True Crime

A podcast that examines the intersections of folklore--our traditional stories and beliefs--with true crime.


United States


True Crime


A podcast that examines the intersections of folklore--our traditional stories and beliefs--with true crime.






Sex Trafficking Legends Part 2

In the second part of our discussion of sex-trafficking legends we discuss some actual rumored and documented cases of sex trafficking, Susana Trimarco--a mother fighting back against sex traffickers, and how legends about sex trafficking interact with these actual case in contemporary culture. National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline (USA) 1-888-373-7888 Polaris Project has resources for Trafficking victims. Sources: Anne. 2020. “Stop the Spread of Fake News: No One Is Sex Trafficking You at Target.” Iowa City Moms. Barron, Alexis. 2019. “Letty Serrano Was Abducted And Trafficked For Sex At 13; Two Years Later She Committed Suicide.” Mitu. BBC News. 2013. “Argentina Convicts 10 in Marita Veron Sex Trafficking Case,. Buenos Aires Times. 2018. “32 Years after Her Kidnapping, Argentine Woman Rescued in Bolivia,” December 26. Chiaramonte, Perry. 2019. “Houston Teen Takes Own Life after Surviving Sex-Trafficking Ring,.” Fox News. “Corinna Paige Slusser–Charley Project.” “FBI Informant Speaks with News10NBC; Says He Witnessed Brittanee Drexel’s Murder.” 2019. WHEC-TV. Jackson, Angie. 2018. “Man Named in Brittanee Drexel Investigation to Be Released on House Arrest.” Post and Courier. Johnson, Scott C. 2012. “Argentina’s Susana Trimarco: One Mother’s Fight Against Human Trafficking.” Newsweek, Lahman, Sean. 2019. “Jailhouse Informant in Brittanee Drexel Disappearance Files Lawsuit.” Democrat and Chronicle, Pasqualini, Kym L. 2020. “The Reality of Sex Trafficking in the US: Corinna Slosser Missing.” Medium. Recklein, Courtney M. 2020. “The Strange and Unsolved Disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley.” Film Daily. Roy, Anusha. 2017. “Read This before You Share That Viral Facebook Post about Ross.” KUSA.Com. “R/UnresolvedMysteries: On the 4th of March 1998, 11-Year-Old Rui Pedro from Portugal Disappears near His Mother’s Workplace. 3 Years Later, His Photo Is Found on the Database of Wonderland Club, a Child Pornography Ring. This Is the Last Anyone Saw of Him.” n.d. Reddit. Staver, Anna. 2017. “Do Child Sex Traffickers Look for Victims at the Store?” KUSA.Com,


Sex Trafficking Legends Part 1

In part 1 of an impromptu 2 parter, we discuss legends of women being abducted into sex trafficking. We look at older versions of the legends (who knew ice cream parlors were so dangerous?) as well as modern variants spreading on social media. Sources Anne. 2020. “Stop the Spread of Fake News: No One Is Sex Trafficking You at Target.” Iowa City Moms (blog). February 8, 2020. Ellis, Bill. 2009. “Whispers in an Ice Cream Parlor: Culinary Tourism, Contemporary Legends, and the Urban Interzone.” Journal of American Folklore 122 (1): 53–74. LaCapria, Kim. n.d. “Department Store Sex Trafficking Rumor.” Snopes.Com. Accessed March 10, 2021. Roy, Anusha. 2017. “Read This before You Share That Viral Facebook Post about Ross.” KUSA.Com. July 11, 2017. Staver, Anna. 2017. “VERIFY: Do Child Sex Traffickers Look for Victims at the Store?” KUSA.Com, July 11, 2017.


