Scary’s Voices – Spotlight
The Murder Police Podcast
Last September I stumbled across a fantastic true crime show called The Murder Police Podcast. Not only did it impress me enough to get a shout out as my Sound Bites Scream of the Week, but I’ve become a dedicated listener since then and haven’t missed an episode. And, because I enjoy the show so much, I thought they deserved some time in the spotlight.
There are loads of true crime podcasts out there, but this one stands out because of their unique approach. Husband and wife team David and Wendy Lyons don’t just research crimes, they talk to detectives about the cases they’ve investigated. As a former Commander of a homicide unit, David understands what it takes to crack cases and his insights allow him to ask guests questions which most of us wouldn’t think of. Wendy on the other hand brings the perspective of most true crime fans, and she always poses questions I would want to ask. Together they bring a level of understanding on how crimes are solved which few other podcasts achieve.
I also love the range of cases this show has tackled. From serial killers to domestic homicides, from murders with clear suspects at the time of the crimes to those that sit cold for years, each case presented by The Murder Police Podcast highlights a different aspect of detective work.
The first 3 episodes of the show were dedicated to the murder of Haley McHone. In these episodes retired homicide detective Chris Schoonover and retired District Attorney Ray Larson recount their experiences in solving the 1999 murder of a 13-year-old in Lexington, Kentucky. From the report of the missing teen, to the discovery of the body, and the eventual capture, interview, and conviction of serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells, these episodes cover the entire case in graphic detail. (Please note listener discretion is advised for all episodes and I urge you to take this seriously.)
The latest disturbing case is focused on the murder of Umi Southworth, which the detectives involved describe as “Fatal Control.” Spread across 5 episodes, the first was released on January 12th with subsequent episodes dropping each week, concluding on February 9th. At the time of writing this, I’ve listened to episodes 1 and 2, and ‘twisted’ would be an understatement. Since episode 3 just dropped, you’d better believe I’ll be catching it as soon as I’m finished typing!
The Murder Police Podcast episodes typically have a runtime of 30 to 45 minutes and are available on most streaming platforms as well as on YouTube which includes closed captioning. On top of the podcast content, crime scene photos and other information can be found in the Show Notes section of their website. (Links provided at the end of this post.)
Because I enjoy this show so much, I reached out to David and Wendy for an interview and thankfully they obliged.
The Scary’s Voices Interview
J.A. Sullivan Talks To Murder Police Podcast
JA Sullivan: David, can you tell us a bit about your background in law enforcement?
Murder Police: I started with the Lexington Police Department in Lexington, Kentucky in 1992. I started on patrol as we all usually do and was fortunate enough to get assigned to some special assignment details early on, and even more fortunate to be asked into the Homicide Unit early in my career.
That assignment was the highlight of my career. I eventually started to promote through the ranks and was ultimately appointed to the position of Commander, where I ran the investigative section where the Homicide Unit was located for a couple of years. It was interesting, but nothing like working cases in the unit with the other detectives.
I retired in early 2020. I stay connected with law enforcement though, primarily as a faculty member of FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association), as a committee member with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) group, and teaching law enforcement related classes at a local community college in Kentucky.
JAS: Wendy, were you always a true crime fan or did that develop as David served on the force?
MP: I have always been fascinated by true crime and law enforcement in general, so much that I applied to the Lexington Police Department, successfully completed the rigorous hiring process, and was selected into the Police Academy in 2005. Professionally, I now own four childcare centers, but my interest in true crime, specifically Homicide, certainly heightened after meeting and then marrying David. When David was Commander of the Homicide Unit, I inundated him with tons of questions as each new case would present itself. Nightly, I can be found watching True Crime on television; anything from Joe Kenda to Forensic Files to any murder documentary I can find on the Roku! (For hours on end!)
JAS: Why did you decide to start The Murder Police Podcast together?
MP: (David) I was tinkering with the idea to do a True Crime podcast and it occurred to me one day that Wendy would be perfect as an audience representative on the show, given how fanatical she is over crime cases. Wendy does a great job of asking clarifying questions when the podcast guests are telling the story, and she summarizes elements of the case as we record it. It is also something that we can do together, and that makes it that much more enjoyable.
