Jack Unterweger’s lust for violence was insatiable. His first known murder victim was Margret Schafer, an 18-year-old German girl. Unterweger would tell a jury that, at the moment of her killing, he had seen his mother reflected in her face and he acted out of a lifetime of rage. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. But in jail, Unterweger read voraciously and he began to write poetry, short stories, plays, and an autobiography.
After over 15 years in prison, Unterweger was released based on the belief that writing his life story, and the self-reflection it required, had reformed him. Not only was he a famous author, he was also Austria’s most high-profile “rehabilitated” offender.
But Unterweger had everyone fooled. As he interviewed police in the role of a journalist, he had already resumed his life as a serial killer. Unterweger sexually assaulted and brutally murdered prostitutes in Vienna, Los Angeles, and Prague as he spoke on talk shows and worked to get his books made into Hollywood movies.
Join us at the quiet end today for The Devil Himself: Jack Unterweger. It’s the shocking story of an international serial killer who was hiding in plain sight.
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Apparently hard-working and intelligent mother of two and registered nurse, Kristen Gilbert, was living the life of a middle-class soccer mom. She had a good job, a loving husband, and two children. She seemed a lot like the other Massachusetts suburbanites in her neighborhood, but she held sinister secrets that eventually bubbled to the surface.
Beneath the façade of an ordinary working mother, Kristen lived a life of duplicity. Before her 30th birthday, she was arrested on suspicion of serial murder: injecting patients at the hospital where she worked with lethal doses of epinephrine.
These were vulnerable victims and Kristen’s motives were a mystery, perhaps even to herself. It may have been as simple as a need for attention and excitement.
When a healthcare professional takes a life, it’s a special kind of evil. Trained and relied upon to protect and restore health and virtually holding their patients’ lives in their hands, a nurse who kills betrays the most basic trust while preying on the sick.
Join us at the quiet end today for Murder by Nurse: The Victims of Kristen Gilbert.
After suffering for years in an abusive marriage, Helle Crafts filed for divorce in the summer of 1986. Soon afterward, she disappeared. Her friends filed a missing person’s report, but her husband, Richard Crafts, gave various stories that Helle was off visiting relatives or that she just needed some time alone.
Police suspected foul play, but with no body, it was impossible to prove that a homicide had even occurred. Police did learn, however, that Richard Crafts had purchased several items, including new carpeting, bedding, and a large freezer, around the time of Helle’s disappearance. He had also rented a wood chipper.
A witness came forward, claiming that he had seen a man using a wood chipper on a bridge over a lake near the Crafts’ home. That is when the search for Helle took a very disturbing turn.
Join us at the quiet end today as we discuss a horrific crime often referred to as the "wood chipper case.” Investigators, along with Dr. Henry Lee, the Director of Connecticut’s Forensic Science Laboratory at the time, worked together to solve what Richard Crafts had considered his perfect crime. I chose this case because it serves to broaden awareness of domestic violence and because it is chock a block full of interesting forensics from a pre-DNA era.
Middle-aged mother of two Susan Fassett was an unlikely victim in a love triangle that ended in her murder. Married to a cop and a member of the church choir, Susan had a reputation as an honest, upstanding person. After her death, the secrets revealed about her life came as a shock to most.
The biggest shock of all was that Susan was involved with a man commonly referred to as the scum of the earth. Fred Andros, a mean, homely, and amoral man, extorted money, frequented prostitutes, and somehow lured Susan into his web of corruption.
Join us at the quiet end today for a story of corruption, sex, and murder: A Secret Life: The Plot to Kill Susan Fassett.
A Florida woman saw the state patrol car's lights flashing behind her and wondered why she was being stopped. She didn't think she was speeding, she later told investigators, but she pulled her car onto the southbound shoulder of Interstate 95 and waited as Trooper Tim Harris approached her car.
Trooper Harris asked her to get out of her car. Then he saw that she was obviously pregnant. He gave her a warning ticket for driving 6 miles over the speed limit and let her go. Police would later speculate that the woman's pregnancy saved her life.
The next woman pulled over by Trooper Harris would not live to see another day. Lorraine Hendricks’ car was found abandoned on the highway and detectives suspected that someone she trusted was involved in her disappearance.
Trooper Harris was seen as trustworthy. He had been with the Florida Highway Patrol for eight years. Before that, he had worked for local police departments, earning several commendations. He was married with two young children. But a closer look would expose a troubled man.
Join us today for A Darker Shade of Blue, the terrifying story of a man who was called upon to serve and protect but turned into a dangerous predator.
