County of Offenses
Murder. Lots and lots of murder.
Known Gang Affiliations
University of Houston
Date of Offense
First episode dropped June 1, 2018
A bi-weekly podcast, Murder City: True Crime of Houston showcases local crimes many would otherwise never hear about--especially long after the fact. With its first episode having kicked off on June 1st of this year, the show has already gained a loyal following with a number of subscribers, several hundred followers on social and an average iTunes rating of 4.5 stars (with more than a dozen reviews). Not bad considering it's only been live about a month.
This is a great concept for a podcast because, let's face it, there's some shit going down in this town. Even in my relatively quiet westside neighborhood we're often lulled to sleep by the dulcet tones of police helicopters and small arms fire. In 2017 there were 269 homicides in Houston, with about 20 percent of those gang related. And 269 is actually a great number for H-Town. As the show points out when covering a grisly double-murder in 1979, in that year the figure was well over 500.
"Aggravated assaults," a sterile euphemism for somebody kicking the shit out of you, were up 13 percent in Houston last year. In fact, Houston is #3 in the nation for robbery, rape and aggravated assault. So you're less likely to be murdered, but more likely to be fucked up in general. While this may not be awesome news for most of us, it's pretty great for people creating true crime content. As one of the hosts puts it in the show's first episode, Houston is like the "Wild, Wild West of the South."
Murder City is hosted by two co-hosts whose identities remain need-to-know for their own personal safety: "B" and "CC." But one thing everyone knows about them is that they are are all about H-Town crime. They approach the show in a way that's high-energy and engaging, but without being gauche about it. And as anyone who's tried his or her hand at true crime knows, that takes a delicate balance. They acknowledge that these aren't just campfire stories but the actual lives of Houstonians. So even though they keep it fun with some swagger, they approach the endeavor with a sense of service. B and CC even use the platform they've created to share information about ongoing crimes, missing persons, etc.
In my opinion, shows like this play a really important role in local journalism.
It's not about the true crime trend--it's about letting people in your community know what's going on around them. When a crime happens, how else are you going to know what happened and why? The police can't tell you the whole story. In the course of their work, they're required to report the facts but at their core their real jobs are operational not informational. Local news? Sure, but that business is a timely grind often driven by a 24-hour news cycle; they don't always have the luxury of doing deep-background reportage. And their resources are stretched thin as it is. So when it comes to true crime in Houston, bad asses like B and CC play a valuable role in filing the gap.
And there's just so much crime.
I mean, forget all the big Houston cases that make national media--this town is like the Cirque du Soleil of shady shit. Nobody could possibly cover it all. We've got MS-13 killing people in Satanic rituals up in here. What's up with that murder-suicide over in the Galleria back in May? We had a sex trafficking bust that netted 250 arrests last year. People are stealing guns left and right. And remember that guy who stole a Hellcat and drove it toward Beaumont? He outran the helicopter (that's a f'n fast car). There's just so much.
In the first episode, B and CC cover the Orchard Apartment Slayings--a series of downright grizzly murders in 1979. Episode 2 covers the tragic murders of Robert Spagenberger and Joann Huffman just over a month after the Orchard Apartment affair. Episodes 3 and 4 cover the terrible, tension-filled escapades surrounding Leon Jacob and successful local veterinarian Valerie McDaniel. Episode 5 is the heartbreaking story of Tynesha Stewart. And, the most recent episode as of this writing, Episode 6 covers "The Woodlands Ten" hate crime back in 1991.
One thing I really appreciate about the Murder City podcast is that, in addition to the actual show, they also publish case-related content such as photographs and legal documents in PDF form. This reference material really brings it all to life, and lets you check out the primary info for yourself if you're that kind of person. They do a bit of fieldwork too, sometimes visiting the communities in which these crimes occurred.
It's also worth noting that while the show is extra engaging if you live in H-Town, it's also interesting if you don't. Just as you don't have to live in North Carolina to appreciate The Staircase or The Long Dance, the cases presented on the podcast will resonate with any true crime fan. Fun fact: Did you know Staircase editor Sofie Brunet and Michael Peterson had a thing going during filming? Jesus H. Christ in a Camaro, keep that in mind.
But, of course, if you do live in Houston all of this sketch action is taking place right next door to where you sleep--so there's that.
So check out the Murder City: True Crime of Houston, Texas podcast and hear all about the tragic craziness that's happened in the Bayou City. And if you know of a Houston criminal case that needs some love, B and CC probably want to hear about it. You can send them your own personal case recommendations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Verdict: Guilty of bringing Houston crimes on stage so we can offer support to victims, shame to perpetrators and recognition that what happened was a big deal.
Reminder: Don't be found in contempt. If you listen to this podcast, be a responsible listener and leave a review. These creators spend big chunks of their lives creating this work, so support the arts by sharing your opinion.