“I like cheese, but I’m not a rat. I like kids, but not like that.” A seeming non sequitur in the opening intro of true crime podcast, Suspect Convictions, this soundbite piqued my interest immediately. Covering the still unresolved and brutal murder of 9-year old, Jessica Lewis in 1990, season one of Suspect Convictions is an informative and gripping piece of investigative journalism reminiscent of Serial and In the Dark.
The podcast is produced by WVIK, the Quad Cities, Iowa affiliate of the American National Public Radio (NPR) service and is hosted by Lacy Scarmana with field reporting and investigation by Scott Reeder.
The first episode, titled: Evil in the Schoolyard opens with the harrowing scene first responders, including a then 27-year old Scott Reeder, were met with when they came across the body of the victim. As someone who frequently listens to true crime podcasts and is fascinated with morbidity, the emotional first hand description of the crime scene left me stunned. From that point I filled all of my free time and commutes with this podcast until I had completed all 17 episodes of the first season. Without spoiling anything, it’s safe to say this podcast is not for the faint of heart.
Scarmana reads with an impartial tone that lends itself well to the subject of an unresolved case in which public opinion could very well determine the fate of accused, Stanley Liggins. Liggins is to go on trial for a third time since his initial conviction in 1990 and is the voice behind the strange soundbite quoted at the beginning of this article.
Scarmana’s impartial, controlled demeanour is at once juxtaposed and complemented by the inquisitive and emotional reporting of Scott Reeder. Having witnessed the scene first hand, Reeder brings a personal sincerity to the podcast which is so often lacking in series of the same nature. In listening to Suspect Convictions I found myself as interested in Reeder’s quest for the truth as I was for my own.
Aside from quenching my thirst for true crime media, this podcast gave insight into the strange and convoluted United States justice system which is so heavily misconstrued and even played down by film and television media. Any fans of The People Vs OJ Simpson or even of the Simpson trial itself will find interest in the personal testimony of prosecutors and defense attorneys as they dissect the behind the scenes aspect of the multiple trials of Stanley Wiggins.
I would recommend Suspect Convictions on its first season alone to any fans of the true crime genre. At the time of publication I’m sure I will have already devoured most of season two.