224 episodes

Once Upon a Crime is a weekly true crime podcast that tells “the story behind the story” of real life crime. Told in a storytelling style, listeners are presented facts and information about each case they won’t hear anywhere else.

Once Upon A Crime | True Crime Esther Ludlow

    • True Crime
    • 4.6 • 4.3K Ratings

Once Upon a Crime is a weekly true crime podcast that tells “the story behind the story” of real life crime. Told in a storytelling style, listeners are presented facts and information about each case they won’t hear anywhere else.

    Episode 212: Deathbed Confessions: Diane Crawford Smith

    Episode 212: Deathbed Confessions: Diane Crawford Smith

    In 1967, a double murder shocked a small town in Virginia. A suspect was quickly rounded up, but the case wasn’t truly resolved until decades later when a chance encounter led to a series of events that would ultimately bring about a deathbed confession.

    Resources:
    “Thomas Free on Bond; Hearing Slated Oct 27”, The News Leader, Oct 17, 1967.
    “Prosecution Rests in Thomas Hearing”, The News Leader, April 10, 1968.
    “Getting away with murder? Former cop has serious questions about why Staunton’s most infamous killer almost got away”, Lindsay Barnes for The Hook, Jan 8, 2009
    Sharron C. Smith, Obituary, retrieved from Legacy.com
    “Woman confesses to 1967 slayings”, Ashley Broughton for CNN, Jan 24, 2009.
    “Motive in Double Killing 42 Years Ago is Revealed”, The Associated Press, retrieved from The New York Times, Jan 24, 2009.
    “We just want the truth; Connie Hevener’s family wants to know why a cop allegedly hid her killer for 40 years”, Lindsay Barnes for The Hook, Feb 26, 2009.
    “Bound by blood? Were cop and killer father and child?”, Lindsay Barnes for The Hook, April 23, 2009.
    “A $200M Wrong? One-time suspect in ‘67 slayings says Staunton cops framed him”, Brad Zinn for The News Leader, Dec 23, 2010.
    “High’s case featured on Investigation Discovery”, Augusta Free Press, Feb 17, 2013.

    Sponsors:
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    Links:
    Patreon - Join to become a Patreon member for bonus episodes, early release, ad-free episodes and more at www.patreon.com/onceuponacrime.

    CrimeCon UK - www.crimecon.co.uk and use my discount code ONCEUPON21 for 10% off your registration.

    Join the Once Upon a Crime Facebook Group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1730325570622505

    • 57 min
    Episode 211: Deathbed Confessions: James Washington

    Episode 211: Deathbed Confessions: James Washington

    In this series I share cases where people on their deathbeds finally confess to terrible crimes. In his episode you’ll hear about a brutal murder that went unsolved for over a dozen years when the perpetrator confessed before meeting his maker. But, this story ends with a twist when fate intervenes.

    Resources:

    State of Tennessee v. James Murray Washington, Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County, July 15, 2014

    The Crime Reel: A Brutal Murder and a Deathbed Confession, YouTube.com, May 26, 2021. https://youtu.be/5vD_KFlPbtw

    https://blogs.findlaw.com/legalgrounds/2012/11/deathbed-confession-leads-to-conviction-after-man-gets-better.html

    https://abcnews.go.com/US/inmate-james-washington-convicted-death-bed-murder-confession/story?id=17653264

    https://criminallawyerwashingtondc.com/blog/tennessee-man-on-deathbed-confesses-to-murder-then-recovers-and-gets-life-sentence/

    Sponsors:

    Best Fiends - Download Best Fiends FREE on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    Links:

    CrimeCon UK - www.crimecon.co.uk - Use my promo code ONCEUPON21 for 10% off your registration.

    Patreon - www.patreon.com/onceuponacrime

    You can sign up to receive texts from Once Upon a Crime by texting OUAC to 408-676-1770. Msg&DataRatesMayApply. Text messaging provided by Text Sanity.

    • 30 min
    Episode 210: Deathbed Confessions: Geraldine Kelley

    Episode 210: Deathbed Confessions: Geraldine Kelley

    In this series "Deathbed Confessions" I share cases that went cold and the perpetrator was only revealed when they made a deathbed confession. In this first episode, a dying woman reveals a long-held secret to her children, leading to a shocking discovery.

    Resources:

    “Slaying Victim had Fled a Troubled Past”, The Boston Globe, November 20, 2004.
    http://archive.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/11/20/body_found_in_storage_tentatively_identified?pg=full

    “John’s in the Freezer”, What Lies Beyond, August 31, 2014.
    https://whatliesbeyond.boards.net/thread/2333/johns-freezer

    “Deathbed Confession Leads to Slain Husband”, Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times, Nov 20, 2004. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2004-nov-20-me-deathbed20-story.html

    “Murder Confession Confirmed”, Jay Lindsay/AP, Seacoast Online.com Nov 20, 2004

    “Slaying Victim was Cleared in 1981 Brawl”, Michael Levenson, The Boston Globe, Nov 25, 2004.

    “Lies of former Ventura woman, who kept body in freezer, went unchallenged”, Angelica Martinez and Aron Miller, Ventura County Star, Nov 20, 2004.

    “Authorities confirm woman’s deathbed murder confession”, Jay Lindsay/AP, The Berkshire Eagle, Nov 20, 2004.

