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Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast
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Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast

Author: Blue Ewe Media

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Serial killers. Gangsters. Gunslingers. Victorian-era murderers. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Each week, the Most Notorious podcast features true-life tales of crime, criminals, tragedies and disasters throughout history. Host Erik Rivenes interviews authors and historians who have studied their subjects for years, and the stories are offered with unique insight, detail, and historical accuracy.

170 Episodes
In 1763 Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the last surviving members of the Conestoga Indian nation, numbering less than two dozen (mostly seniors and children), were housed in the town's workhouse and under protection of local authorities. Just days after their arrival a group of Scots-Irish vigilante frontiersmen known as the "Paxton Rangers" rode into Lancaster, found them and slaughtered them all, meeting no resistance from the Indians' supposed protectors.  My guest, Jack Brubaker, a long-time Lancaster investigative journalist, columnist and historian. He shares how the brutal attacks unfolded, and explains how the complex political climate in Pennsylvania halted any justice for the murdered. His book is called "Massacre of the Conestogas: On the Trail of the Paxton Boys in Lancaster County". Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On July 15th, 1915, a steamship with a checkered past called the SS Eastland docked at a wharf on the Chicago River in downtown Chicago, ready to transport 2500 Western Electric employees and their families across Lake Michigan to a company picnic. Once boarding completed, however, terrible tragedy struck when the ship tilted over and into the river, killing over 800 people -mostly women and children- in a horrific, chaotic scene.  My guest is Michael McCarthy, author of the New York Times Bestseller "Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America". He offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the ill-fated SS Eastland and recounts the story of the tragic sinking and its aftermath, including famed attorney Clarence Darrow's involvement in the trial that followed.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When the headless and mutilated corpse of an eccentric orange farmer named Sam McMillan was discovered submerged in a Florida lake in October of 1882, suspicion pointed to a young Englishman, Archie Newton, recently forced to flee London due to a titillating scandal.  My guest is Andrew Fink, author of "Murder on the Florida Frontier: The True Story Behind Sanford's Headless Miser Legend". He utilized his unique perspective as an attorney to research and document this little known but fascinating murder case.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When the name "Butch Cassidy" is mentioned, it conjures an image (for many of us) of Paul Newman, who along with Robert Redford joked their way through the classic 1969 film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".  But that movie was almost entirely fictional, and as often typical, Hollywood ignored the far more interesting  factual historical account of the legendary outlaw and his vast criminal resume.  Charles Leerhsen, author of "Butch Cassidy: The True Story of an American Outlaw", is my guest on this Most Notorious episode. He helps separate fact from fiction, and shares some fascinating stories about the life of the gentleman robber Robert Leroy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Most of us probably know at least the basics of the 1959 Kansas Clutter family murders case, in large part because the story was dramatically detailed by Truman Capote in his best-selling 1966 non-fiction novel entitled "In Cold Blood".  But was Capote's book as factual as he claimed it was? The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says so, but my guest, Gary McAvoy does not. Gary, along with Ronald R. Nye, collaborated to write the book "And Every Word Is True", based on the personal notes and files of Ronald's father Harold Nye, lead investigator of the case. Gary joins me to share some tantalizing theories from their book, based on forgotten facts, clues and witness statements from the original investigation over sixty years ago.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Beverly Hills, California is not all glitz and glamor. The city has had more than its share of shocking true crime over the last one hundred years, often involving famous figures like Lana Turner, Lupe Vélez, Jean Harlow and Bugsy Siegel. Murder and scandal seem to follow the rich and famous, and my guests - investigative reporter Barbara Schroeder and forensic science specialist Clark Fogg - are experts at not only documenting these stories, but also occasionally writing their final chapters, using modern investigative and crime-solving techniques whenever possible. Their book is called "Beverly Hills Confidential: A Century of Stars, Scandals and Murders", and they join me to offer fascinating details on many of the most notorious solved and unsolved cases in Hollywood history. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 1st, 2020 marked the 99th anniversary of one of the most despicable acts of mass murder in American history. A mob of 10,000 white vigilantes descended on an African-American suburb of Tulsa, Oklahoma - looting, burning houses and businesses, and killing men, women and children. Black business owners put up a fierce resistance, but were soon beaten back by sheer numbers and firepower. My guest, Tim Madigan, is the award-winning author of "The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921". He shares some of the firsthand accounts he was able to record from witnesses to the tragic event, and offers an explanation as to how this massacre became a "hidden history" in the United States up until recently. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The city of Boston was put to the test when occupying British soldiers opened fire into a crowd of rioters on March 5th, 1770. Known forever as the Boston Massacre, it later became a rallying cry for the American Revolution.  My guest is Carlton College's Professor Serena Zabin, author of "The Boston Massacre: A Family Affair". Her research into the pivotal event breaks some longstanding myths on the Massacre, including introducing evidence that suggests that many of the British soldiers who occupied Boston homes in the late 1760s actually assimilated smoothly into the city during their stay.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On November 5th, 1934, in the small coal mining town of Kelayres, Pennsylvania, Republican political boss Joe Bruno took an extreme and shocking step.  Worried and agitated about a possible loss in the following day's elections, he and his family used his large weapons arsenal to fire into a Democratic parade.  My guest, Stephanie Hoover, author of "The Kelayres Massacre: Politics & Murder in Pennsylvania's Anthracite Coal Country", outlines the political tensions leading up to the terrible event, give details of the shootings, and explains what  happened to the killers afterwards.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
