5 True Crime Podcast Episodes that'll get you in the Mood for Spooky Season

With fall fast approaching, we’re spending the last few weeks of summer getting in the mood for our favorite season⁠—bring on the cool, crisp weather, changing leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, and spooky decor! To go with this “everything fall” mindset, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite true crime podcast episodes that will definitely give you the chills (pun intended). If you have more creepy true crime podcast episodes for us to listen to, let us know in the comments below!

Crime Junkie: Serial Killer Charlie Brandt: Pro Tip: If you listen to this one on a plane, try not to gasp out loud. Crime Junkie hosts Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat tell the little-known story of serial killer Charlie Brandt, who, at age 13, shot and killed his pregnant mother and years later in 2004, killed his wife, Teri, and then brutally murdered his niece Michelle, who was staying at her aunt and uncle’s house to escape Hurricane Ivan. Investigators arrived at Brandt’s home to a gruesome scene. Teri was found slumped in a chair covered in blood, and in the bedroom, Michelle had been decapitated and her heart was removed from her body. Listen to the full episode for details on what happened to Charlie and to learn more about other murders that were later linked to him.

Generation Why: Death of Ellen Greenberg: This episode covers the peculiar phenomenon of “locked door” murders. In January of 2011, 27-year-old teacher Ellen Greenberg was found stabbed to death inside her Philadelphia apartment that she shared with her fiance, Sam. At 4:45 p.m., Sam left for the gym and 30 minutes later when he returned, the door was bolted shut and Ellen wasn’t answering. He finally broke through the door to find Ellen in a chair, bleeding and unresponsive. How could Ellen have died when her apartment was locked and bolted from the inside? Was this a suicide case? Did Sam kill Ellen? Generation Why hosts Aaron and Justin talk through all the possibilities as to what could have happened to Ellen Greenberg and it’s fascinating to hear. 

Criminal: Episode 113 Hostage: Criminal host Phoebe Judge and her smooth-as-silk radio voice delve into a 1973 bank robbery case that happened in Stockholm, Sweden. Think Italian Job but with less shiny technology and gadgets. Four people were held inside the bank’s vault for six days, and by the end of the six days, the hostages were begging the police to “go easy” on their two captors. This case is how Swedish psychologist and criminologist Nils Bejerot coined the term “Stockholm Syndrome” when it came to the hostages’ unlikely response towards the robbers. The podcast episode interviews one of the robbers (I felt bamboozled because he seemed like a nice guy) as well as several of the hostages. 

The First Degree: MacKenzie Lueck: Obviously this is a very new case that happened recently in the summer of 2019, but hosts Billy Jensen, Alexis Linkletter, and Jac Vanek do a great job of researching and revealing details that weren’t reported on the news about alleged murderer Ayoola Ajayi. College student MacKenzie Lueck got off a plane in Salt Lake City at 2:00 a.m. on June 17th, 2019 and completely fell off the grid after taking a Lyft to a park where she was dropped off. On June 28th, Salt Lake police said that burned remains found in suspect Ayoola Ajayi’s backyard matched those of MacKenzie Lueck, who was then pronounced dead. Who is Ayoola Ajayi and why did he murder MacKenzie? This First Degree episode dives into the mind of the murderer and also uncovers new details about MacKenzie and the overall case timeline. 

Southern Fried True Crime: 61: Mark Barton: Family Annihilator and Spree Killer: Southern Fried True Crime host and native Tennessean, Erica Kelley tells the seldom talked about story of Mark Barton, a twisted killer who worked as a day-trader. He was fired several times for losing large amounts of his investment firm’s money until one day he cracked. On July 29, 1999 he bludgeoned his wife and three children to death with a hammer and then drove to his previous workplace, Momentum Securities, where he shot and killed four of his former coworkers. He then drove to another one of his previous workplaces, All-Tech Investment Group, where he pulled out a gun and killed five more people. It’s also said that Barton likely killed his first wife and mother-in-law, but he was never indicted for those crimes. Police found notes attached to his wife and children’s bodies that explained why he killed them, “I don't plan to live very much longer, just long enough to kill as many of the people that greedily sought my destruction.”