Top 5 True Crime Podcasts

The life of a UCT student behind the scenes involves copious amounts of crying and late nights studying. When your every waking moment is taken up by work, there is little room left to relax. Your morning and evening commute is one of the few occasions when you can just sit and do nothing.  It is the perfect occasion to listen to some true crime podcasts to escape your stress. These barbaric and bizarre stories, are the perfect escape to your stresses. Sit back and let the chills run down your spine. This list is in order of my favourites with the fifth being the best!

  1. 1. Serial: The Case against Adnan Syed

    Journalist Sarah Koenig reinvestigates the case of Adnan Syed who was convicted for his ex-girlfriend's murder. The curious flaw that circles his case is that he was convicted without sufficient evidence. He claims that his lawyer failed to provide a key witness who could account for his whereabouts. The case is made eerier by the fact that he cannot seem to remember a key chunk of the fateful day, the killing of his ex-girlfriend. He credits this loss of memory to being too stoned. I was taken by desperately wanting the charming Adnan to be innocent. All the while the twist and turns Koenig takes you on leaves you uncertain. The podcast is also an apt and fascinating investigation of the messiness of Muslim-American identity. As I was a young Muslim teen when listening, I could relate to the code switching that Adan enacts from his community to his high school life.


  2. 2. Broken Harts

    The podcast tells the story of six black children who are adopted by a white lesbian couple, Sarah and Jennifer Hart. The Hart Tribe were noted in the media for the image of Devonte Hart, their black adoptive son hugging a white police officer during the Ferguson riots. The family’s Facebook page presented a serene and happy household, the emblem of a modern family. This was all brought to a halt when on March 26th 2018 the family’s car was found on the rocks beneath California’s Highway 1.  The mothers who committed murder-suicide and took their children along with them starkly contradicted the image they presented online. The news sent shock waves through the media and the people who knew them. The podcast investigates the events that led up to these seemingly loving mothers to commit such an atrocious act. The podcast questions whether they were ever loving mother’s at all.


  3. 3. This American Life: Dr. Gilmer and Mr Hyde episode

    In this episode of famed podcast This American Life, Dr. Benjamin Gilmer gets a job at a clinic in a small town. He discovers through his haunted patients that he has replaced another doctor also named Dr. Gilmer. His departure from the clinic is due to him being imprisoned for hacking his father to death. He listens to his patients process their disbelief that the normal and affable former Dr. Gilmer could commit such an unthinkable act. As he listens, he becomes increasingly confused and curious. The podcast follows his investigation in what triggered a good man’s fall to the dark side.


  4. 4. The Last Days of August

    I binge-listened to this podcast in a day. In 2017, porn star August Ames committed suicide a day after she received a barrage of online backlash to a perceived homophobic tweet. In the tweet, Ames defends her choice not to shoot with gay men performers. Enter Jon Ronson, famous for his other podcast on the porn industry called The Butterfly Effect which zeroed in on the lives of the sex workers who are often reduced to what they do for work. A year later, Ronson investigates the complex web of circumstances that lead to August Ames' untimely death. Ronson is empathetic as he follows the life and death of a young girl with big dreams who landed up as one of the world’s most famous porn stars.


  5. 5. S-Town

    This my favourite podcast of all-time and one of my favourite pieces of literary journalism ever! Listening to this podcast feels akin to consuming a combination of a Southern gothic novel and a true crime documentary. The podcast follows the life of the eccentric horologist John B. Mclemore. John hates his hometown with a passion, affectionately naming it "Shit Town". He decides to speak truth to the powers that be in the town and calls on the aid of journalist Brian Reed. He asks Brian to investigate what he deems to be a cover-up of the crime of a son of a wealthy local family who has been bragging about a murder. Brian stays on to exhume the secrets of this town and the man determined to save it.