring a handful of her classmates, and Toby is back to talk about the emotional terrain it covers, how it chose its subjects, and the ways survivors live with trauma. In the Cold Case section, my attempt to impose a Colorado theme backfired somewhat with a Most Notorious episode from last year on the kidnapping of Coors heir Adolph "Ad" Coors III, and we tried to diagnose what it was about this story and this interview-podcast style that didn't quite match up for a good listen. I'll fire myself for this "Rocky Mountain low" pun, but in the meantime, open a cold one and enjoy The Blotter Presents, Episode 093. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES We Are Columbine ( Toby on Episode 072 ( about The Sentence Most Notorious's 4/27/18 episode ( with Philip Jett An excerpt from Jett's book ( on the Adolph Coors III kidnapping, Death Of An Heir Crime Writers On ( ... Special Guest: Toby Ball.
17/04/191h 5m

092: The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann and Who Took Johnny

Netflix's eight-part review of the Madeleine McCann case, The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann, is journalistically rigorous -- but is it rigorous to a fault? Eve returns to look at the series, its organizing principles, its indictment of tabloid media's role in the case, and how we think the case would "play" if Madeleine disappeared today. The bleak possible outcomes continue in the Cold Case section; we're looking at Who Took Johnny, a 2014 documentary about the 1982 disappearance of Johnny Gosch in West Des Moines, IA. It's a watchable film that at the same time isn't good, but provides an interesting contrast with TDOMM in what it chooses to highlight, and whom it chooses not to question. Fake news, Etan Patz, and many other debates in The Blotter Presents, Episode 092. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann ( McCann parents' statement ( on not participating in the series A This Morning interview ( with the McCanns' spokesperson elaborating on the same subject Who Took Johnny ( Interesting analysis on Who Took Johnny ( by amateur online sleuth (?) Blake Hunt Avenues Dry Goods ( on Instagram Special Guest: Eve Batey.
10/04/191h 21m

091: Screwball and 30 For 30: No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson

You may not remember much about the Alex Rodriguez/Biogenesis flap from a few years back; you may not care about it now. But Billy Corben's weird, withering Screwball is the best kind of documentary: the kind that works even for people who don't think they care about the topic. Mike Dunn returns to the podcast to discuss the bizarre, yet perfect, re-enactments by Little Leaguers, the snarky sound design, and which bedtime stories we'd read to Manny Ramirez. Later, we head back to 2010 for a first-season 30 For 30 on Allen Iverson, whose trial forced the town of Hampton, VA to reckon with some uncomfortable truths. Filmmaker Steve James tries to reckon with them in the film himself, and while the episode is a good one and does what the series has always done best, we wondered if it would be made the same way today. 'Tis the season for baseball, college basketball...and The Blotter Presents, Episode 091. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Screwball ( Billy Corben's "The U" ( for 30 For 30 30 For 30's "No Crossover: The Trial Of Allen Iverson ( Ned Zeman's "Southern Discomfort" ( for SI Special Guest: Mike Dunn.
03/04/191h 11m

090: The Act and History Detectives

Is Hulu trying to make its own American Crime Story with anthology true-crime series The Act? Maybe; Tara Ariano and I agree they're off to a good start with the eight-part Gypsy Blanchard limited series co-created by Michelle Dean. Good production design, good performances, and a good sense of the claustrophobia in Gypsy and DeeDee's relationship make for a compelling look at a case full of cons. History Detectives isn't as successful; I thought recent Austin transplant Tara might enjoy an investigation into one of the city's more gruesome chapters, but the show's ponderously didactic tour of the servant girl murders of 1884-5 didn't work for the true-crime buff OR the civilian on the panel. But sidle on up to kiosk anyway, and slide The Blotter Presents, Episode 090 right into your tote bag. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Act on Hulu ( History Detectives S11.E03 ( on Channel 13 Skip Hollandworth's Texas Monthly piece ( on the "servant girl murders" Tara Ariano on Twitter ( The Again With This ( and Extra Hot Great ( podcasts Special Guest: Tara Ariano.
27/03/1959m 55s

Brief 42: To Live And Die In L.A.

A flawed but compelling investigation into the disappearance of Adea Shabani.
25/03/199m 56s

Brief 41: Roll Red Roll

A new documentary revisits the Steubenville rape case. What is it trying to say?
22/03/1910m 47s

089: The Inventor and Children Of The Snow

It's yet another take on the rise and fall of Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, so of course I had to invite Stephanie Early Green back to talk about The Inventor. Neither of us can ever resist variations on this story...but does the Alex Gibney documentary make too many allowances for Holmes's initial good intentions? Should it have been a limited series instead of a two-hour film? And how does Holmes even manage to WALK contrivedly? Later, we look at a miniseries from Investigation Discovery on the Oakland County (MI) child abductions. It's a wild series of interconnected cases that took place where Stephanie grew up...but it's got a bunch of extra (in several senses) elements that took away from the story. Bothersome theremins, obvious questions, and mysterious motivations abound in The Blotter Presents, Episode 089. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Inventor ( The Guardian's interview with Alex Gibney ( Children Of The Snow ( The Blotter Presents 070 on Bad Blood ( Brief 31 on The Drop-Out ( Special Guest: Stephanie Green.
20/03/191h 1m

Brief 40: Manhunt

ITV's popular three-parter brings its bracing lack of contrived melodrama to Acorn.
18/03/197m 19s

088: The Case Against Adnan Syed and 30 For 30 Bikram

Another look at the case Serial made super-famous, plus a podcast about a predator guru Adnan Syed's case is back in the headlines (if we can say it's ever really left, post-Serial), and back in the true-crime-review discussion with HBO's four-part series The Case Against Adnan Syed. Eve Batey joins me to talk about the Amy Berg-directed docuseries, which, while it's well made, seemed to have a number of loose ends and missed opportunities. And it really isn't about the case against Adnan...but should it be? It isn't the case for Serial and Reddit sleuths, either...but should it be that, too/instead? Later, we go back to the middle of last year for ESPN's podcast "season" on Bikram Yoga's eponymous founder, who's apparently also a huckster, an intellectual-property thief, and a serial rapist. What is it about certain kinds of "belief communities" that allows a predator to flourish? Why is this story arc so disturbingly familiar? And can we add "co-founding the man bun" to our list of grievances against Bikram? All these questions and more in the latest The Blotter Presents. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Case Against Adnan Syed ( on HBO 30 For 30 Bikram ( Avenues Dry Goods ( Special Guest: Eve Batey.
13/03/191h 12m

087: Leaving Neverland and the Skye Borgman Interview

Leaving Neverland is the HBO doc everyone's talking about, and Piper Weiss is back to discuss it. We had our problems with it (the length, the score) but we had things we admired about it too (the room it left Robson and Safechuck to feel however they needed to about Michael Jackson, even to miss him), even as we wished someone would make MJ: Made In America and take on the larger cultural phenomenon that was the King Of Pop. Later, I interview Skye Borgman about the doc everyone was talking about EARLIER in the year, Abducted In Plain Sight, from how she found the story to how she managed the re-enactments to what other true-crime documentaries were her touchstones. It's a difficult but worthwhile what-the-hell-were-the-parents-thinking duo of properties in The Blotter Presents, Episode 087. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Leaving Neverland ( on HBO LN director Dan Reed talks to Slate ( about the film Abducted In Plain Sight ( on Netflix Skye Borgman talks to Vanity Fair ( I talk about AIPS ( Piper Weiss on Twitter ( Special Guest: Piper Weiss.
06/03/191h 19m

Brief 39: Ministry Of Evil

Sundance's four-part series on Tony and Susan Alamo's Christian-cult empire is solid and familiar...but is it TOO familiar?
27/02/199m 28s

Brief 38: It's A Hard Truth Ain't It

Thirteen incarcerated men at Pendleton Correctional Facility collaborate with each other and director Madeleine Sackler on the stories of...well, their stories.
25/02/199m 14s

Brief 37: Detainment

The controversial Oscar-nominated short raises questions about an entire genre.
22/02/1912m 48s

086: The Onion Field

Kevin Smokler returns to discuss Joseph Wambaugh's canonical account(s) of the murder of Ian Campbell On the Rushmore of true-crime classics, there's one face Kevin and I hadn't contemplated yet: Joseph Wambaugh's The Onion Field, which narrates the fateful kidnapping of LAPD officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger, the murder of Campbell, and the precursors and aftermaths of that night in the onion field in 1963. It's a quick read whose influences you can see in Ellroy, Mailer and others, but may have suffered from being written while various court cases were still in process...and from not including a notorious police department's history as context. Later in the podcast, we talk about the 1979 film version of the book starring Jon Savage, Ted Danson, Franklyn Seales, James Woods, and a parade of Hey, It's That Guy!s. Wambaugh wrote the screenplay, and the things that make the book a standout don't always translate...but sometimes they're improved by excellent acting. Should you read the book first, or see the movie? Do you need to consume both? And does the ghost of Capote hover over everything that came after? Come for the discussion, stay for the DVD giveaway on The Blotter Presents, Episode 086. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Onion Field movie at Rotten Tomatoes ( Chuck Klosterman's Q&A with Bill James ( on Popular Crime at Grantland Joe Domanick's Amazon page ( , featuring To Protect And Serve, Blue, and others John Buntin's L.A. Noir ( Kevin Smokler on Twitter ( Special Guest: Kevin Smokler.
20/02/191h 16m

Brief 36: Abducted In Plain Sight

The 2017 docu took Netflix by storm. Does it deliver on its promise, or should it push harder?
18/02/1911m 7s

Brief 35: Over My Dead Body

The story of Dan Markel's power-couple marriage, hideous divorce, and death is another Pringles-for-the-ear outing from Wondery.
15/02/198m 9s

085: Lorena And Talked To Death: The Dark Side Of TV Talk Shows

Amazon Prime's Jordan Peele-produced Lorena drops Friday, February 15, and Piper Weiss is back to talk about what we missed in the Lorena Bobbitt story the first time around; why the focus seemed to be on the violence done to John Wayne Bobbitt's penis and not to his wife, by him; who crime stories should "belong to"; and the enduring repellence of the word "panties." Next, it's an early HBO doc on the murder of Scott Amedure, and other (cultural) crimes for which the daytime-talk-show craze may be responsible. Were Jerry Springer et al. like the WWE? Was Amedure's family right to blame Jenny Jones for their loved one's demise? And what classist aspects of these "entertainments" let us stare, while distancing ourselves? The nineties still have much to teach us on The Blotter Presents, Episode 085. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Lorena ( Talked To Death ( Episode 082 ( on The Ted Bundy Tapes ( Special Guest: Piper Weiss.
13/02/191h 15m

Brief 34: ReMastered: The Two Killings Of Sam Cooke

The Netflix series interrogates the circumstances surrounding the demise of the soul singer and activist.
08/02/198m 29s

084: A Very English Scandal And The Scandal Story

Mark Blankenship returns to discuss TWO eminently English scandals from the middle of the last century. Mark brought Amazon's three-part take on the Jeremy Thorpe "business," A Very English Scandal, up for discussion, and we contemplated -- as Toby and I did last week -- how outlawing human behavior turns a whole bunch of humans into criminals, and creates more problems than it solves. We also wondered what English class-division issues we might have missed as Yanks, talked about the gorgeously subtle performances in the series, and giggled at the nicknames of the posh set ("Boofy"!). Later, we talked about a documentary show from 1989 that covered not just the Profumo affair but the 1989 film about it, Scandal, that created a couple scandals of its own. What exactly was the crime there? Because we have a feeling it's more how people talked about Christine Keeler than any kind of felonious infidelity or Cold-War honey-trapping. It's a veddy veddy veddy good day to play croquet in four-inch pumps on The Blotter Presents, Episode 084. SHOW NOTES A Very English Scandal ( The Scandal Story ( My convo with Al Lowe on Criminal Justice (which became The Night Of) at Previously.TV ( Mark And Sarah Talk About Songs ( Mark on Twitter ( Special Guest: Mark Blankenship.
06/02/191h 4m

Brief 33: Monster: The Zodiac Killer

The Atlanta Monster team takes on the Zodiac, with mixed results.
04/02/1911m 52s

