Death Row Last MealsCrime Countdown
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- 30 Nov 2020
The only thing weirder than death row inmates’ last meal requests is that we, as a society, honor them. Ash and Alaina count down the top ten death row meals, and examine how usually, they’re more than just a meal.
Capital punishment is by definition, the worst punishment humans can inflict on each other.
It's reserved for the most heinous of criminals and even then, it's controversial. There's plenty of conversation to be had about why we punish killers by killing them. But what we're really interested in today is why do we feed them a nice dinner first for a death row inmates last meal.
We let them order anything they want alongside last words. It's their final strange chance for self-expression. But the weirdest part is that the justice system usually honors the request. Sure, they're going to die, but they got to eat first. Today, we're looking at the top 10 death row, last meals, last meals remind us that even our worst criminals still have a favorite dinner. And that stark reminder right before we kill them makes them even scarier for all their crimes.
The worst monsters we've ever seen are just humans, very hungry humans.
Hailu Weirdo's, welcome to the podcast Original Crime Countdown. I'm Ash and I'm Emelina. Every week will highlight 10 fascinating stories of history's most engaging and unsettling crimes, all picked by the podcast Research Gods. This episode, we're going to be counting down the top ten death row last meals immediately.
Of course, you're going to be like, what's your last meal? Obviously, of course, in my last meal, would hands down be every single thing on the menu at Aldan and Harlow in Cambridge, Massachusetts?
You love that restaurant so much. You know, I've never been there.
It's so good. All the top us. I miss it.
I think I would have a really hard time choosing what my last meal would be. But I know that sushi steak or some kind of potato would have to be on the list. I knew you would do sushi. Yeah, I just know it.
And you know what? I would want a side of potato like every potato ever. Yeah. Because it would be really hard to decide which form of potato you'd like. So I'm just gonna eat all of them. Yeah. Especially hash browns of course. Also if it were possible, I would ask that mom make my last meal because I compare logit every meal I order or make two meals cooking.
This just got so dark. But I concur.
You know what I would want my pot roast as a side by many other sides. I'm getting.
You just got all the side, all the sides. Well, I don't think any of my five people had their mom making their last meal, but I'm not sure about yours because that's how this whole thing works. I have five last meals and so does Ilina, but neither of us knows which the other's going to bring to the table. Oh, let's start the countdown.
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I'll start us off with number 10 serial killer Aileen Wuornos, her very simple final meal juxtaposes her wild history. If you know Aileen Wuornos, you know, she spent time as a sex worker on Florida's highways. And in nineteen eighty nine, she murdered one of the men who picked her up.
Over the next year, she killed at least five other men. She was later arrested, convicted and executed by lethal injection. Eileen is a trip. Eileen was wild. It and she was the menu of crimes included being imprisoned in nineteen seventy four for drunk driving and for firing a pistol from a moving vehicle. Haven't we all had that happen? It's like very like Bonnie, Bonnie and Clyde. She was arrested multiple times on charges that included armed robbery check forgery and auto theft standard.
Love it Kadee. Be paid homage to her in her cover art for her song Press, where she recreated that famous courtroom pose that Eileen does. Is it the one where she's, like, pushing her hair back, the one where she was in the jumpsuit? Handcuffs? Yeah. Eileen's last words you ask. I'm asking. OK, yes.
I would just like to say I'm sailing with the rock and I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6th, like the movie Big Mother Ship and all.
I'll be back. I'll be back. I believe her. I do not. I believe her. She's coming back with that mothership. I'd prefer she didn't. And I don't know any rocks personally, but she's sailing to one.
I believe that. I don't know where she is, but I'm glad she's not with us and isn't is a rock.
She's sailing too. I don't know where it is.
She also had a song request where she did Eileen frequently. Listen to Natalie merchant's album Tigerlily. Have you heard of that? Oh, I have. I haven't. She listened to it while on death row and she requested that carnival be played at her funeral. OK, there are a few things that really give me like the heebie jeebies and that is one of them. Yeah.
