My Favorite Murder
Witty and unique, the podcast My Favorite Murder by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark is a great choice for any lover of true crime.
The breadth and scope of the crimes they cover are quite impressive.
The women are not hesitant to cover disappearances, solved murders, odd crime cases and much more. Be warned, the language is unapologetically salty and uber adult-oriented.
Understanding True Crime
I want to be on record about something regarding people who are fascinated by the true crime podcast genre. They are, generally, not gore seekers.
In fact, just the opposite is often true. What hooks people to this genre is the story and how it plays out or doesn’t.
Another reason many people, especially women, find shows about murder and mystery so compelling is that they can help to alleviate the random anxiety about being out in what can be a scary world.
Such content can be oddly comforting because it helps you understand that, by and large, such occurrences are rare.
Crime Intersecting Comedy
Another misconception about true crime podcasts that utilize humor, and MFM bills itself as a comedy podcast, is that the hosts are making fun of murder or victims.
In my experience, this is never the case. In fact, most comedy-crime podcasts go out of their way to be respectful of the victims and their survivors.
However, as in Fargo, sometimes the circumstances surrounding the murder involves comic elements.
This is dark humor, to be sure, but if there was ever a time made for dark humor, it would be now.
Kilgariff and Hardstark are brilliant at engaging the audience with their brand of humor mixed with their horror at the details of the crimes they are discussing each week.
The format of MFM is casual but loosely organized. These are two girlfriends who have known each other for a while, have similar backgrounds, and are equally likable.
Both Californians, Kilgariff and Hardstark are very representative of that vibe. Also, they are open about their personal demons (past or present) and hugely supportive of anyone who is struggling through the maze of life.
At the top of most episodes, they include discussions about their latest favorite podcast or Instagram account. To end each episode, they give personal hoorays for the week.
Included in their repartee are discussions about their cats and dogs and gentle nods of appreciation to their affable producer, Steven (owner of the best mustache in podcasting).
Now that we have covered the basics about My Favorite Murder, let’s dive into my personal selections for their best episodes ever, ranked in no particular order.
These are the 7 Best Episodes Of My Favorite Murder:
1. Any Minisode
I am lumping all the minisodes as one favorite show because they are all short, usually around 20 minutes, and consist of Kilgariff and Hardstark reading murder stories emailed from fans, aka Murderinos, that took place in the fans’ hometowns.
Many of these stories can be even wilder than the main podcast episodes. Some of the stories have included a fan’s grandmother who had murdered her husband, ghost stories and a tale about a teacher who had survived a brutal neck slashing at the hands of her husband.
The minisodes are just long enough for a lunch-hour listen or an extended break. I like listening to them on errand days when I am in and out of the car a lot.
They make me feel like I am having coffee with a friend and having a meandering conversation about something we both love. (Side-note: I need to remember to mail them my own story from my hometown.)
Throw in the fact that the MFM ladies are honoring their fans, all of these short episodes are winners.
2. Episode 22: The Girls with the Episode Twenty Two
This episode begins with a rant about the heat in L.A. and how to be supportive of your friends who are stage performers. The lively banter is equal parts serious and silly.
Again, think of those best conversations you have had with your significant other or best friend. Magic.
The murder theme for this episode was two crimes from the 1400-1500s. I had to include this on my top five list because, well, the 1500s. It is such an obscure theme I just knew it would be compelling and it did not disappoint.
The hosts did an excellent job of discussing the Scottish tale around the Sawney Bean murders and the Princes in the Tower.
Sawney Bean is thought to be a legend rather than an actual series of murders, while the Princes in the Tower story is believed to be historically accurate based on bones found.
In a nutshell, the Sawney Bean murders are said to have possibly numbered at 1000 and were cannibalistic.
According to the legend, the 45-member Bean family, headed by Alexander Bean and “Black” Agnes Douglas of the Scottish coastline were thought to be savage killers who practiced highway robbery, murdered their victims, and then ate the remains. I know, yuck.