083: Murder Mountain And The Weather Underground

Toby Ball returns to discuss the clashes between two sets of sixties ideals and one implacable system, capitalism, in the latest podcast. We led off with Netflix's six-part series on the changing times in Humboldt County, CA, Murder Mountain, and its heady blend (so to speak) of true crime and subcultural documentation. How does it stack up with Josh Zeman's other projects? Did it need another couple of episodes to follow the fates of "trimmigrants"? And should the series have arranged a certain poignant meeting? Later, we contemplated 2003 Oscar-nominated The Weather Underground and the simultaneously corny and resonant message of the Weathermen here in 2019, plus the utility of bombing, well, utilities, and why the film seemed to avert its eyes from the group's biggest mistakes. Not sure "bombs, joints, and naked carpentry" is quite as catchy as "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll," but grab your toolbelts and a lighter and let's find out in The Blotter Presents, Episode 83. SHOW NOTES Murder Mountain ( Crime Writers On's Murder Mountain ep ( The Blotter Presents's Prohibition ep ( My interview with Josh Zeman and Rachel Mills ( on The Killing Season on Previously.TV The Weather Underground ( (also available on Amazon Prime) Special Guest: Toby Ball.
30/01/191h 20m

Brief 32: I Am The Night

Another day, another take on the Black Dahlia that tries to do too much and loses me early on.
28/01/1910m 14s

Brief 31: The Drop Out: The Rise And Fall Of Elizabeth Holmes's Theranos

For those of us who wished Bad Blood would never end, it's a new podcast from ABC Radio.
25/01/199m 54s

082: The Ted Bundy Tapes And Cathy Evelyn Smith

Sometimes I feel like I should retitle this podcast The Joe Berlinger Review Hour, because he's back on Netflix with Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, and first-time guest Piper Weiss joins me to discuss the male gaze of the miniseries; Carol DaRonch's bitchin' Camaro; and the things about Bundy that it's not possible for us to understand. Later, we dug into the death of John Belushi -- specifically, Cathy Evelyn Smith, the woman who allegedly gave him the speedball that killed him, and whether she did time for administering those drugs because someone had to do time for something. Would Belushi have died the same way anyway? Is there any groupie who isn't, in some sense a victim? And can Erin Lee Carr please tell Smith's story? So many questions, so many muddled '70s non-answers in an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes ( on Netflix The Stranger Beside Me and other Ann Rule essentials ( You think Zac Efron playing Bundy is nuts? Dig THIS ( The 20/20 interview ( with Cathy Smith Rolling Stone's piece ( on Belushi and Smith Wired ( on YouTube ( Special Guest: Piper Weiss.
23/01/191h 18m

Brief 30: Smiley Face Killers

Oxygen's new series, on hundreds of possibly connected possible drowning deaths, sounds crazy...but it just might work. (My kookballoons idea for a "let happy-hour bar patrons try to crack unsolved cases" podcast, not s'much.)
19/01/1912m 38s

Brief 29: Untouchable

David Feige's 2016 documentary interrogates sex-offender registry statutes, but may not have questioned its own edit closely enough.
18/01/199m 6s

081: The Skies Belong To Us And The New Yorker's "A Cold Case"

First-time guest Alex Segura joints me to talk about The Skies Belong To Us, a page-turner that made a bunch of 2013's best-of lists -- and with good reason, as each of us only needed a day to finish it. But it did leave us wanting more of some subjects, and not necessarily in a pleasing way. Later, we go back even further in time with a New Yorker piece from 2000 on the crimes and disappearance of Frank Koehler, one that satisfies two competing readerly desires: to see someone walk away from a "perfect" crime; and to see justice done. SHOW NOTES The The Skies Belong To Us website ( , which might do in a pinch if you didn't read the book (yet; spoiler: you should, it's good!) "A Cold Case" ( in The New Yorker Where my click-slide into mid-century boxing lingo ( began Rosenzweig's bookstore, Book 'Em ( , is still there; get the car! And bring one of Alex's books ( for the road Special Guest: Alex Segura.
16/01/1957m 22s

Brief 28: Dirty John, The Dirty Truth

Revenge Of Return Of Even More Dirty John Meehan, tonight on Oxygen.
14/01/196m 40s

080: Surviving R. Kelly and Behind The Music

Mark Blankenship on Lifetime's wrenching, but imperfect, Surviving R. Kelly: the power of the first four episodes, and the weirdness of the last two; the "tradition" of fetishizing teenage girls in rock music; the voices we heard for the first time, and the ones we still haven't heard; and whose time is up next. Then we move on to a vintage Behind The Music that's both very typical of VH1's legendary pop-gossip video mag, and delightfully off-brand, as it follows narrator Jim Forbes out of the audio bay, on camera, and into prison for a profoundly impatient interview with the murderer of Selena Quintanilla-Perez. Terrible brothers, awful fan-club presidents, and much more in the latest episode of The Blotter Presents. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Surviving R. Kelly ( Anjelica Jade Bastién's SRK review on Vulture ( MASTAS Episode 11 (from inside a tin can, apparently; sorry) on Chic and R. Kelly ( The Selena Behind The Music ( Special Guest: Mark Blankenship.
09/01/191h 21m

Brief 27: 60 Days In, Season 5

A&E's undercover show heads to Arizona, and raises the stakes. Is it worth revisiting?
07/01/1910m 11s

Brief 26: Broken Harts

Two moms, six adopted kids, one terrible crash...and a somewhat amateurish podcast that's still compelling.
04/01/1911m 53s

Brief 25: Murderville

The Intercept's investigation of a wrongful conviction in Georgia is a sadly familiar story -- in more ways than one.
02/01/1910m 7s

Brief 24: The Lake Erie Murders

Will ID's event series on a notorious 1989 Ohio abduction hold your attention?
28/12/188m 11s

Blotter's 11: The Best Of 2018 True Crime

Three reads, three listens, and five watches that made my best-of list for the last year. SHOW NOTES Bad Blood, Episode 70 ( Jessica Pressler on Anna Delvey, The Summer Of Scam ( Kathleen Hale, "Living With Slenderman" ( Last Seen, Brief 1 ( Slow Burn, Episode 64 (http://URL%20 Dr. Death, Episode 74 ( Making A Murderer Part 2, Episode 73 ( American Vandal S2, Episode 69 ( The Sentence, Episode 72 ( Rest In Power, Episode 66 ( American Crime Story S2 recaps at Previously.TV (
26/12/1815m 4s

Brief 23: Magical Unsolved Mysteries Tour

Listener Scott J. tasked me with a line-up of noteworthy Unsolved Mysteries segments; I ranked all five, from ghostly hecklers to NKOTB video mysteries and everything in between. SHOW NOTES Season 1 Episode 22 ( Season 1 Episode 24 ( Season 4 Episode 1 ( ( on the McNelly/Stewart case Season 5 Episode 32 ( Season 8 Episode 12 (
24/12/1825m 51s

Brief 22: American Dream/American Knightmare

Marion "Suge" Knight Jr. gives director Antoine Fuqua a compelling oral history...of himself.
21/12/187m 50s

079: The Innocent Man And Misfortune, "The Lou Pearlman Story"

Al returns to TBP to talk about Netflix's latest holiday-season bingeable, The Innocent Man, and how very much not...OK (sorry) the state of law enforcement is in Ada, Oklahoma. It's based in part on John Grisham's book about one of the two murder cases centered around false confessions; Al thinks it's one of the best she's seen of this type. *I* think that's in no small part thanks to one "Aint Peppy." Later, the great Bryan Burrough does a lot to rescue the not-great inaugural ep of the Misfortune podcast, which tries a little too hard to be the all-dude, white-collar version of My Favorite Murder, and not quite hard enough to squelch its Buzz-and-Dave-in-the-morning tendencies. It's hard to mess up a brown-blimp-crash story, though. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Innocent Man ( Misfortune, "The Lou Pearlman Story" ( Bryan Burrough, "Mad About The Boys" ( Allison Lowe Huff on MHZ Choice's blog ( Special Guest: Allison Lowe Huff.
19/12/181h 10m

Brief 21: The Last Resort

...No, not "that boat show." A new documentary about photographer Andy Sweet grieves his loss, and celebrates his reflections on/of Miami.
17/12/187m 57s

Brief 20: The Teacher's Pet

Is The Australian's look at the long-cold Lyn Dawson case the Serial of the antipodes?
14/12/1811m 28s

078: Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath And "The Apostate"

Jeb Lund is back to put the third season of Leah Remini's eponymous confrontation of Scientology "on the cans," and we don't mean to be entheta about it, but why not change the format to include some expert analysis from psychologists, debriefers, or forensic auditors? Why isn't Mike Rinder using his counter-PI-terrorism skills to find Shelly Miscavige? Why is dental floss apparently suppressive? And why doesn't Remini ever drive? Folded into that conversation is a "celebration rundown" of Lawrence Wright's outstanding very-long-form "The Apostate" from 2011; it's the New Yorker article that became Going Clear, and it's a triumph of information-gathering, context, and chilly shade. Along the way, Jeb and I discuss Bobby Knight, Sauron, the road to German fascism, GOP county executives, spotted dick, and Iyanla. Obviously. SHOW NOTES Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath ( "The Apostate" ( Dave and Jeb Aren't Mean ( Ian Kershaw ( Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! Special Guest: Jeb Lund.
12/12/181h 12m

Brief 19: 48 Hours, "The Mysterious Death Of Casey Kasem"

Was there a crime committed in Kasem's 2014 death? Which one? And by whom? "The Long, Strange Purgatory Of Casey Kasem" ( "The Worst Kasem Scenario" (
10/12/189m 39s

Brief 18: Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland

Kate Davis and David Heilbroner's latest for HBO is a poetically harsh investigation of Sandra Bland's death in 2015.
30/11/187m 55s

077: Believed And 30 For 30's "The Two Escobars"

Stephanie Early Green probably regrets suggesting Believed as a Most Wanted topic, but nicely saw the idea through as she sat down to discuss Michigan Public Radio's difficult but significant new podcast on the predations of Larry Nassar -- what he did, how he got away with it, and how survivors finally brought him down. Later, we thought a vintage 30 For 30 on soccer might lighten the mood...but given how much Pablo Escobar loved the sport, and the lengths he was willing to go to to prevail in ANY situation, the story we discovered in 2010's "The Two Escobars" didn't exactly qualify as a pick-me-up. Turn-of-the-'90s South American hairstyles did, though. The topics are grim, but the storytelling is good in The Blotter Presents, Episode 77. SHOW NOTES Believed ( 30 For 30, "The Two Escobars" ( ( Special Guest: Stephanie Green.
28/11/1858m 37s

Brief 17: No Man's Land

The Wing's new podcast about "women who were too bad for your textbooks." [NB: I biffed the location of the Riverside Terrace Mausoleum; it's in HAMILTON Heights, not Morningside Heights. Mgmt regrets etc.]
26/11/1810m 16s

076: Dirty John And Stuff You Missed In History Class

[NB: The sound's tinny this week; I'm so sorry.] Bravo has turned the L.A. Times series, then podcast Dirty John into an all-star-cast TV series, and book glutton/attorney Julian Gross is here to discuss it. Did it need to become a TV series? Is Eric Bana the right casting as the titular John? Will we stick with it despite 1) some pacing issues and 2) knowing the outcome, which may affect 1) for us? And could someone please nominate Veronica for president? Later, it's a look at the How Stuff Works podcast Stuff You Missed In History Class and their explainer on Cassie Chadwick, who claimed she was an illegitimate Carnegie daughter, rooked banks out of millions...and yet kind of sucked at her job? Teenage Spanish-prisoner cons, sexism in Philadelphian crime reporting, and more on The Blotter Presents, Episode 76. SHOW NOTES Dirty John in the L.A. Times ( and as a podcast ( Stuff You Missed In History Class's Cassie Chadwickisode ( The list of confidence tricks ( I wish were a book Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery ( Special Guest: Julian Gross.
21/11/181h 1m

Brief 16: The Truth About True Crime With Amanda Knox

A seemingly reluctant true-crime figure wades into the podcasting fray with a companion podcast to Sundance's Jonestown docuseries.
19/11/189m 4s