As political factions battled in pre-Civil War Washington D.C., a sensational sex and murder scandal suddenly grabbed the nation's attention. New York Congressman Daniel Sickles, having learned that his wife Teresa was in the midst of a torrid love affair with U.S. Attorney Philip Barton Key II, angrily confronted him in a park with fatal consequences.  My guest is Chris DeRose, New York Times bestselling author, historian and former law professor. He shares details from his meticulously researched book, "Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder and the Trial That Changed America".  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In the years following World War One, thousands of young women were hired to paint radium on watch and clock dials so they would glow in the dark. As a result, many of the women would suffer the excruciating effects of radiation poisoning, which often lead to their deaths at an early age.  My guest, Kate Moore, is author of the New York Times bestselling book "Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women". She joins me to talk about this terrible tragedy (which would be covered up by the guilty corporations for decades) and the bravery of the afflicted women, who fought an uphill battle for justice.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In early 19th century Australia, escaping from a penal colony was not an easy task, mostly because there was no where to go. Six foot five William Buckley did just that, however, wandering though the wild Australian bush before being taken in by a tribe of aborigines, close to death. For the next thirty-two years he would live with the tribe, before finally meeting famed bushranger and bounty hunter John Batman.  My guest, Adam Courtenay, is an Australian author and historian, and he joins me to talk about this legendary character and his role in one of the most dangerous and tragic eras in Australia's history. His book is called "The Ghost and the Bounty Hunter." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas was once home to some of the most notorious criminals in America, including Carl Panzram, Robert "the Birdman" Stroud, Frank Nitti and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Part of its history includes one of the most exciting prison breaks in U.S. history, when the "Leavenworth Seven" kidnapped Warden Tom White in December of 1931 White and busted out, only to face one wild obstacle after another.  My guest, Kenneth LaMaster, is not only a Leavenworth prison historian but a former correctional officer of the institution. He offers some background history on Leavenworth, tells the tale of the breakout, and even shares stories of his own personal brushes with infamous criminals while working there. His book is called "Leavenworth Seven: The Deadly 1931 Prison Break".  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Calamity Jane is without question one of the most iconic figures in Old West history. She's been portrayed innumerable times in film and television, most recently in the HBO series Deadwood as Wild Bill Hickock's loyal buckskin-wearing friend and sidekick. Her reputation proceeded her wherever she went, as a master bullwhacker, an excessive drinker, a riveting storyteller, and as a woman who found herself in some of the most pivotal moments in American western history. But how much of her larger-than-life personality was based on fact, and how much was exaggerated?  My guest, Linda Jucovy, helps separate fact from fiction in this episode of Most Notorious. She is the author of "Searching for Calamity: The Life and Times of Calamity Jane".  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Black Death. Typhoid fever. Pellagra. In the early 1900s they invaded the United States, killing thousands. One of the most notorious historical figures associated with disease was "Typhoid Mary", who unknowingly infected untold numbers of people with typhoid fever while cooking in kitchens along the east coast.  My guest, Gail Jarrow, is the author of three books which she calls her "Deadly Diseases Trilogy". They are "Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America", "Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary", and "Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat". She discusses the history of these epidemics in America, and how early 20th century doctors tried to combat them.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Just over a hundred years ago, the world suffered through a brutal influenza pandemic, which infected up to a quarter of the world's population. It was nicknamed the Spanish Flu, and killed millions of people.  My guest, John Barry, is an historian, adjunct faculty at Tulane University, and author of the New York Times bestseller "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Greatest Plague in History". He joins me to offer some historical perspective on the disease, in an effort to shed some light on our own current battle with COVID-19.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
While the Coen brothers refuse to confirm it, many believe that their movie "Fargo" was inspired by the Carol Thompson murder case. She was viciously killed in her comfortable Saint Paul home by a hitman hired by her eccentric husband, T. Eugene Thompson, in March of 1963, leaving behind four small children. It was an absolutely sensational case, one not only covered extensively by local press, but by national and international press as well.  Longtime journalist William Swanson covers the case with me. His book is called "Dial M: The Murder of Carol Thompson".  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Some of the most notorious cases in American history were solved by the masterful techniques of forensics expert Dr. Edward Oscar Heinrich. He was known as the "American Sherlock Holmes" for his use of science and deduction to solve what many considered unsolvable cases, including Oregon's infamous 1923 Siskiyou "train robbery"/multi-murder, and San Francisco's 1921 Fatty Arbuckle murder case.  My guest, once again, is Kate Winkler Dawson. She talks about Heinrich's pioneering crime-solving techniques, his compelling, complicated personality, and his personal troubles as well. She is the author of "American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI".  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In late October of 1928, authorities in the small town of Lake Bluff, Illinois discovered a grisly scene in the village hall basement. They found a young woman named Elfreida Knaak, naked, horribly burned and barely clinging to life, next to a furnace. From that point on, investigators would uncover a bizarre story, including a secret affair, mystical Christian rituals, and contradictory deathbed confessions. My guest is historian Kraig Moreland, who has researched this hometown mystery for years. His book is called "Furnace Girl: The Mysterious Case of Elfrieda Knaak". Thanks, The RealReal for supporting Most Notorious. Sign up for an account to receive $25 off your first purchase within one week and then get 20% off select items at with promo code REAL. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
On March 6th, 1873, a brutal double ax murder took the lives of two Norwegian women living on the isolated Smuttynose Island, one of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. My guest is J. Dennis Robinson, a prolific writer, historian and steward of Smuttynose Island, and author of "Mystery on the Isles of Shoals: Closing the Case on the Smuttynose Ax Murders of 1873". He not only tells the story of the murders of Karen and Anethe Christensen, the harrowing escape by Karen's sister, Marin, and the capture and trial of Louis Wagner, but of the rocky and desolate island itself, and it's role in the horrific and bloody affair. He also addresses the recent conspiracy theories, fueled by a popular novel, that Marin was the actual murderer. Thanks, The RealReal for supporting Most Notorious. Sign up for an account to receive $25 off your first purchase within one week and then get 20% off select items at with promo code REAL. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (60)