Carnival at your funeral is the song doesn't match. No, it's very strange. Two very different events. I hate that. We'll ask for her final dish. Eileen declined her special last meal, but she requested one cup of black coffee, dark coffee for the end of a dark life. Nine. At number nine is Gary Gilmore, who was convicted of a double murder in Utah County in September 1976, Gilmore requested shots for the end of his life.
First you want to Jack Daniels and then a firing squad. Two very different meanings of the word, but two shots indeed.
July 19th, 1976, Gilmore murdered a 24 year old employee at a service station in Orem, Utah. The following night, he walked into a Provo motel and shot the night manager. He robbed the place and then just dipped. So he's really into shots. He's a mean guy. He's not good.
He became the first execution after the Supreme Court declared the death penalty constitutional once again in 1976. It was outlawed in 1972.
I feel like it's been outlawed and enlarged and applauded in Lord. So many states like ping pong every time it is. I feel like that's like calling a radio station, hoping to be like the sixty four point fifth caller, like he's the winner.
I love that he didn't try to fight the sentencing. He said, quote, I've simply accepted the sentence that was given to me. I've accepted sentences all my life, which I say, boohoo, oh, where, where, who to you? Gilmore tried to expedite the execution process and did make a few suicide attempts. His final meal was some very American food. Oh, God. Got a hamburger, mashed potatoes, a hard boiled egg and multiple shots of Jack Daniels whiskey.
OK, so I get the hamburger, I get the shots in the mashed potatoes. Why would you include a hard boiled egg? I mean, I love a hard boiled egg. I'm OK with it.
I wouldn't eat it before death. I'm on.
Why did you, like, smell so well? That and just like.
No, I don't know. I don't get it. That's a very American plate of food I feel with a hamburger. Yeah.
I'm surprised they didn't give him like an eagle to chew on as well. That's very American. That's gross. That's also messed up. They're endangered. Eight. Number eight on our countdown of the top 10 death row last meals is Rodney Brigette. Birgitt received the death penalty for the 2011 killing of a correctional officer during a failed prison escape attempt. And honestly, his diner style breakfast may have been too nice of a meal for this unapologetic killer. Birgitt had been serving a life sentence for an attempted murder and kidnapping conviction when he tried to escape and killed the officer.
So he was already terrible, horrible.
Witnesses say that he never apologized to the family of his victims. Horrible. And the family said that his fate was more humane than what he granted for their loved ones.
Oh, man. Yeah, it makes me sad. Some of his final words are, quote, Sorry for the delay. I got caught in traffic. But seriously, I want to thank everybody that was there for me. I love you all. Wait. It's like traffic.
How did this guy know what I say when I'm late for meetings, but was a good one.
Sorry for the delay. I got caught in traffic. I love you all. Thanks for being the everybody that was there for me. I feel like he's like accepting an Oscar.
He certainly is. It's really stupid. His actual final final words in response to the drugs they pumped into him. Where is it supposed to feel like that?
I'd be like, probably not, bro. I'd be like, yeah, I'm supposed to feel not good. His last meal was pancakes, waffles, maple syrup and butter, breakfast sausages, scrambled eggs, French fries, Pepsi and cherry nibs, like. Wow. Like just a few things. I respect breakfast. I don't respect him. I don't respect him. I also respect licorice. Love like Rush the cherry. I was going to say, oh, and just a little fun fact to leave you with.
Crime ran in the family. Rodney's brother Roger also received the death penalty for murder as well after sitting on death row in Oklahoma for 13 years. Wow. Parents must be proud. Yikes.
Seven. And number seven this week is Bruno Richard Hauptmann Hauptman was convicted and sentenced to death in the nineteen thirty two kidnapping and murder of the 20 month old son of Charles Lindbergh. He ended things with a sensible meal, totally undeserved for such a monster. Oh, Charles Lindbergh, the baby's father, was the first aviator to complete a solo transatlantic flight, which he did in his plane Spirit of St. Louis. Hauptman had a tough upbringing, which does not give him a I was going to say it's like, you know, yeah.
