Show cover of What Makes a Killer

What Makes a Killer

A look into the life and crimes of the world’s most infamous serial killers. Featuring interviews with family members, forensic experts, law enforcement, and witnesses. From John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer to the “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez and the Butcher of Plainfield, Ed Gein and "Son of Sam" killer, David Berkowitz – What Makes a Killer explores how they became killers.

Tracks

S5 Ep13: Bobby Joe Long
In this last episode of season five, we'll examine Floridian serial killer Bobby Joe Long... 1984. Tampa, Florida. A 17-year-old girl named Lisa was on her way home from work, when she was abducted from the side of the road. For the next 26 hours, she was subjected to a terrifying imprisonment by a sadistic sexual predator, who had already killed several young girls. But, unlike the other victims, Lisa was the only one to survive. As bodies were being discovered every other week, Floridian authorities realized a serial killer was on the loose. Investigators didn't know it yet, but the killer was a 31-year-old army veteran and divorced father of two hiding in plain sight. And over the course of eight months, ten women would die by his hands in the Tampa area. This episode is sponsored by: BetterHelp Original music by Kai Engel, Ben Krejci, and Kevin MacLeod. Additional music and sound effects provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
39:07 26/10/2023
S5 Ep12: Christopher Hightower
September 22nd, 1991. Guilford, Connecticut. Early that evening, a mysterious man visited the home of Christine Brendel and delivered some shocking news – her brother Ernest and his family had been kidnapped, and were being held for ransom by the Mafia. It turned out the man at the door, 42-year-old Christopher Hightower, was a pathological liar and a killer. He claimed he needed $75,000 to release the family, but in reality, they had already met their fate. Most shocking of all was Hightower's methods. He killed Ernest – who was a friend of his – with a crossbow, strangled his wife Alice, and then drugged their eight-year-old daughter Emily, and dumped her in a shallow grave. But in court he continued his lies, claiming he saw the mob carry out the killings. What Makes a Killer is sponsored by BetterHelp & Sinisterhood. Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
45:38 19/10/2023
S5 Ep11: Vincent Tabak
Christmas day, 2010. A couple was walking their dog along a remote road in Clifton, an English port city of Bristol, when they happened upon the body of a 25-year-old Joanna Yeates. 32-year-old Dutch engineer Vincent Tabak, who was obsessed with violent pornography and rough sex, would soon be identified as Joanna's killer. Tabak strangled the young woman to death in her own apartment, and then dumped her body 3 miles away from where they both lived. A nationwide hunt had come to a tragic end and the prime murder suspect was Joanna’s landlord and neighbor, Christopher Jefferies. But the police had arrested the wrong neighbor! Original music by Kai Engel, Ben Krejci, and Lee Rosevere. Additional music and sound effects provided by Epidemic Sound and Freesound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
36:15 12/10/2023
S5 Ep10: Daniel Lee Siebert
On February 24th, 1986, police in Talladega, Alabama forced their way inside the home of 24-year-old mother and student Sherri Weathers. When she had not shown up for classes in over a week, police were sent to do a wellness check. And soon the reason for her absence became very clear.  Sherri and her two young children had been strangled to death, and their killer had piled them on top of each other in the shape of a cross. The killer was a 31-year-old artist and seasoned criminal, and his macabre masterpiece was far from complete. Two more bodies were discovered, and the killer had slipped away without a trace. With no clue as to where he went, police began the long and grueling search to find him, before he struck again. This episode is sponsored by: Badlands - listen on all major podcast apps! Wondery's This is Actually Happening - listen ad free on the Wondery Plus app BetterHelp -What Makes A Killer is sponsored by BetterHelp. Get 10% off. Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Sergey Cheremisinov, Kevin MacLeod, and Kai Engel. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
49:40 05/10/2023
S5 Ep9: The Hillside Stranglers
November 13th, 1977. Los Angeles, California. Young students, Dolores and Sonja were on their way home from a day out shopping, when two police officers stopped them for questioning. However, it was just a clever disguise, and the supposed police officers were actually sadistic killers. The girls were held captive for five days, abused, and then eventually strangled. Their killers were two cousins, Angelo Buono and Kenneth Bianchi. The partners in crime went on a killing spree, murdering 10 young women in just four months. Many were dumped on hillsides across LA – locations that would lead the killers to earn their infamous moniker. This episode is sponsored by: Crimes of the Centuries Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
42:35 28/09/2023
S5 Ep8: Ángel Reséndiz, the Railroad Killer
The residence of 39-year-old Claudia Benton was broken into by a savage intruder. The mother of two, had been brutally beaten, sexually assaulted, and fatally stabbed. The killer was a man named Ángel Reséndiz who had been illegally boarding trains across the US border from Mexico for over 20 years. He would go on to kill at least nine people, but capturing Reséndiz would prove to be one of the FBI’s most challenging cases. Original music by Kai Engel, Ben Krejci, and Lee Rosevere. Additional music and sound effects provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
38:43 21/09/2023
S5 Ep7: Robert Ben Rhoades