The Beans were arrested after trying to rob and murder the wrong couple. However, no historical evidence such as newspaper articles or diaries from the era has ever been found that reports the missing of hundreds of people.
Historians believe that the English powers at the time concocted this tale as propaganda against the Scottish with whom they were embroiled in ongoing battles such as the Jacobite rebellions.
Sawney was a derogatory term at the time for Scottish people, which also supports the idea that this was a vicious tale started by England to undermine Scotland.
The Princes in the Tower is a well-known story of two boy princes, King Edward V and Duke Richard, both sons of England’s King Edward IV.
Their uncle and guardian, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, decided to have the boys live in the Tower of London after their father’s death to prepare young Edward V for his coronation. Suddenly, the boys are declared to be illegitimate and Richard was declared king. The boys then disappear!
In 1674, two small sets of skeletal bones were found in a box at the Tower. In 1934, historians decided that the bones did match the description and time frame of the boy princes.
The remains are interred at Westminster Abbey, which refuses to allow DNA testing.
My Favorite Murder brought in outside sources, so their research is solid. Each host provided their own opinion of what they thought had happened in each event.
Georgia and Karen’s reactions to each other’s storytelling are genuine and real. Again, they swerve between being horrified and silly banter around absurd details.
I highly recommend starting with Episode 22.
3. Episode 18: Investigateighteen Discovery
Warning: this episode is graphic and disturbing, but it is a seminal case. The episode includes the 1978 horrific and brutal attack of Mary Vincent (who miraculously survived) at the hands of Lawrence Bernard Singleton.
While hitchhiking to go back to Las Vegas, Mary is picked up by Singleton who then raped and cut off her arms. He then left her to die on I-5 near Del Puerto Canyon in California.
Still alive, Mary dragged herself to safety and was taken to a hospital by a Good Samaritan couple she had managed to flag down.
When leaving the courtroom after testifying, Mary is further traumatized by Singleton when he mouthed to her that he would finish the job.
Singleton was convicted but only served 8-years of a 14-year sentence, the maximum at the time. The Singleton Bill was passed in 1987 making any crime involving torture subject to a minimum sentence of 25-years to life.
Singleton relocated to Florida where he ended up killing another woman, 27-year old Roxanne Hayes. He was found covered in her blood.
Mary Vincent testified during sentencing at that trial where Singleton was sentenced to death. He died in prison of natural causes in 2001.
The other crime was that of Franklin Delano Floyd which I will leave as a dangling carrot to encourage you to listen.
Back to the Mary Vincent attack, her story was often told to teenage girls to warn them off from hitchhiking. Like any truly horrifying story that your parents use to help stop your risky behavior, the most effective are usually based on truth.
The comedy in this episode is focused more on the second case as the Vincent attack is just too gruesome.
4. Episode 129: Coincidence Island
The island theme for this MFM episode tells the stories of the Honolulu Strangler and The Galapagos Affair. Both of these events highlight perfectly, for me, the reason why comedy and true crime podcasts are made for each other.
The often-ridiculous circumstances around these crimes will leave anyone with a rational brain cell shaking their head and saying “Huh, how? Uh, why?”
If you have not seen the Netflix movie called The Galapagos Affair, I highly recommend watching it after you have listened to the story.
Long story short, starting in 1929, a couple and a family move from Europe, separately, to live on an island in the Galapagos Archipelago (of Darwin fame).
The couple, Friedrich Ritter and Dore Strauch abandon their families in Germany to create a new Eden on the island of Floreana.
Ritter turns out to be a tyrant, on a good day, and the island’s conditions are less than paradise.
Soon a family, Heinz and Margret Wittmer, inspired by Ritter, arrive on the island with their son. A physician, Ritter refuses to engage with the Wittmers even denying care to Margret during her pregnancy.