He had served as a teenaged machine gunner in World War One and lost two brothers in the war. That's sad. I'm totally sad, but like, I don't care. Hauptman We feel bad for him. Pre kidnapping. Yeah, sure.
But Hauptman is the worst. He faced food and job scarcity in post-war Germany and turned to a life of crime as a result.
Not good. Not good.
He broke out of prison while awaiting trial and left his neatly folded prison clothes on the front stairs with a note which read best wishes to the police. I feel like he didn't mean that if he wasn't the worst, I would think that's pretty amazing. But yeah, I do like a good job, but like, helped him. No naps for you, Houtman. Yeah, no, Snapp's for Hauptman. No, he got into America using a disguise and false documents, but the FBI tracked him down by tracing the ransom money.
So his last meal, chicken, celery, olives, French fries, buttered peas, cherry and cake. I hope his chicken was pink. His celery was slimy. His olives were not stuffed. His French fries were burnt and unsalted. His buttered peas were exactly how they are. His turns were sour and his cake was dry. So I feel buttered peas were exactly as they are. No unfettered unbutton go.
Six. Also on our list at number six is Timothy McVeigh, the man who perpetrated the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured over six hundred and eighty others, McVeigh was found guilty on all counts in nineteen ninety seven and sentenced to death, but annoyingly not before enjoying a final treat, usually saved for kids as a reward or adults going through a breakup for Olina every single night.
I was going to say or just nighttime. So McVeigh acted because he liked the Branch Davidian and felt rage at the government, further use of force. I mean, there's other ways to go about this. It's like, you know, maybe just write your congressman first. Yes. I mean, start there or just like open a pint of ice cream and just go to town, like, drown your woes. Do it. He created a homemade bomb and left it in front of the Oklahoma City federal building where it detonated.
The Branch Davidian surviving sects have branched off from the original cult, but they all agree that Timothy McVeigh is no example or hero to them.
Oh, good. That's a good thing. You don't stand by the Oklahoma City bomber, Pat on the back for you. They get snaps as well. Yeah. You know, it's like what? Wow. Investigators say McVeigh was eager to get caught so he could spread his message publicly. His last meal was two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Oh, no. Which it's like don't ruin mint chocolate chip for me. I love mint chocolate chip ice cream.
I wonder if he got it like you got it at Friendly's. Like the monster head. Oh man. I that from when we were little help. He did the best. He definitely did. And he was executed by lethal injection on June 11th, 2001 at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Hauptman, to me, is the one that makes me the angriest. Yeah, I don't know if you could tell I was going to say you sounded really angry and I was very subtle. I tried to hide it, but the Lindbergh baby kidnapping is like that case.
This case is crazy. If anybody knows that case, it's nuts.
Yeah, but yeah, some of these are wild. Aileen Wuornos with just a black cup of coffee and. Yeah. What are you doing? Why would you end your life that way. Come on, eat something crazy like come on girl. And even just the two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. And like nothing else, I would feel so sick going into the afterlife. Exactly. That's the thing. I'd be like I mean a lactate as well or two.
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Five. All right, let's jump back in with number five on our countdown of death row, last meals starting off.
The second half of our list is Victor Figure. Figure was a drifter who killed a physician in Iowa while apparently attempting to rob him of drugs in 1960.
Three years later, he'd be buried with part of his last meal in his pocket.
But why, though? Why, though, you ask? In 1960, he cold called physicians from the phone book saying someone was sick and needed medical attention. Not good luring them in. Right? Not cool call.
Dr. Edward Bartel's arrived at the boarding house Fager was staying. Fagre kidnapped him and killed him. So he came to help him and he kidnapped him and killed them. Yeah, that's messed up. A few days later, Figure was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, after trying to sell Dr. Bardos car, sentenced to death by hanging.
That was also just stupid. Like the guy's missing and you're going to sell his car. Of course it was.
What do you think is stupid?
