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Murder and Mystery in the Last Frontier

True Crime Podcasts

Listen to tales of true murder and mystery in Alaska.

Listen to tales of true murder and mystery in Alaska.


United States


Listen to tales of true murder and mystery in Alaska.






Mystery Swirls Around the Disappearance of Vladimir Kostenko

Alaska Hatcher Pass Friends and family describe Vladimir Petrovich Kostenko as a seeker, a man searching for the meaning of life and hoping to find his place and purpose in the universe. Alaska, with its raw, untamed wilderness, is a place popular for “seekers” trying to find themselves, calm their minds, and even attain spiritual enlightenment. Unfortunately, though, many of these dreamers have no idea how to survive in the harsh environment of the northern wilderness. Alaska is often...


The Murder of John Hartman and the Fairbanks Four

“You’re trying to fill my brain with things I didn’t do.” Rabinowitz Courthouse, Fairbanks At 2:45 am on October 11th, 1997, three friends in Fairbanks were heading home from a bar when they discovered the badly beaten body of 15-year-old John Hartman. Someone had kicked the boy’s head so many times that he was unrecognizable. He died the following evening when his parents agreed to take him off life support. Sources: O’Donoghue, Brian. 7-12-2014. Vent attorney alleges ‘prosecutorial...


The Bethel School Shooting

Before Santa Fe, before Marjory Stoneman Douglas, before Sandy Hook, and even before Columbine, there was Bethel Regional High School in Bethel, Alaska. On February 19, 1997, Evan Ramsey loaded a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun, hid the gun in his pants, and rode the school bus to the Bethel Regional High School, where he attended classes. What happened next would tear apart the small town of Bethel, Alaska, and as with all the school shootings to follow, students and parents would be left...


The Kidnapping and Murder of Amy Sue Patrick

We can never know another person’s thoughts and motivations. Most killers have a reason to commit murder; whether for revenge, jealously, or money, they understand why they killed their victim. Kyung Yoon, though, said he did not know why he killed Amy Sue Patrick. He claimed he murdered her on the spur of the moment, but some evidence suggests Yoon premeditated the crime. Events in this case took a bizarre twist when the troopers arrested Yoon and hauled him to prison. Sources Mathiesen,...


The Murder of Judy Burgin

August 28, 1993 was a beautiful autumn day for a bicycle ride along the Parks Highway to Grey’s Creek at mile 81.5 on the highway. The burnished leaves of fireweed painted the hillsides a deep red, and a carpet of golden leaves covered the ground. In the distance, Mt. Denali stood watch over the region, wearing a coat of white from the first snows of the season. Judy Burgin When the cyclists noticed a swath of material peeking through a pile of leaves, they stopped to investigate. What they...


Gone Without a Trace

Ben Eielson Russ Merrill Airplanes first disappeared in Alaska as soon as they glided over the mountains, glaciers, oceans, tundra, and forests here. The rugged ocean and landscape of Alaska offer an abundance of places for a plane to vanish. Over the years, many planes have gone missing in Alaska, but not all the outcomes were bad, especially in the early years of aviation in the territory. Often, days or even weeks after a plane disappeared in a remote region and the pilot was assumed...


Deadly Passion

What would you do for love? What if someone stands between you and your heart's desire, and the person in the middle is your true love's estranged spouse? What if the woman you love and her spouse try to rekindle the flames of their damaged marriage, and you must think of them together? Would you accept defeat and quietly walk away, or would you take a more proactive approach? Jim Wheeler decided the best path to his true love's heart was to blow up her husband's truck with her husband in...


The Murder of Shelley Connolly

As soon as detectives saw her body, they knew someone had violently abused and murdered her. Forty-one years later, investigators believe they finally know who killed Shelley Connolly. Sources: DNA links Oregon man to 1978 cold case murder of Shelley Connolly Oregon man arrested, charged with teen’s murder in 41-year-old Anchorage cold case...


The Brutal Killings at Cache Creek

Money often leads to greed and sometimes even to murder, so we should not be surprised to learn about a miner killing other miners for their gold, the rawest form of currency. This story sounds believable from our jaded twenty-first-century perspective. In 1939, though, to the miners in Cache Creek country, the residents of Talkeetna, and people in Anchorage, the murders at Cache Creek represented the worst type of betrayal of the code of trust and respect followed by the independent men and...


Finding the Murderer of Jessica Baggen

When a small Alaska town loses one of its children, the entire community grieves, and when a monster brutally rapes, murders, and discards that child, the residents cry out for answers and justice. In the case of Jessica Baggen, the folks in the community of Sitka, Alaska, would not have those answers for twenty-four years. Sources Boots, Michelle T. 8-11-2020. Suspect in 1996 cold-case murder of Sitka girl killed himself last week in Arkansas, troopers say. Anchorage Daily News. Available...