Fast forward to the arrival of “Baroness” Eloise von Wagner Bosquet and her two lovers, Robert Phillipson and Rudolf Lorenz and the story takes off. The “Baroness” claims she is there to build a hotel, but things soon go awry.
People disappear and are possibly murdered. Descendants of the Wittmers still inhabit the island and have built a thriving tourist destination.
The Honolulu Strangler is the telling of Hawaii’s first identified serial killer. He is believed to be responsible for the unsolved murders of five women in 1985 and 1986.
All the women were strangled and sexually assaulted. A suspect was detained, failed a polygraph but was later released.
No one has been arrested, but no other strangulations matching that description have occurred and the suspect is believed to be dead.
One of my favorite things about Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff is their ready admittance to any lack of expertise.
They are in no way trying to be investigators or give a hint that they can solve any crime. Kudos for that!
5. Episode 105: Proclensity
The title for this episode evolved from Georgia’s “propensity” to mispronounce words which is an amusing trait and always charming.
One of the opening rants involves sinkholes which is worth the price of admission. Also, while someone spreading typhoid is not humorous, the riff the ladies take on how Typhoid Mary would have filled her quarantine time just made me giggle.
This episode covers the Cape Cod murder of successful fashion writer Christa Worthington in January 2002. During the investigation, it is discovered that Christa had had a child with a local married man.
The child, Ava, was found clinging to her deceased mother. The married man was an initial suspect, but the case went cold until 2005 when an arrest was made possible by a DNA match.
The second story involves the infamous Typhoid Mary. Mary Mallon was an Irish cook who is thought to have infected 51 people as an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid.
She was the first person identified in the U.S. who could carry disease to others without being sick. She refused to stop working as a cook and was court-ordered into isolation twice.
She died in 1938 on North Brother Island, NY, after 30-years in nearly continuous quarantine.
Both are tragic stories told with great respect for the victims and the survivors along with humorous asides by the hosts Kilgariff and Hardstark.
This is also a good episode to ease your way into the podcast if you have not listened before. The comedy in this episode is gentle but smart.
6. Episode 237: Anti-Hype Man
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark knock it out of the podcast park with this episode.
In addition to their opening banter, they take a deep dive into the way-back machine to present a historical case about a maniacal murderess and pro-slavery supporter named Patty Cannon. To wrap up the episode, they give voice to the forgotten, unsolved murder of Civil Rights-Era activist and pioneering attorney Alberta Jones.
This episode was riveting and time well-spent.
Patty Cannon, in essence, ran a reverse Underground Railroad, an illegal system where free blacks in the North were kidnapped off the streets in the early 1800s and sold into southern slavery.
Born in Canada to disgraced British nobility, Martha Patricia Hanly, aka, Patty Cannon operated a bar in Johnsons Crossroads, Delaware, situated on the Delaware-Maryland border.
This border also served as the Mason-Dixon line that separated slave states of the South from the free states of the North.
Southern slave traders would stop by the bar as they traveled across the Mason-Dixon line looking for escaped slaves.
Along with other family members, Cannon regularly murdered slave traders, robbed them, and disposed of their bodies on her property.
Her daughter, Mary, married Henry Brereton, who was involved in illegal slave trading.
This occupation became very lucrative when importing new slaves became illegal in 1808. Brereton and Patty Cannon teamed up to form an organized system to kidnap and sell free blacks.
When Brereton was hanged for murdering a slave trader, Mary soon married another illegal slave trader named Joe Johnson, and the illegal activities grew more lucrative.
Using her young slave, Cyrus, Cannon and her accomplices lured free blacks with false offers of employment and then held them in a jail that Cannon had built in the attic of her tavern.
According to a book written after her 1829 death, it was believed she and her Cannon-Johnson gang killed upwards of 30 people and kidnapped, for sale, possibly thousands of free blacks.
The second case looks at the unsolved murder of Alberta Odell Jones, who was born in 1930 in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1956 Jones became the first African American to attend the University of Louisville Law School.
