To say true crime stories have been a hit lately would be a huge understatement. With podcasts like Serial pulling in listeners, and Netflix shows like Making a Murderer and The Ted Bundy Tapes racking up impressive viewing figures, it’s clear that we have an insatiable appetite for all things grim. With this in mind, we decided to share our five favourite true crime podcasts that are so gripping, they will likely keep you wide awake at night. We must warn you though, this article contains some very graphic descriptions.
1. Dirty John
This harrowing podcast delves into the whirlwind romance between successful businesswoman Debra Newell and conman John Meehan – a.k.a. Dirty John. Within two months of dating, John manages to convince Debra to rent a beachfront home for them to live in together, a decision which is soon followed by an impulsive wedding in Las Vegas. Displeased by their fast-tracked relationship, Debra’s daughters investigate their mother’s new beau and prove that he’s a con man. As Deborah gets drawn deeper into John’s web of lies and deceit, things start to get ugly for the entire family. Gripping stuff.
2. Happy Face
Melissa Moore is a writer, Emmy-nominated crime correspondent for the Dr. Oz Show, and executive producer and host of LMN’s Monster In My Family. She also happens to be the daughter of the famous “Happy Face” serial killer, Keith Hunter Jeperson. This 12-part podcast investigates her father’s brutal crimes, but also wades through the emotional trauma and fears she struggled with due to the horrific legacy her father left behind.
3. Dr. Death
Wondry – the same network responsible for hit podcast and Netflix series Dirty John – returns with another story of a charismatic man who isn’t who he claims to be. Recounting the tales of surgeon Christopher Duntsch’s horrifyingly sinister practices, Dr. Death is at times almost too difficult to listen to. Over the span of two years, the sadistic doctor operated on 38 patients – leaving 33 paralysed or permanently in pain, and two dead. He sewed up one man’s throat with a bloody sponge inside, surgically detached his own friend’s spinal column from the base of his skull, and amputated another patient’s spinal nerve root and left screws driven into her muscle tissue. The podcast goes into the lawsuits that were filed against the doctor, exploring how he practised for so long despite his history of botched surgeries.
4. Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo
Many existing crime podcasts focus on white, female, middle or upper class victims, forgetting a vast population of victims of colour. CBC’s investigative podcast, Finding Cleo, however, departs from that norm with the story of a young indigenous girl who was part of the Cree Tribe and disappeared from her Saskatchewan First Nations community in a Canadian government programme, and is thought to have been raped and murdered while hitchhiking back home. CBC’s award-winning investigative reporter, Connie Walker – who is also Cree herself – joins the search to find out what really happened to Cleo, and brings light to the issue of indigenous children being taken by child welfare services.
5. Uncover: Escaping NXIVM
NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium”) calls itself a humanitarian community, but you probably know it as a sex cult after hearing news that a former member of the group, Smallville actress Allison Mack, was arrested on sex trafficking charges. The investigative podcast series, Uncover: Escaping NXIVM, takes a look inside the controversial group, its leader, and former high-level member Sarah Edmondson’s journey to escape it. Through the inside perspective of Edmondson’s childhood friend and producer Joshua Bloc, the podcast asks questions we all want to know about people who get involved in cults, including how do they get sucked in in the first place, and why don’t they leave sooner.
Read More! If podcasts aren’t your thing, check out The Best True Crime Shows and Documentaries on Netflix Hong Kong.
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Born and raised in Hong Kong to expat parents, Sarah grew up as your typical third-culture kid, caught between two worlds. As someone who is nosy (or just curious) and loves the written word, there was never any other career that appealed to her as much as journalism. When she’s not busy on her mission to find the line between not enough coffee and too much coffee, you can find her exploring the city or getting stuck in a good book.