Lifestyle Asia
Home > Entertainment > 10 best true-crime podcasts that will send chills down your spine
10 best true-crime podcasts that will send chills down your spine

It won’t be much of an exaggeration to say that no other era has seen a rise in content pertaining to the true-crime genre than today. After series and documentaries on serial killers flooding OTT platforms, true-crime podcasts are now the new rage.

For a crime junkie, listening to an intriguing true-crime story and plunging into the dark world of some of the most notorious serial killers and psychopaths is one of the best ways to past the time. There are a number of brilliant true-crime podcasts that cover all these aspects with outstanding narration and a constant stream of new episodes that probe deeper into such cold cases.

Whether you are piqued by a nerve-wracking case of investigative journalism or are curious to know about the horrifying details of a gruesome murder, true-crime podcasts are redefining the ways of storytelling and bringing alive a more immersive experience for fans of true-crime narratives.

Here are some of the best true-crime podcasts that you must stream right now

Dirty John (2017-2018)

True-crime podcast: Dirty John
Image credit: Dirty John/ IMDb

Hosted by LA Times’ Christopher Goffard, Dirty John is a true-crime podcast that takes true crime fans through the atrocious deeds of John Meehan.

Debra Newell, a successful interior designer, meets Meehan – who poses as a Navy doctor – via a dating app designed for people aged 50 and above. While he seems perfect to her, Newell’s family members do not approve of him right from the beginning of their courtship. The series follows Newell as she finds herself getting increasingly entangled in a complicated web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial and ultimately, survival.

Goffard brings in his expertise and touch as a seasoned investigative journalist as Newell and her family share detailed accounts of their predicament and what happened at the end. The podcast provides psychological insight and has a steady pace which attracts the listener’s interest even more.

With just seven episodes and a brief introduction, Dirty John is a true-crime podcast that can keep you up all night. It has also been adapted into a TV series of the same name starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana.

Listen to Dirty John here.

Serial (2014-)

True-crime podcast: Serial
Image credit: Apple Podcasts

When it was released in 2014, Serial saw the birth of a league of true-crime podcasts and the rise of true-crime fans who enjoyed such a format of storytelling. Considered the first major hit podcast of this genre, it broke several download records and created new ones. In fact, this format was so new that when Serial was previewed on This American Life in 2014, its host Ira Glass had to explain that the episodes will be available on computers and tablets.

Season one opens circa 1999 in Baltimore. Hae Min Lee is a high school student who suddenly goes missing one January afternoon after school. Six weeks later, police arrests her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed for allegedly murdering her.

Host Sarah Koenig questions Syed in jail, who has been given life imprisonment for the crime. Having gone through innumerable documents, police interviews and trial clips, Koenig aims at a potentially wrongful conviction of Syed and the flawed investigation. However, though Syed claims to be not guilty, he is unable to remember where he was that day. One of their classmates claimed to have information about his whereabouts, but he was nowhere to be found.

There are two more seasons in this podcast and each delves deep into a case and examines every detail with utmost scrutiny. The second season tracks down an American soldier held captive by the Taliban and the third examines cases which are tried at a particular courthouse.

For those who enjoy long-form content and detailed crime podcasts, Serial should definitely be on your list.

Listen to Serial here.

Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad (2019-2022)

Podcast series: Jensen & Holes The Murder Squad/ IMDb
Image credit: Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad/ IMDb

Do you wish to delve into the true crime world by donning your own detective’s hat? If yes, this podcast series is just the one for you. Investigative journalist Billy Jensen and former cold case investigator Paul Holes brought together to one of the best true-crime podcasts in recent times with this one.

After all, the duo is synonymous for solving the ‘Golden State Killer’ case. They also helped finish Michelle McNamara’s book I’ll be Gone in the Dark in 2018, which was based on the same case and inspired a Netflix documentary. After appearing in the popular podcast My Favorite Murder, the two started this true-crime podcast series under the same banner which was discontinued on 1 August 2022. It ran successfully for three seasons and took listeners on a thrilling journey.

What sets it apart from other crime podcasts is the in-depth analysis and insight by the hosts and the fact that the podcast actually helped crack a 40-year-old mystery.

Listen to Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad here.

Park Predators (2020)

True-crime podcast: Park Predators
Image credit: Apple Podcasts

If you enjoy taking long strolls in the woods and visiting national parks, this true-crime podcast series might send a few shivers down your spine the next time you are on a hike.

Its tagline, “sometimes the most beautiful places hide the darkest secrets,” is eerie enough to set the mood. Released in 2020, the hit podcast already has three seasons which explore some of the most horrifying cases of serial killings, murders, and other heinous crimes that have occurred in the state and national parks in the US and Canada. From the first to the third season, every episode is a gripping account of true-crime encounters, serial killers, and shocking discoveries that have rattled the police.

Hosted by investigative reporter Delia D’Ambra, Park Predators has made a strong fan base due to its unique theme and the type of cold cases from popular natural parks. Who needs ghost stories when you’ve got a podcast like this?

Listen to Park Predators here.

Root of Evil (2019)

Podcast series: Root of Evil
Image credit: Apple Podcast

This eight-part podcast series takes a deep dive into one of America’s most gruesome murder cases of all time — The Black Dahlia murder case.

Elizbeth Short, also known as Black Dahlia, was killed in 1947, and a person named Dr. George Holden was considered as a culprit after an investigation led by Holden’s son himself. But a deeper dive shows that there’s more to the Holden family history than just the murder. In a tell-all format, Holden’s great-granddaughters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile reveal what impact the case had on the family and the intergenerational trauma that trickled down.

