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.
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.
One Sunday night in November 1987, something very odd happened in the middle of the nine o’clock news in Chicago. As one television viewer said, it felt like someone threw "a brick through your window." A television engineer said it felt like "a home invasion." And a little boy said it was "very, very funny."
Early one morning in 1948, a phone call woke up the police chief in the small town of Clearwater, Florida. The caller said he’d seen something strange at the beach. Residents woke up that morning to find an odd set of footprints in the sand, and a rumor began circulating that Clearwater Beach had a sea monster.
In 1932, a group of men in a speakeasy in New York City hatched a plan — to take out life insurance on a loner named Michael Malloy, and make his death look like an accident. They thought it would be easy money. But Michael Malloy would become known as the man who just wouldn’t die.
On May 8, 2013, a man named Timothy Jones was arrested in Chicago. He says it wasn’t until he got to the police station that he found out that he was being charged with murder. He didn’t even know someone had died.
In the mid-1800s, Harvard Medical School had a reputation for being a "den of body snatchers." And then, in November 1849, the school’s most prominent supporter went missing. He was last seen walking into the medical school building.
Early in his career, Errol Morris read about a shocking series of alleged insurance crimes in Florida. When he told an insurance investigator he wanted to go to Florida to make a documentary, the investigator said, "Don't even think about it." Errol Morris went anyway. Today, the story behind the movie he couldn't figure out how to make, working as a private detective, and meeting Ed Gein.