In one sense, it's a true-crime story, and a morbidly fascinating one at that. And, yes, a podcast factors into the tale. But the story told by Ryan Katz in the New Yorker offers a remarkable twist—he lays out how people tied to a series of grisly murders decades ago connected with each other in the comments forum of that podcast, even though it was discontinued at the time. The crimes involve the McCrary-Taylor families, who are linked to at least 10 murders in the 1970s. Often the victims would be women working solo late at night at stores, cafes, or, as in one of the more high-profile cases, a doughnut shop. All of this was recounted in the Serial Killers Podcast, which maintained an online presence via a blog and comment section after the show was defunct.
When looking up information about the 1971 slaying of her mother in Texas, Regina Alexander found the site and posted the very first comment asking if anyone knew more. Five months later, she got a reply from the brother of another victim. The back-and-forth expanded to include more relatives of victims—as well as relatives of the killers. Often, the information put forth was flat-out wrong, and Katz does his own investigative work on the case (and is able to acquire the police file about Alexander's mother for her). But he was "fascinated less by the crimes than by their reverberations across generations, and by the ways that those affected had tried to understand the truth and come to terms with it," he writes. Read the full, fascinating story. (Read more Longform stories.)