Criminal is a podcast about crime. Not so much the "if it bleeds, it leads," kind of crime. Something a little more complex. Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, and/or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. We're a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX, a curated network of extraordinary, story-driven shows. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
The song “I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four reached number 9 on the Billboard Charts in the week of March 12, 1966. Just months later, Bobby Fuller was found dead. The mystery of what happened to him has been called “the rock and roll version of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.”
When Joan Borsten married actor Oleg Vidov, also known as “the Soviet Robert Redford,” he introduced her to beautiful Soviet animations created in Moscow’s Soyuzmultfilm studio. They eventually acquired the rights to distribute the films outside of the former Soviet Union. One day, Joan realized someone was undercutting their business, and she devised a very Hollywood solution.
In 2010, a $16.5 million Hot Lotto ticket was sold at a gas station in Des Moines, Iowa. At first, no one showed up to claim the prize. And then, a series of lawyers tried to claim the money on behalf of a client they would not name. Things got stranger, and eventually investigators uncovered what has been called the biggest lottery fraud in U.S. history.
One Sunday afternoon, a man named William Mumler decided to take a self portrait. He said he was alone in the photography studio, but as the photograph developed, he saw something very strange—the image of someone else, sitting beside him.
“What I recall most is the way that she grabbed my wrist and, shaking a bit, she said over and over again, 'If it happens, run. Don't let that happen to you. Run. If it ever happens, run.'” It was years before Cynthia Brown understood what her great-grandmother, Athalia Howe, was talking about.
Qandeel Baloch grew up in a conservative village in Pakistan, a place where it was shocking to see a woman swimming outdoors. She ran away from home, changed her name, and eventually became "Pakistan's first social media star." By 2015, she was reported to be one of the 10 most Googled people in Pakistan. The next year, she was dead.
In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean was invited to write a letter to a man on death row named Elmo Patrick Sonnier. She told us, "I thought that all I was going to be doing was writing letters. And lo and behold, two years later, I am in that execution chamber." She's now 81, and has been present at the executions of six men.
With Covid-19 shutdowns, people have been taking advantage of quiet highways to drive as fast as they can from New York City to Redondo Beach, California. They’re trying to break records set in an unofficial and secretive race called the “Cannonball.” In today’s episode, the history of the illegal cross country race, how it has evolved since 1971, and why fans say it will never go away.
When Nathan Myers and Clifford Williams were charged with murder, neither of them were worried they would be convicted. They had dozens of witnesses that could confirm that they had been at a party when the shots were fired. But during their trial, not a single one of those witnesses was asked to testify.