Criminal Podcast

Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Louisiana governor Huey P. Long is a legendary character in his state's history. This week's Criminal Podcast looks at the mysterious death of Governor Long, a controversial character with a big persona.

The Oxford English Dictionary recently added the phrase 420 to its pages. This week's Criminal podcast investigates the origin of the word. Host Phoebe Judge interviewed the dictionary editor charged with finding the word's history and the two men who claim they invented the phrase.

Criminal: 'Rochester, 1991'

Mar 17, 2017
A drawing of an engagement ring.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

In this week's Criminal podcast, we hear the story of a woman who suffered domestic violence for years. She then served 17 years behind bars for killing her abuser.

A drawing of people crossing the border.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

You might recognize the name Wildin Acosta from WUNC News coverage.  The Durham teen came to the United States illegally from Honduras in 2014 to escape gang violence. He spent months in immigration detention before being released on bond.  

In this week's Criminal podcast, host Phoebe Judge spoke to Wildin Acosta about his experience, and what's at stake under the Trump Administration's renewed resolve to ramp up deportations. 

Criminal is recorded here at WUNC.

A drawing of a body and an empty canoe.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

When people imagine having a superpower, invisibility is a popular choice. On this week's Criminal podcast, we'll hear stories about people who successfully disappeared by faking their own deaths.

Criminal host Phoebe Judge says it's a tough trick to pull off, but has been a popular pursuit. How-to guides were popular in the 1980s, but those are now outdated, Judge says, now that we all have digital footprints to follow.

illustration of grass
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Some mysteries take years to solve, and a certain type of person to solve them. In this week's Criminal podcast we'll hear of a steadfast woman who made it her personal mission to find the missing bodies of two children she'd known only from stories on the news.

A drawing of Ellen Craft in disguise.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

This week's Criminal podcast tells a love story. Host Phoebe Judge talks with University of Georgia English Professor and author Barbara McCaskill about Ellen and William Craft. The couple was born into slavery, and they make a daring escape in hopes of having a proper wedding.

A drawing of Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

This week, the Criminal podcast tells the story of how a juvenile detention center breathed life into a dying Mississippi town. That facility later became the most violent prison in the state.

Host Phoebe Judge says Walnut Grove, Mississippi, is a small town about an hour from the state capitol. It's always had economic problems, but it was buoyed by a manufacturing industry until those dried up during the Recession. That's when the state built a juvenile detention facility there in 2001.

It's been a busy month for the Criminal Podcast. Host Phoebe Judge and her producers recently returned from a 14-city tour across the U.S. and Canada.

"I think our favorite show was right here in Durham," said Phoebe, adding that she told stories on stage, but also did a magic trick.

A drawing of a cigarrette butt.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

On the last Criminal podcast, we heard from Melinda Dawson. She learned as a girl that her parents had secretly purchased her from a man called Dr. Hicks at his Georgia clinic. Dawson and her mother, Judy, became outspoken about the realities of life as a so-called "Hicks Baby."

A drawing of a hand paying a stork with a bundle.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

People can become parents in the usual ways: by birth, by marriage and by adoption. But in this week's Criminal podcast, we hear from Melinda Dawson, who learned as a girl that her parents had secretly purchased her from a clinic doctor many miles away.

A drawing of a brain scan.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

On the last Criminal podcast, we heard from a woman who learned that her mother had stolen her identity, ruined her credit and never came clean. Axton Betz-Hamilton now suspects that her mother was a psychopath. In this week's episode, several experts explain what it really means to be a psychopath. 

A drawing of falling cash.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Axton Betz-Hamilton is an expert on identity theft. The issue hits close to home because her own identity was stolen when she was just a child. In this week's Criminal podcast, host Phoebe Judge tells the story of Betz-Hamilton's crusade against identity theft and the discovery of her own perpetrator.

Criminal's 50th episode logo.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

The Criminal podcast focuses on stories of people who have done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. The 50th episode is checking in with some of the show's most memorable guests. Criminal is recorded here at WUNC. Host Phoebe Judge reached out to Criminal listeners and asked them to decide which stories to follow up on.

Julienne Alexander / Criminal

On this week's Criminal Podcast, we hear the story of a man saved by books.  

Robin Woods landed in jail after stealing about $20,000 worth of office equipment and trying to sell it to other people. He was caught and sentenced to 16 years in prison. 

Criminal podcast art
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Melissa Anelli created her dream job: running a web site and podcast dedicated to J.K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter series. But in this week's Criminal Podcast, Phoebe Judge tells the story of Anelli's online following and how it has brought with it a nightmarish eight years of being harassed by a stalker.

