True-crime podcasts have always garnered attention from fans. The tragic cases have made determined at-home private eyes help try and solve the crime. It's by meticulous investigating and sheer determination from not only the investigative parties taking a crack at an unsolved case but the audience they share it with who communally help with their own perspective and fresh takes. Fabiola from Never have I ever saying oooo True Crime count me in Netflix / Via giphy.com
A lot of times, we have seen these podcasts spotlight errors in the investigation or trials of some of these cases that seem unfathomable. It's through the storytelling and investigative work of some of these incredible people that have made the public aware and have put pressure on police to reopen some cold cases. I have 10 true-crime podcasts that helped reopen closed cases and had law enforcement take a closer look at some unsolved mysteries.
1. Your Own Backyard
played a significant role in bringing renewed attention to the case of Kristin Smart, a California college student who disappeared in 1996. Lambert spent years researching the case and interviewing people involved, including friends and family of Kristin, law enforcement officials, and potential suspects. He also created a website dedicated to the case and encouraged listeners to share any information they had. The podcast gained a large following and generated widespread media attention, leading to increased pressure on law enforcement to take action. Your Own Backyard Chris Lambert
In 2020, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office announced that they had two new pieces of evidence related to the case, and in April 2021, they arrested Paul Flores, who had been the prime suspect in Kristin's disappearance for years. Flores was charged with murder and
found guilty this year with a sentence of 25 years to life. District Attorney Dan Dow made sure to thank Lambert for his effort, saying, "The podcast helped identify additional witnesses and evidence that was critical in the prosecution of this case." Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images 2. The Teacher's Pet by Hedley Thomas garnered an audience to the murder of Lynette "Lyn" Dawson, a Sydney mother who disappeared in 1982. The podcast investigated the case in-depth and also explored the story of Lyn's husband, Chris Dawson, who was a former rugby player and high school teacher. Chris was the prime suspect in Lyn's disappearance and had been accused of murdering her by multiple people over the years. As a result of the podcast, Australian police reopened the investigation into Lyn's disappearance and ultimately arrested Chris Dawson in December 2018 and The Teacher's Pet found him guilty in 2022. The podcast generated widespread media attention and led to renewed interest in the case, including from law enforcement who had previously failed to bring charges against Chris Dawson. The Australian 3. Missing Alissa
Alissa Turney went missing in 2001 when she was just 17 years old, and her stepfather was the last person known to have seen her. Despite a lengthy investigation, no arrests were made in the case, and it remained unsolved for years. Sarah Turney started the
podcast in 2018, using it as a platform to investigate her sister's disappearance and share her story with the world. The podcast gained a large following, and Sarah used it to advocate for Alissa and call for justice. As a result of the increased attention on the case, law enforcement officials reopened the investigation, and in June 2021, Michael Turney was Missing Alissa arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with Alissa's disappearance. Michael Turney has repeatedly denied the charges and is currently on trial. Missing Alissa/ Sarah Turney 4. Up and Vanished
Created by investigative journalist Payne Lindsey,
explored the case of Tara Grinstead, a Georgia teacher, and former beauty queen who disappeared in 2005. Lindsey spent two years investigating the case and even conducted his own interviews and investigations which helped find new leads. In 2017, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced they had made two arrests for Tara's disappearance. Ryan Duke, a former student at Tara's school who initially confessed to the murder but then recanted, and Bo Dukes, a friend of Ryan (no relation) Up and Vanished but had implicated Ryan as the murderer. After both men had pointed the finger as to who was guilty, a jury found Ryan Duke to be not guilty of felony murder, burglary, and aggravated assault but guilty of concealing a death. Meanwhile, Bo Dukes is serving his 25-year sentence for two counts of making false statements, one count of hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal, and one count of concealing the death of another. Cadence 13 5. Hell and Gone
Catherine Townsend is a writer and journalist who hosts the true-crime podcast
. The first season of her podcast focused on the unsolved murder of Rebekah Gould, a 22-year-old woman who was found dead in 2004 in rural Arkansas. Townsend's investigation and reporting on the case brought attention to Rebekah's story and helped raise awareness about the need for justice for her and her family. In 2019, the Arkansas State Police announced that they were reopening the investigation into Rebekah's death, citing "new leads" in the case which led to the Hell and Gone eventual arrest of Rebekah's murderer William Miller. He was charged and sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty. It is unclear whether Townsend's reporting played a role in the decision to reopen the case, but her work has certainly helped keep Rebekah's story in the public eye and may have contributed to law enforcement taking another look at the case after public pressure. iHeart 6. Proof.