Brief 15: Reply All Episode 99, "Black Hole, NJ"

Reply All takes a Mystery-Show-ish journey into the dark Russian-online-shopping-hacker heart of...Woodbridge?
16/11/1810m 33s

075: Jonestown: Terror In The Jungle And Frontline's Amerithrax Episode

The fortieth anniversary of the mass murder in Jonestown, Guyana is next week, and Sundance's Jonestown: Terror In The Jungle miniseries looks back; Toby Ball joins me once again to talk about when Jim Jones's sincere dreams of utopia curdled, which Jonestown property is the least difficult to get through, and what we hope became of that Willie kid. Later, with both the MAGA bomber and Robert Mueller in the headlines recently, we're also looking back at another series of attacks by mail -- and another Mueller investigation -- with Frontline's "The Anthrax Files." SHOW NOTES Jonestown: Terror In The Jungle ( American Experience, "The Life And Death Of Peoples Temple" ( TBP's all-Jonestown Ep 013 ( The New Yorker, "Orphans Of Jonestown" ( Frontline, "The Anthrax Files" ( Special Guest: Toby Ball.
14/11/181h 8m

Brief 14: Kingpins

Parcast's latest takes a three-part look at Pablo Acosta Villarreal and the pre-cartel Mexican drug trade.
12/11/189m 15s

Brief 13: What Haunts Us

An Emmy-nominated look at a prep-school predator and the wide swath of his crimes, from a first-time documentarian.
09/11/188m 52s

074: Dr. Death And Gypsy's Revenge

Stephanie Early Green joined me for Ep 009 on Mommy Dead And Dearest, so it felt only right that she sit with me again for Gypsy's Revenge, a follow-up on the Gypsy Rose/Dee Dee Blanchard case from ID that, to our surprise, was pretty good and not superfluous. (Our conversation about Gypsy's father's sexy audiobook voice? Deeehhhfinitely superfluous.) But before that, we dug into the eminently bingeable, utterly horrifying Dr. Death, Wondery's six-part look at the reign of surgical terror of Christopher Duntsch. What makes the pod so captivating -- Laura Beil's narration? nifty, understated details like Stella the dog? our own struggles with back pain? We talked about all that, plus what exactly Duntsch's problem is, willing accomplices, doing operations from YouTube instructional videos, and much more in Episode 074. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Dr. Death ( Gypsy's Revenge ( Stephanie Early Green's blog ( Our discussion of Mommy Dead And Dearest on TBP 009 ( The upcoming Dr. Death TV show ( Get $5 off your first order at Poshmark ( with code "blotter5" Special Guest: Stephanie Green.
07/11/1852m 17s

Brief 12: The Disappearance Of Phoenix Coldon

Oxygen's latest special event is infuriating, baffling...and not boring for a second.
05/11/1814m 21s

Brief 11: Crimetown's Second Season

Crimetown moves from Providence to Detroit; I try to put my finger on something in the age of Peak Podcast.
02/11/187m 34s

Brief 10: History's 3-Part Watergate Doc

Oscar-winner Charles Ferguson takes on the fall of the Nixon White House for the History Channel. Set your DVRs; it's good!
01/11/189m 12s

Brief 9: Bag Man

In her first podcast, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow digs into the very dirty forgotten history of Nixon VP Spiro Agnew.
31/10/188m 21s

Brief 8: The Lost Tapes: Clinton Impeachment

Smithsonian Channel's archival overview of Clinton's high crimes and misdemeanors is solid, but perhaps superfluous.
30/10/189m 39s

Brief 7: Carruth

The Charlotte Observer's look at the 1999 hit on Cherica Adams by her child's father, Rae Carruth, makes an NFL-crime-podcast trifecta. Should you listen?
29/10/1811m 27s

Brief 6: Taberski, Rudolf, And Judge On Making A Murderer

Netflix's You Can't Make This Up podcast on MAM Pt. 2 doesn't quite work.
26/10/187m 40s

073: Making A Murderer And Karla

Is MAM still the same marathon-able, frustrating, compelling show in Part 2 as it was in 2015? Should Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi have tried harder to make the second season less "one-sided" as to Steven Avery's guilt -- or not at all? Does the second act suffer from a dearth of Strang and Buting, or of suspense as to Avery and Brendan Dassey's fates? And where does Kathleen Zellner keep all those stylish jackets? Speaking of disgraces, the less said about 2006's Skinemax-y take on Karla Homolka, Karla, the better, except that you're better off watching Ellen Pompeo's ripped-from-the-headlines SVU on the case...or Misha Collins's apology for even being IN it. Brady violations and Lecter imitations: it's an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Making A Murderer Part 2 on Netflix ( ( * ( USA Today ( lists key revelations from Part 2 Misha Collins on regretting making Karla ( Some of the information Bernardo's parole hearing kept secret ( (warning: involves unsavory descriptions of his behavior during a "relationship" with a woman while he was in prison) Ellen Pompeo's Law & Order ( (which was an SVU crossover, so I wasn't wrong?) Special Guest: Eve Batey.
24/10/1859m 18s

Brief 5: POV, "Lindy Lou, Juror No. 2"

From a July POV episode, one woman's emotional battle with her decision to give a man the death penalty.
23/10/187m 34s

Blotter Brief 4: Steve McNair: Fall Of A Titan

Sports Illustrated wades into the NFL-adjacent crime-pod fray with Tim Rohan's investigation of a 2009 murder-suicide.
22/10/188m 21s

Blotter Brief 3: Someone Knows Something, Season 5

The CBC cold-case podcast returns for a fifth (!) season, this one on the murder of Manitoba teenager Kerrie Ann Brown.
18/10/1810m 38s

072: The Sentence And This American Life

Toby Ball on Rudy Valdez's personal and affecting The Sentence, and a 19-year-old This American Life that in many ways could have been recorded last week -- plus parallels to the current season of Serial, how many crappy congressfolk keep haunting stories of the war on drugs, and how the tiniest of possession charges can, if you'll forgive the pun, snowball. The personal is political in The Blotter Presents Episode 72. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES The Sentence ( on HBO VF's review ( of The Sentence This American Life 143: Sentencing ( Episode 024 on Strong Island ( The New Yorker ( 's 2017 profile of the Sacklers'/Purdue's role in the opioid crisis Frontline, ( "Snitch" Special Guest: Toby Ball.

Blotter Brief 2: Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez And Football Inc.

The Boston Globe's spotlight team turns its attention to the crimes of -- and the crimes that made -- Aaron Hernandez ( .
16/10/189m 31s

Blotter Brief 1: Last Seen

Introducing Blotter Briefs (tee hee, "briefs"): capsule reviews of all the stuff I don't get to on the main podcast. Today's topic is art-heist pod Last Seen ( from WBUR and the Boston Globe.
15/10/188m 11s

071: Lifetime Movies Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill And Believe Me: The Lisa McVey Story

Eve Batey joins me to take on a Lifetime true-story two-fer. We tackled two recent Lifetime films, the first about the notorious and crassly named "texting suicide" case, and the second a 34-year-old kidnapping whose escaped victim helped police catch a serial killer...once someone finally believed her story. Is either movie worth 90 minutes of your time? Is Bella Thorne almost TOO good as Michelle Carter? What's with the Veronica Mars mini-reunion in C&M? And why isn't Believe Me on the IMDb? We discuss whether it's possible to hew too faithfully to source materials, how glad we are texting didn't exist back in the seventeenth century when we were adolescents, and whether the portrayal of Bobby Joe Long put us in mind of Jack Bauer. Don't order a tuna sand at a donut shop; listen to The Blotter Presents Episode 071 instead. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! SHOW NOTES Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill ( People ( on the trial of Michelle Carter Believe Me: The Abduction Of Lisa McVey ( Eve's ( newsletters ( Special Guest: Eve Batey.
03/10/1859m 9s

070: Serial's Third Season And Bad Blood

You probably haven't heard anything about this, but: Serial is back for Season 3. Stephanie Green is also back to discuss the first two episodes; the heralded podcast's less appealing qualities; and versions of S3's stories This American Life may have done better in the Most Wanted section. As our Cold Case, we're looking at the rise and rise and fall of Theranos via John Carreyrou's outstanding bestseller, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. What's with Elizabeth Holmes's odd, affected voice? Which other con artists (Trump) and cults (Scientology) did the Theranos story remind us of? And can Carreyrou hurry up and write some more books? From the "mistake by the lake" to the city by the Bay, it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 70. SHOW NOTES Serial ( 15 Gothic Street ( Bad Blood ( on Amazon Elizabeth Holmes on Mad Money ( (
26/09/181h 11m

069: American Vandal And The Doodler Murders

American Vandal Season...Number Two (tee hee) dropped (its brown friends by the lake, tee hee) last Friday, and Jeb Lund joins me for an...exposition dump? Tee hee. We're discussion the show's compassion for its characters, what it says about other crimes sand crime properties, and whether we liked S1 better. Later, we'll talk about the Doodler murders, and why it's remained mostly overlooked as a major case. Should a Ryan Murphy or a Nick Broomfield take it on? And if not, why not? Put down that lemonade and give a listen to The Blotter Presents, Episode 69. SHOW NOTES American Vandal ( on Netflix Myles McNutt ( on 13 Reasons Why and AV Elon Green on the Doodler case ( for The Awl Murder Road Trip ( Episode 27 This American Life ( , "The House On Loon Lake"
19/09/181h 2m

068: Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers And The RFK Tapes

Toby Ball FINALLY returns to his dedicated spot on the Blotter HQ sofa to talk about the latest limited series from Joe Berlinger for Oxygen, Unspeakable Crime: The Killing Of Jessica Chambers. It's better than we expected, but we're still waiting for it to address certain issues teased in the opener -- inconsistent racism; the classism we're not sure we're supposed to note, or object to; the Heisenberging of the case by the internet -- and wondering whether the occasional meta moment is intentional. With bonus references to at least a dozen other crime properties both accoladed and annoying! Later, we talk about Kennedy-assassination conspiracy journey The RFK Tapes, and what it says about the human drive to bring order out of chaos by seeing conspiracies in what might be straight-ahead murders. Toby adds to Sarah's history-book reading list, Sarah can't unknow Bugliosi sounds like a Simpsons character, and more as we discuss whether this well-regarded podcast is about Robert Kennedy's death, or about the listener. (Corrections department! I mispronounced RFK host Zac Stuart-Pontier's last name at least once, and I apologize; pretty sure it's actually "Pon-tee-ay." As well, I guessed the wrong Kennedy as director of HBO docu Ethel; it's Rory, not Kerry.) SHOW NOTES Unspeakable Crime ( : The Killing Of Jessica Chambers Katie J.M. Baker's "Troll Detective" ( on Buzzfeed The RFK Tapes ( Dallas, 1963 ( American Journey ( : The Times Of Robert Kennedy Prior discussions of Joe Berlinger's work: Ep 017 (Gone ( ); Ep 032 (Cold Blooded ( ); and Ep 058 (Wrong Man ( ) Ethel ( Crime Writers On ( and Ball's Deep Dive (
12/09/181h 13m

067: The Documentary Podcast And Crime In Sports

Did either of the podcasts we considered in this week's tennis-crime-centric podcast ace their topics? Alas, we got bageled, as Week 2 of the U.S. Open finds me and the COURT-eous Dan Patrick Brady considering alleged match-fixing in tennis in a The Documentary Podcast from early '16, plus a seventies star who found himself down a break at being a grown-up on Crime In Sports. Do these puns deserve even...BACKHANDED compliments? No, but serve yourself up some The Blotter Presents, Episode 67. SHOW NOTES The Documentary Podcast, "The Great Tennis Fix" ( Buzzfeed, "The Tennis Racket" ( A recent SI update ( on the Tennis Integrity Unit The inevitable naming of names ( ...and one guy's point-by-point defense of a particular player ( Ben Rothenberg on "courtsiders" ( Crime In Sports ( , Episode 87 "Liar, Liar, Life On Fire - The Aristocraticness of Roscoe Tanner"
05/09/1847m 13s

066: Crime + Punishment And Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story

