A graphic about murder podcasts
Image: Time Out

The 15 best murder podcasts

If you like your pods exclusively lethal then you’re spoiled for choice with these murder podcasts

Andrzej Lukowski

To be blunt, when people say they’re into true crime podcasts, they often mean they’re into murder podcasts. And that’s fine! The uber-influential ‘Serial’ pretty much set the template for the modern ‘murder’ cast: a long, meticulous journalistic investigation into a cold case that not only brought it to public knowledge but also shone new light on the case itself, sometimes having real-world impact. 

It wasn’t ghoulish or exploitative – just great journalism and great storytelling. It also set down a formula that has been widely used elsewhere, which is also fine: it’s not so much that other podcasts about murders are ripping ‘Serial’ off, simply that the popularity of ‘Serial’ opened the doors to investment in other long-form investigations into murders.

So while we’ve tried to make this list reasonably diverse, we’ve also stuck to much tighter limits than our general true crime podcast recommendations. So please enjoy our all-murder podcast list.

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Best murder podcasts, ranked

So influential that we spent most of the intro talking about it already, this list wouldn't be complete without ‘Serial’ season one, which has a strong claim to the title of the most successful podcast series of all time. Dating all the way back to 2014, host Sarah Koenig took readers on a hyper in-depth exploration of the 1999 murder of Baltimore student Hae Min Lee and the conviction of her boyfriend Adnan Syed. It’s told grippingly, meticulously and has shed some major doubts on the conviction. The other two seasons of ‘Serial’ aren’t actually about murders, but this list would be a bit silly without including season one.

If you’re really missing ‘Serial’ then this slick and accomplished recent podcast will surely scratch that itch. It’s not that ‘Supect’ is a retread of ‘Serial’, but it’s got a similar name, similar meticulousness, similarly covers a relatively recent murder of a young woman (Arpana Jinaga, killed after a Halloween party in Washington state in 2008), and it also spends a fair amount of time critically examining the case against the main suspect (guest Emmanuel Fair). Where it does really distinguish itself is its forensic (pun intended) look at how many modern convictions are achieved by only circumstantial evidence, and its (as it turns out) rightful scepticism of the case brought against Fine. 


The name sounds like some sort of trashy penny dreadful novel. And, er, you wouldn’t be totally wrong: yes, there is a killer, and yes, there is a book club, but the title is definitely on the lurid side – as are a lot of things about documentary maker Gillian Pachter’s investigation into the murder of a retired English teacher and book club member in a small UK town. But if it’s occasionally a bit indulgent and florid, Pachter’s excavation of the personal and literary connection between murderer and victim is well worth the listen.

Okay, we lied, from a strict legal point of view ‘Fatal Voyage’ definitely, definitely isn’t a murder podcast. However: there has long been suspicion over the circumstance around the 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood, who officially accidentally fell off her husband Robert Wagner’s yacht and drowned, unnoticed by Wagner. Created by journalist Dylan Howard after a massive seven-year investigation into the available evidence, it’s probably not spoiling matters to say that ‘Fatal Voyage’ doesn’t manage to land a knockout blow against Wagner (or else he’d be in jail). But let’s just say that you’re unlikely to finish listening to it wholeheartedly convinced of his innocence.


This series about Keith Hunter Jesperson, the ‘Happy Face’ US serial killer of the ’90s – so-called because he left the police happy face-laden notes with his victims’ bodies – comes with the grimly fascinating twist of being told by his daughter, Melissa Moore. It’s therefore less a forensic breakdown of his crimes (though there’s plenty on them) and more about Moore’s coming to terms with the trauma of discovering her father’s double life and explaining the impact that this had on her and her family.

Former Sunday Mirror journalist Howard Sounes broke the story of Fred and Rose West, the serial killer British couple who buried the dismembered bodies of their numerous victims under their house in Gloucester over a 20-year period. In ‘Unheard’ Sounes made the taped recordings of his original 1994 interviews around the case public for the first time, combining them with new research into this horrifying case that gripped Britain.


The ‘British Scandal’ podcast is a mercurial beast with an unusually jokey tone. However, as tensions continue to boil over with Russia, the four-part sub-series (plus bonus episode) that inaugurated Wonderley’s big-budget Alice Levine and Matt Forde-hosted show is well worth a listen. ICYMI, ‘The Litvenenko Affair’ follows the Russian state-sponsored assassination of the dissident Alexander Litvenenko, killed on British soil in 2006 via the outlandish method of having his drink spiked with a rare nuclear isotope. Random – but quite charming – jokes aside, this is a fine deep dive.

