103 episodes

True Crime Conversations explores the world's most notorious crimes by speaking to the people who know the most about them. Hosted by Jessie Stephens. 

True Crime Conversations Mamamia

    • True Crime
    • 4.4 • 1.7K Ratings

True Crime Conversations explores the world's most notorious crimes by speaking to the people who know the most about them. Hosted by Jessie Stephens. 

    The Husband Poisoner

    The Husband Poisoner

    For Desmond Butler, it began with a headache. Then diarrhoea. Nausea that felt like a hangover.  

    He was otherwise a healthy man, not yet 30. He shared two children with his wife Yvonne Gladys Butler, a striking woman, small and doll-like. Desmond also attracted the attention of neighbours, with dark, thick floppy hair, an athletic physique and perhaps a wandering eye. 

    It was October 1947, and the young couple lived in a small house in the then working-class suburb of Newtown in Sydney. 

    But back to Desmond’s headaches. 

    Over the course of a week, his symptoms worsened. 

    Extreme fatigue. Aches and pains throughout his whole body, and a strange stiffness in his legs. Pins and needles travelled to his feet. 

    Before long, Desmond saw a doctor. They could find nothing, physically, wrong with him. The doctor’s order was Bonox… a drink otherwise known as beef tea. It was gentle on the stomach and high in iron, concentrating also the nutrients from beef in a drink. Every night, Yvonne continued to serve him Bonox. But his condition did not improve. It got worse.

    While out with friends one night, Desmond fell to the floor. His legs were no longer working. He shouted at the top of his lungs: “I feel like I’m on fire!” Rushed home and put to bed, his friends didn’t know what to make of Desmond’s mystery illness. Was it possible he was putting it on? 

    As time wore on, neighbours began to notice a smell around the Butler house. It smelt like urine and faeces. Desmond no longer had control of his bowel, and Yvonne could only wash him with a sponge in bed given she was unable to lift him. His screams were heard throughout the neighbourhood - like an animal in excruciating pain. 

    Finally, he was rushed to hospital again.

    A friend explained to the doctor: “He’s in so much pain he’s been threatening to eat poisoned wheat. His wife told us so”.

    He likely didn’t know what the repercussions would be for such a statement. 

    Desmond was not admitted to hospital. He was taken into custody. In 1947, suicide was a crime. And Desmond had just threatened it. 

    And so people believed Desmond Butler had lost his mind - imagining symptoms for which there was no physical explanation. 

    But they were real. 

    And they did have a physical explanation. 

    But by the time police made a startling discovery, it would all be too late.

     

    CREDITS

    Guest: Tanya Bretherton, author of The Husband Poisoner

    Host: Jessie Stephens

    Producer: Gia Moylan

    Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

     

    CONTACT US

    Tell us what you think of the show via email at truecrime@mamamia.com.au  

    Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link https://bit.ly/tcc-group 

    If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

     

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 29 min
    The Man Who Murdered Luke Batty

    The Man Who Murdered Luke Batty

    It was February 12, 2014, a hot summer evening, and eleven year old Luke Batty was at cricket practice on a sports oval in the Melbourne suburb of Tyabb.

    With blue eyes and dark blonde hair, Luke had just started Year Six. He was happy and empathetic, a best friend to his single mother Rosie. 

    Rosie was on one end of the cricket ground, and his father, Greg Anderson was at the other. 

    After speaking to his father, Luke ran back over to Rosie and said: “Oh mum, I haven’t seen dad for a while. He’s asked me if I can have a few extra minutes.”

    Rosie remembers thinking, “Aw that’s nice.”

    She had invited someone over for dinner, and Greg had coaxed Luke over to the cricket nets. Suddenly, the park stood still in response to a sound of anguish, unlike anything they’d ever heard. 

    Her former partner, in what felt like the blink of an eye, struck his son with a cricket bat before stabbing him to death. 

    In the hours following, Anderson resisted arrest and threatened paramedics with his knife. Police had no choice but to shoot. He died in hospital from both gunshots and self-inflicted stab wounds. 

    What happened to Luke is a story that haunts Australia more than seven years later. In response, his mother Rosie Batty has dedicated her life to campaigning for domestic violence reform and has fundamentally changed the conversation about family violence. 

     

    CREDITS

    Guest: Rosie Batty

    Host: Jessie Stephens

    Producer: Gia Moylan

    Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

     

    CONTACT US

    Tell us what you think of the show via email at truecrime@mamamia.com.au  

    Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link https://bit.ly/tcc-group 

    If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 43 min
    Dennis Costas: The Murderer Who Forgets

    Dennis Costas: The Murderer Who Forgets

    In July 2011 a man named Dennis Costas called in sick to work. He told his employer he was suffering from sciatica. For the rest of the afternoon, he drank heavily, characteristic of a man with a serious drinking problem.  

    Speaking to Dr. Richard Taylor, he said he couldn’t remember much from that day. 

    “My recollection is very distorted…” he said. He took a nap at some point and “After that,” he explained, “I really don’t know what happened. All I can remember is putting out the fire. My vision was blurred. I heard a voice and I came out of the flat door. I went back in again and then out to the lobby. There was a fire in the living room, and I put water on it.”

    There was a lot he said he couldn’t remember from that afternoon, and into the early hours of the next morning. 

    At 3.50am, police were called to a four storey low-rise apartment block in Upton Park, East London, by a resident who said they were awoken to banging on their door. 

    When police arrived, residents were scattered across the carpark. Police ran to the top storey, where they saw a person walking towards them, like something out of a horror movie. 

