Criminal

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I Fought the Law

Episode #162

2021-04-09 12:10:36

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The song “I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four reached number 9 on the Billboard Charts in the week of March 12, 1966. Just months later, Bobby Fuller was found dead. The mystery of what happened to him has been called “the rock and roll version of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.”
A man driving a surveillance van with a dish on top, with a woman in the passenger seat looking out the window. There are mountains in the background and palm trees in the foreground, as well as a small hedgehog standing beside one of the trees.

Only in Hollywood

Episode #161

2021-03-26 12:35:39

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When Joan Borsten married actor Oleg Vidov, also known as “the Soviet Robert Redford,” he introduced her to beautiful Soviet animations created in Moscow’s Soyuzmultfilm studio. They eventually acquired the rights to distribute the films outside of the former Soviet Union. One day, Joan realized someone was undercutting their business, and she devised a very Hollywood solution.
Black and white illustration showing lottery tickets piling up at the bottom of the frame, with more tickets floating down to meet them.

Hot Lotto

Episode #160

2021-03-12 13:02:33

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In 2010, a $16.5 million Hot Lotto ticket was sold at a gas station in Des Moines, Iowa. At first, no one showed up to claim the prize. And then, a series of lawyers tried to claim the money on behalf of a client they would not name. Things got stranger, and eventually investigators uncovered what has been called the biggest lottery fraud in U.S. history.
Black and white sketch of two photographs; in one, a man is sitting with his head bowed, and what appears to be a ghost of a woman stands behind him; in the other, a woman sits and a ghost of a man stands behind her with his hands on her shoulders.

Spiritual Developments

Episode #159

2021-02-26 13:00:36

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One Sunday afternoon, a man named William Mumler decided to take a self portrait. He said he was alone in the photography studio, but as the photograph developed, he saw something very strange—the image of someone else, sitting beside him.
Illustration of a map of Wilmington, North Carolina, with the Brooklyn neighborhood and Pine Forest Cemetery labeled.

“If it ever happens, run.”

Episode #158

2021-02-12 13:03:32

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“What I recall most is the way that she grabbed my wrist and, shaking a bit, she said over and over again, ‘If it happens, run. Don't let that happen to you. Run. If it ever happens, run.’” It was years before Cynthia Brown understood what her great-grandmother, Athalia Howe, was talking about.
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The Short Life of Qandeel Baloch

Episode #157

2021-01-29 12:50:30

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Qandeel Baloch grew up in a conservative village in Pakistan, a place where it was shocking to see a woman swimming outdoors. She ran away from home, changed her name, and eventually became “Pakistan’s first social media star.” By 2015, she was reported to be one of the 10 most Googled people in Pakistan. The next year, she was dead.
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Sister Helen

Episode #156

2021-01-15 12:20:39

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In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean was invited to write a letter to a man on death row named Elmo Patrick Sonnier. She told us, "I thought that all I was going to be doing was writing letters. And lo and behold, two years later, I am in that execution chamber." She's now 81, and has been present at the executions of six men.

Bears on Ice

Episode #Bears on Ice

2020-12-24 14:18:10

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A day in the life of the town of Kalispell, Montana. Thanks very much for listening this year, and happy New Year.
Black and white illustration of an issue of Car and Driver magazine, showing people standing among a group of cars and the text, Episode 155: Cannonball.

Cannonball

Episode #155

2020-12-18 13:06:02

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With Covid-19 shutdowns, people have been taking advantage of quiet highways to drive as fast as they can from New York City to Redondo Beach, California. They’re trying to break records set in an unofficial and secretive race called the “Cannonball.” In today’s episode, the history of the illegal cross country race, how it has evolved since 1971, and why fans say it will never go away.
Close-up illustration of a hole in a window screen. Text: Criminal, Episode 154: The Night of the Party

The Night of the Party

Episode #154

2020-12-04 12:51:30

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When Nathan Myers and Clifford Williams were charged with murder, neither of them were worried they would be convicted. They had dozens of witnesses that could confirm that they had been at a party when the shots were fired. But during their trial, not a single one of those witnesses was asked to testify.
Black and white digital illustration of a talk show host who looks semi-robotic. Text: Criminal, Episode 153: The Max Headroom Incident.

The Max Headroom Incident

Episode #153

2020-11-20 14:11:49

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One Sunday night in November 1987, something very odd happened in the middle of the nine o’clock news in Chicago. As one television viewer said, it felt like someone threw “a brick through your window.” A little boy said it was “very, very funny.”
Black and white illustration of 2 people standing on the beach with flashlights, examining mysterious 3-toed footprints, underneath a full moon

The Clearwater Monster

Episode #152

2020-11-13 13:25:46

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Early one morning in 1948, a phone call woke up the police chief in the small town of Clearwater, Florida. The caller said he’d seen something strange at the beach. Residents woke up that morning to find an odd set of footprints in the sand, and a rumor began circulating that Clearwater Beach had a sea monster.
Black and white sketch of an old fashioned booze bottle with the text, "Criminal, Episode 151: The Many Lives of Michael Malloy"

The Many Lives of Michael Malloy

Episode #151

2020-11-06 13:18:59

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In 1932, a group of men in a speakeasy in New York City hatched a plan — to take out life insurance on a loner named Michael Malloy, and make his death look like an accident. They thought it would be easy money. But Michael Malloy would become known as the man who just wouldn’t die.
Text: 76th + Yates.

76th and Yates

Episode #150

2020-10-23 11:53:02

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On May 8, 2013, a man named Timothy Jones was arrested in Chicago. He says it wasn’t until he got to the police station that he found out that he was being charged with murder. He didn’t even know someone had died.
Illustration: Harvard's circular insignia with three books open, each page bearing one of the letters of Veritas. A man in a long coat and top hat sits at the bottom of the circle, holding the book with the R and I of Veritas.

Dr. Parkman is Missing

Episode #149

2020-10-09 11:53:57

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In the mid-1800s, Harvard Medical School had a reputation for being a “den of body snatchers.” And then, in November 1849, the school’s most prominent supporter went missing. He was last seen walking into the medical school building.
An illustration of Errol Morris.

Errol Morris

Episode #148

2020-09-25 11:57:38

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Early in his career, Errol Morris read about a shocking series of alleged insurance crimes in Florida. When he told an insurance investigator he wanted to go to Florida to make a documentary, the investigator said, "Don't even think about it." Errol Morris went anyway. Today, the story behind the movie he couldn't figure out how to make, working as a private detective, and meeting Ed Gein.