And it's like that's going to be on record that you called that doctor right into that address. Everything is very traceable and very dumb.
Doctors who examined him three months before his execution said he was a sociopath, which it's like, oh, really? You don't say it's schizophrenic tendencies, OK? He was the last federal prisoner executed before the death penalty was federally suspended because again, we're flip flopping back and forth.
The ping pong match and the last federal execution by hanging was his. Huh. And again, what a distinction. His last meal was a single all of waste of everything. What an ass. Also, all of us are so gross. I love all those.
So, like, I won't go down on that ship with you, but you are asking for a single olive. I just so like I don't know what it is. It's pretentious. Were you going to say pretentious.
Feels pretentious to me just to be like, give me a single olive. It's just weird.
I feel like it's weird. Also he asked for a pit at Olive. So not just any of those. Like, just give me an olive. I want an olive with a pit in it. I didn't even know they had pets. Yeah. Wow. Really.
You know, look at you. I don't like Olive. So when he was buried, the olive pit from his last meal was put in his suit pocket. Do you want to know why? No. Yes. He said his hope was that it would grow an olive tree from his body and his death would be a sign of peace. Did he think somebody was going to water his grave? I hate him so much. I hate him. For landing at number four this week is Ronnie Lee Gardner.
Gardner lived a life of crime, but the chain of events that put him on death row is a grotesque, bloody journey, and he rewarded himself with the ultimate Bujji last meal. I hate him already.
Yeah, well, in 1980, Gardner was sent to prison for robbery and escaped in 1981. I feel like I have a lot of either escapes or escape. But you do. We're leaving prison. We're getting out. Two weeks later, he confronted a man who was sleeping with his girlfriend. Well, not good in the confrontation. He was wounded by gunfire, but was eventually arrested and returned to prison. They were like, you got to go back to bad day.
In nineteen eighty four. He was taken to the hospital for a checkup where he overpowered a guard, stole his pistol and escaped again. It's time to put this guy under like a little more watch some solitary or something a little bit. Two months later, Gardner shot and killed a bartender in Salt Lake City. She clearly he doesn't change at all. He's so busy. On April 2nd, nineteen eighty five at a pretrial hearing for murder, a female friend walked up and handed Gardner a gun.
It's like, how was she able to do that?
She just she enters the room and it's like, here you go. Here you are.
He exchanged fire with courtroom guards and was wounded, but he was able to enter the archives room where he shot and killed an attorney. He shot and seriously wounded a uniformed bailiff, took a vending machine, serviceman hostage, and then broke free before being captured outside. My goodness. So he went down screaming. He needs to calm down. They should not have given him the last meal.
I would like get nothing like your glucose level is clearly through the roof.
You need to calm down. You've done nothing to earn this feel.
Well, his final meal was steak, lobster, apple pie, vanilla ice cream and a seven-up.
That sounds like the kind of meal and overcompensate or whatever. Yeah, I feel I agree with you. I'm just going to label that steak and lobster. I might add that to my list.
Overcompensating. Three number three on our countdown of death row last meals is John Wayne Gacy's fried and fruit filled finale.
I knew that he was going to be on here. Of course, the vile John Wayne Gacy assaulted, tortured and murdered at least 33 boys and men, some as young as 14 from 1972 to 1978. Maybe it's appropriate that his last meal was as greasy as he was.
He was a greasy, greasy man. That's all you can do to describe him is just greasy, gross.
He was nicknamed the killer clown and he would dress up and perform clown services as his alter ego, Pogo the Clown, who was terrifying. Yeah. And Pogo the clown.
You could tell he was already because real clowns will have rounded makeup and Pogo the Clown had really harsh like angles because it's like scary to children, because that's scary to children.
Little known fact about clowns for you. He also held a job as a mortuary attendant in Las Vegas and as a salesman at the Nonbiased Shoe Company in Springfield, Illinois, after he married his father in law, bought Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Waterloo, Iowa. Well, Gacy managed them.
It's like my dream to own a KFC franchise.
