Rachel Monroe

  • Murder, They Wrote

    In retrospect, the show was destined to be a hit. My Favorite Murder. It’s all right there in the title: the chatty familiarity, the dark humor, the self-conscious voyeurism. The true-crime comedy podcast, started by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark on a lark in January 2016, was fortuitously timed to coincide with the podcast and true-crime booms.

    My Favorite Murder has become something more than just a popular program; it is a full-blown, blood-spattered phenomenon. These days, MFM’s twice-weekly episodes reliably rank among the most popular on iTunes, drawing 19 million monthly listeners.

  • The Lost Girls

    For all its blind spots and moral squickiness, true crime is a genre in which crimes against women, particularly middle-class white women, have merited sustained attention. The nuclear family is no guarantee of safety in the world of true crime—often quite the opposite, in fact. The home is a site of potential violence, and heterosexual domesticity is frequently laced with manipulation and abuse.

    The Real Lolita includes so many stories of girls and women who endured violations and tough situations that midway through reading the book I started keeping a list of them: the sixteen-year-old who

  • Crossings to Bear

    I LIVE IN MARFA, TEXAS, a town sixty miles from the US-Mexico border, a place small enough that every high school senior gets a mini-profile in the weekly paper. Last year, the two dozen graduates answered questions about the clubs they’d belonged to and what their post-school plans were. The girls all said they wanted to study cosmetology, preschool education, animal science, or business. Half the boys wanted to be diesel mechanics or welders; the other half planned to join the Border Patrol.

    Perhaps these teenagers were drawn in by the digital signs that flash along roadsides all over the

  • Keeping Up with Jones

    In 1954, two dozen people, most of them black, gathered in a small storefront church in Indianapolis. The preacher, a tall, black-haired white man, didn’t launch into a sermon; he asked his congregants a question: “What’s bothering you?”

    An elderly black woman raised her hand. She explained that the electricity in her home had been unreliable for months. Exasperated, she’d refused to pay her utility bill until someone fixed the problem, but no one had; now the power company was threatening to shut off electricity to her home. The preacher listened intently. “Let’s write a letter,” he suggested.

  • Blood Relations

    IN AUGUST 1969, Stephanie Schram hitchhiked down the coast of California with her boyfriend, on the way to visit her sister in San Diego. Schram was seventeen and wore her long, straight hair parted in the middle. At a gas station in Big Sur, she locked eyes with a slight man with dark hair and an intensely focused gaze. They began chatting, and the short man may have said something about how there was no such thing as right and wrong. Or that money was ego and kept people enslaved. Those were the kinds of pronouncements people liked to recite back then, and the dark-haired man was particularly