On April 1st, 1990, an Arizona State Trooper was out on patrol when he spotted a truck pulled over on the side of interstate 10 in Casa Grande. The officer pulled off the interstate and parked behind the truck. After approaching the suspicious vehicle, he peered into the cab and was met with a shocking image. He came face to face with a terrified woman, chained up like an animal. He immediately handcuffed the driver and brought him into custody, unaware that he had just apprehended a sadistic killer, with years of violence behind him. This episode is sponsored by: Crime Weekly - listen on all major podcast apps! Original music by Ben Krejci, Kai Engel, Kevin MacLeod, Chris Zabriskie, Sergey Cheremisinov, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
48:06 14/09/2023
S5 Ep6: Derrick Bird
June 2010, Cumbria, a predominantly rural county in Northwest England. The peaceful community of Whitehaven, in the county of Cumbria, was about to be shattered by the murderous rampage of one man. Over the course of one day, Derrick Bird would kill twelve people and injure eleven more. This callous killer only stopped when he had run out of ammunition, and as the police were closing in, he finally turned the gun on himself. This episode is sponsored by: Astonishing Legends Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
38:42 07/09/2023
S5 Ep5: Santé & Kenny Kimes
July 5th, 1998. Irene Silverman, an 82-year-old New York socialite, was viciously assaulted in her home before being tasered and finally strangled. Her killers were 23-year-old Kenny Kimes and his 63-year old mother Santé. The Kimes were linked to crimes in 5 separate states following a trail of fraud and suspected murder. By pure chance, a sting operation to apprehend the mother/son duo was already underway at a nearby hotel - the same day as Irene's murder. Santé was a con-artist who would stop at nothing to keep her crimes under wraps. Over a period of two years, she coerced her son, Kenny, into committing three murders. This episode is sponsored by: BetterHelp Original music by Daniel Birch, Kai Engel, JOHNWALLY, Kevin MacLeod, Ben Krejci, KRISTIANKULTA, and Magmi.Soundtracks. Sound effects provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
38:32 31/08/2023
S5 Ep4: Todd Kohlhepp
In November of 2016, police were investigating the disappearance of a young couple, named Kala and Charlie. The pair had seemingly vanished without a trace two months earlier, but through a stroke of luck, investigators finally had a lead. They made their way to a property in Woodruff, South Carolina, and upon arrival, they made an unbelievable discovery. 30-year-old Kala had been chained up in a metal storage container for 65 days. Her boyfriend Charlie had been shot dead. The killer was discovered to be an unassuming real estate agent, who had been hiding in plain sight for years. Police would soon discover two more bodies, hidden on the grounds of his property. And the man had even more skeletons in his closet. 13 years earlier, he murdered 4 employees at a motorcycle dealership. A crime which had remained unsolved until now. This episode is sponsored by: BetterHelp - use our link to get 10% off your first month! The Minds of Madness - listen on all major podcast apps! Original music by Ben Krejci, Kai Engel, Kevin MacLeod, Chris Zabriskie, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
47:17 24/08/2023
S5 Ep3: Keith Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer
In March 1995, the body of 41-year-old Julie Winningham was found just off Highway 14 in Washington State, strangled to death. Julie had become the eighth victim of an active serial killer named Keith Jesperson. The 39-year-old truck driver had been slaughtering women across America for the past five years. He would go on to capture national intrigue when he confessed to five murders in an anonymous letter he sent to a newspaper, signed with a smile. This episode is sponsored by: Badlands Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
42:59 17/08/2023
S5 Ep2: Karol Kot, the Vampire of Krakow
February 13th, 1966, a group of young children spent the afternoon sledding down the snow-covered hills in Krakow, Poland but one 19-year-old was looking for a very different kind of thrill. As the day drew to a close, 11-year-old Leszek Calek began walking home… alone! A strange man emerged from the shadows and approached the young boy with a bayonet. Leszek was violently stabbed eleven times by a young man who was labeled by the press as the “Vampire of Krakow.” Original music by Daniel Birch, Kai Engel, JOHNWALLY, klankbeeld, Ben Krejci, and Lee Rosevere. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
33:53 10/08/2023
S5 Ep1: David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam
In July of 1976, two teenage girls were sitting in a car in front of their New York City apartment, when a man approached and fired 5 shots into the vehicle. One of the girls died instantly, while the other was seriously injured. Within a year, the same man would claim 5 more young lives, terrifying the citizens of NYC. And in a taunting letter to police, gave himself a nickname that would go down in infamy; “Son of Sam”. Original music by Ben Krejci. Additional music provided by: Epidemic Sound, Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, Daniel Birch, Nctrnm, and Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
45:24 03/08/2023
What Makes A Killer: Season 5
Join us on a chilling journey into the depths of the human psyche. Welcome to 'What Makes a Killer,' the podcast that explores the twisted minds behind the most notorious crimes.  Each episode, host Jennifer Nittoso explores a different case, examining the motives, the methods, and the aftermath. We'll search for the truth and confront the unthinkable - examining such cases as the Vampire of Krakow, the Happy Face Killer, and Son of Sam.  From Audioboom Studios and Woodcut Media, What Makes a Killer: Season Five... begins Thursday, August 3rd on all major podcast apps!