    One police officer said he had never seen anything like it before. The person had burns to their face and body, and the officer said: “For a split second, a feeling of unreality overcame me.” 

    Eventually, the person gave her name as Sophia.

    She had arrived home at 3am and her former boyfriend had been waiting inside. 

    He doused her in petrol. And lit a match.

    That man, she said, was Dennis Costas.

    A man who claimed he had no recollection of what had taken place.

    So, had Dennis been involved? 

    And, why didn’t he remember it? 

     

    CREDITS

    Guest: Dr. Richard Taylor, author of Mind Of A Murderer

    Host: Jessie Stephens

    Producer: Gia Moylan

    Audio Producer: Leah Porges

    You can listen to The Quicky's episode about the George Floyd Trial here.

     

    CONTACT US

    Tell us what you think of the show via email at truecrime@mamamia.com.au  

    Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link https://bit.ly/tcc-group 

    If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 30 min
    The Queensland Backpacker Murder Of Mia Ayliffe-Chung

    The Queensland Backpacker Murder Of Mia Ayliffe-Chung

    It’s August 23, 2016, in a sleepy Queensland town named Home Hill, south of Townsville. 

    Shelley’s Backpackers is a modest hostel in the small regional town, where backpackers on working holiday visas stay while completing their mandatory farm work.

    The days are long. And hot. They see snakes and operate heavy machinery without any training. Aren’t those brown snakes meant to be deadly, they think to themselves. At night, they sleep in dormitories, some sharing rooms with strangers. 

    On the evening of August 23, a few of the British backpackers go to the pub. They have a few beers and something to eat, before heading back for an early night. Among them, is a 21-year-old woman named Mia Ayliffe-Chung. Another is Chris Porter. 

    When they return to the hostel, everyone climbs into their separate beds and drifts off to sleep. 

    Mia, at this point, had only been working there a week. Already, though, she was anxious. Something was troubling her. 

    A few hours later, Chris awoke to screams, unlike anything he’d ever heard. 

    Something was terribly wrong. 

    And shockwaves were sent from this tiny Queensland town, all the way back to England. 

     

    CREDITS

    Guest: Rosie Ayliffe, author of Far From Home

    Host: Jessie Stephens

    Producer: Gia Moylan

    Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

     

    CONTACT US

    Tell us what you think of the show via email at truecrime@mamamia.com.au  

    Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link https://bit.ly/tcc-group 

    If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 24 min
    The Ugly Business Of Illicit Sex In America

    The Ugly Business Of Illicit Sex In America

    Los Angeles is known as the city of dreams.

    The most populous city in California, Los Angeles is surrounded by mountain ranges, forests, beautiful beaches belonging to the Pacific Ocean and desert. 

    It is the home of countless celebrities - and even more who hope to become celebrities. It is the land of hope.

    But Los Angeles is also one of the largest sites of human sex trafficking in the United States. 

    If you were to drive down Figueroa Street at night, you’d see women on the sidewalks in bikinis, high heels and short dresses, even in the depths of winter. You’d also see cars parked nearby. Inside are their pimps, keeping a close eye on the women who work for them. 

    If you asked any of those pimps, they’d tell you that those women choose to work for them. 

    But for some of these women, is it really a choice? 

     

    CREDITS

    Guest: Mariana Van Zeller the host of Trafficked

    Host: Jessie Stephens

    Producer: Gia Moylan

    Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

     

    CONTACT US

    Tell us what you think of the show via email at truecrime@mamamia.com.au  

    Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link https://bit.ly/tcc-group 

    If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 22 min
    The Apology Line

    The Apology Line

    A man calls a phone number in Manhattan. 

    His name is Johnny. And he has a confession. 

    The phone line connects him to Mr Apology. A man whose real name is Allan Bridge, an artist performing a long-form social experiment. 

    There are posters up all around New York City, inviting “amateurs, professionals, criminals…” who have “wronged people.”

    It continues: “It is to people that you must apologise, not to the state, not to God, get your misdeeds off your chest.” The instructions read, “describe in detail what you have done and how you feel about it.”

    The messages were to be recorded, and at some point, played for the public. 

    Johnny’s voice bellowed down the receiver. 

    He spread AIDS to both genders, he confessed. 

    It was the 1980s - and the AIDS crisis was rapidly accelerating. It seemed Johnny had no desire to change.

    Johnny’s voice was among thousands and thousands who would call the hotline over fifteen years. 

    Some were ordinary civilians. Some were criminals. Their confessions were shocking. And the project itself would take its toll on Mr Apology. 

     

    CREDITS

    Guest: Marissa Bridge, host of 'The Apology Line' podcast

    Host: Jessie Stephens

    Audio Producer: Ian Camilleri

    Producer: Gia Moylan

     

    CONTACT US

    Tell us what you think of the show via email at truecrime@mamamia.com.au  

    Join our closed Facebook community to discuss this episode. Just search True Crime Conversations on Facebook or follow this link https://bit.ly/tcc-group 

    If any of the contents in this episode have caused distress, know that there is help available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    Mamamia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Land we have recorded this podcast on, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 22 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
1.7K Ratings

1.7K Ratings

Game revurer ,

Good but needs longer

Love the content, need longer episodes

Thebotonist ,

Seems to be in decline

I used to really enjoy this podcast, but recent episode topics have been done to death and/or rather dull. Episodes also are becoming very short.
Will stick around a little longer as I enjoy Jessie as a host.

kimboscotto ,

Easy Listen.

I like Jessie and I think she is a good journalist- but the cases covered have been done so many times before on other podcasts.

The background sound effects make me cringe too. They make it feel like a pantomime, not overly respectful or needed.

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