This well-crafted podcast takes a look into the 1980 killing of 20-year-old Playboy Playmate and actress Dorothy Stratten, whose life and death has gone on to inspire various songs and films. ‘Death of a Starlet’ is absolutely not a cold case job and you can very much look up what happened on Wikipedia. If you can restrain yourself in the name of narrative suspense then great: Tracy Pattin and Josh Lucas’s six-part series reflects the course of the case and doesn’t yield up its secrets straight away. But even if you suss out who the killer is early on (and tbh you can pretty much do that from the list of suspects) it’s still a crackingly well-made podcast telling a sad and gripping story.


This award-winning podcast from Britain’s Sky News is a classic but utterly enthralling delve into a recent cold case: that of Annie Borjesson, a 30-year-old Swedish linguist and musician found dead on Prestwick Beach in Scotland in 2005, the day after she’d been due to fly home. The Swedish and Scottish authorities both concluded that she’d committed suicide by drowning, but the family always had doubts, and this hard-hitting series does an excellent job of dissecting exactly why the case is so troubling. 

It’s rare you find an investigative podcast that has two classic series, but you can comfortably say that of ‘In the Dark’, the American Public Media show narrated by award-winning investigative journalist Madeleine Baran. Season one delved into the 1989 disappearance of 11-year-old American Jacob Wetterling, and was shockingly overtaken by events when his body was discovered towards the end of the recording of the series, which was smartly re-edited at speed. Arguably even stronger, season two delved into the case of Curtis Flowers, a Black American tried six times for the same multiple murder, with its reporting widely crediting with helping with the final resolution of the case. The show’s hallmark is that it intentionally serves as a commentary on the official investigation into the cases, rather than simply re-investigating from scratch a la ‘Serial’ etc.


A cold case in every sense of the word in this real-life Scandi noir, a collaboration between the Norwegian public broadcasting service NRK and the BBC World Service. Created by Norwegian investigative journalist Marit Higraff, it traces the case of the Isdal Woman, an unidentified woman found dead near Bergen in Norway in 1970. There is plenty of reason to believe she may have been a Cold War spy, but her identity has never been discovered, and even the exact cause of death remains highly disputed. The podcast uncovers some fascinating clues, even though the woman’s identity remains elusive.

US journalist and podcast host Delia D’Ambra combines her love of the great outdoors and cold case homicides on this slightly trashy but undeniably gripping show. Rather than following a single case over a season, ‘Park Predators’ takes a ‘crime of the week’ approach, with murder coming out firmly on top. All of the cases took place in America’s national parks, and what makes the show special in many ways is D’Ambra’s knack for beautifully setting the scene and sincerely infusing love for the parks into a show that‘s ostensibly about horrible things.


This immensely popular Australian podcast took a deep dive into the disappearance of Lynette Dawson, a homemaker and mother who disappeared without a trace in 1982, leaving behind two daughters and husband, former rugby league footballer Chris Dawson. Despite the strong suspicions directed at Dawson – who didn’t report her missing for over a month and remarried at speed – he had never been charged with it. But in ‘Teacher’s Pet’ host Hedley Thomas and team unearthed a mountain of new evidence: whether or not it actually changed anything directly is impossible to say, but Dawson has finally been charged and is awaiting trial (which means the podcast is in fact currently unavailable in Australia, for fear of prejudicing the case).

Podcast host Sarah Turney has quite the CV: her mother went missing in 2001, and she spent the best part of 20 years very publicly – and ultimately successfully – campaigning for her father to be arrested for it. Her podcast ‘Disappearances’ casts a sensitive eye each week over a different unsolved disappearance. Clearly this means not every one is actually a murder, and in many cases we’ll never know, but Turney is – with grim inevitability – an insightful host on the subject.


Okay, this one definitely isn’t about a real murder, but if you’re a fan of the form and looking for a laugh then this two-season effort from The Onion is pretty much perfect. ‘A Very Fatal Murder’ is a magnificent send-up of the true-crime murder pod genre, and follows dogged, repetition-addicted reporter David Pascall as he uses a computer programme to track down a ‘culturally relevant murder for him to throw new light on – ie that of a young hot white girl. It mercilessly sends up the many foibles and frequent ethical lapses of the genre, whilst also serving as a genuine tribute.

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