Anna Beth Chao returns to look at Hulu's original documentary on quota policing in New York City, Crime + Punishment. It's a bit too filler-y, but does it need to be shorter -- or to divide itself into the two, or maybe three, documentaries fighting for space within it? Later, we talk about Paramount's Rest In Power, and how recent the murder of Trayvon Martin still seems after six years; why Sanford PD didn't just call-block George Zimmerman; and learning movement leadership on the job. Boston accents, bribe promotions, and why Sarah likes Live PD in The Blotter Presents, Episode 66. SHOW NOTES Crime + Punishment ( on Hulu Rest In Power ( on Paramount "the Steel-Drum Grinch ( " George Zimmerman charged with stalking ( RIP:TTMS's private investigator TBP 002 ( on The Kalief Browder Story
29/08/1852m 4s

065: Pamela Smart: An American Murder Mystery And Captivated: The Trials Of Pamela Smart

Eve Batey is back to assess which of these Pam Smart properties is worth your time; whether the old-school newsmag model of true crime needs to be retired in 2018; how the Heisenberg principle relates to Smart's ability to get a fair trial; and why cops interviewed on TV can't just say "smoking weed" like everyone else in America. Don't traumatize the dog or anything, but this The Blotter Presents is pretty metal. SHOW NOTES Full episodes of An American Murder Mystery ( Captivated ( on Amazon (or see if you can watch it with your library card on Kanopy ( ) Captivated director Jeremiah Zagar ( The Governor's true-crime short ( on Twitter To Die For author Joyce Maynard petitions for Smart's parole ( Avenues Dry Goods (
22/08/181h 3m

064: Slow Burn And Patty Has A Gun

Last week, the Slow Burn podcast turned its attention to the pettily tawdry period in American politics known as "the Bill Clinton Impeachment," and Canadian Alex Collins has politely agreed to turn HER attention to the Slate podcast's second season. Do we think differently about Clinton's "high crimes" -- and their victims -- than we did back then? And how will Slow Burn tell us something new about a time those of us who lived through it thought we'd never want to hear about again? Later, we talk about CNN's podcast Patty Has A Gun, something of an audio companion to the network's miniseries on the kidnapping of Hearst heiress Patricia...and her subsequent "conversion" to the beliefs of her captors. We find a number of striking parallels between Monica Lewinsky's situation and "Tania"'s, and a number of similarities in solid storytelling between our Cold Case podcast and our Most Wanted. Begin communique: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 64. SHOW NOTES Slow Burn ( Patty Has A Gun ( CNN's miniseries, The Radical Story Of Patty Hearst ( Toobin's American Heiress ( Bryan Burrough ( for Vanity Fair Bachelor Nation (
15/08/181h 5m

063: Golden State Killer: Main Suspect And A Trillin True-Crime Reader

In Episode 048, Mike Dunn and I talked about Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone In The Dark and the adjacent TV special, Golden State Killer: It's Not Over. It's...over now! Well, until the trial (and the HBO documentary series, which Mike will no doubt return for also). Authorities took Joseph D'Angelo into custody six weeks after we recorded; last Saturday, Oxygen aired its update special, Golden State Killer: Main Suspect, and Mike and I convened the Carol Daly Appreciation Society's Northeast Chapter to discuss everything from new witness accounts to Daly's bitchin' beehive to tacky sound cues to...the Red Sox? In the Cold Case section, I spend the dog days of August cooling off in the New Yorker archives with a Calvin Trillin crime reader (and an assist from Dan) that appreciates both his trademark bone-dry understatement and the unfortunate relevance of his work years and decades later. Look directly into the camera: it's The Blotter Presents, Episode 63. This week's episode was recorded in part at King Killer Studios, with technical assistance from Dave Bunting Jr. Additional research by Alex Collins and Daniel MacEachern. SHOW NOTES Our previous GSK discussion ( Oxygen's GSK: Main Suspect page ( My Killings review ( on "Incident In Dodge City" ( "At The Train Bridge" ( "The House Across The Way" ( "Causes And Circumstances" (
08/08/1849m 58s

062: You Must Remember This And Cocaine & Rhinestones

It's a new season of Old-Hollywood podcast You Must Remember This, and Kevin Smokler joins me to unpack Karina Longworth's captivating take on the unsolved murder of William Desmond Taylor, with a look back at 2015's "Charles Manson's Hollywood" season. Later, we get a chuckle out of Ernest Tubb's bunny slippers (note: he wasn't really wearing bunny slippers) in the Cold Case section as we talk about a couple of episodes -- one funny, one harrowing -- of Tyler Mahan Coe's Cocaine & Rhinestones. What did it mean to challenge a drunk country superstar to a fight in mid-century Nashville? Was that butler really Taylor's brother...and is it possible the butler, you know, did it? And which of us quotes Longworth to his or her feline? Bourbon, Reagan, and even a little OJ Simpson: it's an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES You Must Remember This, Episode 124 ( (William Desmond Taylor) YMRT's "Charles Manson's Hollywood" ( season Cocaine & Rhinestones ( Rolling Stone on C&R ( My review of OJ: Made In America ( 's fourth episode Bill James's Popular Crime ( (WDT section starts on p. 466 of paperback edition) Kevin's book, Brat Pack America ( Flash: The Making Of Weegee ( The Famous
01/08/181h 6m

The Summer Of Scam has dubbed it The Summer Of Scam, and with a handful of sisters very much doing it for themselves, I've got your essential longform long-cons reading list. Later, we'll take a trip through's archives with fake Rockefellers, French nationals in over their heads, and other grifty tramps and thieves in the Cold Case section. Lock down those last fours of your Socials: it's an all-new The Blotter Presents. Support the pod/site on Patreon ( ! The Summer Of Scam ( on Vulture The Con Queen ( Of Hollywood from The Hollywood Reporter Gabriella Paiella's 6 must-know scammers ( on The Cut Jessica Pressler's Anna "Delvey" investigation ( for New York Gothamist asks for first-person experiences with scammers ( Rachel DeLoache Williams on her time with Delvey ( in Vanity Fair Jezebel's DirtCast ( on scammers of note Doree Shafrir on Kari "the hipster grifter" Farrell ( in The Observer My review ( of The Man In The Rockefeller Suit The Woman Who Wasn't There ( on Amazon Maureen O'Hagan for the Seattle Times on Lori Ruff ( My review ( of The Impostor David Grann's New Yorker piece on Bourdin (
25/07/1820m 22s

18 July 2018

A look back into the archives, and some reading recommendations. SHOW NOTES Find The Blotter on Twitter ( and Facebook ( Find me on Goodreads ( "Threeway Two Ways" ( on The Blotter
18/07/187m 10s

061: The Last Defense

Produced by, among others, national treasure Viola Davis, The Last Defense is the latest limited series to focus on death-row inmates who may have cases for new trials. The show hasn't gotten to Julius Jones yet, but based on its approach to the Darlie Routier investigation and trial, Dan Patrick Brady and I are looking forward to keeping up with the show during our vacation: there's some over-arty slo-mo, but there's also insightful talking-head interviews with one of my favorite Texas Monthlycrime reporters; excellent access to most of the parties involved in Routier's trial; and a compelling construction that kept one impatient side-Googler in the household from spoiling herself on the case's particulars. And speaking of that vacation: change things are afoot at the Circle TBP, as the podcast takes a break to retool slightly...and then return with coverage of books, longform articles, other pods, and more. What's your ideal Blotter? Let me know at bunting at the-blotter dot com or here in the comments! SHOW NOTES Watch the first few episodes of The Last Defense ( (eps are also available on Hulu for a limited time after air, and on On Demand The great Skip Hollandworth on Routier from Texas Monthly ( Dig into the archives of famous original Blotter ( (now finally optimized for mobile) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/06/1836m 28s

Episode 67: 060: Drinks, Crime And Prohibition And Ken Burns's Prohibition

The Smithsonian Channel premiered a documentary special on Prohibition last week, and while my guest Toby Ball and I learned a lot of new cocktail recipes, we also kind of couldn't figure out who the show is for -- heritage-drinks fans? history buffs? the collectibles market? It's a serviceable show, but superfluous, because... ...we also watched Ken Burns's 2011 three-parter, Prohibition, which in addition to a firmer grasp of its brief and of building a historical narrative also features the Mayor of Hollywood; no distractingly cartoonish re-enactments; and the kind of voice-over writing that makes you want to learn more, not change the channel. Both documentaries pointed up certain unsettling parallels to today's political landscape, and both made us endure jazz. Would we recommend either? Pour yourself an extra-dry paint-thinner-tini and find out in an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Where to watch Drinks, Crime And Prohibitionnet ( Watch the Ken Burns take on Netflix ( Read Sarah's write-ups on Smithsonian Channel's The Missing Evidence ( and Sports Detectives ( Episode 004 with Al Lowe on Disgraced ( Crime Writers On... book club on In Cold Blood ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/06/1850m 31s

Episode 66: 059: The Staircase And Forensic Files

De Lestrade and his team return once more with three new episodes of prestige-true-crime forerunner The Staircase, and Stephanie Early Green returns to discuss the end of the story. Did it need three more episodes? Does it do what it thinks it does in terms of casting Michael Peterson and his family as sympathetic, and Kathleen Peterson's sisters as obsessed harpies -- or the opposite? One of our theories of the case has changed somewhat since the last time we contemplated this twisty case, but as David Rudolf says, we just don't know. And like David Rudolf, we're about done thinking about this. The case of Robert Bosley's murder is decidedly more straightforward -- in fact, we're not sure it's Forensic Files this killing should appear on, but a yet-to-be-produced show called, like, The Dumbshit-Crook Chronicles -- but the melodramatically intense scoring of S13.E22 makes this half-hour of stupid criminal tricks well worth the time. Crazy headstones, inappropriate affects, and much more in an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Watch the compleat Staircase on Netflix ( Listen to our previous discussion of The Staircase in Episode 051 ( Read The Ringer ( on The Staircase Peep the Twitter revelation of Michael Peterson's alleged relationship with a Staircase editor ( Watch S13.E22, "Dirty Laundry," of Forensic Files ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Episode 65: 058: Wrong Man And Behind Mansion Walls

Joe Berlinger returns with another limited series, this one -- Wrong Man, on Starz -- looking into possible wrongful convictions; Eve Batey returns to The Blotter Presents to talk about the all-star team assembled to look into these cases. Which attorney do we predict will go on to host her own show? Is Ron Kuby getting soft(er) in his old age? Would we watch a show that just ran footage of investigators Joe and Ira on stake-outs? And what is with that detective's pajama pants? Later, Behind Mansion Walls delves with hilarious relish into the case of Indiana's most prolific (alleged) serial killer, Herb Baumeister. He and his wife Julie are re-enacted with brio, narrated by a Moth Story Slam veteran, and afflicted with deep denial, and while BMW isn't the greatest overview of the case, Eve is still obsessed with it now...and we talk about why we'd never heard of it before, what kind of kid thinks he's going to get to "keep" crime-scene evidence he found in the yard, and why Indianapolis law enforcement might not have leapt into action on this case in an all-new The Blotter Presents.  SHOW NOTES Visit Starz's official Wrong Man site ( Watch Behind Mansion Walls ( S02.E11 Watch Syfy's take on the Fox Hollow Farm "phenomenon" ( Enjoy BMW presenter Mason's satirical-songs website ( How investigators tried to pin ( another string of murders ( on Baumeister Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Episode 64: 057: Dead North And Dark Angel

Dan Patrick Brady's back for a look at ID's latest miniseries, Dead North, which follows Upper Peninsula police chief Laura Frizzo in the search for a missing man, through a bizarre love quadrangle, to a gruesome discovery while filming in the woods...and a possible woman serial killer. It's not your average true-crime fare, and might have worked better as a podcast, but Dan and Sarah are in for Dead South should it become a thing. We're decidedly LESS eager to eat barbecued foods we didn't pack into the party ourselves, however. Later, it's tea we're turned off of when we take on notorious poisoner Mary Ann Cotton and ITV's Dark Angel. A story we thought had a lot of potential is ruined by confusing time jumps, anachronistic dialogue, clonky exposition, and ironically bittersweet pronouncements of love punctuated by barfing. (Yes, that's the name of our second country album. No, you probably shouldn't listen to our last clip if you have a sensitive vom trigger.) We're hoping listeners can let us know whether the book Dark Angel's based on is worth reading, because Sarah could only get through one ep of the series. Fargo, sexism in profiling, and the found art of the talking-head interview: it's an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Watch Dead North ( on ID Watch Dark Angel ( on Amazon Prime (or check local Masterpiece listings/the PBS app) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/05/1854m 56s

