For nearly a century we've been trying to read someone's truthfulness by the way they act. Be it through machine, or our own intuition. The police have tried. The FBI has tried. The CIA has tried. But the fact is… most of their efforts just don't work.
On April 13, 2014, former KKK member Frazier Glenn Cross pulled into a Jewish Community Center and ambushed a grandfather and grandson, killing both. He then killed another woman a short distance away. What does the family left behind do when they are thrust into a national spotlight? How do they figure out what to disclose and what should be private?
What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her actions to PMS? How can the scientific community study severe premenstrual symptoms without perpetuating the utterly unscientific idea that menstruating women aren’t mentally competent or liable for crimes they commit?
When Axton Betz-Hamiton was 11 years old her parents' identities were stolen, but at that time consumer protection services for identity theft victims were basically non-existent. So the family dealt with the consequences as best they could. But then when Axton got to college she realized that her identity had been stolen as well. Her credit score was in the lowest 2%. As she was working to restore her credit, she inadvertently discovered who had stolen the family's identity. It would change everything forever.
In 1977, a mild-mannered aeronautical engineer sideswiped a parked car in Compton, CA. He stopped his car to see the damage, and all of a sudden a man opened his car door, and jumped in the car. He said, "I'm about to save your life." What happened next would torture him for the rest of his life.
Working as a reporter for a TV station in New Hampshire, Kevin Flynn was covering the capture and arrest of a female serial killer named Sheila LaBarre. As he grew more and more obsessed with LaBarre's story, Flynn decided to write her a letter. She wrote back. Their correspondence became flirtatious, and eventually he went to visit her in person.
With the advent of the Inkjet printer, counterfeiting money became as simple as a trip to Staples. By the year 2000, there were 72 million of these homemade dollars in circulation. The real question is… who was behind them all?
Karen Miller met a man named Gil Harper on Facebook. They started flirting. The flirtation grew more serious. Eventually, they planned to meet in real life. Gil would travel from London to meet Karen for her birthday. With his arrival just a few days away, Karen's son scrambled to learn more about Gil's identity. But trying to determine whether someone is who they say they are turned out to be a whole lot more confusing and dangerous than Chris imagined.
To learn more, visit us at thisiscriminal.com. We're on Twitter @criminalshow. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
Every year for the past few years, tens of thousand of flytraps have gone missing – from the wild, from gardens, from nurseries. And, really, nobody knows where they go. What’s cropped up in rural North Carolina is essentially a Venus Flytrap crime ring -- with lackies, middle men, and a mysterious end buyer who’s perpetuating the market.
Dan Stevenson has lived in Oakland's Eastlake neighborhood for 40 years. He says crime has been an issue for as long as he can remember, but he isn't one to call the police on drug dealers or sex workers. He's a pretty "live and let live" kind of guy. Or he was. Before he finally got fed up and took matters into his own hands.
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Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
Police officer John Edwards was patrolling a quiet neighborhood in Bellaire, Texas when he saw an SUV driven by two young African-American men. It was just before 2am on December 31, 2008. Edwards followed the SUV and ran the license plate number. His computer indicated that the SUV was stolen, and Edwards drew his gun and told the two men to get down on the ground. It wasn't until later that he realized he'd typed the wrong license plate number into his computer. He was off by one digit. By the time he realized his mistake, one of the men had already been shot in the chest at close range.
To learn more about Criminal, visit us at thisiscriminal.com. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
Crime victims are often put under the same scrutiny as the accused. Not only for their version of events, but sometimes for how they look and talk, too. We meet a man whose trial hurt worse than his assault.
Ed Crawford had never been to a protest until he heard about the
shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Robert Cohen, a staff photographer with the St. Louis Post Dispatch, ended up taking a photograph of Ed that would be seen around the world, and change both of their lives.
Raymond Chandler is often called the greatest American crime novelist, famous for murder mysteries like The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely. He's the subject of several biographies, and his correspondence and manuscripts are archived at Oxford. But something very, very important to Chandler had gotten lost. No one noticed until a pair of Chandler's biggest fans, newlyweds in their seventies, got on the case.
Sandie Alger is a 71-year-old woman with a very long rap sheet. She was in and out of prison throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and upped her game each time she got out. Prison, she says, is where you move "up the criminal ladder, just like the corporate ladder."
Shortly after Meridy Volz moved from Milwaukee to San Francisco, she received a phone call from a friend asking her to take over a small bakery business. Meridy agreed to run the bakery, but she only wanted to sell one thing: pot brownies. Her brownies were a massive success, and soon she was making enough money to support three families. Meridy tells her story alongside her daughter, Alia Volz, who describes what it's like when "the original brownie lady" is your mom.
Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. To see Meridy's final brownie bag & recipe, visit: http://thisiscriminal.com/episode-47-brownie-lady-7-15-2016/
No one disputes that it's against the law to take another person's life, but is it against the law to sit with someone and watch while they commit suicide? We meet an elderly woman who sneaks around the country as an "exit guide."
To learn more about Criminal, visit our (newly redesigned!) site: thisiscriminal.com. Criminal is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.