Entertainment

The All-Time Best Episodes of 'My Favorite Murder'

A listening guide for budding murderinos.

my favorite murder
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark of 'My Favorite Murder' | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest/Getty Images
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark of 'My Favorite Murder' | Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for Clusterfest/Getty Images

If you're a "murderino," or someone who's obsessed with true-crime and the psychology behind it, chances are you're familiar with My Favorite Murder, the podcast that coined the term. Hosted by comedians and true-crime fans Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, each episode the two research and tell the other about a murder, or an adjacent, equally disturbing case. Since the podcast launched in 2016, they've covered hundreds of cases, from notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy and unsolved mysteries like JonBenet Ramsey to lesser known survival stories, giving enthusiasts much to obsess over. It's not just a true crime pod, though: Murderinos will come for the stranger-than-fiction cases, but stay for the hosts' blunt, quirky sense of humor and openness to discuss mental health. There's a reason MFM has amassed the cult-like following it has. 

If you have yet to get into the podcast, though, or are a long-time fan and want to revisit the best of the best, there are a handful of "classic" episodes that have remained must-listens over the years -- some being favorites for Karen and Georgia's tangential jokes and some because the cases are hard to believe. So, "stay sexy and don't get murdered," and tune into these 10 all-time best episodes of My Favorite Murder

"Breakfast Wine"

Episode 75
"Breakfast Wine" is the perfect introductory episode for non-fans. Georgia does a deep dive on the not-so-famous 1979 Mainline Murders, in which Susan Reinert and her two children were murdered by Jay C. Smith, the principal at the school where she worked, at the discretion of William Bradfield, one of her colleagues, in order to get her life insurance. The case takes some pretty unexpected twists, and the '70s details inspire the hosts to go off on some pretty hilarious tangents about the "female orgasm." And honestly, save the storytelling, getting into lengthy sidebars is sort of what Karen and Georgia do best. With the lesser-known story, plus Karen's celebrity case of Spider Sabich, and their jokes more or less leading the conversation, "Breakfast Wine" is a great way to get acquainted with the tenor of the pod. If you're a longtime fan, you may not immediately recall this one, but upon relistening, all of the still great jokes will come flooding back. 

"Coincidence Island"

Episode 129
Murder cases are never lighthearted, but some of the "old timey" ones (as Karen and Georgia call them) feel so far from our current reality it's especially easy to find the humor in them. No other episode is as prime an example of that as the so-called "Galapagos Affair" featured in Episode 129. About tensions between various eccentric people who decided to up and move to the Galapagos Islands in the early 1900s, the story sounds more like a messed up episode of Gilligan's Island than real life. The entire cast of characters involved in the eventual unsolved disappearance case are so absurd they almost sound unbelievable -- like the doctor who leads the charge to move there to live off the land, and "the Baroness" and her lovers who eventually follow -- which makes the episode maybe the funniest in MFM history. 

"Errant Duct Tape" 

Episode 124
Murderinos know that murders often fall into specific categories -- family annihilators, out for life insurance, serial killers, etc., etc. A special, always infuriating group is that of con men, and this episode dives into an interesting, fake doctor con man you're probably not familiar with: Diazien Hossenofft, nee Armand Chavez, who plotted with his girlfriend Linda Henning to murder his wife, Girly Chew Hossenofft. The case has it all: the New Mexico desert, a UFO believers club, and theories about lizard people. It's all a lot to grasp -- on top of the first half being about the mystery of one of Australia's most notorious serial killers Mr. Cruel -- but all of the conspiracy-theorizing that's abound is worth it. 

"Here We Back Are"

Episode 183
Since Karen and Georgia have been at it for awhile, they had to open up to "my favorite strange phenomenon/survival story/unsolved mystery/disaster" to give them enough material to talk about. "Here We Back Are" is probably the best example of that, as Karen dives into the extremely confounding reports of West Virginia's resident urban legend, the Mothman. The man-sized moth (yes, you read that right) is said to have been sighted around the state in the '60s and is supposedly connected to the 1967 Silver Bridge collapse. As you can guess, they have quite a heyday with the concept, especially imagining what the creature might look like, which inspired some pretty great fan art from listeners. 

"A Hundred Feelings"

Episode 139
It's the eerie Stephen King-like qualities and story-telling imagery that the hosts conjure up with this one that makes it unforgettable. Georgia describes the Kunz family murders in which a family of elderly siblings and one of their nephews, who all lived together in one house in Wisconsin, were shot to death on July 4, 1987. It's like one of those stories from growing up about the creepy house at the end of the lane, except all of the rumors are about it are true. Karen and Georgia have even called it one of the creepiest cases they've ever covered, so you should probably listen for yourself to hear the entire story in its oddity. 

"Investigateighteen Discovery"

Episode 18
One of Karen's favorite not-actually-murder-but-related kinds of stories are survivor stories about people who lived through an attack. This is one of the earliest of those on the pod, and by far the most memorable, about Mary Vincent, who, at 15-years-old, was picked up by Lawrence Singleton while hitchhiking and managed to get to safety after he brutally attacked her, even severing off her arms and leaving her at the side of a highway. It's a tough listen, but her resilience of facing Singleton in court makes for one of the most inspiring stories ever featured.

"Proclensity" 

Episode 105
There are a lot of long-running jokes on MFM, but few are as funny as Karen's Irish accent. So, thank goodness Georgia eventually covered Irish-American cook Mary Mallon, AKA Typhoid Mary, who asymptomatically spread typhoid to the estates she worked for in the 1800s because it gives Karen's accent ripe opportunity to make an appearance. They basically can't stop laughing at the thought of this woman so set on continuing to cook her stew, refusing to believe she was connected to the string of typhoid cases that followed her wherever she went. There's sadly a lot of death involved in this one, but the way they're able to laugh about the ridiculousness of the case makes it an all-time fan favorite. 

"Robot Grandma"

Episode 116
This episode is not for the squeamish as one of the most unfathomable cases in the podcast's history. Karen delves into Issei Sagawa, a Japanese man confirmed to have murdered and cannibalized Renée Hartevelt while living in Paris in 1981… and is currently alive and walking free. It's definitely one of the denser episodes of the pod, as the crimes discussed are not only unthinkable, it explores where international law went wrong and the cultural obsession that exploded on the known cannibal after charges against him fell through. 

"Twenty Six Six Six"

Episode 26
Child murders are always especially heinous, and considering this episode covers two cases of it, the installment is especially dark. Karen talks about Mary Bell, who strangled two toddlers when she was herself was just 10 years old in 1968, and Georgia explores the tragic death of 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg whose father killed her in 1987. They're both difficult cases, but Mary Bell in particular is interesting as the classic example of the frightening child trope that appears in media and people struggle to wrap their heads around. It's one of the many instances on the pod that'll have you spiraling thinking about psychopathy in terms of nature versus nurture.  

"400 Peeled Potatoes" 

Episode 185
One of the cases featured in this episode (fortunately) doesn't include any deaths at all, but it does feature one Florida teenager, Malachi Love-Robinson, who posed as a doctor. Repeatedly. With a functioning practice by the time he was 21. Being essentially a wild Netflix docuseries waiting to happen, it's one of the best scammer stories you have yet to hear, and makes for a very funny installment. It's a fascinating, lighter story to offset what Georgia covers in the first-half of the pod, which is the pivotal case of the murder of Angie Dodge, the first-ever case to use DNA evidence in court. 

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Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She's on Twitter at @mssadiebell.