Episode 63: 056: The Case Of: Caylee Anthony And Confessions Of Crime

The Real Crime Profile team returns to TV with a three-part series on Oxygen that looks into the death of Caylee Anthony and the trial of her mother, Casey. The Crime Writers On team returns to The Blotter Presents in the person of Rebecca Lavoie, who does not think well of the The Case Ofseries; sexist assumptions about maternal grief; the prosecution's failure to execute on a narrative; or, well, Casey Anthony. Sarah D. Bunting also has some comments about Jim Clemente's hat and Jim Fitzgerald's linguistic analysis, but the good news is, we've ruled Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out as a suspect! Later, we look at the Victrola of true-crime TV, Confessions Of Crime, and how its bar-mitzvah-video production values might actually make the horrific story of Cindy Ray's abduction and murder...well, not palatable, but at least less grim. Is there value in just getting in and out of a crime story in 21 minutes? Can we feel grateful that at least today's shows know how NOT to talk about childhood abuse? And should we have watched the TV movie about host Theresa Saldana's story instead? We'll try to answer all these questions -- plus an UPDATE! on Dan Brady's Unsolved Mysteries spot -- in The Blotter Presents, Episode 56. SHOW NOTES Watch The Case Of: Caylee Anthony ( and Confessions Of Crime ( More on amazing survivor and activist Theresa Saldana ( Listen to Crime Writers On ( and Real Crime Profile ( Listen to the previous Caylee Anthony episode ( with Toby Ball Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/05/181h 30m

Episode 62: 055: Abuse Of Power And An Unsolved Unsolved Mysteries Mystery

Abuse Of Power is a professionally made, serviceable, and superfluous Teevee True-Crime Product that actually does a couple things well, or at least notably. But does it need to exist? Or does it just need to exist under another name? Dan Patrick Brady is back to talk about bad acting, sad cops, and Fred Tokars's similarities to Donald J. Trump. Later, it's time for YOU the listener to track down Dan's Unsolved Mysteries episode. We run down everything Dan can remember about the segment, from year to topic to fellow re-enactors; if you spot Dan first in the Amazon Prime Stack-isodes, you could win a book! And everyone else can win never having to hear Buntsy whine about not being able to find this damn thing! Dan's contemporary headshot is below: g'head and get solving! SHOW NOTES The vile tale of Fred Tokars ( Where to start combing through those Unsolved Mysteries ( eps Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/05/1838m 43s

Episode 61: 050: Evil Genius And FBI Files

The unfortunate Brian Wells walked into a bank in 2003 with a bomb around his neck; grabbed a lollipop from the counter; and set off (so to speak) a chain reaction of mayhem that led investigators back to a pair of "masterminds" who may have outsmarted themselves instead of law enforcement. Netflix's four-part docuseries Evil Genius drops Friday May 11 (so, warning: this section may contain spoilers), and returning guest Toby Ball and I watched two screeners and can't wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds. How much did Wells know? Is Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong really a black (common-law) widow? Does the latest true story from the Duplass bros have the same excellent build, but frustrating info gaps, as Wild Wild Country? We stuck with the bank-robbery theme for our Cold Case topic this week, FBI Files's third-season episode on a prolific Seattle thief the feds named "Hollywood," and while there's lots to discuss about the case, the show is, alas, an example of how the non-fiction crime genre has evolved over the last decade and a half...and a cautionary tale about taking the FBI's "side" in your narrative when the case in question actually kind of points up their screw-ups. Special appearances by Sarah D. Bunting, Currency Cop; the Bhagwan; and the word "fugazi" in an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Watch Evil Genius ( on Netflix Watch FBI Files ( S03.E04, "Terror In Disguise" Listen to Toby Ball, Sarah D. Bunting, Rebecca Lavoie, and Connie Walker on Killers Of The Flower Moon at the Crime Writers On Patreon page ( More on Scott "Hollywood" Scurlock ( at The Seattle Times Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/05/181h 6m

Episode 60: 053: Wild Wild Country And Beautiful And Twisted

A couple weeks after everyone else laid the subject to rest, Kevin Smokler is back to talk with me about Wild Wild Country, Netflix's six-part series on the poisonings, beaver-shakes, and other crimes against traditional values perpetrated by a free-love "cult" in 1980s Oregon. It's eminently watchable, but at the same time noticeably incurious about certain aspects of its subjects -- do the Way brothers try too hard not to take a position on either side of the myriad debates the series describes (and creates)? Did they not know how to end the last episode? And is there really a relationship between the Rajneeshi and Jonestown? Lifetime's 2015 take on the Novack murders, Beautiful And Twisted, goes down a lot easier -- but thanks to a certain fundamental unseriousness about the severe-beating deaths of two of its protagonists, it still got stuck in our craw a little bit. Lifetime movies have come a long way from the damp Victoria Principal starrers of a bygone era, but is there maybe not a middle ground between moistly self-serious and disrespectfully UN-serious? All this plus St. Elmo's references, baseball docus, and The Serial Problem in an all-new XL The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Wild Wild Country ( on Netflix Beautiful & Twisted ( on Amazon Prime Brat Pack America: A Love Letter To '80s Teen Movies, by Kevin Smokler ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/04/181h 22m

Episode 59: 052: I Am Evidence And Australia On Trial

Almost 15 years ago, de Lestrade's The Staircase paved the way for the Making A Murderers and Jinxes after it with a lingering, textured look at the case against Michael Peterson. Did his wife Kathleen fall down the stairs? Did he push her or beat her with the notorious blowpoke? Was a wild creature responsible all along? And whose side are the filmmakers on as they slowly pile up the porn, infidelities, and other similar deaths in Peterson's past? Stephanie Early Green is back to talk about the case, the series, what we think really happened now versus when we first watched over a decade ago, and a defense attorney's spin-stinct. Then we assess ID's condensed overview of the case on An American Murder Mystery. The franchise's look at Kathleen's death is economical, but also somehow filler-y and melodramatic, and we wonder if its judgments about Michael's sexuality aren't a worse look than the 2004 take on his alleged motive. Still, there's some new information here -- along with a whole bunch of nonsensical conclusions about flawed forensics -- but will we keep watching? SHOW NOTES More on I Am Evidence ( on HBO Attempts to clear the backlog in Northern California ( Australia On Trial's Mount Rennie episode ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/04/1859m 48s

Episode 58: 051: The Staircase And An American Murder Mystery

Almost 15 years ago, de Lestrade's The Staircase paved the way for the Making A Murderers and Jinxes after it with a lingering, textured look at the case against Michael Peterson. Did his wife Kathleen fall down the stairs? Did he push her or beat her with the notorious blowpoke? Was a wild creature responsible all along? And whose side are the filmmakers on as they slowly pile up the porn, infidelities, and other similar deaths in Peterson's past? Stephanie Early Green is back to talk about the case, the series, what we think really happened now versus when we first watched over a decade ago, and a defense attorney's spin-stinct. Then we assess ID's condensed overview of the case on An American Murder Mystery. The franchise's look at Kathleen's death is economical, but also somehow filler-y and melodramatic, and we wonder if its judgments about Michael's sexuality aren't a worse look than the 2004 take on his alleged motive. Still, there's some new information here -- along with a whole bunch of nonsensical conclusions about flawed forensics -- but will we keep watching? SHOW NOTES The Staircase: An American Murder Mystery ( on ID More on the update from the Tribeca Film Festival site ( The continuing saga of SBI agent Duane Deaver's crappy work ( Stephanie Early Green's blog ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/04/1858m 11s

Episode 57: 050: In Ice Cold Blood And Mysteries & Scandals

Given when In Ice Cold Blood premiered -- April 1st -- you might forgive me for thinking it was Oxygen's PR team tryna prank me. And it...might still be that, actually! But it's a pretty long con, if so, since we got screeners, and based on the first two episodes, guest Eve Batey and I are kind of about it: it's an interesting niche in terms of the crimes covered; the talking-heads and interrogation footage are, while nothing groundbreaking, used well; and the production chose its topics smartly. The only issue we have with IICB is...Ice-T himself. And it's not that he's bad; it's that we're not sure this is the right show for him. We're very sure Mysteries & Scandals isn't the right show for Soledad O'Brien; we like her, but the writing, oo-fah. S01.E06 delves into the lethal falls from grace of Johnny Lewis, Lillo Brancato, and Ricardo Medina...if we can use "delve" to describe shallow 12-minute segments larded with platitudinous interstitials and hysteric sound design. But WE delved into whether true-crime shows need to craft themselves with an eye towards impatient Googling by their viewers, plus Aaron Hernandez, the return of the Sarah's Dad Zodiac Theory, Graceland's proprietary fabrics, and yet another Eve-'n'-Sarah show pitch -- on The Blotter Presents's 50th episode. SHOW NOTES Find out how popular the Kibuishi/Herr case is in true-crime newsmag circles (very ( ) Delays in Wozniak's trial, explained ( The old-school blog of Wozniak's friend ( The Blue Hawaii shirt IRL ( The Attention Shoppers ( podcast Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/04/1859m 46s

Episode 56: 049: Trust And The Lost Tapes's Patty Hearst Episode

FX splashed out on some expensive talent to tell the story of the infamously cheap J. Paul Getty's negotiations for the return of his kidnapped hippie grandson -- whom he and many others thought had engineered the situation to get himself some spending money. The network's really put itself on the map with prestige-crime series in the last couple of years, but when the action moves to 1970s Rome, does it have itself another water-cooler show? Toby Ball and I plan to keep watching, but even if we weren't having fun, Donald Sutherland is having the time of his life gnawing the scenery, and it's nice to see Brendan Fraser again. It's also nice to see The Lost Tapes again; I liked the show when it debuted on Smithsonian Channel a couple years back, and its refreshingly stripped-down take on big cases and turning points -- no whorey talking-heads or goofy re-enactments, just contemporaneous footage and reports -- is perfect for a case like the Patty Hearst kidnapping. By not taking a position on how involved Hearst really was in ongoing events, The Lost Tapes made us question our own received wisdom on the case, and what "brainwashing" is really supposed to mean, anyway. And yes, I have a grand unifying theory about DB Cooper, because it's a day ending in Y -- and an all-new The Blotter Presents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/03/1858m 43s

Episode 55: 048: The Golden State Killer: It's Not Over And I'll Be Gone In The Dark

When Michelle McNamara passed away unexpectedly in 2016, Mike Dunn and I both made sure to pre-order the book she'd left unfinished -- I'll Be Gone In The Dark, on a prolific rapist turned serial killer operating in two areas of California in the late '70s and early '80s. The book showed up at our houses a couple weeks ago, so we decided to turn the pod into a book club for an episode and discuss it...and then Investigation Discovery dropped its two-night, four-part take on the case, The Golden State Killer: It's Not Over, so we looped that in too. Did the show need four parts and three total hours to get its work done? Is its attitude towards "internet sleuths" a little weird? And do you need to watch AND read the book? We dug into the show, the strength of its contributors, and whether it's a good supplement to McNamara's work. Later, I got frustrated at the writing tics an editor should have honored McNamara by cutting, and we talked about pacing, McNamara's skill at setting a scene, and whether Tom Hanks could have committed these crimes. (Ron Howard: "He couldn't have.") Let us know what you think of the show, the book, and the overall investigation on the forums after you listen to an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Watch The Golden State Killer: It's Not Over ( on Investigation Discovery Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/03/1856m 56s

