In the wake of plagiarism allegations against Crime Junkie, the popular true-crime podcast co-hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat this week released a new episode focusing on Los Angeles’ infamous Hillside Strangler, who killed ten women in 1977 and 1978. The long-term impact on the podcast remains to be seen, but in the days since the latest episode was published, Crime Junkie has ranked No. 1 among true-crime podcasts on Apple Podcasts with the previous week’s episode, about a missing Nova Scotia woman, at No. 8. The show also continues to enjoy a 4.9 out of 5 rating, although that number may slide based on a flurry of negative reviews that continue to be posted.
“You guys used to be my favorite podcast. I looked forward to every week on my 1.5 hour commute. I didn’t know all this time I could have been listening to the original more credible sources elsewhere,” said the post of a one-star review entitled “hero to zero.” And said another reviewer: “I can’t support a podcast that profits off of other people’s hard work, and spins it off as their own.”
Crime Junkie pulled down several episodes after accusations surfaced that the show was using source materials without giving proper credit. The charges first came to light last week when a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette accused the show of using exclusive information and quoting directly from her newspaper series about a local murder case without attribution. Soon other allegations of plagiarism emerged. They included fellow podcast host Steven Pacheco, who said Crime Junkie lifted from his Trace Evidence show. Pacheco posted a YouTube video offering what he believes is the evidence of that plagiarism.
The Crime Junkie team has not directly admitted to any wrongdoing. But in response to the allegations, Flowers in a Facebook post said their research process is “thorough, rigid, and exhaustive” but several shows have been taken down because their source material “could no longer be found or properly cited.” Flowers didn’t say how many episodes have been taken down but Variety reported five shows were removed. The latest episode includes a dozen source citations, according to one tally.
The controversy has created an opening for the just-launched Today In True Crime podcast. The Parcast-Spotify co-production launched the same day as the latest episode of Crime Junkie dropped and Today In True Crime is currently the most listened-to show across all genres on Apple Podcasts. The show looks at the notorious murders, heists, crime hits and more that took place on the very date each episode airs. “Today in True Crime is a daily reminder that there is no ordinary day in true crime history,” says its description.
Crime Junkie is currently on the road in what could best be described as a wildly popular series of live events. A number of its upcoming events are sold out with a date in San Francisco being relocated to a larger venue to accommodate demand and a second night added in Chicago.
As for podcasting, Flowers told Deadline in May that her team is working on a new limited-run six-episode series that’s already sparked interest from television networks and documentary producers. The project focuses on an unsolved 40-year old murder in Indiana that Flowers says the state police are helping her dig into.
Deadline also reported Flowers is working on a TV series based on her work creating the Crime Junkie podcast. But unlike other shows, this one would be a fictional, scripted show that features a woman who uses podcasting to solve crimes.