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The real crime podcast universe is growing all the time. We’re here to make it a little smaller and a little more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each one has a lot of great episodes so we want to highlight the remarkable and the extraordinary. Every week our crack team selects their favorites from podcast enthusiasts and specialists.
Quit Scam, “The Co-Founder”
After Gerald Cotten suddenly died on a trip to India in 2018, investors who used the Bitcoin exchange he founded, Quadriga, found they couldn’t withdraw their money. His widow and only heir couldn’t find the passwords for his accounts, which doesn’t sound like the biggest deal, does it? Aside from the fact that cryptocurrency passwords go way beyond two-factor identification when it comes to locking your data – once they’re gone, unless you’ve written them on a sticky note somewhere or tattooed them on you or installed a dead man switch that will relay the information to a trusted source after your death. And of course it seems morbid to anticipate your own death in such a way that you set up your digital assets to carry over in the event of your sudden death, but tech geeks know better no matter powerful cryptocurrency freaks who are bitcoin rich. (In all honesty, you should find out who you want to take over your Facebook account now, and thank you later!) Of course, the missing passwords are just the tip of the proverbial fraudulent iceberg here – Cott’s “cold wallets” were empty, but his The Widow was rich and his dogs had their own trust fund. And then there’s the mysterious co-founder with a history of cybercrime!
Let me be the first to assure you that you don’t understand Bitcoin or need to worry about Bitcoin to hear Exit Scam, a new podcast about the founder of Canada’s largest Bitcoin exchange and his sudden death in 2018. Exit Scam is it actually is a fun introduction to the technology and its history. It’s also an exciting story about (possible!) Cybercrime and why you should always, always, always write down your passwords somewhere. Or don’t invest in Bitcoin unless you are ready to lose it all and / or be scammed. (Full Disclosure: Exit Scam producer Lane Brown is a former editor of New York Magazine.) – Jenni Miller
The Enigma of Emmon Bodfish, “The Enigma”
True crime fans know Paul Holes as a key investigator in the Golden State Killer case and as co-host of the Jensen & Holes: The Murder Squad podcast on unsolved murders. Now the heralded cold investigator takes listeners back to 1999 when he was the crime scene analyst for the fatal bludgeoning of Emmon Bodfish, a trans man who lived in the quiet, affluent neighborhood of Orinda, California. With a solemn tone, Holes describes the gruesome scene and its strange clues, including passages from Bodfish’s magazines worth 17 years. Over 11 episodes – all available now on Audible Plus – the journey to catch a murderer, Holes leads down a winding path of stolen art, insect evidence, a coveted heritage, pagan rituals and a touching struggle for identity. With episodes that last anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes, solving this puzzle is not only exciting but easy to bark too. – Kristy Puchko
Murder in the Alliance, “The Accomplice”
David Thorne has been in prison for more than 20 years for murdering his ex-girlfriend, 26-year-old Yvonne Layne. Problem is, Thorne was three counties away when Layne was killed at her Alliance, Ohio home. In Murder in Alliance, host and producer Maggie Freleng (Injustice and Unsolved, The Disappearance of Maura Murray) and Jason Baldwin (wrongly convicted as part of the West Memphis Three) investigate David’s case. In the final episode, we meet Joe Wilkes, who went to the police three months after Layne’s death and claimed that Thorne hired him to kill her. Wilkes’ interview with the police, which lasted more than a day and at the end of which he was asked if they had in any way compelled him to confess, is convincing and resulted in his and Thorne’s arrest. Look at the details, Freleng advises the audience. There are tons of them, many of whom disagree with what we know about the crime scene, and people who were mentioned in the confession and were never called as witnesses in the subsequent trial. It all leads back to the question of whether or not Wilkes was actually hired by Thorne, and whether Thorne was in jail for no reason all along. – Chanel Dubofsky
Ten times worse gifts: bad words, “Dr. Katherine Ramsland: BTK killer Dennis Rader “
If the name didn’t take it for granted, Wicked Words is a new spinoff series (bonus?) From Tenfold More Wicked podcaster Kate Winkler Dawson. While their original concept weaves a narrative thread that includes eyewitness and expert accounts, this new concept completely hands the microphone over to the men and women who have delved into the dark topic of the week. The premiere will focus on the work of Dr. Katherine Ramsland, a forensic psychologist who not only wrote a book about the murderer Dennis Rader (Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer), but interviewed him for years to do so. She, of course, has some pretty interesting (and sometimes even humorous) observations about this serial killer – and serial killer in general. Listening is like sitting in the most interesting Psych 101 class ever. – Amy Wilkinson
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Audio notes for the top shows by Vulture critic Nick Quah.