Episode 54: 047: Unsolved And The Family

USA debuted yet another take on the still-open cases of the murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher "Biggie" Wallace last week, this one featuring pretty much every procedural Hey, It's That Guy! you can think of (Brent Sexton, Jamie McShane) plus a couple top names (Black Mirror's Jimmi Simpson, Josh "Mr. Fergie" Duhamel, Dwayne Johnson) (...right? hey, the IMDb doesn't lie), and a great deal of table-setting exposition to locate us in three timelines. It's a little heavy-handed about explaining the challenges for investigators, at least for anyone who's familiar at all with true-crime material involving LAPD -- Rampart; OJ: Made In America -- but it's done well, and fairly economically. What's more, I felt no urge to Google during the runtime: always a sign of compelling quality. We'll let you know if you should keep watching. We'll also let you know if The Family is too bleak to manage. The story of Anne Hamilton-Byrne's doomsday/LSD cult, whose primary hallmark was stealing babies and raising them in an intermittent-reinforcement hellscape of beatings, brainwashing, and shrooms, features interviews with former "members" of The Family, plus the journalists and cops who tried to get someone, anyone to agree the Hamilton-Byrnes needed to go to jail. Can kids starved of love (and literally starved) learn to make their ways in the world as adults -- and parents? Should the filmmakers have split the material up into several installments, to investigate claims of Illuminatoid contacts in Melbourne's power structure -- and to give viewers a break? And does The Family belong to the, uh, family of "extremely affecting; can never watch again" documentaries headed up by Dear Zachary? Toby and I mull these questions and more before marinating in some Powerpuff Girls to cleanse the palate, in The Blotter Presents Episode 47. SHOW NOTES Watch the Unsolved premiere ( , no login needed PTV's coverage of The Keepers, including The Blotter Ep 10 ( Ep 22 on Biggie: The Life Of Notorious BIG ( Toby Ball on Amazon ( Vote for Crime Writers On in Podcast Madness 2018 ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/03/181h 12m

Episode 53: 046: Love And Hate Crime And A Murder On Orchard Street

The Huffs and I thought, based on the customary punnish titling of Love And Hate Crime, that we were in for predictable filler-y fare. We...were very much not, as a BBC-produced look at the murder of trans teen Mercedes Williamson by her much older Latin King boyfriend in rural Mississippi doesn't shy away from harsh crime-scene photos, even harsher language, and an unblinking look at the hypocrisy and denial of the community, not to mention Mercedes's killer. Fortunately, Allison unearthed A Murder On Orchard Street, ABC News's clever repurposing of a 15-year-old non-fiction show to look at an NYC cold case. 1010 WINS, the pronunciation "demeanuh," hacky-sack bros, and peeks behind the process curtain make this unique "video podcast" -- there's also an actual podcast that goes with it -- a fast-paced and fun sit that we could totally let rock. See the Show Notes to check it out for yourself, then grab some breakfast with Jimmie for an all-new The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Love & Hate Crime on the BBC site ( A Murder On Orchard Street (http://https//,p0,d0) on Hulu Gothamist (welcome back, y'all!) on A Murder On Orchard Street ( The NYC Tenement Museum ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/02/181h 2m

Episode 52: 045: Warren Jeffs: Prophet Of Evil, Plus A Mormon-Adjacent True-Crime Must List

[Note: Today's episode contains crackling that may annoy you. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working on ironing out the issue!] A&E leans into its sub-branding as a cult-studies destination with Warren Jeffs: Prophet Of Evil. Dan and I leaned into the Warren Jeffs topic by watching not just A&E's outing but the 2015 documentary from Showtime, and discussed the similarities between LDS fundies and Scientology; what reminded us of Trump about Jeffs; Mormon naming conventions; and whether Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song should join In Cold Blood as a twin vintage pillar of the true-crime genre. Did I miss any Mormon-adjacent properties? Take a break from barfing yourself inside out about the "custom bed" and recommend more reading, podcasts, and documentaries on the forums. SHOW NOTES Sarah's review of Prophet's Prey ( Sarah and Tara Ariano confront Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs ( ("the Lifetime one with Fitz from Scandal") Rum & Monkey's Mormon name generator ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/02/1841m 54s

Episode 51: 044: 48 Hours And Unsolved Mysteries

California law enforcement has former Hart To Hart star and current fossil Robert Wagner as a person of interest in the death of his then wife, Natalie Wood, in 1981. My valentine, Dan Patrick Brady, is back to talk about whether the 48 Hours on the case worth watching, or if phrases like "the Banging Dinghy Theory" sink the episode. And in our Cold Case segment, a vintage Unsolved Mysteries has an unexpected recent update of its own (and absolutely nothing new to say about Bigfoot). We accept Walkens here on The Blotter Presents, Episode 44. SHOW NOTES Watch S30.E22, "Natalie Wood: Death In Dark Water" ( Read Sam Kashner's 2000 Vanity Fair article on Woods's demise ( Watch S01.E18 of Unsolved Mysteries ( with your Amazon Prime subscription Follow coverage of the Fournier trial ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/02/181h 5m

Episode 50: 043: The Trade And Alcatraz Revisited

Showtime enters an already tragically crowded field with The Trade, a comprehensive look at the business of heroin from poppy to police intervention -- and Eve Batey returns to the podcast to talk about the show's bleak effectiveness. If you've watched any combination of Live PD, Intervention, and any number of recent HBO documentaries, The Trade won't tell you anything new, but it's still a thought-provoking and well-built story about families, frustration, and how far the toxic effects of substance abuse can spread. Later, with one of the escapees from Alcatraz back in the Bay-Area news, we discuss two takes on America's most famous prison break: one from Mythbusters, and one from Secrets Of The Dead. We also mull what makes the story -- and that of DB Cooper, not for nothing -- so appealing after so many years, whether we'll ever know what really happened, and the importance of pestering Tim's husband to make an Alcatraz Triathlon t-shirt. Inflate your podcast app and float on over to our latest episode of The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Behind the scenes of The Trade with producer Brent Kunkle ( The Anglin letter ( in the news Watch the Mythbusters segment ( Watch Secrets Of The Dead ( Twin Peaks Monorail shirts ( and more at Avenues Dry Goods Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/02/1852m 24s

Episode 49: 042: Two Waco Projects And Marjoe

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound is approaching, and with it comes a veritable barrage of material on Waco, David Koresh, and how it all went pear-shaped. Toby Ball and I selected two of the higher-profile, A&E's documentary event Waco: Madman Or Messiah and the just-born Paramount Network's big-splash mini-series starring Taylor Kitsch, Waco. Does either project make sense of the tragedy that took place in Texas in 1993? Do you need to watch both -- or either? And do projects devoted to the events need to pick a side? Toby suggested that we use our Cold Case time to look back at a Best Documentary winner from 1973: Marjoe, a peek behind the Pentecostal curtain with former child-prodigy preacher, (then-)current cheerful whistle-blower Marjoe Gortner. And you thought YOU were cynical about religious fund-raising... SHOW NOTES Watch Waco: Madman Or Messiah ( on A&E Watch Waco on Paramount ( Watch excerpts from Marjoe (full film available for rental/purchase on Amazon) ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
31/01/181h 8m

Episode 48: 041: Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery And 1980s: The Deadliest Decade

As we approach the tenth anniversary of Travis Alexander's murder, Jodi Arias is back on our teevees in ID's Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery. It isn't really a mystery, and neither is the pervasive misogyny and black-and-white narrative manipulation that turned a confused and off-putting young girl into a scheming black widow, but returning guest Kevin Smokler and I found it very watchable, in the workmanlike way of this series. Later, we go back almost thirty years to the murder of Rebecca Schaeffer, an already unimaginable crime that seems even more remote to us today, as it led to anti-stalking legislation and protections -- but The Deadliest Decade's take on Schaeffer is no more progressive than you'd expect. Why do TV newsmags have to underline the saintliness of the victims? What illusion of control might these nuance-free characterizations give to viewers? And can we stop misusing the term "Brat Pack"? All this plus some reading and pod recs in The Blotter Presents. SHOW NOTES Watch Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery ( AND this ep of Deadliest Decade ( on ID's website The Blotter's Arias coverage ( Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This podcast on Dead Blondes ( Kevin's book, Brat Pack America: A Love Letter To '80s Teen Movies ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/01/181h 23m

Episode 47: 040: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story And The Chad Boushell Interview

American Crime Story returns after a triumphant first season with an all-new mid-nineties crime, and Tara Ariano returns to discuss it, and whether, after 20 years, we should accept that sometimes there is no "why." We'll also be discussing whether Sarah's the only one who thinks Édgar Ramirez as Versace looks AND sounds like Enrico Colantoni; if it's appropriate to covet a character's clothing if that character is a spree killer; and the question of The Nose in Penelope Cruz's portrayal of Donatella. In our Cold Case section, Sarah sits down with Chad Boushell -- the unlucky Rob McKernan in the Bride Killa ep we looked at for Episode 39 ( -- to ask what's the hardest thing about playing the body, and the responsibility actors feel to real victims. SHOW NOTES - Chad Boushell on Twitter ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/01/1847m 30s

Episode 46: 039: Final Appeal And There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane

Oxygen starts 2018 with Final Appeal, which is basically MTV's Unlocking The Truth with different personnel and slower pacing. Did Patty Prewitt kill her husband? What's going on with the threatening phone calls? And was key evidence seriously just sitting in a sheriff's office storage locker for nearly 35 years? We had a lot of questions about the Prewitt case, but not nearly as many as we still have after we've each watched legendarily unsettling HBO doc There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane several times. What exactly prompted supermom and cable exec Diane Schuler to down 10 shots and drive the wrong way on a highway? How does her avenging sister-in-law get her hair to do that thing it does? And is the fact that we'll never know for sure what makes this case so compelling? Like Loni Coombs says up top, sometimes you don't get answers, but we're asking anyway in the latest The Blotter Presents.  SHOW NOTES Watch Final Appeal ( More background ( on the Prewitt case Watch There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane ( Steve Fishman's piece on the Schuler tragedy for New York ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
10/01/1845m 4s

Episode 45: 038: True Conviction And Bride Killa

Investigation Discovery kicked off 2018 with an afternoon of premieres, and returning guest/enduring spouse Dan Brady and I took a look at two of them. True Conviction has an interesting premise -- but doesn't stick to it closely enough, falling into some crime-tabloid structural cliches instead of focusing on prosecutors and their work, plus host Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi keeps, well, leading the witnesses in talking-head interviews. Dan thinks it's good enough to fall asleep to... ...but had no use for the tackily named Bride Killa, while I thought it had major problems (and some baked-in sexism about what women "should be like" in a marriage) but delightfully balls-out commitment from the re-enactors, and unusually vernacular shade from some of the experts. "Because she's a big ol' bitch" is not a great look in terms of explaining motive, but Lord knows the show doubled down on proving it. No need to spend YOUR whole haircut budget ('ll see) on the year's first TBP; it's free! SHOW NOTES - Watch True Conviction ( - Watch Bride Killa ( - The Blotter bingo card ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Episode 44: 037: The Best Of 2017 In TV True Crime

Looking to kill an afternoon with the fam -- or a whole holiday-hammock week with your crime-nut in-laws? Recs ahoy, as Sarah D. Bunting runs down her top tens for both movies and series that aired on TV in 2017. Strong showings as usual from Netflix (The Keepers; American Vandal) and HBO (Mommy Dead And Dearest), a comeback in progress for Investigation Discovery, the overlooked highlights from Showtime and Spike, and honorable-mention listener favorites, all in a special year-in-review podcast on the year's best and bingeworthiest. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/12/1731m 16s

Episode 43: 036: The Family I Had And Killer Kids

At this time of year, thoughts turn to family...unfortunately. Kevin Flynn of Crime Writers On... and Law & Order pod These Are Their Stories joins Sarah D. Bunting for a discussion of the spare, bleak, thought-provoking documentary The Family I Had, a stripped-down look at the family destroyed, then rebuilt, by and around Charity Bennett after her 13-year-old son murdered her 4-year-old daughter. True, there's no mystery here, no whodunnit, but the ellipses left by the filmmakers, and by the fundamental unknowability of human beings at times (even to themselves), makes this a very good sit. Not good, at all, but still entertaining: Killer Kids S01.E05, whose committed re-enactments and oddly affectless narration make the episode inadvertently hilarious -- and quite possibly offensive. Strange pronunciations, inappropriate adverbs, and the implication that nagging teenagers to do chores or observe curfew could lead to parental figures' untimely deaths had Sarah and Kevin scratching their heads. And giggling, because settle down, Strings Of Imminent Doom. SHOW NOTES Kevin Flynn's Amazon author page ( Watch Killer Kids ( The "Amaro-sode" that caused such resentment ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/12/1756m 16s