She transferred to Howard University in 1957, where she graduated 4th in her class. In 1959 she became the first African American woman to pass the Kentucky bar.
After passing the bar, she opened a law practice in downtown Louisville and was described as driven, gregarious, and having a good sense of humor.
Jones was often praised in the local press for her accomplishments, civic involvement, and civil rights activism.
Her most high-profile case was representing Cassius Clay (later to become Muhammed Ali) in contract negotiations for one of his first big boxing matches.
She was even able to convince Clay to set some money in trust for himself to prevent him from being broke after his boxing career ended.
Jones was appointed the first female Louisville city attorney in 1964.
In 1965 she began work as the prosecutor for the Domestic Relations Court, which was responsible for prosecuting men for domestic violence.
The community was shocked to find out that Jones was found dead in the Ohio River in August of 1965 at 34-years-old. Her car was found with blood inside.
Her autopsy showed that Alberta had been beaten in the head with possibly a brick. Her unconscious body was thrown into the river, where she succumbed to drowning.
The case went cold until renewed interest from a student, Lee Remington, at Brandeis Law School, began investigating in 2013.
While writing a biography about Jones, Remington discovered that in 2008 the case had been reinvestigated due to fingerprint evidence. However, no prosecution was sought due to the lack of any further evidence.
Additional evidence from the scene went missing over the intervening years, leaving the case, once again, cold. Will we ever know who killed Alberta Jones?
7. Episode 245: Time Is Becoming a Serious Problem
The opening segment of this episode finds Georgia and Karen commiserating over how issues of time management and commitments have become problematic. I can relate.
The case covered in this show is the Pied Piper of Tucson.
This case discussion was a listener request inspired by a 1966 article from Life Magazine related to a serial killer that was active in Tucson from 1964-1965.
Newly living with her recently divorced mother, Norma, Alleen was adjusting well to being in Tucson and quickly befriended a neighbor, 18-year-old Mary French.
Norma was not happy about Alleen’s friendship with Mary. Norma believed Mary to be a bad influence on her daughter. Norma was also not a fan of Mary’s group of friends.
Lured to a desert party by Schmid’s girlfriend, Mary French, and the potential of a date with John Saunders, Rowe becomes the victim of premeditated murder by Schmid and Saunders.
On May 31, 1964, high school sophomore Alleen Rowe was murdered by Charles Schmid so that he could “know what it felt like to kill someone.”
When Schmid and Saunders returned to the car, Schmid confessed to French, who had waited in the car, that he had murdered Rowe. The three then went back to bury Alleen Rowe.
Reported missing by her mother, Norma, implored the police to investigate the disappearance of Alleen as a murder because of her suspicions of French and Schmid.
Police dismissed the request due to a lack of evidence.
One of Schmid’s later girlfriends, Gretchen Fritz, was told by Schmid that he had murdered Alleen Rowe and possibly another girl.
When Schmid tried to break up with Gretchen, she threatened to report the confession to the police. Schmid, to silence Fritz, strangles Gretchen and her sister, Wendy, in August of 1965.
Schmid later showed his friend, Richard Bruns, where he buried the bodies of Rowe and the Fritz sisters in the Tucson desert.
Bruns confessed this information to his grandparents. With Bruns’ help, Schmid was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
Schmid’s sentence was later commuted to 50 years. Rowe’s body was found in 1967.
Schmid was murdered by fellow inmates in March 1975 at the Arizona State Prison in Florence. He was buried, at the request of his mother, in the prison graveyard.
The Life Magazine article reported that teenage culture in Tucson at the time was in crisis due to overcrowded schools and a lack of constructive activities for young people due to the post-WW2 Tucson population boom.
Do these types of demographic changes create the opportunity for serial murder?
A True Crime Must-Listen
There are many reasons to listen to true crime podcasts, but the most compelling ones for me are the accuracy of the details, the energy of the hosts, and when done correctly, the humor.
My Favorite Murder is researched well, the energy of the hosts is just right, and the humor is smart and well-timed but never disrespectful of the victims.