01:30 27/07/2023
Introducing Killers, Cults and Queens
From Audioboom Studios, Nikki Druce and Cheryl Hole (RuPaul's Drag Race UK) will be traveling to the strangest corners of the world, stopping to learn about the craziest true crime cases in history, spooky paranormal activities, truly bonkers internet mythology, very convincing cults, and much, much more... It’s going to be a wild ride! Killers, Cults and Queens is out NOW with new episodes every Thursday. Follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts!
10:46 08/09/2022
S4 Ep13: Ted Bundy
Florida State University, Tallahassee. January 15th, 1978. Around 2:45 am, a man broke into the Chi Omega Sorority House and attacked four women. He was a known serial killer, and was on the run after breaking out of prison for the second time. Within four years, one of America’s most prolific killers– Ted Bundy– kidnapped, raped, and sadistically murdered at least thirty young women during the mid 1970’s. Initially convicted of only kidnap and assault, it is suspected that he may have actually raped and slaughtered up to a hundred young women. This episode is sponsored by: Stamps.com - promo code: WHAT Magic Mind - promo code: WHAT20 Cerebral Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
48:13 04/08/2022
S4 Ep12: Aileen Wuornos
1990s Central Florida–a woman posing as a sex worker has made a name for herself by targeting middle-aged, wealthy men with expensive cars, killing them, and pawning off their belongings. In what would turn out to be a year long murder spree with no clear killer, Aileen Wuornos would shoot, rob, and murder seven men... just because she felt like it. Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
38:35 28/07/2022
S4 Ep11: Angus Sinclair
In October, 1977 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the body of a 17-year-old girl was found on a deserted beach. Then, just a few hours later, the body of a second teenage girl was found in a field, just a few miles away. Later, the girls were identified as friends, and had last been seen alive the previous evening at the World’s End Pub in Edinburgh. Their murders prompted one of the biggest manhunts in Scotland’s history. But it would take nearly 40 years for investigators to discover who was behind the crime.  This episode is sponsored by: Cerebral Original music by Ben Krejci, Sergey Cheremisinov, Kai Engel, Kevin MacLeod, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
44:54 21/07/2022
S4 Ep10: Colin Ireland
March 10th, 1993 in London, England. A man called a national newspaper to declare that he had just killed somebody. The victim had been suffocated to death with a plastic bag during a sadomasochistic sex session. His was the first death of many. The killer was 38-year-old Colin Ireland; a man with a singular obsession–becoming a serial killer of gay men. Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
42:08 14/07/2022
S4 Ep9: Danny Rolling
In late August 1990, freshman roommates Christina Powell and Sonja Larson were excitedly preparing for their first semester at the University of Florida in Gainesville. But they would never make it to the start of the school year. Hidden in the shadows, outside of their apartment, was a man fixated on feeding his sexual desires and twisted need to succeed at something in his life. Their murders would be the first in a string of violent killings that would turn the bustling college town completely upside down. Original music by Ben Krejci, Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, Daniel Birch, and Kevin MacLeod. Additional music provided by: Epidemic Sound Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
49:14 07/07/2022
S4 Ep8: Gary Ridgway, The Green River Killer
1980s Washington. One of the most prolific serial killers of all time, Gary Ridgway, preyed on vulnerable young women, runaways and sex workers. With his un-assuming persona and habit of dumping bodies in the nearby Green River, Ridgway was able to commit mass murder for nearly twenty years, and get way with it. The fear that swept across the Pacific Northwest was palpable. This episode is sponsored by: Stamps.com - promo code: WHAT Cerebral Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
45:15 30/06/2022
S4 Ep7: Mark Hobson
On July 25th, 1994, a suspected murderer entered a small gas station in North Yorkshire, England. As he browsed the store, the owner of the station recognized him. This man was wanted for the murder of four people, and had been on the run for a week. Two weeks prior, this self-proclaimed murderer had brutally killed his girlfriend  and, a week later, her twin sister. He was fueled by drugs, alcohol, and sexual gratification.  Original music by Ben Krejci, Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, and Kevin MacLeod. Additional music provided by: Epidemic Sound Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
41:17 23/06/2022
S4 Ep6: Diane Downs
May 1984, at the Lane County Courthouse in Eugene, Oregon. A mother of three stands accused of murdering her seven year old daughter, and of the attempted murder of her other two children. When her daughter testifies against her mother, it becomes all too clear. This woman wanted her children gone, just so she would be free of the responsibilities of motherhood, and so she could pursue a man she'd been interested in. Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
41:25 16/06/2022
S4 Ep5: Robert Black
