Criminal Podcast

A drawing of a naked person running.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Streaking is a stunt that has stood the test of time. People have been streaking at least since the 1700's, some saying it started with Quakers running through the streets to show the "naked truth of the Gospel." These days, it's sporting events where we are most likely to see someone naked running across the field.  In the latest episode of the Criminal Podcast, host Phoebe Judge takes a look at the legal history of streaking.  

The Criminal podcast is recorded at WUNC.

A drawing by Julienne Alexander
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

In the 1950's, men and women in the military across America were given dishonorable discharges after being outed as gay. It was called the Lavender Scare.

A drawing of Evelyn Nesbit, a recreation of Charles Dana Gibson's "The Eternal Question".
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Before anyone knew what an "It Girl" was, there was Evelyn Nesbit.

The actress and model was one of the most famous faces of early 20th century America.

illustration of playing cards with the words 'this is love'
Illustration by Julienne Alexander

Four years ago when Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer launched the podcast “Criminal,” their desire was to create a show that they controlled. It turned into one of the most beloved podcasts, according to many best-of lists. More importantly, it set a bar that many other crime-themed shows aspire to. A few years in, Judge and Spohrer put their heads together and thought: now, let’s create a podcast for us. Figuring it gets a bad rap, they decided to chose love as the topic for their next creative endeavor.

JULIENNE ALEXANDER / Criminal

When Sheila Wysocki decided that she would solve the murder of her college roommate, she had no idea that it would lead to a life of private investigation. But that's just what happened. (You can hear more about that Cold Case here.) This week's Criminal podcast tells Sheila's story. Host Phoebe Judge went to Nashville to shadow her at work.

Cold case file
JULIENNE ALEXANDER / CRIMINAL

When the Dallas Police Department fails to find the person responsible for the death of a college sophomore, her best friend steps in to solve the case.  

JULIENNE ALEXANDER / CRIMINAL

In the early 1970s, a horrific crime shook the city of Casper, Wyoming. People there still talk about the brutal attack of Amy Burridge, 11, and her half-sister, Becky Thompson, 18. What happened to two sisters on an isolated bridge on a cold September night is the subject of this week's episode of the Criminal podcast.

A drawing of Willie Bosket
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

For decades, children and teenagers were tried as juveniles in the United States no matter the severity of their crime. That changed 30 years ago because of one person.

This week's episode of Criminal explores the story of that person. His name was Willie Bosket, and he became known as the most dangerous inmate in New York history. 

A drawing of Masterpiece, the poodle.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

In the 1960's, the poodle was the most popular dog in the country.  The poodle's rise to fame in America is due in large part to one man, and one dog.  The story of Count Pulaski and what happened to his  Masterpiece are the subject of this week's Criminal podcast.

Criminal is recorded at WUNC.

This week's year-end episode of Criminal shares some listener stories about spooky visitors.
Julienne Alexander / CRIMINAL

The Criminal podcast often examines the back story of infamous crimes. But one popular story remained a mystery, and made some of your skin crawl. This week's year-end episode of Criminal shares some listener stories about spooky visitors. 

A drawing of fingerprints.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

In the latest Criminal podcast, we hear about the notorious wrongful conviction of Willie Grimes, who was arrested in Hickory in 1987 on rape and kidnapping charges and spent more than two decades in prison.

Secrets and Séances
JULIENNE ALEXANDER / CRIMINAL

In this week's Criminal podcast, we hear the story of a Scottish woman named Helen Duncan, who was put in jail during World War II for practicing witchcraft. The British government believed she was a threat to national security.

A drawing of plants under a microscope.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Botanists know all about plants, whether they're working in a forest or on a farm, but they can also identify plant matter after it's begun digesting. It turns out, that can be a pretty useful skill in solving murder cases. That's the topic on this week's Criminal podcast.

Criminal: The Big Lick

Oct 6, 2017
This week's Criminal podcast provides a look into the dark side of horse shows.
JULIENNE ALEXANDER / CRIMINAL

This week's Criminal podcast provides a look into the dark side of horse shows. The story comes from contributor Mary Helen Montgomery, who she investigated a controversial practice involved in showing Tennessee Walking Horses. 

A drawing of floodwaters
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

Destructive flooding is sometimes seen as an "act of God," but one Illinois man is serving time in prison for causing the Mississippi River to inundate a town in Missouri. We hear his story in this week's Criminal Podcast. Phoebe Judge hosts the show.

Julienne Alexander / Criminal

  


  

In the 19th century, the weak beer and cider that many Americans were drinking at every meal began to be replaced by distilled liquor: rums and whiskeys with a much higher alcohol content. This created a lot of problems, especially for women. Men began spending a lot of time and money in bars. Many weren't helping out at home, or even buying food. Women all over the country advocated for temperance, but the face of prohibition was a woman named Carrie Nation. Her story is the subject of this week's episode of the Criminal podcast.

A drawing of Effigy Mounds.
Julienne Alexander / Criminal

National Parks and Monuments are often considered wholesome environments: peaceful places that preserve nature and history. However, this week's Criminal podcast tells how the remains of 41 American Indians disappeared from the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa.

Criminal: The Procedure

Jul 7, 2017
JULIENNE ALEXANDER/CRIMINAL

Abortion has been legal in the United State for almost 45 years, but before it was, seeking an abortion was very dangerous. This week's Criminal podcast tells the story of a covert network of clergy who organized to help women get illegal abortions in the late 1960s. 

Julienne Alexander/Criminal

We don't often get to hear the police speak candidly, but this week's Criminal episode offers the personal perspective of former Dallas Police Chief David Brown. He was chief during the 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers days after protests of the police-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Criminal: All The Time In The World

Jun 2, 2017
Julienne Alexander/CRIMINAL

This week's Criminal podcast takes us on a trip to explore the depths of human decomposition at a so-called body farm. Phoebe Judge tells us about her visit to the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University.

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."

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