In 2021, it would be a stretch to consider true crime a niche interest. The genre has exploded in popularity over the past few years and while getting lost in a TV series can be fun, nothing beats unpicking a case episode by episode with an in-depth true crime podcast.
True crime podcasts really began to gain momentum around the release of Serial in 2013. Serial was a 12-episode audio series about the murder of Hae Min Lee hosted by Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life. Koenig quickly became a household name as more than 5 million people downloading Serial on iTunes alone.
With research showing that women are statistically more likely to be fans of true crime, it’s no wonder that a true crime podcast hosted by a woman was such a hit. Thanks to Koenig and others like (Phoebe Judge, Esther Ludlow, and other early adopters of the genre), true crime podcasts hosted by women have become increasingly common in the past decade and now there are more options than ever to choose from.
So the question is, where do you start? Well, if you’re keen to listen to a true crime podcast with a smart, engaging, and witty women at its helm then look no further. I have gathered together the best true crime podcasts hosted by women. Keep reading to find out more.
Criminal by Phoebe Judge
Writing about Criminal, The New York Times says: “No matter how strange or ghastly the crime, the voice of the host Phoebe Judge somehow remains implacable and oddly soothing.”
I couldn’t agree more. Judge, who releases her award-winning podcast twice a month, covers a vast array of topics in Criminal. As well as exploring interesting cases, she takes us behind the scenes to learn about the witness protection programme, for example, or the life story of a well-known police chief.
Lifting the lid on the stories you don’t usually hear, Criminal will have you obsessed from the get-go.
Root of Evil by Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile
The murder of Elizabeth Short in 1947 remains one of America’s most infamous unsolved murders. Many believe surgeon George Hodel was the killer thanks to an investigation by his own son. Now sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile – the great grand daughters of Hodel – have opened the case once again in Root of Evil and done a deep dive into their family history to try to figure out what really happened.
Female Criminals by Vanessa Richardson and Sami Nye
In this weekly podcast, Vanessa Richardson and Sami Nye look into some of the most prolific true crime cases where women have been the perpetrators, not the victims. They look into the chilling motives and deadly consequences of female criminals and try to uncover what really makes them tick.
Drunk Women Solving Crime
If you think you and your pals could solve some of the most perplexing cases of recent times then Drunk Women Solving Crime is for you. In this podcast series Hannah George, Catie Wilkins, and Taylor Glenn are joined by true crime fanatics to unpick mysterious cases and get a little bit spooked over a glass of wine. The likes of Susie Dent, Grace Campbell, Grace Petrie, and Kirsten Bell have joined the Drunk Women Solving Crime podcast to offer their analyses.
The Dropout by Rebecca Jarvis
The story of Elizabeth Holmes, the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, and her company, Theranos, will leave you reeling.
Holmes was dubbed the next Steve Jobs before she lost everything and found herself facing criminal charges. What followed was a very peculiar set of events.
In The Dropout, ABC News Chief Business, Technology, and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis walks listeners through what ended up being a three-year investigation with more twists and turns than a crime novel.
Disappearances with Sarah Turney
Sarah Turney has a closer relationship to true crime than most podcast hosts, as her sister disappeared two decades ago. In Disappearances, she explores some of the most high-profile missing person cases and how they were resolved. From looking at the experiences her own family went through to speaking about the likes of Etan Patz, Phoenix Coldon, and Walter Collins, she illustrates how complex and heartbreaking the process of finding a missing person can be. She also explains the context around each of the crimes and some of the social movements they kickstarted.
Once Upon a Crime by Esther Ludlow
Just learning about crimes can be tantalising enough but Esther Ludlow goes one step further in her podcast Once Upon a Crime. Along with looking at who was involved with the crime, Ludlow asks why it happened in the first place. With a background in psychology, Ludlow uses her expertise to develop theories about motives and the driving forces behind gruesome crimes. These are stories told chapter by chapter, with Ludlow unpacking a crime and its motive every episode.
Accused by Amber Hunt
When Elizabeth Andes was found dead in her apartment in Ohio, the police decided the case was cut-and-dry. However, two juries begged to differ. In Accused, Amber Hunt will walk you through the investigation into Andes’ death and the trial that eventually led to a conviction. But was it of the right person? That’s for you to decide.
Crime Junkie by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat
Crime Junkie is for true crime obsessives. If you’re a stickler for details and love nothing more than getting to the bottom of a really complicated story, then this podcast is for you.
Hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, Crime Junkie explores different types of crime from murder and kidnapping to conspiracy. This isn’t for the fainthearted and the stories included in Crime Junkie are truly gruesome but they’ll have you hooked from episode one.
Handcuffed Podcast by Rena Tunechii
From serial killers and crimes of passion to drug rings and kidnapping, this podcast from Rena Tunechii doesn’t shy away from cases that have shaken the UK. Every two weeks, Tunechii explores new crimes, motives, and consequences. Alongside digging deep into historical cases that have made the genre she loves so popular, Tunechii has done episodes that explore how crimes are changing the law today. She’s explored what the rough sex defence is and how it’s been used. She’s also produced episodes on Black Lives Matter and teamed up with other true-crime podcast creators like Crime Noir.
Crime Noir by Candice
In Crime Noir, host Candice looks at cases involving missing or murdered people from Black communities and asks why these stories aren’t given more attention in mainstream media. Recent episodes have looked into the story of Amir Jennings, Shaniya Davis, and Gregory Johnson, and Candice also dug into historic topics for Black History Month, looking at the story of Fred Hampton and the history of lynching in the United States.
In The Dark by Madeleine Baran
If you really want to deep-dive into a case, then In the Dark is ideal. Taking on a different crime each series, host Madeleine Baran really lets you sink your teeth into the details of the investigation. Series one saw In the Dark explored the abduction of Jacob Wetterling. In series two, Baran has taken on the case of Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the same crime and still maintains his innocence.
My Favorite Murder by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
If you’re new to the true crime genre and want to give one of the most popular podcasts a try then My Favorite Murder by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark is definitely the one to go for.
Comedian Kilgariff and Hardstark have built a huge fan following (aka the Murderinos), and it’s easy to see why. Each episode they introduce listeners to a different crime and by the end you won’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Scam Goddess by Laci Mosley
In each episode of Scam Goddess, Mosley is joined by other true crime fanatics to give listeners the inside scoop into how scams are conceived, how they work, and why people fall for them. Over the past year, she’s taken a look at Britney Spears’ Conservatorship, a Dallas bank robber who evaded the police by dressing as a cowboy, and a doctor at the centre of one of the most notorious healthcare insurance fraud schemes in history. If you’ve always wondered how fraudsters manage to get away with their master plans then Mosley will walk you through some stories that sound almost too wild to be true.