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To say that Stella Nickell had a rough upbringing would be an understatement. She had a childhood of poverty, neglect, and abuse. At 16, she gave birth to a daughter, Cynthia. In the next 12 years, she had numerous failed relationships, a failed marriage, and spent time in jail. In early 1974, when she was 32, she met Bruce Nickell and they married.
One summer day in 1986, Bruce came home with a headache and took four Excedrin capsules. Stella said that her husband walked out on the back deck and suddenly collapsed. He was taken by helicopter to a Seattle hospital where he died. Doctors said Bruce died from emphysema, but Stella said that never made sense.
Almost two weeks later, Stella heard about the death of 40-year old Sue Snow. News reports said that the woman had died after swallowing cyanide-laced Excedrin. Stella immediately called the police to report that Bruce, too, had taken Excedrin right before he died.
Police initially focused on Sue Snow’s husband Paul Webking for her murder. But the call from Stella Nickell led to the conclusion that Sue Snow was not the only person killed by the poisoned headache medicine. Excedrin capsules were recalled and an investigation for murders by product tampering began.
Join us at the quiet end today for a discussion of the Seattle Cyanide Murders. There is no doubt that it is a heartless act to kill a spouse, but what kind of a person kills at random?
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In 2012, Harold and Toni Henthorn celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary with a hiking trip in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Toni plummeted off of a 100-foot cliff and died a horrible death. Harold told police that his wife was busy taking photos and must have slipped. He didn't see exactly what had happened because he was using his cell phone at the time.
It could have been a tragic accident. After all, Harold was a respected member of the community, a loving husband, and a devoted father to their daughter. He worked as a fund raiser for churches, charities and non-profit groups. At least, that's what he told everyone.
But maybe things weren’t what they appeared to be. Friends and family thought they knew him, but facts surfaced that painted a new picture of Harold Henthorn. Harold had no job and no income. He also had a shady history, including a first wife who had also died in a freak accident.
Harold’s history, along with his ever changing narrative of Toni’s death, led to a murder investigation. Life insurance, years of deceit, and inappropriate behavior were gathered to create a strong circumstantial case against him.
In today’s episode, Over the Edge, we look back at the lives of Sandra Lynn Henthorn and Toni Henthorn, two wives whose final moments were likely filled with fear and violence, murdered by the man who claimed to love them.
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The case of physician Michael Swango not only exposed the dark side of a man who had taken an oath to do no harm, it also opened our eyes to a professional environment where doctors accepted the word of fellow physicians over that of nurses and patients—even as evidence of gross misbehavior piled up.
Michael grew up in Quincy, Illinois and graduated as valedictorian at the Quincy Catholic Boys High School. He served in the Marine Corps, receiving an honorable discharge in 1980. He then attended Quincy College followed by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
His troubles were first noticed in medical school. Although he was a brilliant student, he preferred to work as an ambulance attendant rather than concentrate on studying. Even at that young age, he had an odd fascination with dying patients. Michael Swango’s patients often ended up "coding," or suffering life-threatening emergencies. Several died unexpectedly.
Join us at the quiet end today for a true story that actually is stranger than fiction: Taking Lives: The Crimes of Dr. Michael Swango.
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Baptist minister Matt Baker presented himself to the world as a man of God, a family man who set an example for his faithful parishioners. But when his wife Kari was found dead in their bed of an apparent suicide, questions about who he really was emerged. Kari Baker’s mother and aunts would become the catalysts to investigate Matt Baker’s deceptions and lies, working with police to expose him as a narcissistic bully and a lifelong sexual predator.
What they uncovered would open up suspicions of his involvement in not only one, but two, family deaths. But it took years to get justice for his wife and safety for his daughters. This story is a striking example of the power of love and determination and a victory of the truth over Matt Baker's carefully constructed life of hypocrisy.
Join us at the quiet end today for Ungodly: The Murder of Kari Baker.
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Between the ages of 17 and 24, Keli Lane had two abortions and gave birth to three babies, all without the knowledge of her mother Sandra or her police officer father Robert. Not only that, but her five pregnancies occurred while Keli was playing water polo at a national level and spent most of her time in a swim suit.
Keli’s 4th child, Tegan Lane, born in 1996, went home with Keli two days after her birth. Keli was at a friend’s wedding that evening and not a word was spoken about her newborn daughter. Tegan was never seen again.
