Just last December, the true-crime comedy podcast “Small Town Murder,” hosted by James Pietragallo and Jimmie Whisman, sold out a live show at Lincoln Hall. Four months later, on Friday, it will headline the much-bigger Park West. No one can quite explain their meteoric rise to the middle: Podcasts, like pop stars, just take off sometimes.
In a recent phone interview, Pietragallo and Whisman, comedians from Phoenix and longtime friends, talked about how they launched two successful true-crime podcasts with nothing but a microphone, a dream, and a totally normal fondness for murder (spree killers and homicidal athletes preferred).
The following are excerpts from that conversation:
1. Put a novel spin on an already popular idea
In 2016, Pietragallo and Whisman launched their maiden (and still ongoing) podcast, “Crime in Sports,” which documents the misdoings of athletes, both famous (doomed pitcher Steve Howe) and infamous (misbegotten major league prospect Greg
Read more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-ott-small-town-murder-0427-story.html
This week, prosecutors presented an alleged prison confession from a Texas pediatric nurse convicted of killing of killing one toddler but suspected of killing as many as 60 small children.
Genene Jones, 67, is known as the “Angel of Death” for the string of deaths that followed her at various hospitals and clinics around San Antonio between 1977 and 1982. She was sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1984 for knowingly administering a fatal overdose to 15-month-old Chelsea McClennan at a clinic in Kerrville, near San Antonio.
But a fresh murder charge was filed against Jones last May, as prosecutors learned she was scheduled to be freed in March 2018, thanks to since-repealed legislation designed to cut down on prison overcrowding.
Since then, Jones was indicted on four additional murder counts. The five new charges involve the deaths of four boys and one girl, ranging in age from three months
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/texas-nurse-genene-jones-allegedly-confessed-killing-small-children/
The search for fugitive 56-year-old grandmother Lois Riess ended last night in South Texas with her arrest at a restaurant on South Padre Island.
Police officials in Minnesota — where she is alleged to have killed her husband last month before going on the run — confirm to PEOPLE that Riess is in custody.
Riess was tracked down by the U.S. Marshal’s Service with the assistance of South Padre Island police, PEOPLE learns.
Riess is accused of killing her husband and then traveling to Florida, where she allegedly killed a woman who looked like her so she could steal the victim’s identity.
On March 23, investigators found the body of her 54-year-old husband, David Riess, inside their Blooming Prairie home riddled with bullet wounds.
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/fugitive-grandma-accused-accused-killing-husband-lookalike-arrested-texas/
A Texas man was convicted Monday of murdering a college student who was found dismembered and burned in 2016.
The 12-member jury rejected Charles Dean Bryant’s defense that he panicked only after the 24-year-old woman died during consensual “kinky” sex.
Jacqueline Vandagriff, a junior at Texas Woman’s University, vanished on the evening of Sept. 13, 2016 — not long after she spent time with Bryant, 31, at a bar in Denton, Texas. Her remains were later found burning in a plastic kiddie pool in a park near Lake Grapevine.
Police soon uncovered security footage of her sharing a drink with Bryant, and they said the two eventually left the bar together.
Authorities also suspect that Bryant, 31, updated Vandagraff’s Twitter account after her death.
The night before her body was found, a tweet on Vandagriff’s account read, “I’m glad I decided to get off tinder and waked [sic] into a bar.”
“Never knew I
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/texas-man-guilty-murdering-college-student-claimed-died-during-sex/
Steven Pladl, the 45-year-old North Carolina man accused of fathering a child with his 20-year-old biological daughter and killing both his daughter and their baby before killing himself, committed Thursday’s violence after daughter Katie ended their relationship.
The revelation came in a 911 call made by Pladl’s mother, who told 911 dispatchers her son had called her saying he had killed the boy after Katie broke up with him on the phone — and that he planned to travel to New York to kill Katie next, according to phone records obtained by ABC11.
“He told me he … oh God … he told me killed his baby and he’s in the house,” Pladl’s mother said through tears, according to the News Observer.