That guy he's interviewing has the most boring dull disinterested voice.

Aug 4th

Danielle Peterson

Just found my new binge!!!!!

Jul 17th

Diana Hilliard-Chambers

loved this episode

Jul 1st

Megan Prowse

Great topic! So disappointed to hear guest-Barabara victim blaming re: the shooting and a prior verbal exchange. Irrelevant. The irony is interesting given she spends the whole the interview interjecting in an attempt to be relevant...

Jun 13th

Alia Miller

Great episode! I learned a lot, thank you.

Jun 3rd

Alia Miller

There actually is a movie that tries to follow Vlad's true story quite well called Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula. It was released in 2000.

Jun 3rd


if he had an author on his show who said " well i wanted to write a play for men, and do something for male actors" Eric would have piles of hate mail and 1 star reviews coming down on him! I'm so sick of this tired feminist attitude, and I know plenty of women who even cringe as stupid statements like the one she made. women are just as represented in the arts as anybody. there's TONS of strong female leads, playing strong female characters. stop acting like you're some kind of hero fighting women's suffrage. I swear some idiots like her will never ever be satisfied. because they just having a Battle to fight. it has nothing to do with equality to them, and they'll never be happy, nor satisfied. feminist's like her give women a bad name. stop trying too be a hero in a war that doesn't exist anymore in movie/theatre. I know at least 2 female friends who listened to this episode and both found that statement foolish. get off your damn high horse, and open your ignorant eyes to the real world.

May 11th

jess d

read the book in under 3 days, I couldn't put it down despite how much it made me angry due to the fact that these women where lied to their faces about what was happening to them.

May 6th


I started listening to his other book last night on Audible "The ship that never was" it's good so far!

Apr 28th

Sean Rosenau

Wife under the floorboards, other people walled up. Sounds like the killer liked Edgar Allen Poe.

Apr 12th
Reply (1)

Nicholas Houllis

great podcast

Apr 6th

Sherrie Lucas

This was good information. i think this guy is a jerk though. I did not appreciate has negative, judgemental comments about president Trump. This wad disciple to be about his knowledge, not his political opinion.i wish you would have edited that out.

Apr 2nd
Reply (1)

Sue M Gable

thank you Eric. oh so perfect

Apr 2nd

Erin Kloeppner

I love all your podcasts but especially on the 1920-30s, John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, and about Minnesota as well, I am a Minnesota gal. My family was involved in the Minnesota 13 moonshining and boot legging in Stearns County in that era. My great grandmother, Agnes Litchy, told me many great stories before she passed about making the moonshine while her husband and brothers boot legged it. She also told a story of Dillinger passing through Stearns County on a county road, who had pulled the car over to the side of the road. A couple of local children who were playing outside ran up to the vehicle wondering about this guy in such a nice vehicle and asked him who he was. He told them "Well kids, I'm public enemy number one" and a couple minutes later he went on his way. I've always wanted to share my accounts but never known who to contact?

Mar 26th

Heather McNamee Rensel

why the different intro?

Mar 15th


great episode!! I've always thought this story was one of the craziest I've heard,..but damn they're butchering those pronunciations lol. I've been a fan of this podcast for a long time. it's the best historical true crime podcast I've come across.

Mar 14th

David Schultz

so many unanswered questions to this story. one of the oddest ones I've ever heard.

Feb 28th

Just an Opinion...

Interesting. I always thought Sweeney was the best suspect. If he was the killer then he got away with it.

Jan 18th

Monique Hicks

this is great! I would love to have this become a series..

Jan 15th

Heather McNamee Rensel

just bad journalism. instead of looking for the truth she went looking for proof that he was innocent

Jan 10th
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