Episode 42: 035: Final Vision And Murder In A College Town

I'd hoped to have John Ramos join me to talk about Final Vision, with Scott Foley as Jeffrey MacDonald, since MacDonald is a fellow college alum and Felicity is a show we both are very fond of...but Time Warner Cable wasn't having it, so I took John's notes and forged ahead on my own. I didn't get any answers to questions like "Who is this movie for?" and "Why did they put that angry Brillo pad on the back of John Doman's head like a graduation mortar?", but that's the gig sometimes. I hope you'll investigate those mysteries with me on the forums. In keeping with the theme, I dug up a TV movie called Murder In A College Town -- or, sometimes, What Happened To Bobby Earl? -- and made John watch it solely because it contained, for a single scene, Scott Speedman. It also contained Rufus from Gossip Girl, acting so derpy it makes Teddy Dunn look like Olivier, terrible writing for Kate Jackson's character, and some of the most offensive beer-pouring we've ever seen onscreen. TILT THE CUP, KID, JEEZ. Should you bother with either of them? Or is the time-travel sequence on Felicity a better use of your time? I'll let you know in the latest episode of The Blotter Presents. Show Notes Watch Final Vision ( Watch Murder In A College Town ( Some background on Butch Pratt's death ( Leah Kwan talks the original Fatal Vision with Gary Cole in Episode 003 ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/12/1738m 57s

Episode 41: 034: Homicide For The Holidays And Guilty Rich

It's the mooooost murderous tiiiiime of the yeeeeear -- and if you think that's crass, wait until you hear Homicide For The Holidays's episode-naming conventions. Stephanie Cangro pulls up a (polished) chair to talk about HFTH's second-season premiere, "Thanks-Killing," and how soon we guessed whodunnit without Googling the murders of Earl and Terry Robertson in 1997. I was a little creeped out that two suspects shared the names of my uncles... ...who went to school with our Cold Case section's subject, John du Pont. Remembered by my dad as an odd duck, du Pont has had a lot of celluloid devoted to him in the years since his death, but we took another run at the topic with S01.E03 of Guilty Rich. Why is du Pont still such a compelling topic? Does Guilty Rich's narrative take too much pity on him? And why didn't his overbearing mother teach him how to smile uncreepily? I'm not sure we answer those questions...but we do have DVR recommendations for both shows, so take a break from that pre-holiday yard work and listen to an all-new The Blotter Presents. Show Notes Watch Homicide For The Holidays ( Watch Guilty Rich ( Andrew Dys snarks on Jimmy Robertson ( Chris Huff compares du Pont docs ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
06/12/1749m 50s

Episode 40: 033: Village Of The Damned And JFK: The Smoking Gun

Dan Brady's back for a look at yet another Investigation Discovery joint, Village Of The Damned, a limited series on the strange and deadly cluster of tragedies that struck Dryden, NY over the course of a decade. We discuss the re-enacting, the evocative soundtrack, and whether the stories of the Harris family, the disappearance of Aliza Bush, and others might be better suited to a podcast than to TV. Have a listen to find out whether we'll keep watching past the first couple of episodes. Later, we address one of the crime stories that bonded us as a couple: the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and specifically an obscure theory involving the Secret Service first posited by ballistics expert Howard Donahue. The late Donahue co-wrote a book with Bonar Menninger about what HE thought happened that day in Dealey Plaza...and then an Australian cop got involved with adapting it for TV for some reason? And then a bunch of Australian day players murdered Texas accents and got away with it? Anyway, we first saw JFK: The Smoking Gun  around the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death, and we bought into Donahue's evidence 100 percent. (Menninger's teary talking-head interview, not so much.) So sit back (and to the left, heh) and have a listen to the latest The Blotter Presents -- and don't forget to share your favorite conspiracy theories (and crappy re-enactments) on our forums. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
29/11/1755m 16s

Episode 39: 032: Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders And Mugshots

We're talking about another Joe Berlinger project, and we're talking with Mark Blankenship again about it: Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, an investigation of the murders that made, and perhaps broke, our first non-fiction novelist, and rippled through a family and a town. Later, we discuss a Mugshots episode on Robert Blake, who starred in In Cold Blood. Did he kill his wife, con artist Bonny Bakley? What is going on with his erstwhile roomie John Solari? And why have we never heard of the show before? Many questions, a couple of answers in the latest The Blotter Presents. Show Notes Watch Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders ( on Sundance Watch Mugshots ( on YouTube Mark And Sarah Talk About Songs ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
22/11/1750m 2s

Episode 38: 031: The Hunt For The Zodiac Killer And American Horror Story: Cult

Eve Batey returns for yet another look at the Zodiac case, this one from History Channel -- is the much-ballyhooed new evidence and groundbreaking technology worth tuning in for? Or will the lack of context for certain "discoveries" frustrate viewers with any knowledge of the case? (And...all the other viewers?) Later, we discuss AHS's season-long remix of notorious cults and criminals, including a radical-feminist theory on the Zodiac, and make predictions -- which will be proven wrong by the time you listen! at us, please! -- on what other legendary leaders the finale has in store. Don't just sit there, go find Shelly Miscavige...but while you're in the car, have a listen to the latest The Blotter Presents. Show Notes Our previous Zodiac-isode ( with Eve Eve and Sarah on Jim Jones ( Eve and Tim on The Deuce ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
15/11/1754m 44s

Episode 37: SJ: And Did You Ask God For Forgiveness?

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15/11/1731m 24s

Episode 36: 030: The Lost Wife Of Robert Durst And Crime Musicals

Is The Lost Wife Of Robert Durst -- or, as Sarah D. Bunting billed it to her guests, Smash meets The Jinx -- worth the two hours? Panel of Smash experts Tara Ariano, Adam Grosswirth, and Kevin O'Keeffe weigh in on the case narrative, bad wigs, worse accents, and who this movie is for. Later, the group pitted famous cases against each other in King Of "Notorious Crime: The Musical" Mountain. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/11/1739m 26s

Episode 35: SJ: I've Run Off And Joined The Media Circus

As the jury struggles to agree on a verdict against Lyle and Erik, Leslie and Jill struggle to balance work and family, and Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting struggle to understand why the emergence of the OJ Simpson case is handled so badly in the penultimate episode of the season. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
08/11/1732m 6s

Episode 34: 029: On The Case With Paula Zahn and The Ryan Ferguson Case

On The Case With Paula Zahn returns for its 16th (!) season, and Dan Patrick Brady returns to the podcast for a reminiscence of...well, how we used to use the show as a sleep aid. Assessing the show's coverage of the 1989 Roundy/Gray case in Idaho Falls, we complain about inaccurate auto re-enactments; marvel at the piddling insurance payouts that murderers are motivated by; and theorize that Paula Zahn has never been in the same room as her interview subjects. (We are NOT crackpots.) Later, we talk about 48 HRS's take on the Ryan Ferguson case, and whether, in light of many recent documentaries on false confessions and vacated convictions, it's more relevant than ever. And could someone figure out who DID kill Kent Heitholt, maybe? All this and stupid spouse tricks on the latest The Blotter Presents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/11/1742m 4s

Episode 33: SJ: No One's Gonna Protect Us

Episode 6 of The Menendez Murders sees the Menendez brothers getting very real about the abuse they (allegedly?) suffered, as well as knock-knock jokes, Oziel talking back to the TV the same as we do, and terrible blocking and flashback wigs. The show's clearly picked a side vis-a-vis Lyle and Erik's justification for killing their parents, but do Tara and Sarah pick a side vis-a-vis whether that works narratively? It's all in the latest The Blotter Presents: Summary Judgment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
01/11/1728m 58s

SJ: One Liar At A Time

Episode 5 of The Menendez Murders centers the action on the courtroom -- but with two juries, a dozen pointedly pastel sweaters on the defendants, and myriad clanky lines of dialogue, Sarah and Tara find the writing guilty of amateurish checklisting. On the plus side, there's a top-notch portrayal of post-Princeton snottiness, Dominick Dunne shade given and received, and Dr. Oziel's foray into the poetic arts, and we're discussing all of it in the latest TBP: Summary Judgment. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
25/10/1727m 42s

028: Mindhunter And The Eleven

Netflix's new series, Mindhunter, gets off to a slow start as it chronicles the evolution of a profiling program we have come to take for granted in true-crime narratives, but Anna Beth and I are going to stick with it, despite some over-explaining and an annoying girlfriend for the protagonist. The Eleven we're not so sure about, as the melodramatic VO seems to have crowded out some essential exposition in the first episode of A&E's latest limited series on a notorious case -- and Ed Bell's crazy might not make as good TV as Ed Kemper's.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/10/1736m 55s

SJ: The Sickest Secrets Come Out On Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders

José and Kitty's survivors are left reeling when Lyle and Erik confess that they actually did kill their parents...and also why. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
18/10/1723m 42s

027: Criminal Confessions And Showrunner 'Would You Rather'

In the excitement about The Menendez Murders, you may have missed that Dick Wolf snuck ANOTHER show onto the schedule: Oxygen's Criminal Confessions, a process-y look at law enforcement's efforts to get suspects to admit their guilt. Uproxx's Alan Sepinwall took a break from new-book promotion to discuss what the show does right, how long it can sustain our interest, and how it stacks up against stylized scripted confession scenes like Homicide: LOTS's. Later, we played Would You Rather with famous true-crime cases like the Black Dahlia and Bernardo/Homolka, picking which showrunner should take a crack at them: Ryan Murphy, or Dick Wolf. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/10/1735m 38s

SJ: Some Kind Of A Reality TV Show

As Erik finally lets his legal team know what ELSE might be on those tapes of Jerry Oziel's, Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting go over the Star Witnesses (Judalon's boobs; Leslie's hiring of so many women) and Aggravating Factors (Diane Faux-yer; the jacket Julianne Nicholson borrowed from David Silver) in E03 of The Menendez Murders. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
11/10/1727m 0s

026: The Disappearance Of Maura Murray And 'The Psychiatrist And The Selfie'

Maura Murray's disappearance has preoccupied the internet for years -- and some of the nutballs theories about it have preoccupied Sarah D. Bunting and Stephanie Green for almost as long. Does Oxygen's The Disappearance Of Maura Murray add anything to the case file, or only to our annoyance? Later, our Cold Case section delves into Jake Nolan's attempted murder of his cousin/shrink/possible lover's ex-BF, and whether true-crime shows should be less dated in how they talk about mental illness. Show Notes Stephanie Green on Missing Maura Murray ( Sarah D. Bunting on previous Maura Murray TV properties ( Michelle Dean's review ( of James Renner's book Renner sues ( his former employers The Times on Nolan's conviction ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/10/171h 8m

SJ: Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders E02

Welcome to The Blotter Presents: Summary Judgment -- a shorter pod devoted to continuing coverage of a single series we're finding noteworthy. This inaugural episode and the half dozen following will be putting Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders under a microscope -- and in this ep, Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting look at the Star Witnesses (what worked) and Aggravating Factors (what didn't) in the latest ep of the Menendez series. Please admit Wig Cop's evidence, and make YOUR case on our forums. Show Notes Our full-length pod ( on the show from last week Alan Sepinwall's review ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
04/10/1720m 22s

025: Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders And The Russell Williams Case

The long-awaited Dick Wolf take on the verrrrry well-trodden ground of the Menendez case has finally arrived, and Tara Ariano is in for the entire series. What does this property do well that others don't? What is it about this case that producers and actors seem to love? And why is Lyle's wig the best one on the screen? Later, the Cold Case section looks at murderer and serial rapist Russell Williams, and how he escaped suspicion for so long (while looking so similar to an American character actor). Show Notes - The Fifth Estate, "Russell Williams - Above Suspicion" ( - Williams's confession ( - The Blotter Presents on Courtney Love as Kitty ( - The Blotter, Famous Original Flavor on dueling Menendez TV movies ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
27/09/1747m 19s