Investigators believe that Keli killed Tegan, disposing of her body before her family and friends could learn of the infant’s existence. Keli claims that she gave Tegan to her biological father and he disappeared with the baby. Keli’s supporters appear to believe her story, but what is the likelihood that this man and Tegan would not be found? More mysterious, perhaps, are the reasons for Keli’s multiple hidden pregnancies and overall strange behavior.
Today’s story is one of the oddest we have covered. There are gaping holes in Keli Lane’s story, but also, there is no physical evidence that Tegan is dead. Join us today for a true mystery from Australia, Where is Tegan Lane?
In 1971, 13-year old Charlie Brandt shot his pregnant mother to death before turning the gun on his father and sister. In the years that followed, he seemed to move forward and live a normal life with college, marriage, and a career. Charlie and his wife Teri were a close, fun-loving couple--the kind of couple others envy.
Then, in 2004, a hidden life was revealed. Charlie was not who he appeared to be. There was a darkness no one had seen. But there had been signs.
Charlie loved to fish and he was known to his fellow fishermen as an expert with a knife. But Charlie’s expertise went beyond the world of filleting fish. After his death, Charlie would be investigated as a prolific serial killer, victimizing women along the Florida coast. He had a sexual obsession with his niece that would end with her brutal murder.
Join us at the quiet end for a fascinating story of a killer undercover: The Hidden Life of Charlie Brandt.
The case we’re talking about today, more than any in recent history, illustrates that we don’t always know the people close to us as well as we think we do. We’re talking about the case of a family annihilator: Chris Watts.
In August of 2018, Chris murdered his pregnant wife and his two preschool-aged daughters. Then he loaded their lifeless bodies into his truck and dumped them at a work site. He was seen later that morning by co-workers and all of them would report that Chris acted normal, as if nothing abnormal had happened.
Investigators believe that Chris’s motivation for the murders was his desire to start a new life with his mistress. This seems true enough, but it’s difficult to believe that this was the sole motive for the crimes. As we delve into the lives of Chris and Shanann Watts, deeper issues are exposed that most likely played a role in the murders. There were serious financial problems and there was friction between Shanann and her in-laws. Aspects of the couple’s relationship reveal that Chris may have been full of rage and resentment for Shanann.
Join us at the quiet end today for Portrait of a Family Annihilator: The Watts Family Murders.
Julie Miller met Dennis Bulloch through a newspaper ad and fell hard for him. He seemed like the answer to all of her problems. As a successful executive approaching her 30th birthday, Julie was ready to get married. Dennis seemed like the all-American guy—good-looking and described as soft-hearted and sensitive by former girlfriends.
Just four months into their marriage, emergency responders were called out to a fire at the Bulloch’s home. Amid the charred debris, they found a body duct-taped to a rocking chair, the face burned beyond recognition.
This is a case that took place before Match.com or Tinder. Julie was attractive and successful in her career but she was socially immature. And she was lonely. She wanted someone to spend her life with and to perhaps start a family of her own.
Dennis Bulloch seemed to check all the boxes for her, but he had a dark side she didn’t see. If there were signs or clues to a darker side of Dennis, Julie may have overlooked them, because, more than anything, she wanted to be married. We’ll talk about this, as well as the histories of Julie and Dennis, in Happily Never After: The Murder of Julie Miller Bulloch.
Mick Philpott lived off of welfare benefits. He had been unfaithful and violent towards women throughout his adult life. His reckless and selfish plan to frame an ex-girlfriend for leaving him would result in the death of six innocent children.
A father of 17 children, Philpott lived with two women and once appeared on a daytime talk show to demand a bigger government house for his oversized family.
But beyond the caricature of a welfare parasite, Philpott exposed a much more dangerous stereotype: a control freak whose violence toward women went on for more than thirty years. For Philpott, women were his domestic, sexual, and childbearing slaves and his children were evidence of his virility. This was a man who knew no shame and used everyone, even his own children, to get what he wanted. Join us today for Shameless: Mick Philpott.
Cherica Adams was joyful and magnetic. She was a beautiful 24-year-old who had worked as an exotic dancer and was establishing a career in real estate. She had done some acting, too, and appeared briefly in the movie House Party 3. Cherica became pregnant and appeared to have accepted that she would be a single mother. The father of her baby, professional football player Rae Carruth, was not happy about the baby to be and wanted her to get an abortion. With Cherica, as with his first child’s mother, Carruth did not embrace his role as a parent.
Carruth’s aversion to having children was no secret. In fact, he was very vocal about it. He reportedly joked about killing his children so he wouldn’t have to pay the mothers any money for their support.
The moments following the shooting that took Cherica’s life are immortalized in her 911 call. She’d been shot four times. She was crying, struggling to speak with the 911 operator, with her life leaving her body as she bled from her wounds.