Hate that. But can you imagine eating at a KFC that he had managed? No, thank you. I'd be like, what is inside of my body right now? Greece.
I'm upset. Greece upon Greece. He was pretty involved and well liked in the Waterloo community. And it's also where things started to take, let's say, a darker turn.
You could call it that, quite dark. Gacy had frequent run ins with the police, almost always over sexual assault charges, but he was often freed. We did an episode on him for more it and he got out of everything.
I feel like a lot of times, like the big name serial killers had run ins with the police. And you're like, how did you get out of that? Always got out of it because they can be charming and manipulative.
Right. And they always have like a body in the trunk or something. Always, always they temper it.
Do you see committed his crimes in his home? The contractor often lured young boys to his home, promising jobs and money. So these poor kids that are just looking to make an extra buck, right. So he would get them there. A staggering twenty nine bodies were recovered on his property. Many in the crawlspaces and or more were discovered in a nearby river.
And he was sentenced to death. The ones in the river when the river, by the way, because he ran out of room, like literally ran out of room. I mean, I must've got to do something. His last meal. Twelve fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe, KFC, French fries and a pound of strawberries. See, the first part of the meal is like, so him it's almost cannibalism. It's so him. Don't say that, though, because I would totally it's very him though.
Like, you have to think that you're right. Your last part, like, you know, the French fries and a pound of strawberries. I'm not saying John Wayne Gacy is my four year old, but it's alarming.
They do eat a lot of stuff, like a pound of strawberries. The only difference is that I cut them into hearts when I make them for your children. I'm not saying my four year old is John Wayne Gacy, but I'm not saying that there isn't a connection.
So we won't let them know. I can't believe we're already almost at the end, I know in John Wayne Gacy's really just stuck my appetite away. Yeah, he really did. I think it let years a flame. And I honestly want to go to KFC after this, like I might.
And I don't want to eat anything ever again. Yeah, I got to see what's coming up next. I don't know what's coming up next.
To. We're down to the final two spots on our countdown of death row, last meals at number two is Steven Michael Woods Jr..
In May 2001, he murdered a 19 year old woman and her boyfriend and dumped their bodies along a golf course road. In the end, he was short on last words, but not on food. Wait until you hear what the steward ordered. A loved ones admitted to the police that he was with the victims the night before their bodies were found, but not with them on the night of the murder.
Wow. No way. No way. They're not to their woods said that it was a drug deal that went sour and that he was tripping on LSD at the time. Oh, then it's OK. It's like, do you think you're going to get away with it because you were having a bad trip?
The police are like, why didn't you say so? Oh, just get out of here. It's a horse of a different color, literally. Well, detectives interview his accomplice and find the victim's belongings in his car and a latex glove with woods DNA all over it. It's like, hello?
Yeah, the glove fits, bro once goes on the run.
But obviously he's caught, of course, and got a last meal.
So he got a last meal. So he did get shot. Several witnesses testified that before the killings, he told them about his plans to commit the murders. And after the killings, he told them that he did it. Oh, OK. That's like you might have wanted to not do either of those things if you wanted to get away with murder.
It's an interesting strategy. Let's see if it pans out for him. Definitely not a good guy. According to court records, Woods was also a Satanist white supremacist into bomb making and the mistreatment of animals.
Oh, don't feed him now. Horrible dude. But they did. He asserted his innocence until the end. And his last words were, you're not about to witness an execution. You're about to witness a murder. I've never killed anybody. Never.
I don't believe you, sir. So that was his last big sentence. And then his last word was Goodbye Tootle, which is dumb. His last meal, bacon, a large pizza with bacon, sausage, pepperoni and hamburger, fried chicken, breast, chicken fried steak, hamburgers with bacon, lots of bacon. Wow. On French toast, garlic bread sticks, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, root beer, sweet tea and ice cream.
Every one of my arteries just slammed shut. They were like and seem like I don't know if everybody could hear that, but that was my arteries.
I also love that he couldn't choose like which soda he wanted and then was also like, I also want sweet tea. I would also like some sweet like you're going to be bloated going into like when little kids will put every soda into one cup.
