back arrowCriminal

Episode 2: Pants On Fire

Episode description

For nearly a century we've been trying to read someone's truthfulness by the way they act. Be it through machine, or our own intuition. The police have tried. The FBI has tried. The CIA has tried. But the fact is… most of their efforts just don't work.

Are we doomed to ignorance? Maybe not.

episodes iconMore Episodes

Episode 104: Witness

December 7th, 2018


We speak to a man who has given thousands of people new names, told them where they would live, and warned them they could never go back …

Bonus Episode: The Chase

November 30th, 2018


Episode 103: Get Out of My House

November 16th, 2018


On a hot summer day in 1978, a group of friends started renovating an old house in Atlanta. They were steaming wallpaper off of the walls …

This is Love: How to Live Forever

November 14th, 2018


Episode 102: Ride-Along

November 2nd, 2018


We spend the day in a police car in Austin, Texas.

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

If you haven't already, please …

Episode 101: The Fox

October 19th, 2018


This episode picks up where Episode 100 left off. We suggest you listen to them in order.

When Martin McNally met another plane hijacker in prison, they started coming up with a plan to escape...using the …

I'm Phoebe Judge

October 5th, 2018


Thanks for helping us celebrate 100 episodes!

Episode 100: Ten Thousand Feet in the Air

October 5th, 2018


On the afternoon of June 23rd, 1972, Martin McNally walked into the St. Louis airport with a wig, a sawed-off rifle, and a plan.

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

If you haven't already, …

Episode 99: Racehorse Haynes

September 21st, 2018


There is nothing Richard "Racehorse" Haynes wouldn't do to win a case. He once held a cattle prod against his skin. He cross examined an …

Episode 98: The Doctors

September 7th, 2018


Three of America's most experienced trauma surgeons speak with us about what happens when someone is shot.

Special thanks to Dr. Amy …

Episode 97: Palace of Justice

August 17th, 2018


When Benjamin Ferencz was 27 years old, he prosecuted his very first trial. There were 22 defendants, each of them high-ranking members …

Episode 96: On the Run

August 3rd, 2018


When Tyler Wetherall was a kid, her mother and father packed up the family car and drove through the night. They were on the run from the FBI. And by the time she was 9, Tyler had learned how to communicate in …

Episode 95: The Job

July 20th, 2018


Not long into his job as prison superintendent, Frank Thompson was asked to write the manual on lethal injection for the state of Oregon. Capital punishment had not been implemented in more than 30 years, and …

Episode 94: The Chase

July 6th, 2018


Mark Roberts has attended almost every major sporting event in the world. And he's been escorted off the field almost every time.

Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

If you haven't already, …

Episode 93: Lavender Scare

June 15th, 2018


Helen James grew up in a military family - her great great grandfather fought in the Civil War, her father in WWI, and her uncles in WWII. So when she enlisted in 1952, she felt like she belonged. Shortly …

Episode 92: Dementia Americana

June 1st, 2018


This episode picks up where Episode 91 left off. We suggest you listen to them in order.

The early 20th century's biggest murder trial, and …

Episode 91: The "It" Girl

May 18th, 2018


Episode 90: Sharks

May 4th, 2018


The U.S. Navy attempted to develop a shark attack repellant after many sailors were attacked during WWII. The first step was the formation of a "Shark Research Panel," which led to what we have today: the …

Episode 89: Shadowing Sheila

April 20th, 2018


Episode 88: Cold Case

April 6th, 2018


In 1984, Sheila Wysocki found herself helping the police investigate the murder of her college roommate. Detectives asked her to help gather …

Episode 87: Casper, Wyoming

March 23rd, 2018


David Dovala has lived in Casper, Wyoming since he was 19. He’s worked all kinds of cases, first as a detective and later as sheriff, but a 1973 murder stays with him. This episode contains descriptions of …

Episode 86: Willie Bosket

March 9th, 2018


Before he was 10 years old, Willie Bosket had skipped school, started fires, picked pockets, and stolen a car. A psychiatrist at Bellevue …

Episode 85: The Manual

February 23rd, 2018


In 1993, a family was found murdered in their home. A Maryland police spokesperson described the homicide investigation as the most …

A New Show from the Makers of Criminal: Episode 1

February 14th, 2018


In 1971, David Alexander went for a run in Central Park and started talking to a stranger. For our first episode of This Is Love, a story about what's possible when we bet everything on each other.

This Is Love

Episode 84: Masterpiece

February 9th, 2018


In the 1950s poodles were all the rage - one tabloid even reported that when a girl “makes the big time she traditionally acquires 3 things …

This Is Love

January 26th, 2018


Some spiders eat their young, and some eat their parents … love is never simple. From the makers of the award-winning podcast Criminal, This is Love investigates life’s most persistent mystery. Stories of …

Episode 83: The Mothers

January 26th, 2018


There is a group in Durham, NC called "Parents of Murdered Children." This week, we meet three of its members.

Criminal is launching a new show that investigates life’s most persistent mystery: love. Subscribe …

Bonus Episode: Like a Page from a Book

January 15th, 2018


In 1892, a gruesome murder took place in a small fishing village in Argentina. The police had a suspect who would not confess. What happened …

Episode 82: The Choir

January 12th, 2018


As a child, Lawrence Lessig was a gifted singer. His church choir director encouraged him to attend a choir camp at a prestigious boarding …

Episode 81: Unexpected Guests

December 15th, 2017


Three mysteries we can't stop thinking about.



Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

If you haven't already, please review us on iTunes! It's an important way to help new listeners discover …

Episode 80: Photo, Hair, Fingerprint

December 1st, 2017


In 1988, a man in Hickory, NC was sentenced to life in prison based on evidence that experts would later call "junk science." It took him 24 …

Episode 79: Secrets and Séances

November 17th, 2017


Helen Duncan was a famous medium who travelled around Britain in the 1940s performing séances. She claimed to speak to the dead, and even produce physical manifestations of their spirits. But when she seemed to …

Episode 78: The Botanist

November 3rd, 2017


In 1993, a man in Steamboat Springs, Colorado was found dead in his home. He'd been burned with a stun gun, hit with a shovel, and shot …

Episode 77: The Escape

October 20th, 2017


In 1962, two men managed to escape the one prison in America that was supposed to be inescapable. They were never found. More than 50 years …

Episode 76: The Big Lick

October 6th, 2017


The Tennessee Walking Horse has a natural gait that's famously smooth. And, if trained in a certain way, it can perform a walk that's even …

Episode 75: The Gatekeeper

September 22nd, 2017


"I keep saying 'where's the body? Kill someone,'" Marilyn Stasio told us. She reads at least 200 crime novels a year to determine which are …

Episode 74: Catastrophe

September 8th, 2017


In 1993, more than 1,000 levees broke along the Mississippi River, flooding thousands of acres. In most cases the floods were seen as an “Act of God.” In one case, however, the flood was a crime: “knowingly …

Episode 73: Carry A. Nation

August 18th, 2017


At the turn of the century, Carry Nation was “America’s foremost lady hellraiser” and "the apostle of reform violence.” In her own words, …

Episode 72: Bears, Birds, and Bones

August 4th, 2017


As long as 2,500 years ago, Native Americans placed the bones of the dead in giant mounds of earth in the shape of animals. The Effigy Mounds National Monument was created to protect the mounds - and the bones …

Episode 71: A Bump in the Night

July 21st, 2017


Amber Dawn was 20 when she moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Enumclaw, Washington. On her very first night, she began to notice strange sounds. And they didn't stop. 


