She grew up during the Civil War, supporting the Confederacy. When Belle Starr married her first husband, a notorious horse thief, she was plunged into a world of outlaws in the postwar era of the 1870s and 80s. Was she a bystander to her husband's crimes? Or complicit in his reign of terror in the Wild West?
With Vanessa Richardson & Sami Nye
About Female Criminals
The true crime podcast where women aren’t just the victims. Every week, we examine the psychology, motivations, and atrocities of female felons. New episodes come out every Wednesday. Female Criminals is a production of Cutler Media and part of the Parcast Network. Ad-free archives of episodes six months or older are now available through Stitcher Premium.
After months of torment and abuse in the summer of 1965, Sylvia Likens stopped fighting back. No one would find out what was happening in Gertrude Baniszweski's house of horrors until it was far too late. By the time it’s over, Baniszweski wouldn’t be the only person convicted of manslaughter and murder.
In the summer of 1965 in Indiana, teenagers Sylvia and Jenny Likens were invited to stay in the home of their friend's mother, Gertrude Baniszewski. Only one of them would leave the house alive.
Mobster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was perhaps the only man Virginia Hill ever loved. He also brought her closer than ever to a bloody downfall at the hands of the Mafia. Shortly before Bugsy’s assassination in 1947, Hill fled to Paris, leading to questions about her knowledge of his impending death.
A trusted operative, she ascended to the highest ranks of the Chicago Outfit in the 1930s and made millions of the dollars for the mob, and herself. By the time Virginia Hill was 30, her cutthroat mentality would land her at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
After one fateful day in 1976, the New York City Queenpin lost her faith in the mob and turned her back on them forever. Brickman was able to bring the mob to its knees and take down kingpins as a police informant from the inside. Deep in debt to dangerous creditors, she had nowhere else to turn.
Associated with some of New York City’s most infamous criminals, Brickman was involved in the drug empire from the mid-1950s until the 1980s. She served as a courier, sold drugs, and ran her own bookmaking operation. Brickman not only used her family's Jewish mob connections, but also climbed the mob hierarchy, searching for the next powerful man she could seduce.
A small town is turned upside down by one of the biggest stories of 1893. The New Bedford, Massachusetts courthouse was packed with spectators and reporters vying for a glimpse of the Sunday school teacher turned axe murderer. A media frenzy labeled her guilty, yet the 32-year-old was tried and acquitted of the murders. Many still believe she’s guilty today.
Andrew and Abby Borden were found gruesomely slaughtered with a hatchet in their Massachusetts home in 1892. The main suspect: Lizzie Borden, a reserved Sunday school teacher. Lizzie had been nothing but a loving daughter… was she capable of killing her father and stepmother?
Between 1960 and 1964, numerous children began disappearing across Manchester, England. The sadistic rapist and torture duo behind the murders? Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. After getting away with murdering four children they wanted to push the limit. They decided they wanted to murder their next victim in front of a live audience. The trial would prove Myra Hindley to be “the most evil woman in Britain.”
Myra Hindley would do anything for her boyfriend, Ian Brady. She would even go as far as to murder someone for him. Both from troubled homes in Manchester, England, Hindley and Brady had abusive alcoholic parents. Their relationship would eventually cause Hindley to brutally murder five children between July 1963 and October 1965.
After her husband’s murder in the late 1980’s, she became head of a drug operation transporting cocaine and heroin from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Known for her extravagant fur coats, Thelma Wright used her drug money to keep up with appearances.
The leader of the Barker-Karpis Gang is responsible for increasingly violent bank robberies and kidnappings in the 1930s. In an attempt to take down the gang, the FBI engages in a shootout that lasts more than four hours. Does Ma Barker make it out unscathed?
The first woman executed by the US federal government. Her crime? Engaging in a conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.
Could you kill a president on you own? John Wilkes Booth used a network of conspirators to execute his plan of assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. The Surratt tavern was a well known hideaway from Confederate spies, was Mary involved in their ultimate act of vengeance?
After getting caught by authorities her partner dies and Kim expects to be tortured, but ends up surprised at what happens next.
Would you blow up a plane to be a hero? In November, 1987, twenty-five-year-old Kim Hyon-hui was given what would be her last mission as a North Korean spy. She and her partner were told that if they completed it, it would unify South Korea with North Korea. All they had to do was get on an airplane and plant a bomb.
After committing more than 30 kidnappings, murdering 22 high-caste men in the 1981 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, and being placed on India’s Ten Most Wanted list— Phoolan Devi was wanted dead or alive. How did she manage to re-brand herself as a local hero?
Phoolan Devi was born and raised in poverty but nevertheless was a precocious and resilient child. At ten years old, she learned her uncle's family had stolen her father's land, and fought back. It would be her first step to becoming Bandit Queen, a warrior for the lower classes.