In the era of some of the most heinous serial killers of all time, one murderous family went curiously unnoticed: The McCrarys. Led by a psychopathic patriarch and his cunning son-in-law, this Texas clan roamed the country robbing, kidnapping, and killing up to 20 people, most of them taken from donut shops. “Families Who Kill: The Donut Shop Murders” recounts the wild and deeply disturbing story of an unhinged American family and the terrible brutality they unleashed. The podcast features the taped confessions of one of the killers, given when he was serving a life term in Colorado.
All episodes of Families Who Kill are available now. You can binge the series ad-free on Wondery+ or on Amazon Music with a Prime membership or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription.
The Donut Shop Murders | Donuts and Death
Lifelong petty thieves Carl Taylor and Sherman McCrary, facing heat in their hometown of Athens, Texas, gather their family and take to the highways in search of criminal opportunities in the American West. In Utah, Carl and Sherman’s small-time cons suddenly escalate when they rob and kidnap 17-year-old Sheri Martin from a Winchell’s Donut Shop, killing her in the Nevada desert. The men’s bloodthirst is awakened.
The Donut Shop Murders | A Detective Named Fanciulli
Carl, Sherman, and the fam head to the peaceful suburban community of Lakewood, Colorado, and strike again — this time robbing, raping, and killing 20-year-old donut shop cashier Leora Looney. As police circle the McCrary family they skip town and return to their homebase of Athens, Texas. A razor-sharp young detective, Joe Fanciulli, is on their scent, but his efforts are hindered by glacially slow 1970s police forensics.
The Donut Shop Murders | One Terrible Night in Texas
Carl and Sherman, now accompanied by Sherman’s son Danny, kidnap a young couple, Forrest and Jena Covey, from a Mesquite grocery and ruthlessly murder them in an old barn. In harrowing testimony from Carl, we learn how Forrest was killed first as Jena was forced to look on. Jenna Covey’s niece recounts the brutalizing effects her aunt’s murder had on her father and her family in general. Meanwhile, we learn the tale of the Bloody Benders, a 19th century clan of killers who bear similarities to the McCrarys.
The Donut Shop Murders | What is a Serial Killer, Exactly?
An intriguing debate emerges: Were the McCrarys, in a technical or criminological sense, serial killers? Or were they spree killers, or something else? Experts debate the similarity of the McCrarys’ killings to those of John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, and Andrew Cunanan. The family heads to the Pacific Northwest, where Carl and Sherman kidnap and kill a bizarrely nonchalant young hippie named Cynthia Glass. The Bloody Benders story continues as the family kills a dozen people at their inn in Labette, Kansas.
The Donut Shop Murders | The Traveling Criminals Bulletin
After their murder in Portland, the police probe begins to tighten like a vise around the McCrarys. They stop the killings and move to Santa Barbara, CA, to focus on armed robberies. As Sherman’s alcoholism spirals out of control, Carl attempts to rob a large supermarket on his own but screws it up and winds up shooting a patrolman at the scene. Meanwhile, Texas police issue a nationwide “Traveling Criminals Bulletin” fingering the McCrarys as a violent clan who may have committed up to 20 murders in six states. Finally, the Benders story concludes as the murderous family is run out out of Kansas.
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The Donut Shop Murders | Cornered in California
Santa Barbara cops chase Carl Taylor and his wife all the way back to Texas, where Carl and his wife are cornered and arrested. Sherman and his wife are arrested back in California. During the trial, Carl and Sherman, once close partners, turn on each other, each saying the other pulled the trigger. Carl mounts an insanity defense, claiming he was not of sound mind during the killing spree. The family’s brutal saga comes to an end.
Don’t know how they stretched this story out to six episodes. The audio on the interviews is awful.
Audio quality 😖
Repetitive, literally saying the same parts of story needlessly 😵💫
The plot was decent but this was best to a pulp 🤐
First podcast that I found frustrating & annoying to listen to. SHOCKED Wondery selected this, for a payed subscription I thought they had set a higher bar. This should be anywhere near the likes of the other amazing podcasts.
Glorifies the murders and doesn’t honor the families
There are two types of crime podcasts. One honors the victims, tells the story and brings awareness to the case. See True Crime guys or Crime Garage. The other is glorifying the crime, the victim and their families are re-victimized by the telling. This podcast does that.
Technically there is a third where the host try’s to be a profiler. Equally lame. See crime junkie.
Luckily we have investigators that hold a barrier between the brutality of the crimes and social civility. This podcast annihilates that boundary and over shares ugly details.
Come on wondery if you’re going to charge step up your game.