On July 14th, 1990, in Stow, Scotland, a 6-year-old girl was walking to her friend’s house when she was suddenly pulled into a car off the side of the road. A local man who had been working in his garden saw the girl disappear into the van and quickly called the police.  By chance, they were able to locate the vehicle, forcing the driver to pull over. When they opened the back of the van, they found the girl, just minutes away from suffocating. Unaware to the police, the driver was a 43-year-old pedophile. And he was responsible for the abduction and murder of several other young girls. Police had been trying to track him down for years. Original music by Ben Krejci, Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, Kevin MacLeod, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by: Epidemic Sound Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
42:44 09/06/2022
S4 Ep4: Robert Berdella, The Kansas City Butcher
It's 1988 in Kansas City, Missouri. Young, vulnerable men are going missing without a trace, and no one can seem to figure out why. A local man named Robert Berdella–known as an upstanding member of the community–has been secretly holding these men in his house, torturing them to their limits, and taking extensive notes. No one has a clue, not even police. After murdering them, he dissects his victims with such precision, that he would become known as the "Kansas City Butcher." Due to recent events, the order of this season has been changed. The previous episode's teaser may no longer be accurate. This episode is sponsored by: Cerebral Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by Epidemic Sound. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
41:53 02/06/2022
S4 Ep3: Robert Lee Yates Jr.
In August of 1998, a woman by the name of Christine Smith was picked up from her usual spot on the notorious downtown strip known as "the track" in Spokane, Washington. After providing her services to the man, he shot her in the head. She survived the attack, and thinking that the man had stabbed her, fled the car.     She would later learn that she would be the only person to ever survive one of this man’s brutal attacks. For over twenty years, Washington State was plagued by an elusive killer targeting female sex-workers. Investigators would have never guessed that the man they were looking for was acting as an upstanding member of the community and model citizen. Original music by Ben Krejci, Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, Kevin MacLeod, Chris Zabriskie, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by: Epidemic Sound Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
44:10 26/05/2022
S4 Ep2: Trevor Hardy, The Beast of Manchester
It’s July, 1975 in Manchester, England. One man, dubbed "The Beast of Manchester" was responsible for sparking immense fear across the city. This "beast" was the unpredictable and violent 30-year-old Trevor Hardy. He seemed to truly enjoy the act of killing. But it didn't stop there. The Beast would return to the scene of the crime to mutilate his victims over and over again. This episode is sponsored by: Manscaped - promo code: Killer20 Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
45:18 19/05/2022
S4 Ep1: Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer
From 1974-1991, the city of Wichita, Kansas was gripped with fear as a violent serial killer was on the loose. The killer, known to the public by his alias BTK, was an unassuming family-man named Dennis Rader. He would attack people in their own homes before binding, torturing and ultimately killing them, seemingly for self gratification. BTK came in and out of the shadows for 30 years, taunting investigators with miniscule clues. But in a moment of overconfidence, he was finally thrown into the light. This episode is sponsored by: Cerebral Microdose Gummies - Promo code: WHAT Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, Sergey Cheremisinov, Kevin MacLeod, Chris Zabriskie, and Daniel Birch. Additional music provided by: Epidemic Sound Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
45:01 12/05/2022
What Makes a Killer: Season 4
What Makes a Killer is a series that chronicles the lives and crimes of the world’s most notorious killers. In every episode, host Jennifer Nittoso will trace a killer’s origins, examine their behavior, and follow their path to bloodshed. As always, this season we’ll hear from family members, survivors, and experts to uncover what led these killers to commit their crimes. In this season, we will cover thirteen new killers, each more sinister than the last. Diane Downs, The Green River Killer, Ted Bundy, BTK... all their stories will be examined. What Makes a Killer returns May 12th. New episodes released every Thursday. Subscribe now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you find your favorite shows.
01:52 05/05/2022
S3 Ep13: Jack Unterweger
It's May 1990, and convicted murderer Jack Unterweger is about to charm his way out of prison. After teaching himself how to read and becoming a well-known children's author, Unterweger had convinced the Austrian public that he was a changed, reformed man. But it was a ruse, and his release would only lead to the death of at least nine more women in both Austria and the United States. He was once again on the loose, on top of the world, and not trying to hide it from anyone. But no one suspected it was him. This episode is sponsored by: Vodacast Best Fiends IPVanish Original music by Ben Krejci, Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, and Daniel Birch. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License.
42:07 24/06/2021

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