The true crime podcasts that will have you hooked

Rebekah Scanlan
Senior Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer


There’s something weirdly captivating about a true crime podcast. It seems we just can’t get enough of the twist and turns of a real life case.

Just look at The Teacher’s Pet, an investigation into the story of missing mum Lyn Dawson from Sydney’s northern beaches who vanished in 1982, that currently has Australia hooked.

Every Thursday listeners from around the world are tuning in for the next instalment from journalist Hedley Thomas, desperate to know what happens next. 

The case of Lyn Dawson in podcast The Teacher’s Pet currently has Australia gripped. Source: The Australian

But while some are complete trailblazers in the field — most notably Serial, the podcast that created this addictive genre of listening — others can be disappointing duds.

Here’s our definitive list of unmissable true crime podcasts that you need to download now:

In The Dark

This podcast reopens the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old who went missing while out riding his bike in his small hometown in rural Minnesota in 1989.

The crime went unsolved for 27 years, and sparked a huge ‘stranger danger’ fear into the hearts and minds of parents around the world.

The case about Jacob Wetterling, seen here before his disappearance in 1989, was cold for 27 years until In The Dark looked into it. Source: National Center For Missing And Exploited Children

But huge progressions in the case are made during the 9 episodes, making it an addictive listen.

It proved so popular, its creators American Public Media made a second season.

The new one delves into the case of Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the murder of four people in a furniture store in 1996. 

The Teacher’s Pet

We love this because not only is it gripping, it’s also from Australia and if you’re from Sydney you’ll know a lot of the places mentioned — making it all the more eerie.

As mentioned briefly above, the narrative follows the unsolved disappearance of mum-of-two Lyn Dawson, who went missing in 1982.

Lyn’s husband Chris has been long suspected of being involved in his wife’s death following her disappearance — in 2001 and again in 2003, separate coroners found Lyn was murdered by a “known person” — but he has never been charged. Source: The Australian

While no one has ever been formally charged with the 33-year-old’s suspected murder, the investigative podcast looks at her husband, Chris Dawson, who moved his 16-year-old girlfriend into the family home just two days later. 

Intrigued? You don’t even know the half of it.

Someone Knows Something

There are several seasons of SKS, produced by award-winning Canadian filmmaker and writer David Ridgen. 

While the first series, about the case of five-year-old Adrien McNaughton who disappeared in 1972 during a fishing trip, put them on the radar of true crime fans, some of the later seasons are equally as captivating.

Five-year-old Adrien McNaughton disappeared in 1972. SKS actually finds fresh clues in the case making it totally gripping. Source: CBC

What makes Someone Knows Something stand out from other shows is the fact David actually gets out there and physically follows leads, even using cadaver dogs to try and locate remains.

It’s absolutely fascinating.

Phoebe’s Fall

This is another cracking Aussie production that looks into the mysterious death of a woman named Phoebe Handsjuk in 2010.

The 24-year-old died in horrific circumstances after plunging 40 metres, feet first, down the garbage chute of her Melbourne apartment block, where she lived on the 12th floor with her boyfriend Antony Hampel. 

Incredibly, she survived the fall.

Phoebe died in a horrific way in 2010, after falling feet first down a garbage shoot. But was her death as innocent as it first seemed? Source: www.phoebehandsjuk.com

But after hitting the garbage compactor at the bottom, her right foot was practically severed and she bled out in the dark, completely alone.

Despite the coroner ruling she had climbed in herself and recording her death was a misadventure, this podcast looks into the many questions raised.

With insights such as the fact there were no fingerprints at the top of the chute, and no CCTV footage, you may find yourself with doubts — just like her family — that it was even physically possible.

Yup. You’ll be hooked!

Dirty John

This story looks at the complex relationship between savvy interior designer Debra Newell and a man named John Meehan whom she met on an online dating site.

While Debra is smitten with Meehan, his family are dubious about the ‘perfect’ man she’s introduced them to.

John Meehan and Debra Newell had a complicated relationship, something Dirty John explores in detail. Source: LA Times

Soon her whole family becomes entangled in a complicated web of deceit, which culminates in a nail-biting episode that’ll leave you gasping.

Serial

No definitive list of the best true crime podcasts would be complete without Serial.

If you’re one of the lucky few who have yet to enjoy the ride, it’s based on an already ‘closed’ case  — that of Adnan Syed who was convicted of the murder of his 18-year-old ex girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Journalist Sarah Koenig re-examines the 1999 case, questioning the leads detectives followed to hone in on Syed before charging him with the murder.

Hae Min Lee (L) disappeared aged 18. Weeks later her body is found and her ex boyfriend Adnan Syed (R) is charged and convicted of her murder. But did police get the right guy? Serial investigates. Source: ThisAmericanLife

It’s a slick piece of storytelling that has you feeling every emotion Sarah feels, from days when she’s convinced Syed was set up by police, to the days when she’s convinced he really did do it.

Recently, the multi-award winning investigation led to the case being granted a re-trial.

For that alone, it’s well worth tuning in.


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