Criminal is a proud member of …

Episode 70: The Procedure

July 7th, 2017


In 1967, a very unlikely group of individuals gathered to help women quietly break the law and obtain an abortion. The first step was to …

Episode 69: Becoming Chief Brown

June 16th, 2017


Shortly after David Brown was sworn in as the Dallas Chief of Police, his son shot and killed a police officer. Just before he retired as …

Episode 68: All the Time in the World

June 2nd, 2017


The “body farm" at Texas State University is a place almost no one except researchers and law enforcement are able to see, because it's one of very few places in the world that deliberately puts out human …

Episode 67: Milk Carton Kids

May 19th, 2017


On a Sunday morning in 1982, in Des Moines, Iowa, Johnny Gosch left his house to begin his usual paper route. A short time later, his parents were awakened by a phone call – it was a neighbor — their paper …

Episode 66: Bully

May 5th, 2017


Skidmore, Missouri is a very small town. In the '70s, there was only one bar, one grocery store, and one bully. Ken McElroy was so ruthless …

Episode 65: The Kingfish

April 21st, 2017


In 1928, Huey P. Long became the youngest Governor in Louisiana’s history. He bragged that he bought lawmakers like “sacks of potatoes, …

Episode 64: 420

April 7th, 2017


The Colorado Department of Transportation says the 420 mile markers on the state's highways were stolen so often, they had to replace them …

Episode 63: Rochester, 1991

March 17th, 2017


Kim Dadou says she wishes she had a nickel for every person who has asked why she didn't leave her abusive boyfriend. They stayed together for four years. And then, in the middle of the night on December 17th, …

Episode 62: Wildin

March 3rd, 2017


In 2014, 16-year-old Wildin Acosta left Olancho, Honduras and traveled toward the U.S. border. When he arrived, he turned himself in to …

Episode 61: Vanish

February 17th, 2017


People have faked death to escape criminal convictions, debts, and their spouses. In 2007, a man named Amir Vehabovic faked his death just to see who showed up at the funeral (answer: only his mom). It's an …

Episode 60: Finding Sarah and Philip

February 3rd, 2017


In 2005, Teri Knight drove 650 miles on midwestern roads through Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois, pleading with the public to help her do what law enforcement and the FBI had not been able to: find the remains …

Episode 59: In Plain Sight

January 20th, 2017


In 1849, abolitionist and attorney Wendell Phillips wrote: "We should look in vain through the most trying times of our revolutionary …

Episode 58: Walnut Grove

January 6th, 2017


In 2010, Michael McIntosh's son was incarcerated at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in the small town of Walnut Grove, Mississippi. One Sunday, McIntosh went to visit his son and was turned away …

Episode 57: Everyday Genius

December 16th, 2016


To close out 2016, we're bringing you two lighter stories of people exhibiting everyday genius under. . . unusual circumstances. Comedian …

Episode 56: Don't Let Me See You In The Whirl

December 2nd, 2016


Since 1938, a weekly African-American owned newspaper called The Evening Whirl has covered crime in St. Louis with a style all its own, using alliteration and rhyme, and often omitting the usual crime-reporting …

Episode 55: The Shell Game

November 18th, 2016


The Magic Castle in Hollywood has been a private club for magicians since 1963, and its walls are lined with portraits of magicians past and …

Episode 54: Melinda and Clarence

November 4th, 2016


SPOILER WARNING: Please listen to Episode 53: Melinda and Judy before you listen to this one.

Melinda Dawson found out on the same day in 1998 that her adoptive mother had been killed and that her husband …

Episode 53: Melinda and Judy

October 21st, 2016


When Melinda Dawson was seven years old, she learned that she was adopted under mysterious circumstances. As she got older and had children …

Episode 52: The Checklist

October 7th, 2016


SPOILER WARNING: Please listen to Episode 51: Money Tree before you

listen to this one. While working on our last episode, we became

curious about the nature of psychopathy -- how it is defined, and what

to …

Episode 51: Money Tree

September 23rd, 2016


When Axton Betz-Hamilton was 11 years old, her parents' identities were stolen. At that time, in the early 90s, consumer protection services …

Episode 50: This is Criminal

September 9th, 2016


To celebrate Criminal's 50th episode, we check in with some of our most memorable guests including Fran Schindler from Episode 17: "Final Exit," Dan Stevenson from Episode 15: "He's Neutral," Corporal Scott …

Episode 49: The Editor

August 26th, 2016


In November of 1988, Robin Woods was sentenced to sixteen years in the notoriously harsh Maryland Correctional Institution. In prison, Robin found himself using a dictionary to work his way through a book for …

