These teenagers cracked a 40-year-old serial killer case

A new podcast tells the real-life story of how a group of American teenagers identified a serial killer who was active between 1983 and 1985.

Lovers of true crime are in for a treat thanks to iHeart’s new Murder 101 podcast, which covers the real-life story of how 20 students in Tennessee, US, managed to crack the 40-year-old cold case of the Redhead Murders.

The Redhead Murders took place between 1983 and 1985, though some reports actually place the murderer’s active range from 1978 to 1992. The murders took place across the American Bible Belt, with states including Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Tennessee. 

Because the killer was never apprehended and many of the 14 victims remained unidentified for many years, the police were never entirely sure how many, if any, of the victims were actually attacked by the same person or persons. In fact, there was no suspect until recently.

Then, kicking off in 2018 at Elizabethton High School, 20 teenage students aged between 14 and 17 were tasked with identifing how many of the 14 possible murder victims were actually killed by the same killer as part of their schoolwork. Guided by their sociology and history teacher, Alex Campbell, as well as former FBI behavioural analyst, Scott Barker, the students didn’t only manage to identify six victims as being connected to the same murder, but also managed to identify Jerry Johns as the most likely suspect. Dying in prison in 2015, Johns had been convicted for strangingling a sex worker in Kentucky in 1985.

Murder 101 tells the whole story of how these teenagers accomplished something the police hadn’t been able to, and how they surpassed all of their teacher’s expectations. It also speaks to the only known survivor of the serial killer.

New episodes of Murder 101 drop on Spotify and Apple Podcasts every Wednesday, with 10 expected to be released in total.

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