219 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 • 4.2K 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 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
    Bonus Episode - OUAC Celebrating 5 Years in True Crime

    Bonus Episode - OUAC Celebrating 5 Years in True Crime

    Once Upon a Crime celebrates 5 years in true crime by summarizing the show by the numbers, sharing 5 Surprising True Crime Facts, and letting listeners in on a giveaway to win OUAC merchandise and prizes.

    Text OUAC to 408-676-1770 to opt-in to receive texts from Once Upon a Crime and enter our drawing! Text messaging provided by Text Sanity.

    Thanks so much for listening and supporting Once Upon a Crime over 5 years!

    OUAC episodes referenced in this bonus episode:
    Episode #3 - Lost and Found: The Cleveland Kidnappings
    Episode #8 - Killer Kids: Brenda Spencer
    Episode #39 - Monstrous Moms and Dastardly Dads: John List
    Episode #14 - Fatal Fans: Rebecca Schaeffer
    Episode #156 - Behind the Crime: Aileen Wuornos
    Episode #130 - Disorder in the Court: Ellie Nesler
    Episode #127 - Bad Sports: Soccer Brawl in Brazil
    Episode #42 - A Woman Scorned: Betty Broderick
    Episode #50 - Millionaire Murders: Spoiled Son - Dale Ewell
    Episode #200 - Chopped: Anjette Donovan Lyles
    Episode #110 - Listener Suggestions: The Texas Cadet Murder
    Episode #45 - A Woman Scorned: Murder by Mercedes
    Episode #196 - Hookups from Hell: Wade Ridley, "The Match.com Murderer"
    Episode #189 - Body of Evidence: Stacy Peterson
    Episode #38 - Monstrous Moms and Dastardly Dads: Diane Downs
    Episode #40 - Monstrous Moms and Dastardly Dads: Susan Smith
    Episodes #71 and 72 - The 12 Crimes of Christmas: Laci Peterson
    Episode #46 - Murder in Paradise: The Yosemite Murders
    Episode #65 - Murder in the Family: The Briley Brothers

    Links:
    www.patreon.com/onceuponacrime
    www.crimecon.com
    www.crimecon.co.uk - Use discount code ONCEUPON21 for 10% off your registration.

    Sponsors:
    Acorn TV - Try Acorn TV FREE for 30 days by going to Acorn.TV and using my promo code once (use all lowercase letters).

    Munk Pack - Get 20% off your first purchase of any Munk Pack product by visiting MunkPack.com and entering code ONCE at checkout.

    • 36 min
    Episode 206: The Trailside Killer, Part 3

    Episode 206: The Trailside Killer, Part 3

    This is a double episode to conclude the month-long miniseries where I detail the case of serial killer David Carpenter, known as “The Trailside Killer”. Carpenter stalked and killed men and women on the hiking trails of Marin County, San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Other suspected victims would disappear from San Jose and Daly City, California.

    Timestamps:

    00:08:28 - Point Reyes National Seashore
    00:15:32 - Investigation
    00:24:00 - Ad Break
    00:26:48 - Kelly, Daly City
    00:30:11 - David Carpenter
    00:36:38 - Henry Cowell State Park, Santa Cruz
    00:56:00 - Manhunt
    1:13:00 - Ad Break
    1:17:00 - Suspect
    1:24:00 - Surveillance
    1:34:00 - Arrest
    1:38:00 - More Victims Discovered
    1:42:00 - Murder Weapon/Charges
    1:45:00 - Trial #1 - Santa Cruz
    1:51:00 - Trial #2 - Marin County
    1:57:00 - Verdict
    1:59:00 - Case Updates

    Resources:
    The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate by Robert Graysmith, Penguin Books, (1990)

    People v. Carpenter, Supreme Court of California, Nov 29, 1999.

    “The Frightening Case of the Trailside Killer”, Strange Outdoors, November 27, 2020.

    “DNA ties Trailside Killer to ‘79 SF Slaying”, Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 24, 2010.

    Sponsors:

    Acorn TV - www.Acorn.TV and use promo code “once” (all lowercase letters) for your first 30-days free

    Best Fiends - Download Best Fiends FREE on the Apple App Store or Google Play. Use my Best Fiends Friend Code to challenge me to play! Code 1798646.

    Munk Pack - www.munkpack.com - Enter my discount code ONCE at checkout to save 20% off your purchase.

    Warby Parker - Take advantage of the Home Try-On Program and order 5 pairs of eyeglasses to try at home FREE for 5 days by going to www.warbyparker.com/once.

    • 2 hr 2 min
    Episode 205: The Trailside Killer, Part 2

    Episode 205: The Trailside Killer, Part 2

    In Part 2 of this 3-part mini-series, I’ll continue the story about a random series of attacks that took place on hiking trails in northern California beginning in 1979, soon after David Carpenter was released from prison for an earlier violent crime spree. After three women were found murdered on Mount Tamalpais, investigators began to suspect that a serial killer was on the loose and targeting local hikers.