Episode 48: Eight Years

August 12th, 2016


2008 was an exciting time to be a Harry Potter fan. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, had been released. Movies were on the way. And author Melissa Anelli was at the center of it all, …

Episode 47: Brownie Lady

July 15th, 2016


Shortly after Meridy Volz moved from Milwaukee to San Francisco, she received a phone call from a friend asking her to take over a small …

Episode 46: Tiger

July 1st, 2016


There are more tigers in captivity in America than wild tigers in the entire world. The exact number of captive tigers in this country isn't known, because many of them live in people's backyards or …

Episode 45: Just Mercy

June 17th, 2016


As a law student, Bryan Stevenson was sent to a maximum security prison to meet a man on death row. The man told Stevenson he'd never met an …

Episode 44: One Eyed Joe

June 3rd, 2016


Not only was John Frankford a famous horse thief, he was also a notoriously good escape artist. People thought no jail was strong enough to keep him, but then in 1895 he was sentenced to Philadelphia's Eastern …

Episode 43: 39 Shots

May 20th, 2016


Episode 42: The Finger

May 6th, 2016


People have been giving each other "the finger" since Ancient Greece. The first documented use is said to be a photograph from 1886 in which the pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters extends his middle finger to …

Episode 41: Open Case

April 15th, 2016


Since 1965, there's been an unsolved murder in Houston, Texas. The main suspect managed to disappear and police were never able to find him. …

Episode 40: Pappy

April 1st, 2016


When it comes to the bourbon Pappy Van Winkle, it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you have -- you can't get it unless you're exceptionally lucky or willing to break the law. The Pappy frenzy has …

Episode 39: Either/Or

March 18th, 2016


In 1983, three men were prepared to plead guilty to a violent sexual assault in Anderson, South Carolina. Defense attorneys did not …

Episode 38: Jolly Jane

March 4th, 2016


Jane Toppan was born in Massachusetts in 1857. She attended the Cambridge Nursing School, and established a successful private nursing …

Episode 37: Hastings

February 19th, 2016


In 2010, an eighth-grader brought a loaded gun to a middle school in Hastings, Minnesota. We speak with two students and the principal about …

Episode 36: Perfect Specimen

February 5th, 2016


The 500-year-old Treaty Oak in Austin, Texas was once called "the most perfect specimen of a North American tree." But in 1989, …

Episode 35: Pen & Paper

January 22nd, 2016


As a young woman in the 60s, Andy Austin talked her way into a job as a courtroom sketch artist in Chicago. She spent 43 years sketching everyone from disgraced governors to John Wayne Gacy, and says she only …

Episode 34: The Stay

January 8th, 2016


Michael Ross was the first person in Connecticut to be sentenced to death since 1960. He claimed that he wanted to die in order to atone for what he had done. One journalist spent twenty years trying to figure …

Episode 33: Deep Dive

December 18th, 2015


Sgt. David Mascarenas is the Dive Supervisor for the Los Angeles Police Department. He's been diving his whole life, and prides himself on …

Episode 32: It Looked Like Fire

December 11th, 2015


Episode 31: American Dream

November 27th, 2015


When we're kids, we have ideas of what we want to be when we grow up -- movie star, doctor, astronaut. But what if we dream of being like Butch Cassidy, Jesse James, or John Dillinger? And what happens when …

Episode 30: The Agreement

November 13th, 2015


In 2005, Danny Egipciaco had the opportunity to participate in a robbery of a drug supplier's stash house. He was told he'd take home …

Episode 29: Officer Talon

October 30th, 2015


Corporal Scott Foster of the Hillsborough, NC Police Department worked closely with his K-9 partner, Talon, for many years. They located …

Episode 28: P.D.I.D.

