An illustration for Jesse James at Long Branch in the magazine Log Cabin Library, 1898.

The Murder Ballad Was the Original True Crime Podcast

The 1896 version of crime sensationalism also taught the victim-blaming lesson “Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered.”
Drawing of the funeral procession of Elizabeth I of England

Her Majesty’s Kidnappers

In the 17th century, Nathaniel Giles had the right to conscript young singers into the British royal children’s choir. He and a business partner went a step further.
Photographs of criminals, with mask in the centre, from Cesare Lombroso's l'Uomo Delinquente, 1889

Criminal Minds? Try Criminal Bodies

Cesare Lombroso wanted to use science to understand who criminals were. But his ideas about biological "atavism" easily transferred to eugenics and nativism.

How to Write Great True Crime

Hint: Branch out from serial killers coming through the window.
Three of the four hostages and bank robber Clark Olofsson, standing right, in a bank in Stockholm, Sweden, Aug. 27, 1973

Stockholm Syndrome

What really happened that summer day in 1973? And what does it reveal about our cultural attitudes toward violence?
From a poster for Charles Frohman’s dramatic production, The Hand of Destiny by Pierre Decourcelle, 1896

Why Did “Thieves’ Cant” Carry an Unshakeable Allure?

If thieves’ cant—a language known only to criminals—was the Devil’s cabinet, bourgeois society couldn’t help but peep inside.
Truman Capote

How Truman Capote Advanced the New Journalism

In Cold Blood changed the face of journalism. And yet years after its publication, we are still asking: how much of it was factually true?
Double Indemnity

History’s Most Notorious True Crime Story

How New York City's tabloids sensationalized the murder case that inspired the classic film noir Double Indemnity.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders Holds Daily Press Briefing At White House

What Is MS-13, Anyway?

The feared gang MS-13 was born out of conditions resulting from U.S. policies in El Salvador in the early 1980s.
Hogarth crime

The First Moral Panic: London, 1744

The late summer crime wave of 1744 London sparked an intense moral panic about crime that burnt itself out by the new year. But not before heads rolled.