024: Strong Island And Two Takes On Sam Cooke

Yance Ford's Strong Island is a, well, actually it's a flinching look at the injustice of grief and loss, and guest Mark Blankenship is here to take us through its elements of Greek tragedy as Ford memorializes his murdered brother. Then we contemplate the life and death of Sam Cooke in two very different shows, American Masters and Mysteries & Scandals. Show Notes The New Yorker's review of Strong Island ( Muhammad Ali's rendition of "The Gang's All Here" ( Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
20/09/171h 4m

Episode 23: 023: The Confession Tapes And Unraveled

First-time guest Anna Beth Chao joined Sarah D. Bunting in a horrified binge-watch of The Confession Tapes, a new series on old cases that convicted "killers" based on false confessions. How does this keep happening? Why do juries keep believing them? And when we will learn from the West Memphis Three? Later, Unraveled introduces us to better-than-normal re-enactments (and can afford to pay Jim Clemente for talking-head interviews) as we look at the Gary Plauche case out of Baton Rouge. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
13/09/1745m 45s

Episode 22: 022: Biggie: The Life Of Notorious B.I.G. And Gesualdo: Death For Five Voices

A&E debuts its life of Biggie Smalls at last, and my Mark And Sarah Talk About Songs co-host, Mark Blankenship, has a few thoughts on Jay-Z, versification, and whether it matters that the film spends only a few minutes on Christopher Wallace's murder. Then we take a detour into the Werner-Herzog weird with a German-TV docu on Italian madrigal composer and melodramatic murderer Carlo Gesualdo. Please watch Death For Five Voices and discuss it with us in the forums, because we feel like we're having all the strokes when a ghostly re-enactor whips out a boombox. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
30/08/1743m 4s

Episode 21: 021: The Disappearance Of Natalee Holloway And The Charlie Brandt Case

Oxygen premiered The Disappearance Of Natalee Holloway over the weekend, and Al Lowe Huff is back to talk about the case, new twists on old evidence, whether the miniseries' weird undercover set-up is going to yield new clues, and how mad we'll be if it ends up in a(nother) big nothing. Al also brought a 48 Hours on Charlie Brandt to our Cold Case section -- and we're thinking maybe the show should have expanded its proven template to dig into issues of child psychology and familial liability. We're also making fun of Florida a bunch in an all-new The Blotter Presents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
23/08/1756m 30s

Episode 20: 020: The Murder Of Laci Peterson And The Stacey Castor Case

As the 15th anniversary of Laci Peterson's disappearance approaches, A&E interrogates the case against her widower Scott with The Murder of Laci Peterson -- and Kim Reed returns to interrogate the rationalizations of Scott's defenders (and make fun of Nancy Grace). Kim's also got another crime tale with a personal connection as we dig into a Forensic Files about a Southern Tier black widow. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/08/1748m 50s

Episode 19: 019: The Zodiac(s)

Good news: neither Eve's nor my dad is the Zodiac! Bad news: True Crime With Aphrodite Jones isn't as skeptical as it could be about claims like that. Later, we look at some local-news takes on the Zodiac case, and the great Forensic Files runs into some story-structure problems in its episode about the east-coast version, Eddie Seda. Dumb profiling, junk science, and the two pairs of glasses everyone wore in the '60s, all in the latest The Blotter Presents! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/08/1744m 56s

Episode 18: 018: Son Of Sam

Chipperish Media/How Story Works chief Lani Diane Rich sat down with me to see which Son Of Sam stories worked -- Investigation Discovery's, Smithsonian's, or the 1985 CBS version starring Martin Sheen -- and the one that's so bad it's good may surprise you. Why do David Berkowitz's crimes still preoccupy us? What's with every single Sam-doc producer having to put several minutes of public-domain disco on the soundtrack? And who decided Eriq LaSalle should only have one line? We'll try to answer all these questions in our latest episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
02/08/171h 4m

Episode 17: 017: Gone: The Forgotten Women Of Ohio And The System

Monty Ashley joins me this week to take a look at TV's second run at the murders in Chillicothe, Ohio. Paradise Lost's Joe Berlinger comes in with a hot serial-killer theory, then shifts gears -- but not before giving airtime to a grieving aunt's crackpot theory (and wasting some on chopper shots of a cemetery). Will we keep watching? And how does Berlinger's 2014 series on breakdowns in American criminal justice, The System, stack up? All this, plus the supernatural hypothesis Monty hopes Gone ends up with, on an all-new episode! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
26/07/1753m 44s

Episode 16: 016: The Jury Speaks And Live PD

Oxygen's four-night "event," The Jury Speaks, debuts this coming weekend, and my husband Dan is "back" to talk about what we learned about Michael Jackson, George Zimmerman, Aphrodite Jones, and the rules of evidence. Later, we look at A&E's Live PD and whether it protects and serves its portrayal of law enforcement. Were our objections overruled? Have a listen and find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
19/07/1747m 2s

Episode 15: 015: H.H. Holmes

Noir novelist and Radio Free Dystopia co-host Toby Ball is back -- and may never come on the pod again after Sarah D. Bunting subjected him to American Ripper and H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer. Is Holmes just too tough a subject for documentaries to cover effectively? Did the creators miss opportunities to explore new angles on The Devil In The White City's already well-told tale? And why must Ripperologist crackpots insist that famous people are also "Saucy Jacky"? All this and much laughing at wretched re-enactments on the latest TBP. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Special Guest: Toby Ball.
12/07/1742m 17s

Episode 14: 014: Aileen Wuornos

Deadly Women devoted a "Predators" segment to Aileen Wuornos; Chris Huff and I devoted a Cold Case segment to lamenting the "Go Toros!" acting from the day players, before moving on to Overkill: The Aileen Wuornos Story, which stars Jean Smart and Park Overall in a weirdly elliptical but also very empathetic treatment of Wuornos's life in crime. Boston marriages, honeysuckle accents, gender politics, and Oscar politics, all in Ep 14. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
28/06/1751m 26s

Episode 13: 013: Jonestown

American Experience's "Jonestown: the Life And Death Of Peoples Temple" and 1980's Guyana Tragedy: The Story Of Jim Jones make up our all-Cold-Case episode this week, as Eve Batey comes back to talk about the Peoples Temple's lasting effect on San Francisco, and California; what Jim Jones's particular breed of amoral manipulation and surreal paranoia can tell us about today's headlines; and who we'd have cast as the late Congressman Leo Ryan instead of Ned Beatty. Which property is more effective at conveying why everything went so horribly wrong for "Dad"'s flock? And...seriously: What is the story with the monkeys?? All this and the woman who once played Christina Crawford on an all-new The Blotter Presents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
21/06/171h 5m

Episode 12: 012: Menendez: Blood Brothers And John List On American Justice

Alex Collins joins Sarah D. Bunting for a riot grrrrl, Bill Kurtis, and two VERY unhappy families.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
14/06/1739m 2s

Episode 11: 011: Bill Cosby: An American Scandal And The Dr. Robert Neulander Case

Charter member of the Virtual True Crime Book Club Kim Reed reunites to talk about The National Enquirer Investigates's take on the Bill Cosby allegations as they go to trial this week. What is his wife's role in all this? Has he gotten a fair trial in the court of public opinion -- and is that because of his race? And would you be better off listening to WHYY's pod on the story instead? Later, we dig into Dateline and 48 HRS's differing takes on Syracuse OB/GYN Robert Neulander, whether he killed his wife Leslie, and some notes Kim has for him on his bedside manner. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/06/171h 2m

Episode 10: 010: The Keepers And Love & Hate: The Story Of Colin And JoAnn Thatcher

My non-carnal life partner Tara Ariano comes on TBP for a look at Netflix's The Keepers. Does it work as a true-crime tale? Does it need to? And will we ever learn who killed Sister Cathy? Later, we make a markedly less depressing return to Tara's childhood with Love & Hate, a Canadian miniseries about the stalking and murder of JoAnn Thatcher by her scumbag ex-husband Colin. Take a break from your "urban existence" and give the latest The Blotter Presents a listen! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/05/1745m 24s

Episode 9: 009: Mommy Dead And Dearest And The Snowtown Murders

My esteemed colleague Stephanie Green is back for Erin Lee Carr's Mommy Dead And Dearest, which investigates Gypsy Lee Blanchard's murder of her con-artist mother, Dee Dee, and whether it was justified. Should Gypsy's father have done more? Is Gypsy's cousin the real star of the doc? And what's going to become of Gypsy when she's paroled? Our Cold Case is an Australian crime show's look at John Bunting (no relation), his horrible crimes, and the perils of casting a guy who looks like Jack Black in your re-enactments. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
17/05/1737m 51s

Episode 8: 008: Casting JonBenét And Unsolved Mysteries

Kevin Smokler and Sarah D. Bunting talk about a not-so-hot take on Boulder's most notorious cold case, plus the granddaddy of TV true crime.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Special Guest: Kevin Smokler.
10/05/1746m 19s

Episode 7: 007: Inside The FBI: New York And Campus PD

Is Dick Wolf's new USA joint, INSIDE THE FBI, worth a look? Sarah's husband Dan Brady rates it on a scale of one to Great British Baking Show, and may change her mind in the process. Plus, a discush of our favorite lighthearted crime show, CAMPUS PD, takes a serious turn as we wonder how our take on its bratty millennials has changed in a post-Ferguson world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
05/05/1731m 8s

Episode 6: 006: Burn Motherf*cker Burn And LA 92

A lot of networks have special-event programming commemorating the 25th "anniversary" of the post-Rodney-King-verdict uprising; Sarah D. Bunting guessed Showtime's and NatGeo's entries looked good. And she guessed right; Burn Motherf*cker, Burn and LA 92 complement each other and dig deep into the history of racial conflict in the City of Angels -- but don't feel like homework. Documentarian and recent-ish Angeleno John Ramos discussed music cues, cringey contemporary interviews, and Danny Bakewell Sr.'s way with words (and rings). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/04/1743m 0s

Episode 5: 005: Casey Anthony: An American Murder Mystery

Investigation Discovery's three-night Casey Anthony event is our lead topic this week as Crime Writers On's Toby Ball and I consider misleading quotes, goofy re-enactments, and the court of public opinion. We also talked about the first chapter of the Paradise Lost documentaries, how the film's aged, and what makes an outsider. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit Special Guest: Toby Ball.
14/04/1748m 24s

Episode 4: 004: Disgraced

Showtime Sports's Disgraced looks at the murder of Patrick Dennehy and how Baylor hoops coach Dave Bliss made it all about him. I'm joined by Allison Lowe Huff to talk about the labyrinth of secondary crimes one student-athlete's murder laid bare. Our Cold Case this week is a 48 Hours from early in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, what we've learned since then, and what coverage of the case maybe should have focused on instead. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
07/04/1746m 14s

Episode 3: 003: Who Killed Jane Doe and Fatal Vision

Who Killed Jane Doe joined Investigation Discovery's roster last month, and while it's better than you'd expect, it's still not quite good...Leah Kwan joined me to discuss re-enactments, shows that should be podcasts, and Karl Malden's Emmy-winning performance as Freddy Kassab in hall-of-fame crime mini Fatal Vision.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
24/03/1730m 47s

Episode 2: 002: Kalief Browder, Diane Whipple, And 'Local' Crimes

As Spike joins the list of networks looking to make their marks with high-end true-crime series, Sarah D. Bunting and Eve Batey talk about Time: The Kalief Browder Story, the value of name producers, and cases cities remember as "theirs." Our Cold Case segment this week lets slip the dogs of...a polyamorous relationship with a jailhouse Aryan? American Justice is vague on the deets but Eve has some reading to recommend, plus some drive-by snark on 60 Days In -- all in a brand-new TBP.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
16/03/1739m 0s

Episode 1: 001: Cold Case Files And OJ Simpson Films

Our new podcast revisits an old favorite rebooted in our first episode: Cold Case Files, which has not exactly improved on the original by adding Danny Glover and a bunch of out-of-focus re-enactments. Plus, we celebrate OJ: Made IN America's Oscar win by revisiting it -- and, if you just don't have time to watch "the Shoah of OJ content," a shorter alternative from 30 For 30. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
09/03/1729m 19s
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