I highly recommend My Favorite Murder and as Georgia and Karen would say, “stay sexy and try not to get murdered.”
7 Best Episodes of Crime Junkie Podcast
About Crime Junkie
From the opening chords of the theme music, Crime Junkie podcast sets a serious but slightly sassy tone. The primary host, Ashley Flowers, does most of the heavy lifting in terms of research and reporting.
Brit Prawat, the co-host, is a strong contributor in that she represents the audience’s reaction through her visceral comments and supporting questions.
We have also compiled for you the very best true crime podcast content that Crime Junkie has to offer.
Get out your detective gear and let’s dive in.
These are The 7 Best Episodes Of Crime Junkie Podcast:
7. Mysterious Death Of Michelle O’Connell
Ashley and Brit dive deep into the September 2, 2010 death of 24-year-old single mom Michelle O’Connell from St. Augustine, Florida.
Her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, claims in his 911 call to have found her shot in the bedroom of their home.
He further claims that he had been in the garage, sitting on his motorcycle, and heard a gunshot.
On the scene, first responders found Jeremy’s service revolver to the left of Michelle’s body, as well as prescription pills, spilled onto the floor next to her.
Yes, Jeremy has a service revolver because he is a fellow St.
John’s Florida Deputy Sheriff and part of the same department that investigated the shooting.
The St. John’s Sheriff Department fairly quickly rules the death suicide.
Pills, a gunshot, and a young dead woman would seem to equal suicide, right? Not so fast. There are many irregularities to Jeremy’s story and the investigation.
In light of information about Michelle and Jeremy’s relationship revealed during the investigation, why the rush to establish a suicide determination? This hasty decision only created more questions than answers.
The medical examiner, Dr. Hobin, later changed the death to homicide but never filed an amended death certificate. Hobin was later reprimanded for this action.
In 2016, after the family exhumed Michelle’s body, a second autopsy found that Michelle had a broken jaw which, most likely, occurred just before the gunshot wound.
This injury was never mentioned in the original autopsy.
Where do things stand today? Jeremy Banks has never been charged. All in all, the family has lingering doubts and feel that justice has not been served on behalf of their beloved Michelle.
Oh, and one last twist, a citizen sleuth who had been investigating this case was found shot to death in their Florida condo in 2019.
Check out the episode on the Crime Junkie website right here.
6. Missing: DeOrr Kunz, Jr.
I was particularly impressed by Ashley and Britt’s covering of this tragic disappearance.
I have watched the Dateline and People Magazine pieces on this case, but I learned so much more from the Crime Junkie episode.
On July 10, 2015, two-year-old DeOrr Kunz, Jr. went missing from his parent’s campsite at the Timber Creek Campground in Idaho.
On the trip were DeOrr’s parents, Jessica Mitchell and Vernal DeOrr Kunz along with Robert Walton, DeOrr’s great-grandfather, and Robert’s friend, Isaac Reinwand.
Little DeOrr was reported by Jessica as missing at around 2:28 PM.
The 911 call immediately initiated a large-scale search by the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office.
On July 11 and 12, searching continued aided by an additional 200 volunteers. A dive team was sent to search in a nearby reservoir to rule out all possibilities.
As of Monday, July 16, DeOrr’s parents began claiming that DeOrr must have been abducted. This seems unlikely to law enforcement because the remote campground has only one access road.
After extensive national exposure and many search attempts, DeOrr’s disappearance remained a mystery as 2015 continues.
What is the status of DeOrr’s case today? He is still missing and law enforcement is still seeking information.
While the parents remain persons of interest, no one has been charged due to a lack of viable evidence.
This case, for me, is very similar to the cases of little Caylee Anthony and Haleigh Cummings of Florida.
All involve chaotic situations, inconsistent stories from parents and caregivers, as well as, little to no resolution.
Go check out the full article of the 7 Best Episodes of Crime Junkie podcast right here!