Miranda Barbour, Serial Killer or Pathological Liar?

Miranda Barbour In December 2013, after police arrested Miranda Barbour, 19, for the murder of Troy LaFerrara in Pennsylvania, Miranda told a news reporter she had murdered between 22 and 100 people. She said she killed a few in North Carolina, Texas, and California, but she claimed most of the murders occurred in her home state of Alaska. Her statement startled law enforcement officials across the country, but they soon began to question her declarations. Was her claim of serial murders...


The Wreck of the SS Princess Sophia – The Unknown Titanic of the West Coast

The deadliest marine disaster on the west coast of North America occurred in Lynn Canal on October 24, 1918, but few people have ever heard of it. Approximately 345 people died when the SS Princess Sophia slid off Vanderbilt Reef and sank. Did the captain’s recklessness cause the disaster, and did his poor decision-making doom the passengers and crew of the Princess Sophia? Sources: SS Princess Sophia Expedition. Available at: Sullivan, Toby. 12/12/2018....


Murder on the banks of the Yukon

When someone brutally murdered the postmistress of Ruby, Alaska, a small village on the Yukon River, the Alaska State Troopers believed they had a ‘locked-room” mystery on their hands. They suspected one of the villagers of killing Agnes Wright. After all, there are only two ways into and out of Ruby: either by boat on the Yukon River or by air travel on a small bush plane. Neither method of transportation is inconspicuous to or from a village where everyone knows everyone else, and a...


The Sinking of the SS Clara Nevada

Was the wreck of the Clara Nevada a terrible accident or the greatest mass-murder in Alaska history? Superstitions swirl around boats, and some captains believe bizarre myths. Renaming a vessel remains foremost among the maritime harbingers of bad luck, and if you dare change the name of your boat, you must follow a strict protocol to avoid certain doom. The Clara Nevada did not even complete her maiden voyage under her new name. Is this boat the case study to prove the truth of the old...


Serial Killer John Joseph Fautenberry

Would you recognize a serial killer if you rubbed elbows with him in a bar or if he struck up a conversation with you on a hiking trail? Maybe something about the person would set off alarm bells, especially if you found yourself alone with him. A sociopath or a psychopath can often present a charming demeanor, though, so most of us would never notice the predator in our midst. We might not realize the friendly stranger is a brutal murderer until we read the news the next day. I learned...


What Happened to the Palmer Brothers?

When a son disappears, his parents suffer a blow from which they will never recover, but how do parents cope when two of their sons vanish? Imagine if those two brothers disappeared a decade apart. I’ve mentioned before the alarming statistics about the number of people who disappear in Alaska. People walk into the woods and never return. They go out to sea on a boat, and the vessel vanishes. Far too many have climbed into the cockpit of an airplane and evaporated into thin air. In this...


The Birdman of Alcatraz

You might not associate The Birdman of Alcatraz with Alaska, but Robert Stroud, often called the Birdman, once lived in Alaska, and after murdering a man in a Juneau bar, he spent the rest of his life, 54 years. He was in solitary confinement for 42 of those years. Stroud is one of Alaska’s most famous criminals, and if you are like me, you will find his story is fascinating. Sources: Robert Stroud Biography (1890-1963). Biography....


The Killer Who Hibernated in Alaska

Retirees Robert and Dagmar Linton eagerly embarked on a long-planned camping trip in the Pacific Northwest, and they promised their children they would be careful. The Lintons did not express concerns about their journey, but Dagmar made sure their wills and affairs were in order before they left home. Was she just cautious, or did she have a premonition something terrible would befall them? Her son and daughter would always wonder if their mother had concerns, and they would never know what...


Who Murdered the Benolkens

Who brutally raped and murdered James and Anne Benolken in their Juneau apartment in 1982? Nearly four decades later, many questions remain unanswered. Emanuel Teller and Newton Lambert Sources Sources Starr, Douglas. 12-1-2013. Do police interrogation techniques produce false confessions? Episode 4: The Benolken Murders, the police investigation and Special Agent Malone Leo Helmar. Murder Alaska...


The Mystery of the “A” Boats

On Valentine’s Day 1983, two new, beautiful sister ships, the Americus and the Altair sank in the Bering Sea in calm water while on their way to the king crab grounds near the Pribilof Islands. Fourteen men lost their lives in the worst disaster in the history of U.S. commercial fishing. A massive investigation ensued to determine what happened to the boats and what could be done to make commercial fishing safer. Those lost: The Americus: George Nations Brent Boles Larry Littlefield Rich...