In the mood for a mystery? Hear Michigan’s best “whodunits” in these Mitten-made podcasts.
MICHIGAN—There’s nothing wrong with loving a good mystery. And when that mystery is set in your own backyard, the chills run even deeper.
The true crime genre is definitely trending these days. From miniseries and documentaries universally acclaimed on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to teams of amateur “websleuths” on internet forums like Reddit, Americans have a fascination with real crime stories, including those left unsolved. The true crime genre is like the crime drama, but takes it a step further by documenting a real case, often with dramatizations. True crime podcasts, though, are often the work of investigative reporters and roundtable discussions amongst enthusiasts.
Unlike their streaming service cousin, podcasts are often completely free to listen to, and make great auditory companions for everything from daily commutes to workouts to household chores. The Infinite Dial survey indicates podcast listenership is steadily growing in the United States, with 37% of the population having listened to a podcast in the last month in 2020. This rate is nearly double what it was in 2016. True crime podcasts make up a significant portion of all podcast topics, and they are especially popular among women.
Ready to find the podcasts most related to true crime stories near your hometown? Here are several Michigander-made podcasts to get you started.
Your Host: Steve Garagiola
Based In: WDIV Local 4 in Detroit, MI
This podcast, organized by the popular Detroit news media outlet ClickOnDetroit, takes several episodes to dive deep into some of Michigan’s most monumental crime stories. Emmy Award-winning newscaster and WDIV anchor Steve Garagiola guides listeners through the intricacies of these significant cases.
Season Four, the most recent season, follows the life of Jimmy Hoffa, a union organizer and America’s most infamously known missing person. Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982, but many mysteries still surround the case.
The other seasons are also worth a listen. Season Three follows the Oakland County Child Killer, an unidentified serial killer who murdered at least four child victims in Oakland County between 1976 and 1977. Season Two documents the story of White Boy Rick, also known as Richard Wershe Jr., the youngest FBI informant who helped the FBI nab Detroit’s drug kingpins. Wershe became an informant in the 1980s when he was only 14 years old. Wershe was then arrested for possession of cocaine and sentenced to life in prison, but was recently released in 2020. Season One follows the 2010 missing persons case of the Skelton children from their small southern Michigan town of Morenci. The three brothers were all under the age of 10 when they vanished from their father’s home under suspicious circumstances.
Michigan Crime Stories
Your Hosts: Jessica Shepherd and Gus Burns
Based In: MLive in Ann Arbor, MI
Michigan’s famous statewide news source, MLive, produces a podcast documenting some of Michigan’s most curious cases. Many of these chilling cases come from rural Michigan and our own backyards.
The most recent story involves the Pinconning Paralyzer, Michigan’s most infamous marijuana strain for decades. The strain first arrived in Michigan in the 1970s, supposedly from seeds smuggled home by Vietnam War veterans. The strain vanished in the late 1990s due to large-scale drug busts and the deaths of its purported originators, but it remained a source of tall tales and urban legends. Now, with the industry revitalized due to recreational marijuana legalization, the Pinconning Paralyzer may be returning.
Other stories featured in Michigan Crime Stories are perhaps more morbid. One episode documents the Witch of Delray, an immigrant woman in 1930s Detroit accused of murder. Another follows a family massacre committed in Muskegon in the 1990s. Other episodes feature two deer hunters who went missing in northern Michigan, and a woman who fell to her death on the Pictured Rocks.
Your Host: Nina Innsted
Although she is not currently living in Michigan, the host of the Already Gone podcast is a graduate of Central Michigan University and still works with the Missing in Michigan group for Michigan missing person cases. Nina Innsted’s podcast Already Gone features disappearances and murders across the Great Lakes, from Illinois to New York and including Michigan.
One recent episode features a 1999 murder of a Hazel Park mother. A four-part series explores the execution style murder of New Baltimore teenager Justin Mello. Other Michigan cases include a Macomb County crime spree, an 18-year-old in Saginaw who never came home from the store, and a 10-year-old’s sleepover in Warren that went horribly wrong.
Your Host: Jenn Carpenter and Dani Fairman
Based In: Lansing, MI
Jenn Carpenter is a fixture of all things morbid and weird in Lansing. She owns Deadtime Stories, a spooky bookstore in Lansing’s Old Town. She wrote Haunted Lansing to document the haunted locales of Michigan’s capitol. And she’s the founder of Demented Mitten Tours, a company offering paranormal and true crime tours in Mid-Michigan. And on the side, she hosts the podcast So Dead to discuss Michigan crime, history, and all things paranormal.
So Dead covers crime cases such as the 2016 Kalamazoo shooting rampage, the 1978 school shooting at Lansing’s Everett High School, and the childhood of Rochester-born female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The podcast also features oddities from around the Mitten, such as the Lake Michigan Triangle, where unexplained weather phenomenon occurs, and tall tales about Michigan’s cryptid creatures. The Cereal Killer Chronicles, a miniseries, covers the history and violence of the Kellogg family and their Battle Creek cereal empire.
Your Hosts: Lindsey Smith and Kate Wells
Based In: Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, MI
A project from NPR, Believed is a podcast following the Larry Nassar case, one of the largest sexual abuse cases in US history. With exclusive interviews with Nassar’s victims, Believed tracks how Nassar got away with his sexual crimes for years, how he manipulated people away from the victim’s perspective, and most importantly, how he was finally taken down by the women he had abused.
Your Spooky Neighbors
Your Hosts: Gracey Mussina and Stephanie Hofstra
Based In: Grand Rapids, MI
Meeting your neighbor by chance and deciding to set up a podcast may sound far-fetched, but it’s exactly what happened to Your Spooky Neighbors hosts Gracey and Stephanie. The duo is relatively new to the podcast scene, but even though they only started mid-2021, they’ve covered some incredible and lesser-known stories around the Mitten.
Their true crime cases delve into more contemporary cases, such as the murder of Brooke Slocum by the Michigan Craigslist Killer, the murder of Chelsea Bruck at a Monroe County Halloween party, the murder of Ashley Young at Mulligan’s Pub in Grand Rapids, and Dennis DePue, the Coldwater murderer who inspired Jeepers Creepers. However, the Spooky Neighbors also delve into the weirder stuff, like the Melon Heads urban legend at the Felt Mansion in Saugatuck, the hauntings at the Whitney in Detroit, and the many horrors of the Traverse City State Hospital.
For more information, visit Your Spooky Neighbors on Facebook and Instagram. Listen on Apple and Spotify.