October 9th, 2015


Patti Hammond Shaw is a transgender woman. She's legally female on her birth certificate and driver's license, and has been since 1993. But when she was arrested in 2009, male officers strip-searched her in …

Episode 27: No Place Like Home

September 25th, 2015


In the early 90s, a wealthy magazine publisher was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 18 months in a minimum security prison in Louisiana. …

Episode 26: Angie

September 11th, 2015


In July of 2002, Philadelphia Homicide Detective Pat Mangold was called to the scene of a gruesome murder on the Schuylkill River. When he …

Episode 25: The Portrait

August 28th, 2015


More than eighty years ago, a North Carolina family of nine posed for a Christmas portrait. Two weeks later, all but one of them had been …

Episode 24: Pearl Bryan

August 7th, 2015


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 …

Episode 23: Triassic Park

July 17th, 2015


The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona has the largest collection of petrified wood in the world. The beautiful wood is more than 200 …

Episode 22: Ex Libris

June 26th, 2015


Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of rare books have been disappearing across America since the late 90s, and haven't resurfaced in …

Episode 21: Bloodlines

June 5th, 2015


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 …

Episode 20: Gil From London

May 15th, 2015


Karen Miller met a man named Gil Harper on Facebook. They started flirting. The flirtation grew more serious. Eventually, they planned to …

Episode 19: Mother's Little Helper

April 24th, 2015


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 …

Episode 18: 695BGK

April 3rd, 2015


Police officer John Edwards was patrolling a quiet neighborhood in Bellaire, Texas when he saw an SUV driven by two young African-American …

Episode 17: Final Exit

March 13th, 2015


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 …

Episode 16: Poster Boy

February 20th, 2015


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 …

Episode 15: He's Neutral

January 30th, 2015


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 …

Episode 14: The Fifth Suspect

January 9th, 2015


In June 2014, authorities released information about a massive child pornography ring being conducted in North Carolina.  Four suspects had …

Episode 13: The Big Sleep

December 19th, 2014


Raymond Chandler is often called the greatest American crime novelist, famous for murder mysteries like "The Big Sleep" and "Farewell, My Lovely." He's the subject of several biographies, and his correspondence …

Episode 12: Break The Internet

November 26th, 2014


In 1999, most of America's tech hysteria centered around Y2K. But at that same time, a teenager in Canada was messing around in chat rooms, meeting hackers, and learning tricks. At 15, he decided to put his …

Episode 11: I'm About To Save Your Life

October 30th, 2014


In 1977, a mild-mannered aeronautical engineer sideswiped a parked car in Compton, CA. When he stopped his car to survey the damage, a man opened the driver-side door, shoved him over, and started driving. He …

Episode 10: Dear Sheila

September 26th, 2014


Working as a reporter for a TV station in New Hampshire, Kevin Flynn
was covering the capture and arrest of a female serial killer named
Sheila LaBarre. As he grew more and more obsessed with LaBarre's
story, …

Episode 9: That Crime Of The Month

August 29th, 2014


What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her

actions to PMS? We revisit the first use of the "PMS defense," in this

country, back in 1981. What have we learned about the science of PMS

Episode 8: Can't Rock This Boat

July 29th, 2014


In March 1964, a 35-year-old African American woman named Johnnie Mae

Chappell was walking along the side of the road in Jacksonville,

Episode 7: J.R.R. Ziemba

June 30th, 2014


Crime victims are often put under the same scrutiny as the accused. Not only for their version of events, but sometimes for how they look …

Episode 6: We Lost Them

May 23rd, 2014


On April 13, 2014, former KKK member Frazier Glenn Cross pulled into a Jewish Community Center and ambushed a grandfather and grandson, …

Episode 5: Dropping Like Flies

April 24th, 2014


Every year for the past few years, tens of thousand of flytraps have gone missing – from the wild, from gardens, from nurseries. And, really, nobody knows where they go. What’s cropped up in rural North …

Episode 4: Call Your Mom

March 28th, 2014


There are plenty of things we don't share with our mothers. Dark, sad things. Unless of course, you're both in the business of death.

Episode 3: The Buck Stops Here

February 28th, 2014


With the advent of the Inkjet printer, counterfeiting money became as simple as a trip to Staples. By the year 2000, there were 72 million …

Episode 1: Animal Instincts

January 29th, 2014


In 2001, a woman was found dead in a pool of her own blood. Her husband was convicted of her murder. But a curious neighbor had a different …

Loading ...

Download the RadioPublic app for
 FREE and never miss an episode.

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store