The Boyfriend's Death

Returning from an unplanned hiatus, Jesse and Kristina discuss the classic urban legend known as "The Boyfriend's Death." What are the implications of stories about couple's being attacked at lovers' lanes? Why is it the man who pays the ultimate price in this story? What things happen when you go outside of populated areas? As always, we compare the legend to true crime stories, discussing some cases in which couples were actually attacked at lover's lanes. Sources: Brunvand, Jan Harold. 2002. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. Illustrated Edition. New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company. Dziemianowicz, Joe. 2021. “On The Colonial Parkway, The Mark Of Unsolved Murders Remains Thanks To Urban Legends.” Oxygen Official Site. February 5, 2021. “Frank Mitchell (Prisoner).” 2020. In Wikipedia. Glazer, Mark. 1987. “The Cultural Adaptation of a Rumour Legend: The Boyfriend’s Death in South Texas.” In Perspectives on Contemporary Legend II, edited by Gillian Bennett, Paul Smith, and J. D. A. Widdowson, 93–108. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. “Kray Twins.” 2021. In Wikipedia. Wilson, Michael. 1998. “Legend and Life: ‘The Boyfriend’s Death’ and ‘The Mad Axeman.’” Folklore 109: 89–95. This episode is dedicated in memory of Kristina's beloved cat Wash Seamus Downs, who passed away suddenly in February.


Is Crime a Laughing Matter?

We take a break from legends and talk about another common form of folklore--jokes! We go over a collection of jokes about serial killers and murder in general. Then we talk about some joke theory and discuss why we joke about things that are so horrible. Sources: Kornheiser, Tony. “Explosive Humor.” Washington Post. April 1, 1996. And the following web links:


Organ Theft Legends

Starting with the legend known as "The Kidney Heist," we embark on a conversation about the realities of organ trafficking. In this legend, a man meets a woman at a bar and accompanies her to her hotel room, only to wake up missing his kidneys. What's the truth behind this legend? Along the way we cover everything from cattle mutilations, the definition of life, and the fact that you really CAN buy everything on Craig's List. Sources: Brickwood, Becky. 2020. “Forced Organ Harvesting: ‘This Is Beyond Understanding.’” Health Europa (blog). January 27, 2020. Campion-Vincent, Véronique. 2002. “Organ Theft Narratives as Medical and Social Critique.” Journal of Folklore Research 39 (1): 33–50. Coffman, Keith. 2020. “Colorado Funeral Home Operators Indicted for Illegally Selling Body Parts.” Reuters, March 18, 2020. Kish, Phillip. 2018. “Mother of Model Whose Body Was Found without Organs Still Seeks Answers.” Wusa9.Com. December 28, 2018. Smith, Saphora. 2019. “China Forcefully Harvests Organs from Detainees, Tribunal Concludes.” NBC News. June 18, 2019. Staff, DecodingScience. 2019. “Organ Harvesting, Human Trafficking, and the Black Market.” Decoded Science (blog). November 12, 2019. Thompson, Don. 2015. “NorCal Inmate Was Cut Nearly in Two, Organs Missing.” KCRA. July 11, 2015. qPhFDjnug9MDTZWvmx9a


The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs

A young babysitter is tormented by creepy phone calls until the operator gives her some unthinkable information, "The call is coming from inside the house!" The legend has been in circulation for half a century and inspired multiple movies, but what's the truth behind the legend? Are babysitters really in danger? And what do these legends tell us about the anxieties of contemporary life? Sources: Berry, Craig. 2018. “The Unsolved Murder of Janett Christman.” True Crime Articles (blog). March 30, 2018. Brunvand, Jan Harold. 1981. The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. ———. 2002. Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. Illustrated Edition. New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company. Greaney, T. J. 2010. “Who Killed Janett Christman?” Columbia Daily Tribune. March 7, 2010. Sweeney, Gary. 2017. “This 15-Year-Old Babysitter Disappeared Over 60 Years Ago — And Was Never Found.” Woman’s Day. February 24, 2017. “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs.” 2020. In Wikipedia.


