If you have a conversation with me, the topic of True Crime will inevitably come up.
The genre examines real-life cases of crime, generally centering around serial killers but encompassing all things crime and sometimes weird. This genre is especially popular in the podcasting world, with podcasts such as Serial, Criminal, and My Favorite Murder topping charts.
NHPR’s Bear Brook found a quick audience in New Hampshire by telling the story of the Bear Brook case; the story of a serial killer who dumped the bodies of a woman and three children in Bear Brook State park in Allenstown, New Hampshire. These victims went nameless for thirty years until a new scientific technology gave investigators hope once again.
Jason Moon, the host of the podcast, approaches the story of the Bear Brook murders with tact and empathy. His focus is not the story of a serial killer but the story of a mother and three children who went nameless for three decades and the science that helped to identify them.
Each episode runs for 30 minutes to an hour as Moon interviews investigators, amateur sleuths, and locals on the details of the case.
In 2018, The New York Post named Bear Brook one of the top 10 podcasts of the year. The podcast became a hit with audiences because it shed light on two fascinating new developments in forensics: radioisotope testing and genetic genealogy.
Radioisotope testing helped investigators to discover what relation the victims in the Bear Brook case had to each other, while genetic genealogy helped identify their killer and eventually the victims themselves. These forensics have now been used to catch the Golden State Killer as well as other criminals.
What makes Bear Brook different from other True Crime podcasts? It’s not full of suspense or gory details.
Moon approaches a difficult case with sensitivity and respect. The podcast centers around the tragedy of a nameless family in an unmarked grave and the science that lead to their identification.
Bear Brook isn’t simply true crime; it’s the history of a community of people across the country coming together to identify a family and their murderer. It’s a conversation on where the future of DNA forensics could go. It’s a story that’s heartwarming, heartbreaking, and sometimes even funny.