    This is the case of “The Trailside Killer”.

    Resources:
    The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate by Robert Graysmith, Penguin Books, (1990)

    People v. Carpenter, Supreme Court of California, Nov 29, 1999.

    “The Frightening Case of the Trailside Killer”, Strange Outdoors, November 27, 2020.


    Links:
    Website: www.truecrimepodcast.com
    Patreon: www.patreon.com/onceuponacrime
    Crime Con UK: www.crimecon.co.uk - Use my promo code ONCEUPON21 for 10% off your registration

    Sponsors:
    Acorn TV - Try Acorn TV free for 30 days by going to www.acorn.tv and using my promo code “once” (use all lower case letters for discount code).

    Hooked on Phonics - To get your first month of Hooked On Phonics for just $1 go to www.hookedonphonics.com/once.

    • 35 min
    Episode 204: The Trailside Killer, Part 1

    Episode 204: The Trailside Killer, Part 1

    This month I’ll be sharing a 3-part miniseries. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Northern California was terrorized by a series of random murders that took place on hiking trails in state parks, national forests and coastal lands. The public began to suspect that a serial killer was lurking among them and the media began referring to him as “The Trailside Killer”.

    In this first part, I’ll detail some of the Trailside Killers earliest victims and describe how he was allowed to slip through the cracks in the criminal justice system and set loose to stalk and kill more than ten people.

    Resources:
    The Sleeping Lady: The Trailside Murders Above the Golden Gate by Robert Graysmith, Penguin Books, (1990)

    People v. Carpenter, Supreme Court of California, Nov 29, 1999.

    Sponsors:
    Acorn TV - Try Acorn TV free for 30 days by going to www.acorn.tv and using my promo code “once” (use all lower case letters for discount code).

    Candid - Love your smile again! Go to www.candidCO.com/once and use promo code ONCE to get $75 dollars off your starter kit for a limited time.

    • 40 min
    Episode 203 Artful Crimes, Volume 2: The Van Gogh Museum Heist

    Episode 203 Artful Crimes, Volume 2: The Van Gogh Museum Heist

    In 2002, two paintings were stolen from The Van Gogh Museum worth $30 million dollars. The investigation into this crime would involve law enforcement in several countries. Special investigators in both art crimes and organized crime units would also be brought in to solve the case of the missing Van Goghs.

    Resources:

    Documentary: Stealing Van Gogh (2018), Julian Hendy, Director.

    “How 20 Stolen Van Gogh Paintings were Recovered” by Erik Shilling for Atlas Obscura, Sept. 30, 2016.
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-20-stolen-van-gogh-paintings-were-recovered-35-minutes-after-a-heist

    “As Stolen Van Goghs Return to View, a Thief Tells All” by Nina Siegal for The New York Times, Mar 19, 2017.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/19/arts/design/van-gogh-museum-theft-octave-dunham.html

    “Italian police bust drug trafficking Camorra Clan”. Posted on Gangsters, Inc., Mar 21, 2017.
    https://gangstersinc.ning.com/profiles/blogs/italian-police-bust-drug-trafficking-camorra-clan-and-retrieve-st

    “How Two Stolen Van Gogh Paintings Made it Home After a 14-Year Saga” by Isaac Kaplan for Artsy.Net, Mar 21, 2017.
    https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-two-stolen-van-gogh-paintings-made-14-year-saga

    Sponsors:
    Acorn TV - www.Acorn.TV - Use my promo code ONCE to get your first 30 days free.

    StoryWorth - www.StoryWorth.com/once to get $10 off your first purchase.

    Links:
    CrimeCon UK - www.CrimeCon.co.uk - Use my promo code ONCEUPON21 to get 10% of your registration.

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
4.2K Ratings

4.2K Ratings

b3853r ,

Episode 206 - The Trailside Killer - *****

Ester, you outdid yourself self on this 3 part series! Great research as usual & I really enjoyed how you gave us Part 3 more casually & with your personal thoughts.

I love Once Upon a Crime true crime podcasts! She provides all the facts & her own opinion on rare occasions. Great podcasts!!! Thank you for saving my sanity during a pandemic & the election cycle 🥰

Cool Petey Mom ,

Overall Love The Podcast

I think I like the scripted shows better. Unscripted works better when you have a partner to throw ideas/thoughts against. That is just my opinion. You have to listen and judge for yourself. But, overall, I like this podcast series very much and would recommend.

quesita ,

Great podcast

I’ve been listening for awhile but was prompted to review finally after listening to the Trailside Killer series. I’m a Bay Area native and remember these murders from when I was a child. Very scary, and there’s so much in the show that I never knew. Thank you so much for this, and I liked the more “casual” approach in the last episode.

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