In January, Pladl was arrested for allegedly impregnating his biological daughter, Katie Pladl, whom he had placed for adoption when she was a baby. They reunited
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/incest-suspect-killing-spree-daughter-broke-up-with-him/
An Alabama man accused of murdering his wife has an unlikely champion for his defense: the victim’s mother, who insists the suspect was a good man and a loving husband.
A 19-year-old neighbor on her way to work found Kathleen “Kat” West’s body face-down in the street across from the couple’s Calera, Alabama, home at about 5 a.m. on Jan. 13.
Kat, 42, was naked except for a sports bra, bleeding from the head, and had her cell phone nearby under a green liquor bottle that appeared to be intentionally placed there, according to witness descriptions of the scene reported by AL.com.
Charging documents say she died Jan. 12 after being hit in the head with a Lucid Absinthe bottle. The bottle had Kat’s blood and a single set of fingerprints that authorities allege belonged to 44-year-old Jeff West, Kat’s husband and the father of the couple’s then 12-year-old daughter,
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/mom-slain-alabama-woman-defends-husband-accused-killing-her/
Authorities have concluded their search for a Tennessee man who allegedly confessed on Facebook in chilling detail to killing his mom and a friend of his, after finding him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, PEOPLE confirms.
The Facebook post, which police in East Ridge, Tennessee allege was written by Casey James Lawhorn, 23, has since been removed from Facebook. It describes the Sunday morning slayings of his friend, who has not been identified, and his mother, Vi Lawhorn.
In the post, Lawhorn allegedly described shooting his mother twice as she slept. Then, his gun jammed, the post reads.
“She started screaming the worst scream I’ve ever heard,” reads the post. “Movies really don’t do justice to how true terror sounds.”
The post was written in Mississippi as Lawhorn was allegedly fleeing, according to a statement from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department obtained by PEOPLE. In the post, Lawhorn allegedly writes he is
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/tennessee-fugitive-allegedly-confesses-facebook-killing-mom-friend/
The Menendez brothers, who were convicted of killing their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion nearly three decades ago, have been reunited in a southern California prison.
Erik Menendez, 47, has moved into the same housing unit as his 50-year-old brother, Lyle Menendez, the California corrections department spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.
The brothers are serving life sentences for killing their parents, Jose and Mary Louise “Kitty” Menendez, with a shotgun in 1989.
Lyle Menendez was moved in February from Mule Creek state prison in northern California to the RJ Donovan correctional facility in Sand Diego after his security classification was lowered.
The brothers had lived in separate housing units and would not have seen each other, Thornton said. The prison houses nearly 3,900 male inmates.
That changed this week when Erik Menendez was moved into the same housing unit as his brother, where inmates agree to
Read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/07/menendez-brothers-reunite-nearly-30-years-after-killing-parents
A Washington state couple was found dead in their home after one of their sons called police concerned for his parent’s safety.
Jared Standley, 21, was kicked out of his parent’s home before he returned to allegedly shoot his father and beat his mother to death, according to The News Tribune.
He was charged on Monday with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, Steven Standley, 55, and Theresa Standley, 56, the newspaper reported.
Jared’s brother was concerned for the couple’s safety after his father called him to say that he was going to talk to Jared and expressed his suspicion that the 21-year-old had a gun, according to a Facebook post by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
Detective Ed Troyer told KOMONews, “The father told his son, ‘If you don’t hear from me in 20 minutes,
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/man-accused-killing-parents-after-dads-warning/
Edward Edwards, a thief-turned-family man, murdered at least five people before daughter April Balascio helped reveal him as a serial killer.
But did he have other victims?
More provocatively: Was he the one behind such notoriously unsolved crimes as the slayings committed by the “Zodiac Killer” and the deaths of Elizabeth Short, known as the “Black Dahlia,” and JonBenét Ramsey — as well as the murders of Teresa Halbach and Laci Peterson, whose convicted killers already sit in prison?
Short, a Hollywood starlet, was found dead and drained of blood in Los Angeles in 1947, when Edwards was 13. Six-year-old former pageant queen JonBenét was found dead in the basement of her family’s Colorado home in 1996. Halbach’s 2005 death in Wisconsin is
Read more at: http://people.com/crime/did-edward-edwards-murder-jonbenet-black-dahlia-zodiac-killer/