JAS: It’s obvious you do a lot of research before you begin recording each episode. How long does it normally take from initial episode concept until the episode goes live?
MP: One of the advantages of talking to actual practitioners, the detectives, and other experts, is they bring the researched material to the table. Most detectives are so invested in their case work, that they know it like the back of their hand, even if the work is decades old.
Given that, I would say once we get our mind on one, it will range from a couple of weeks to a month. Most of the time is spent coordinating schedules, editing the recording, and making promotional materials for the case.
JAS: How do you find new guests and cases for episodes?
MP: We generally have leveraged our relationships locally. The familiarity and trust make that easy to invite a guest to make a case. We have, and will continue to, obtain cases from other areas in the country. These contacts are made when David teaches for FBI-LEEDA, given that occurs literally across the United States, and he pitches the concept to police in those classes. The officers are more inclined to participate given David’s personal experience, and let’s face it, cops usually trust other cops.
JAS: Why do you think people are so drawn to true crime podcasts and documentaries?
MP: We believe that our audience might be fixed on a couple of things. First, simply trying to wrap their minds around the evil that exists when someone kills someone. Second, and certainly related, is the curiosity regarding what it is like to solve a case, to run the bad people down, and sit knee to knee in a little interview room with the worst of the worst. I think most people actually care about the victims and those left behind in the wake of the violence that took them away.
JAS: As much as the public enjoys true crime content, is it as welcomed by those in law enforcement? Any push back?
MP: I would say the only time there would be push back would be if the presentation was exploitive or overly salacious. Cops who do this work are victim-centered and are very protective of the victim and surviving family and friends. Cops are also big on factual representation of their work, so poorly researched work and/or baseless assumptions and theories would not go over well. These are some of the reasons most of us will decline interviews with those not in the business, there just is not a lot of trust.
JAS: Which is more frustrating as a detective: starting with no suspects, or knowing who the guilty party is but not being able to prove it?
MP: Both! The goal of the detective is to bring the case to a legal and ethical closure, so anything that threatens that, is simply horrible. A lack of suspects is certainly frustrating and can feel overwhelming, with no light visible at the end of the tunnel. Feeling strongly about a suspect but not having a solid case to move on is painful because you feel so close, but far away. In either case, somebody that is truly scary is out and about, and that goes against a detective’s DNA.
JAS: In your experience on the force, what advancement in technology do you think had the biggest impact in solving homicides?
MP: Technologies evolve over time, just like the types of cases. Looking back, technology is almost generational. I remember DNA in its early stages, just getting accepted in court, and seeing the capabilities increase with time. Digital evidence is the same way, with something as simple as a cell phone may offer more than DNA. The one constant though is not technical, it is the ability of a detective to communicate and listen, to develop a rapport, and gain trust with a stranger early on. Nothing will ever take the place of a dedicated listener and communicator.
JAS: Are there any other true crime podcasts you recommend?
MP: That is tough because the genre is loaded with fantastic podcasts delivered by passionate people. We still enjoy Crime Junkie Podcast, Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories (the dramatic touch is enjoyable), and Morbidology. Some fierce victim-centered ones we have found of late would include Voice of the Victim Podcast and The Murder Mafia.
JAS: Do you have any special episodes coming up? Or any other projects/collaborations in the works?
MP: At the time of this interview, we are mid-way through a 5-part mini-series on The Murder of Umi Southworth. This one stands out to us given it is an interview with 3 detectives, and practically takes the listener into the homicide unit. The audience is about as close to a case huddle as most people will ever get. We have tons of amazing content in the works as well.
JAS: I’d sincerely like to thank David and Wendy from The Murder Police Podcast for taking the time to speak with me. I hope you enjoyed this interview, and if you would like to know more about this podcast, feel free to connect with them on the following social medial platforms:
YouTube: Murder Police
Instagram: Murder Police
All listening platforms via LinkTree Murder Police
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan