Criminal
 
In February of 1896, a little boy discovered a woman's headless body in a farmer's field in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. No one knew who she was, or what had happened. Newspapers carried headlines like "Hunt for the Head" and "Headless Horror." Quickly, the crime scene became a tourist attraction and visitors traveled from all over to collect bloody souvenirs. The gruesome details were adapted into a popular song that's been recorded dozens of times. We talk with folklorist Sarah Bryan about the true story behind the murder ballad, and the band Elephant Micah performs an original arrangement. 
 
Download Elephant Micah’s “Pearl Bryan” on iTunes or Bandcamp. Read their guide, “How to Bring a Murder Ballad Back to Life” here.
 
We're doing live shows in Durham, Seattle, LA, and San Francisco this fall. Tickets on sale now. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. Say hello on Twitter @criminalshow


 
Direct download: Episode_24__Pearl_Bryan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona has the largest collection of petrified wood in the world. The beautiful wood is more than 200 million years old, and visitors to the park often take a little piece home with them as a souvenir. But stealing the wood has serious consequences, both legal and, some say, supernatural

See photographs of the conscience letters and learn more about Ryan Thompson's book here

Check out our original episode illustrations at thisiscriminal.com. Say hi on Twitter @criminalshow. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

 
 
Direct download: Episode_23__Triassic_Park.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of rare books have been disappearing across America since the late 90s, and haven't resurfaced in the marketplace. They've just vanished, never to be seen again. But unlike most thieves, this thief is motivated by something more abstract and romantic than money, which makes him extremely difficult to catch. 

Check out our original episode illustrations at thisiscriminal.com. Say hi on Twitter @criminalshow. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX

You might like this: phoebejudges.squarespace.com.

Direct download: Episode_22__Ex_Libris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Julius Robinson had killed for revenge before, and so when his sister was brutally murdered in her sleep last year, he says he planned to "get" the killer. He felt like his family expected him to get revenge, because that's what he'd always done, both in and out of prison. But when he learned that the killer was actually his 17-year-old nephew, he struggled against his family's expectations and his own.

Music by Elephant Micah. To learn more about Criminal, visit us at thisiscriminal.com. Say hi on Twitter @criminalshow. If you live in NY, join us for a live show on July 15th at The Bell House

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 

 

Direct download: Episode_21__Bloodlines.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Karen Miller met a man named Gil Harper on Facebook. They started flirting. The flirtation grew more serious. Eventually, they planned to meet in real life. Gil would travel from London to meet Karen for her birthday. With his arrival just a few days away, Karen's son scrambled to learn more about Gil's identity. But trying to determine whether someone is who they say they are turned out to be a whole lot more confusing and dangerous than Chris imagined. 

To learn more, visit us at thisiscriminal.com. We're on Twitter @criminalshow. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 

Direct download: Episode_20__Gil_from_London.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Sandie Alger is a 71-year-old woman with a very long rap sheet. She was in and out of prison throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and upped her game each time she got out. Prison, she says, is where you move "up the criminal ladder, just like the corporate ladder." 

To learn more about Criminal, visit us at thisiscriminal.com. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 

Direct download: Episode_19__Mothers_Little_Helper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Police officer John Edwards was patrolling a quiet neighborhood in Bellaire, Texas when he saw an SUV driven by two young African-American men. It was just before 2am on December 31, 2008. Edwards followed the SUV and ran the license plate number. When his computer indicated that the SUV was stolen, Edwards drew his gun and told the two men to get down on the ground. It wasn't until later that he realized he'd typed the wrong license plate number into his computer. He was off by one digit. By the time he realized his mistake, one of the men had already been shot in the chest at close range. 

To learn more about Criminal, visit us at thisiscriminal.com. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 

Direct download: Episode_18__695BGK.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

No one disputes that it's against the law to take another person's life, but is it against the law to sit with someone and watch while they commit suicide? We meet an elderly woman who sneaks around the country as an "exit guide." 

To learn more about Criminal, visit our (newly redesigned!) site: thisiscriminal.com

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 

Direct download: Episode_17__Final_Exit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

On July 17th, 1889, the residents of Clayton County, Iowa woke up to news of the worst crime in their history. A Civil War veteran and his young wife had been murdered in their bed in a grisly attack. Their two children escaped to raise the alarm. But something was off. There were no suspects. There were no clues. To quote the local newspaper, the whole thing was “surrounded in a veil of mystery."

 
To learn more about Criminal, visit thisiscriminal.com

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 
Direct download: Episode_16_Poster_Boy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT

Dan Stevenson has lived in Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood for 40 years. He says crime has been an issue for as long as he can remember, but he isn't one to call the police on drug dealers or sex workers. He's a pretty "live and let live" kind of guy. Or he was. Before he finally got fed up and took matters into his own hands.

To learn more about Criminal, visit thisiscriminal.com

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. 

Direct download: Episode_15__Hes_Neutral.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am EDT