La Llorona/Maternal Infanticide

In perhaps our darkest topic yet, this week we take on the topic of maternal infanticide. We talk about the legend of La Llorona, some of La Llorona's exploits, and some real cases of mothers who drown their children. We have to give a shout out to Mariana Esquivel, whose unpublished research shed light on some of La Llorona's contemporary representations. Sources: Axtman, Kris. 2001. “Why Juries Often Spare Mothers Who Kill.” Christian Science Monitor, July 9, 2001. Elbein, Asher. 2015. “The Return of La Llorona.” The Texas Observer. February 23, 2015. Jones, Pamela. 1988. “‘There Was a Woman’: La Llorona in Oregon.” Western Folklore 47 (3): 195–211. Leon-Portilla, Miguel, ed. 1990. The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico. Boston: Beacon Press. Limon, Jose E. 1990. “La Llorona, the Third Legend of Greater Mexico: Cultural Symbols, Women, and the Political Unconscious.” In Between Borders: Essays on Mexicana/Chicana History, edited by Adelaida R Del Castillo, 399–432. La Mujer Latina Series. Encino, CA: Floricanto Press. Perez, Domino Renee. 2008. There Was a Woman: La Llorona from Folklore to Popular Culture. University of Texas Press. “Woman Who Threw Six Children in Bayou Gets Probation.” 1987. UPI. 1987.


Tainted Halloween Candy

Kristina and Jesse discuss a legend that shaped (a small portion of) their childhoods and that keeps making the news: Are Satanists injecting poison and hiding razorblades in Halloween candy? Are hippies handing out cannabis laced edibles to unsuspecting children? No. None of these things is happening (aside from the occasional isolated incident). We discuss the origins of the legend, why it is so persistent, and a few random Halloween memories. Sources: Associated Press. n.d. “Warning of Marijuana Halloween Candy Derided as Scare Tactic.” Snopes.Com. Accessed November 5, 2020. Best, Joel, and Gerald T. Horiuchi. 1985. “The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends.” Social Problems 32 (5): 488–99. Segalov, Michael. 2016. “The True Story of the Notorious Trick-or-Treat Murderer.” Vice. October 31, 2016. Snopes Staff. 2000. “FACT CHECK: Poisoned Halloween Candy.” Snopes.Com. November 2, 2000.


Ostension Happens

In our second episode we continue our discussion of "The Killer in the Backseat," but move on to discuss the concept of "ostension," discussing the possibilities of criminals using legends to get ideas for crime. Should we ACTUALLY be checking our backseats? Probably. Along the way we get a story of the time Kristina thought she had a killer in her backseat (She did not! It was Jesse's fault!) Volvo heartbeat sensor commercial: Sources: Associated Press. 2011. “Man Hiding in Back Seat Flees When Horn Honked,” May 3, 2011. ———. 2014. “Man Apologizes for Tacoma Back-Seat Robbery,” March 5, 2014. ———. 2016. “Teen Calls Escort, Is Robbed by Man Hiding in Backseat,” May 21, 2016. Covarrubias, Amanda. 2010. “Ex-Girlfriend Stabs Man with Ice Pick after Hiding in Back Seat of His Car in Yorba Linda, Police Say.” L.A. Now, August 31, 2010. Eldred, Georgia. 2000. “Woman Doctor in Car Ambush; Drug Addict Armed with Screwdriver Hides on Back Seat.” Evening Standard, February 16, 2000. Ellis, Bill. 1989. “Death by Folklore: Ostension, Contemporary Legend, and Murder.” Western Folklore 48 (3): 201–20. English, Nordeka. 1992. “Teen Hiding in Back Seat Part of ‘Lowjacking’ of Woman’s Car.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 11, 1992. Fletcher, Mike. 2011. “Would-Be Abductor Was Hiding in Back Seat, Police Say.” Kokomo Tribune, March 10, 2011. Hamilton Spectator. 2019. “Man Who Was Hiding in Back Seat of Car Assaulted Female Driver, OPP Say,” April 24, 2019. Moorhead, Molly. 2007. “McDonald’s Manage Abducted by Suspect Hiding in Back Seat.” St. Petersburg Times, December 7, 2007.


"The Killer in the Backseat" Part 1

In our first episode, learn about the classic contemporary legend “The Killer in the Backseat.” We also give a little nutshell description of what folklore is.