Marijuana is slowly being legalized, with legitimate, profitable businesses popping up in several U.S. states. But in this week's Criminal Podcast, Phoebe Judge tells the story of Meridy Volz, who pioneered a booming pot brownie business in 1970s San Francisco.

Tony the Tiger
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

The Criminal podcast team recently took a trip to Louisiana to see a special tiger named Tony.  But Tony the Tiger wasn't at a zoo or nature preserve.  He lives at a gas station called the Tiger Truck Stop.

A drawing of Alabama.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Convicted criminals can sit on death row for many years after the crime scene is cleaned up and packed away.

In this week's Criminal Podcast, host Phoebe Judge interviews attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, a state with one of the highest execution rates in the country.

Stevenson started out at Harvard Law School, but was ambivalent about his career choice until an internship sent him to Atlanta to inform an inmate that his execution date wouldn't come within a year.

Drawing of faces and organs.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

On this week's Criminal podcast, we hear about a mystery surrounding the death of a horse thief.

Host Phoebe Judge and Elana Gordon of WHYY's "The Pulse" tell the story of John Frankford, a notorious horse thief from Pennsylvania in the mid-to-late 1800s.

Frankford also frequently got arrested.

Julienne Alexander / Criminal

This week's Criminal podcast examines the history of the 1979 clash in North Carolina now known by many as the Greensboro Massacre, which left five people dead and nine more injured.  Host Phoebe Judge spoke with Civil Rights activists Nelson Johnson and Signe Waller Foxworth about their run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.

An image of artwork for the Criminal Podcast
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

This week's episode of Criminal examines the legal battles of a man who made it his mission to give the middle finger to every law enforcement officer he saw. Robert Ekas's story raises questions of  how "flipping the bird" fits into free speech. Criminal is a podcast recorded at WUNC and hosted by Phoebe Judge.

A n illustration of Rogers' Cessna over the Sierra Madre mountains.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

In this week's episode of Criminal, a murder mystery is solved by some surprising sleuths: a married pair of accountants.  Host Phoebe Judge spoke with Texas-based CPAs Hugh and Martha Gardinier about how an audit unraveled a complicated criminal case. Criminal is a podcast recorded at WUNC.

A drawing of a man with a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Bourbon is a hot commodity these days, but one brand is considered among the finest in the world.  It's called Pappy Van Winkle.  In this week's episode of Criminal, Phoebe Judge examines the rise of the brand, and how a theft in 2013 made it even more popular.

A drawing of a judge's robe.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Note: this article contains graphic language.

In 1985, three men in South Carolina viciously raped and attacked a woman at a motel. In this week's episode of Criminal, Phoebe Judge tells us about a judge who proposed a punishment he thought would fit the crime better than jail time. Criminal is a podcast recorded at WUNC and hosted by Phoebe Judge

A drawing of 'Jolly' Jane Toppin
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

The turn of the last century was a time marked by chilling deaths at the hands of unexpected culprits.

Remember Lizzie Borden and Typhoid Mary?  In this week's Criminal podcast, Phoebe Judge takes a deeper look at a lesser-known character known as "Jolly" Jane Toppan.  

Criminal is a podcast recorded at WUNC and hosted by Phoebe Judge

A middle school in Minnesota averted a school shooting by using a well-prepared lockdown.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Many American adults remember fire and tornado drills from their school days.  But students coming up today are also being prepared to jump into action when a gunman shows up at school.  

In this week's episode of Criminal, members of a school community in Hastings, Minnesota remember a close call a few years back. Criminal is a podcast recorded at WUNC and hosted by Phoebe Judge

A drawing of a sick tree.
Julienne Alexander / ThisIsCriminal.com

An iconic oak tree is the subject of this week's Criminal podcast, produced at WUNC. The program tells the stories of people who have done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.

John Giedraitis was the city forester in Austin, Texas in 1989, when a beloved live oak tree there got sick.

"I proposed to my wife underneath the tree, because it's a big, strong, important tree that symbolizes timelessness, endurance, strength and that sort of stuff," Giedraitis says.

A drawing of a syringe.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

The Criminal Podcast tells stories of people who've "done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle." This week, host Phoebe Judge introduces us to Martha Elliot. She's a journalist and rape survivor who, for years, was a devoted friend to a rapist and murderer on death row.

Dave Mascarenas took a dangerous dive into the La Brea tar pits searching for police evidence.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Maybe your idea of a typical crime scene is set in a ransacked hotel room or a dark alley.

But Los Angeles Police Sergeant Dave Mascarenas doesn't investigate crimes on land. He heads up the LAPD's dive team, and one of his most harrowing adventures is the subject of this week's Criminal podcast, hosted by Phoebe Judge

Criminal is a podcast recorded at WUNC.

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