    Sponsor:
    Small Town Murders - Download this murder-mystery puzzle game for FREE on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    Links:
    CrimeCon UK - www.crimecon.co.uk - Use my promo code ONCEUPON21 for 10% off your registration

    Patreon - www.patreon.com/onceuponacrime

    You can sign up to receive texts from Once Upon a Crime by texting OUAC to 408-676-1770. Msg&DataRatesMayApply. Text messaging provided by Text Sanity.

    • 29 min
    Episode 209: Buried Truth: Dorothea Puente

    Episode 209: Buried Truth: Dorothea Puente

    In this final chapter of “Buried Truth” I share a story of one of the most rare categories of criminal - the female serial killer. Behind her grandmotherly exterior, Dorothea Puente was hiding some very dark secrets very close to home. This is the case of “The Killer Landlady”.

    Resources:

    Newspapers.com -

    Dorothea Puente by Julia Scheeres for TruTV.com
    Jailed Landlady: I Didn’t Kill Anyone - The Sacramento Bee - Nov 18, 1988
    Puente Guilty of Killing 3 - The Sacramento Bee - Aug 27, 1993
    Murderous Landlady Puente Dies - The Sacramento Bee - March 28, 2011

    The Life and Deaths of Dorothea Puente by Martin Kuz for Sactown Magazine, 2009.

    Sacramento serial killer’s former home renovated, ready for visits - David Bienick for KCRA3, August 29, 2013

    Tours, documentary focus on Sacramento house of murderer Dorothea Puente - Ryan Lillis for The Sacramento Bee, Sept 1, 2015

    California Superior Court (Sacramento County) case files for The People v. Dorothea Montalvo Puente - Retrieved from The Online Archive of California - oac.cdlib.org

    Sponsors:

    Acorn TV - www.Acorn.TV - Try Acorn TV free for 30 days by using my promo code "once" (all lowercase letters)

    Candid - Start straightening your teeth today and save $75 on Candid’s starter kit by going to CandidCO.com/once.

    Small Town Murders - Download Small Town Murders FREE today on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    Links:

    Patreon - www.patreon.com/onceuponacrime

    To opt-in to receive texts from Once Upon a Crime text OUAC to 408-676-1770. Msg&DataRatesMayApply.

    • 1 hr 28 min
    Episode 208: Buried Truth: Christopher Denoyer

    Episode 208: Buried Truth: Christopher Denoyer

    A teenage boy goes missing in 1984. Authorities would quickly decide that he was a runaway, but his family didn’t agree. Fourteen years later his fate would be learned in a shocking and unusual way.

    Resources:
    The New Detectives: Grave Secrets - Season 8, Episode 7, The Discovery Channel

    Articles (Jackson Vallarta/Christopher Denoyer/Dale Vallarta) from The Californian newspaper, Feb 17 1998 to Feb 10, 2000 - Clipped from Newspapers.com

    Sponsors:
    Acorn TV - www.Acorn.TV - Try Acorn TV free for 30 days by using my promo code "once" (all lowercase letters)

    Hooked on Phonics - www.hookedonphonics.com/once to receive your first month for just $1

    Best Fiends - Download Best Fiends free on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

    • 43 min
    Episode 207: Buried Truth: Russell Tillis and "The House of Horrors"

    Episode 207: Buried Truth: Russell Tillis and "The House of Horrors"

    In this month’s series “Buried Truth” I share cases where a person goes missing never to be seen again. Just when it seemed their fate would remain a mystery, the truth would be uncovered. This time, a neighborhood menace harbors dark secrets in his own backyard. This is the case of Russell Tillis and The House of Horrors.

    You can now receive texts from Once Upon a Crime! Text OUAC to 408-676-1770 to opt-in!

    Links:
    www.truecrimepodcast.com

    Resources:

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/womans-body-found-under-booby-trapped-mobile-home

    http://www.cncpunishment.com/forums/showthread.php?11401-Death-Penalty-Trial-Tentatively-Set-for-November-5-2018-for-Russell-David-Tillis-in-May-2015-FL-Murder-of-Joni-Lynn-Gunter&p=101924&viewfull=1

    https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/features/5-things-you-need-to-know-house-of-horrors-death-penalty-trial-starts-april-5-crime/77-611a8a49-232b-4d4e-b31f-fd367cf2b587

    https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2021/04/08/russell-tillis-expected-to-testify-in-own-defense-at-murder-trial/

    Sponsors:

    Acorn TV - Get Acorn TV FREE for 30 days by going to Acorn.TV and use my promo code “once” (use all lower case letters).

    StoryWorth - Give your dad a special gift this Father’s Day - go to StoryWorth.com/once to get $10 off your first purchase.

    Candid - Start straightening your teeth today and save $75 on Candid’s starter kit by going to CandidCO.com/once.

    • 51 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
4.3K Ratings

4.3K Ratings

MissAna_18 ,

😍😍

I’m so mad I’m late listening I was always subscribed to this podcast and just started binging and can’t stop listening now…Awesome podcast

Chavrifybjeanfh ,

Boring and hard to follow

Why does this have such high ratings? I was completely lost interest after 20 minutes. Another Scripted, single narrator with monotonous voice.. just what we need

RDSKINFAN ,

Favorite True Crime Podcast!

Esther, I love your show! I look forward to getting into my car so I can listen to your crime stories. So good!

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