Susan Simpson and Jacinda Davis, hosts of the true-crime podcast
went back to Rome, Georgia to see if they could figure out what really happened to 15-year-old Brian Bowling back in 1996 when Brian had played a dangerous game of Russian Roulette with his friend Cain Storey. It is the aftermath of that tragedy that saw Cain being convicted of murder alongside Darrell Clark who had supposedly been seen running from the backyard of Brian's house that night. Through meticulous investigating and interviewing past witnesses, Simpson and Davis found out the police had Proof., coerced eyewitness accounts of what happened and had enough evidence to prove that Mr. Clark was not culpable and that Mr. Storey didn't commit murder but manslaughter. The collaboration of Davis and Simpson alongside the Georgia Innocence Project led to both men being released from prison after serving 25 years. Red Marble Media 7. Serial was critical in bringing attention to the case of Adnan Syed, a man who was wrongfully convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999. The podcast presented a comprehensive and detailed investigation of the case, going through court transcripts, interviewing witnesses, and examining the evidence presented at the trial. It was able to present a more nuanced picture of the events leading up to Hae Min Lee's murder and raised questions about the prosecution's case against Adnan Syed. As a result of the attention brought on by the podcast, Syed's defense team was able to present new evidence in court, including testimony from an alibi witness who had not been contacted by Syed's original defense team, and evidence from a cellphone tower that had not been properly analyzed. This new evidence ultimately led to Syed being granted a new trial which eventually led to his Serial conviction being thrown out.
However, recently the courts
reinstated his conviction and ordered a new hearing. The Appellate Court of Maryland ruled that a lower court violated Young Lee's (brother to the victim) rights because he was not properly notified or given the correct methods to attend the hearing in which Syed’s conviction was vacated. Although I'm not sure if this means Syed will have to go back to prison until a new hearing to vacate is scheduled, it does mean that the state must once again present its reasoning for vacating the conviction (with Young Lee present). Baltimore Sun / TNS 8. Death in Ice Valley is a podcast that explores the mysterious death of an unidentified woman, known as the "Isdal Woman," whose body was found in the Isdalen Valley in Bergen, Norway, in 1970. The podcast helped to bring new witnesses forward, Death in Ice Valley utilized advanced forensic techniques, highlighted potential connections to international espionage, increased international cooperation, and generated public interest and pressure. While the case is still officially unsolved, the podcast has brought us closer to understanding what happened to the Isdal Woman and reopened a case that was long thought to be out of people's minds. BBC 9. In the Dark
Season 2 of
In the Dark, focused on Curtis Flowers, a Black man from Mississippi who was charged with a quadruple murder at the Tardy Furniture Company. Flowers had been tried six times by District Attorney Doug Evans who seemingly had stacked the odds against Flowers by deliberately refusing to have Black jurors and using eyewitness statements by people who had been allegedly forced by police. It was the incredible investigative journalism from the In the Dark team that made Flowers' trial known and were able to finally absolve him of the 1996 murders. After 23 years on death row, Flowers was able to walk free in 2020 after the amazing work from the In the Dark podcast and the fans who demanded that this injustice be rectified. American Public Media 10. Truth and Justice
Edward Ates a man who had no physical evidence pointing him to the gruesome murder of Elnora Griffin was sentenced to 99 years after prosecutors made sure to
have an all-white jury and put an unreliable snitch on the stand in order to get the conviction they desperately wanted. In 2016, former firefighter and podcast host of Bob Ruff found his way to Ates' case and reached out to help. Though reluctant at first Ates finally allowed Mr. Ruff to come in and help get The Innocence Project in Texas on board. After meticulously combing through Ed's case and seeing the injustices in Smith County where Ates was arrested, Ruff was determined to prove Edward's innocence. With the partnership of The Innocence Projects Lawyer Allison Clayton and Bob Ruffs Truth and Justice Truth and Justice Army they were not only able to see all the holes in Ed's case but also fund for DNA testing. After being denied parole twice for not admitting any wrongdoing he was finally able to be released after all the evidence was presented to the Parole board. It's this sort of support from not only a podcast but its fans that shows what a determined community of good can accomplish. NBI Studios Do you have a favorite true-crime podcast? Let us know in the comments below.