True crime podcasts take Gramercy Theater stage for festival
Two popular crime podcasts came to the Gramercy Theater through the true crime festival, "Death Becomes Us," entertaining and educating listeners from March 20 through March 24.
Tenderfoot TV, a podcast production company, released two podcasts focusing on true crime that featured panelists in the festival: one on the Zodiac Killer and another on a serial killer, the Atlanta Monster.
Monster: The Zodiac Killer follows the notorious unsolved mystery of a California serial killer, the Zodiac Killer, narrated through research by popular podcast creators Payne Lindsey and Matt Frederick and author Michael Butterfield.
Seeking the truth behind the Zodiac Killer, Lindsey and Frederick collaborated again to use the wealth of conspiracies and sources, like Butterfield's website zodiackillerfacts.com, to investigate validity behind details of the case.
The 50-year-old cold case has generated recent interest, but Monster: The Zodiac Killer cites the urgency of the evidence, witnesses' aging and modern technology as catalysts for the podcast's inception.
“There are only so many years left to tell this story," Lindsey said.
Frederick pointed out that modern DNA tests are being used to further re-analyze evidence, something that longtime Zodiac Killer expert Butterfield supports.
“If the Zodiac case were to ever be solved, it would be solved by someone in a white lab coat,” said Butterfield.
Arthur Leigh Allen, the longtime suspect of both the police and modern followers of the Zodiac case, is thoroughly discussed in the podcast.
Frederick said that the podcast's goal was to give listeners “that feeling of, ‘Oh my god this is the guy!’ to, ‘This probably wasn't the guy’ or at least we can’t prove it.” The executioner mask-clad image of the Zodiac Killer has become synonymous with true crime media.
The podcast adds to other people’s knowledge, or lack thereof, about certain events or crimes.
“The more you raise the consciousness of the case, the better the community," said Lindsey.
The panelists also discussed Atlanta Monster, a season of the Monster podcast series that follows the murders of 22 children and six adults across 1979 to 1981 and the suspected murderer, Wayne Williams.
The case generated immense controversy due to the victims being young African-American boys and the police and public's inaction at the onset of their disappearances.
“Atlanta was on the verge of race riots with lot of finger pointing,” Donald Albright, executive producer and co-founder of Tenderfoot TV, said.
“At 1981, the height of the murders, the city of Atlanta was in transitional period because all victims were in the South,” Albright said.
Meredith Stedman, creative producer at Tenderfoot TV, continued, saying that “the politics of this case make it so unique.”
The image of Atlanta as “the metropolis of the South” was being tarnished by the murders, and Atlanta's modern stance as a prominent city is built “on the backs of those mothers who suffered for 40 years,” Albright said.
This importance of highlighting this race issue within the crime story, paired with the forgotten nature of the victims, were reasons why this story was chosen for the podcast, according to the panel.
“Victims aren’t recognized and again victimized for the sake of business as usual, so the city of Atlanta can thrive and move forward and not have the strain on the city of a serial killer who would still be on loose,” said Albright.
Lindsey also admitted not knowing about these murders despite being from the same state.
Stedman said that the Atlanta murders were “at the front end of when people were first realizing that serial killers were a thing” and said that this key moment made it important to tell.
Albright continued to talk about issues that plagued Atlanta and what viewers can do to help during the Q&A session.
“We have to care about those who don't look like us,” said Albright, who cited other cases where the victims were often those who were “forgettable victims to the eyes of law enforcement.”
“Hopefully, this renewed interest will manifest itself in support for law enforcement to give them the resources they need to solve these cases,” Butterfield said.
“I hope this isn't just entertainment, I hope that it becomes social responsibility and awareness.”
Both series are completed and available on most streaming services.