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Stevenson Villager

Chilling Podcasts look beyond the surface


Three new podcasts tell gripping tales of life’s dark and unanswered corners, leaving listeners on edge and wanting more long after they’re over during fall’s longest days.


The sudden death of a son from a wealthy small town Alabama family keeps listeners on edge and wanting more. (Photo from

S-Town, a new podcast from Serial and This American Life, is a murder mystery turned real-time story about a man’s life. Host Brian Reed is ushered to a small town in Alabama by a man named John B. Mclemore, who quickly becomes the heart of the series.

Mclemore asks Reed, a reporter from New York, to investigate a suspected murder by the son of a wealthy family in town. What listeners expect to be the focal point of the podcast undergoes an unpredictable journey within the first few episodes, when someone else ends up dead.

A blend of unearthed mysteries, plot twists, and heart-wrenching stories, listeners will find themselves ruminating on S-Town after its seven chapters come to a close.



In the Dark takes listeners back in time to the most notorious child abduction cases in U.S. history. (Photo from

Hosted by Madeleine Baran of APM Reports, In the Dark is an investigative podcast surrounding the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling that went unsolved for 27 years. Baran takes listeners back in time to rural Minnesota as she uncovers how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abduction cases in U.S. history.

Over the course of nine episodes, listeners learn what went wrong in the search for Jacob Wetterling, with recounts from Jacob’s family, witnesses, law enforcement officials, and the perpetrator himself.

The chilling and unsettling chronicle of a young boy’s disappearance raises concerns about accountability and crime-solving effectiveness, leaving listeners with one question: What could have been done differently?



77 suspenseful episodes explore real-life crime stories that cover all ends of the criminal spectrum. (Photo from

Criminal, in its very nature, is about crime: “stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle,” according to the podcast’s homepage.

With 77 episodes to date, Criminal delivers synoptic yet nuanced depictions of crimes. In the monthly podcast, hosts Phoebe Judge, Lauren Spohrer and Nadia Wilson explore real-life crime stories that — while typically have a dead body at the core of it — cover all ends of the criminal spectrum, even those on the other side.

For instance, episode 17, “Final Exit,” features an interview with 70-year-old ex-nurse Fran Schindler, who has been stamped with the term “exit guide.” Schindler travels across the country as she keeps the company of those on their deathbeds who have made the decision to end their lives on their own terms.

The podcast investigates both notorious and unusual crimes alike. Rarely over 20 minutes long, each episode keeps listeners enraptured — even those on a time constraint.

Whether or not you find murder mysteries and crime stories thrilling, these podcasts take on a new and raw form of storytelling that will end up leaving you with more questions than answers. Sometimes fact is scarier than fiction.

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Chilling Podcasts look beyond the surface