The facts are shocking. This was a murder for hire, a plan by a cold-blooded man to kill his girlfriend and his unborn son. Cherica would speak for herself in court, through the 911 call recording and notes she wrote in the hospital. But justice in this case came with more difficulty than you might expect.
On February 14, 2007, stay at home dad Stephen Grant called the Macomb County Sheriff's office in Michigan to report that his wife, Tara Lynn Grant, had been missing for five days. In his story to the police, Stephen claimed that this was not the first time Tara had taken off, which was why he hadn’t reported her missing sooner. Stephen said that on the evening of February 9, he and Tara had argued. He then overheard Tara talking with someone on the phone, telling them, "I'll meet you at the end of the driveway". He said he saw her get into a dark-colored car a few minutes later and he had not seen or heard from her since.
Over the next two weeks, Stephen Grant made several TV appearances pleading for Tara to return. According to police, Stephen Grant was not cooperative with them throughout their investigation. And they began to question his relationship with the family’s 19-year old au pair.
Investigators would ultimately discover that Stephen’s story of a missing wife was untrue and was, in fact, an elaborate attempt to sidetrack the police. According to later confessions, Stephen killed his wife during an argument after she had slapped and belittled him. But insights into the couples’ relationship and evidence uncovered by the investigation have made this one of the most shocking and disturbing crimes in Michigan’s recent history. Join us at the quiet end today for our discussion of the life and gruesome murder of Tara Lynn Grant, in Blood on His Hands: The Murder of Tara Lynn Grant.
When you think of a mass shooter, you don’t envision someone like Amy Bishop. Forty-five years old, female, Harvard-educated, Biology professor, and mother of four, Amy Bishop would seem an unlikely killer.
It was 3pm on February 12, 2010, and thirteen professors and staff members from the University of Alabama Biology Department met in a third-floor conference room. Plant biologist Gopi Podila passed out the printed agenda and sat beside Amy Bishop. Amy had a handgun in her purse.
Amy was normally quite vocal in these meetings, but that day she was silent and brooding. She shot six of her co-workers, killing three, before she washed up and called her husband for a ride home. The police arrived before he did.
But Amy’s homicidal rampage did not come out of nowhere. Investigations into her background would reveal a troubled person with a history of violence and a probable cover up in her hometown in Massachusetts.
Today, in A Shooting in Alabama, we’ll delve into the life of a killer, atypical but just as devious and dangerous as any other. At how many points in her life could she had been thwarted---and why wasn’t she?
Note: Jill and Dick will be taking next week off. TCB will return on January 29th!
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Jana Eastburn was the sole survivor, just 22 months old, when her mother, Kathryn Eastburn, and siblings – 5-year-old Kara and 3-year-old Erin – were stabbed to death on May 9, 1985, in their Fayetteville, NC home.
Jana had been abandoned in her crib for three days before police responded to the concerns of neighbors and entered the home. She was dehydrated and crying hysterically with her arms outstretched, alone within the carnage of the brutal triple murders of her mother and sisters.
Jana’s father, Air Force Captain Gary Eastburn, was away doing training in Alabama when his wife and daughters were killed. Kathryn had placed an ad to rehome their dog because the family was planning to relocate to England. The man who came to the house and took the dog, Sergeant Tim Hennis, became the primary suspect.
This case, including eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, and three trials, captured the attention of people across the country and continues to garner speculation. Join us at the quiet end today for our discussion of this complicated and fascinating case: The Eastburn Family Murders.
Just before 9 p.m. on Sept. 24, 1973, 18-year-old Becky Thomson left to buy groceries and asked her 11-year-old half-sister, Amy Burridge, if she wanted to ride along with her. The two girls went in Becky’s station wagon to a Thriftway store in Casper, Wyoming.
But when Becky and Amy came out of the store, one of the car’s tires was flat. The sisters didn't know it at the time, but they were being set up for an abduction. Two men, Jerry Jenkins and Ronald Kennedy, pulled into the parking spot next to them and parked. The men offered to help, but they were responsible for slashing the tire. That night was the night when Becky’s worst nightmare came true. Her little sister would be murdered and her life would never be the same. The cruelty and brutality of Jenkins and Kennedy would haunt Becky until the day she died, leaving a family and a community in shock.
Join us at the quiet end today for the heartbreaking story of the abduction and deaths of two sisters. This story confirms that it is not only the victim of a murder who suffers. Murder is a crime with pain that ripples outward, hurting everyone in its path.