The two sisters turn into hosts and share the true story of what had happened as well as the present scenario. Featuring interviews and authentic audio footage, Root of Evil is also the companion podcast to TNT’s limited series I am The Night, which stars Chris Pine and is helmed by Patty Jenkins.

After over seven decades, it remains one of the most spine-chilling cold cases all time, and has influenced a Ryan Murphy show, a 2006 movie starring Scarlett Johansson, named The Black Dahlia and a video game.

Listen to Root of Evil here.

Missing and Murdered (2016-)

True-crime podcasat: Missing and Murdered
Image credit: Apple Podcasts

This podcast series is hosted by journalist Connie Walker who has over a decade’s experience in tracking and solving cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in the US.

The first season of the Missing and Murdered podcast franchise from CBC and Gimlet was released in 2016 and focused on the unsolved murder case of an indigenous woman in British Columbia in 1989.

The second season, Finding Cleo, revolves around the missing case of a young Cree girl named Cleo. She was taken up by the child welfare workers in the 1970s and adopted in the US. However, her family believes that she was raped and murdered while she was hiking back to her home in Saskatchewan.

As an indigenous woman herself, Walker walks the extra mile to get to the bottom of every unsolved case. For the latest upcoming season, which was shifted to Gimlet in 2021, the podcast takes one through the 2018 missing case of a young mother.

Listen to Murder and Missing here.

Dr. Death (2018-)

Dr. Death podcast
Image credit: Apple Podcasts

If you enjoy this thrilling genre, podcast production house Wondery – who is also behind Dirty John – has one of the best to offer. This true-crime podcast series raises the question — when those who are there to save lives end up being the killer, who is to be blamed?

The first season is about the macabre deeds of Dallas surgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch. Over his long and horrifying career, Duntsch carried out a series of catastrophic surgeries which left over 30 patients paralysed and maimed; some of them were even killed. What’s more gruesome is the failure of the American medical and justice system, which let an unstable sociopath like him continue for so long before finally imprisoning him in 2017.

The second season gives an in-depth look into the scam involving a haematologist-oncologist from Detroit, Dr. Frida Fata, who meted out unnecessary cancer treatments on people who didn’t require it, only to make money.

The third season is about Italian surgeon Dr. Paolo Macchiarini and his deplorable experimental surgeries, which is just one part of his chain of lies.

With gory descriptions and depiction of bloody scenes, this podcast, hosted by Laura Beil, is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Listen to Dr. Death here.

The Shrink Next Door (2019)

Podcast series: The Shrink Next Door
Image credit: Apple Podcasts

Another true-crime podcast from Wondery, The Shrink Next Door is created by Bloomberg and tells the tale of confiding in the wrong person and power control gone wrong.

Bloomberg’s veteran journalist Joe Nocera’s neighbour in the Hamptons was a well-known psychotherapist named Isaac ‘Ike’ Herschkopf. He often had elite clients and even hosted lavish cocktail parties at his vacation home. The podcast primarily revolves around the relationship between Ike and one of his clients named Marty Markowitz.

Nocera, then with The New York Times, came across the story in 2010 but it took him nearly nine years to actually launch it in audio form. Over the first eight episodes, the journalist carefully lays out several allegations that Markowitz has against Herschkopf.

According to Markowitz, Herschkopf crossed the limits of being just a therapist and went on to assert himself in every sphere of his patient’s life. Such was the extent that he indulged in gaslighting and made Markowitz tear ties with his friends and family as well as give up the master bedroom in his country home.

One of the best crime podcasts, this production has also influenced an Apple TV production of the same name in 2021, which stars Will Ferrell as Markowitz and Paul Rudd as Herschkopf.

Listen to The Shrink Next Door here.

The Teacher’s Pet (2018)

The Teacher's Pet
Image credit: Apple Podcasts

Sometimes behind the facade of a seemingly happy marriage lies a sordid history of dark family secrets. Australian journalist Hedley Thomas attempts to unravel the cold case of the 1982 disappearance of Lynette Dawson from her family home, situated around Sydney’s Long Beaches.

A devoted wife and sincere mother, Dawson was married to star rugby player and high school teacher Chris Dawson. While most ardent true-crime podcast followers would think that the crime is the husband’s doing, you might want to hold that thought.

Over the course of the 14-part series, Thomas plunges into the case that remained unsolved for 36 years. With interviews of Lynette’s family and new evidence, updated episodes were added after the podcast rolled out in 2018.

Listen to The Teacher’s Pet here.

The Clearing (2019)

Podcast series: The Clearing
Image credit: Gimlet Media

A heart-wrenching podcast based on a true crime, The Clearing is a disturbing story of a family that makes you wonder about the things you see around and doubt your instincts.

Hosted by Josh Dean, the podcast takes listeners on a journey to April Balascio’s childhood as she recounts what it means to have a serial killer father. It all happened when a 40-year-old Balascio’s nightmares became a reality when she found out that her father, Edward Wayne Edwards, was a murderer. It was in 2009 when she called a detective and shared her suspicions, which finally led to her dad’s arrest and eventual imprisonment for multiple murders.

The young woman’s emotional journey over the years makes one sympathise with her. It also gives glimpses of the deteriorating mental health of the accused, who shared details of his crimes himself as well.

Listen to The Clearing here.

(Main and featured image credit: Apple Podcasts)

10 best true-crime podcasts that will send chills down your spine

Trinetra is an ardent foodie and bibliophile who writes about films, travel, food and lifestyle. As a writer and literature student, slam poetry and storytelling are her go to jam. When not working, Trinetra is busy looking for her next place to visit or binge-watching Instagram videos for travel inspiration.


Never miss an update

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

No Thanks
You’re all set

Thank you for your subscription.