Yeah, that's what he did. You know what I just thought of to imagine being the person that, like, sees their stomach in the autopsy. I'd be so annoyed. I'd be so annoying, let me tell you. And the smell would not be good.
One. And that brings us to number one on our countdown of the top ten death row last meals, white supremacist in all around awful human Lawrence Russell Brewer. Brewer, along with two others, killed James Byrd Jr., a black man in a racially motivated hate crime in Jasper, Texas, in 1998. Burns disgusting last meal order ultimately ended up being the last meal for all Texas death row inmates. Brewer was not new to crime prior to Byrd's murder.
Brewer had served a prison sentence for drug possession and burglary, so he was already on his way, right? Exactly. His deep affiliation with the KKK cemented it as a racially motivated hate crime. It's like, what are you doing with your life? If that's what your worst human. Byrd's funeral was well attended by celebrities and civil rights activists who covered the funeral costs and help the family.
Oh, my God, that's so sad. I can't. This case destroys.
Yeah, that's a tough one. In 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, which expanded hate crime protections. We covered that in the Matthew Shepard episode. We did for more.
In that case, too, those two cases are we will strive to fight back a first time I've cried last meal for this monster of a human.
Are you ready? Yes. Are you sitting or are you well hydrated?
I'm holding on. Take a long time. Fried okra with ketchup too. Chicken fried steak smothered and gravy and onions. Cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell and helping your peppers. A triple meat, bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, one pound of barbecue and a half loaf of white bread pizza. Meat lover's special. One pint of homemade vanilla bluebell ice cream, one slab of peanut butter fudge with crust peanuts and three, the peanut butter fudge like.
Yes, but also what? Don't give him anything that's insane. Imagine having to be the guy that went out and got all that. Will you want to hear it? Swears No one.
Breuer's food was delivered to him. He said, I'm not hungry and he refused to eat any of it. So that's like infuriating.
But also, I wouldn't be that mad because then I'd be like, oh, dibs on the peanut butter fudge.
But you're like the taxpayers just paid for this. That's true. So we can't let it go to waste. You know what they should have done? You know how they make for them, how it's an awful process.
Yeah. Yeah. They should do that to him and just force feed it down his gullet, do it. This made Texas officials end the practice of giving death row inmates a last meal of their choice. I wonder why. Yeah, so you can all bank this dbag for it. Brewer was executed by the state of Texas on September 21st, 2011. Wow.
Si, si. I definitely think that that should have been number one, because that was outrageous. Yeah, that was insane. I feel like number two, a number one more perfect. There was lots of bacon, lots of different pizzas, many options. Fried okra was in there. I've never had fried okra, never will.
It seems like every single one of these meals matched the person who ordered it, like from the start because Xylene was black coffee. So it's like she's real dark. She's real dark.
And then we've got John Wayne Gacy was just a greaseball and that's what he did, greasy AAF. And then Bruer there just ordered everything disgusting under the sun and then he said no to it. So he's just a terrible human. And that's a terrible human thing to do.
Yeah, that's just like Robert totally matches him. And then Steven Michael Woods, he just really had a lot of bacon.
And I feel like I mean, I love bacon and he was a pig, but he was a pig. Oh, my God. You go boom. And then. Oh, Timothy McVeigh, ice cream loser. It's just like not enough. No, you're not enough. You stink. You stink. You know what was left off, though? What Ted Bundy. What did he got? He was actually one of the ones like Eileen, who said he didn't want a last meal, but they gave him the standard one that they give now, which is just like breakfast.
Well, not boring. That's why he wasn't on here.
But I feel like it's like he declined the last meal, too. That's interesting.
He was too cool for the last meal. For the last meal. Olenna Bundy, thanks for listening. We'll be back next week with another great episode. Remember to follow Crime Countdown on Spotify to get a brand new episode delivered. Every week you can find all episodes of Crime Countdown and all other podcast originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place. They're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or sprint speaker.
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