The Hosts Of The Popular Podcast "Crime Junkie" Are Accused Of Quietly Deleting Episodes Over Plagiarism (2022)

Multiple episodes of the podcast have vanished after fellow podcasters and a former journalist accused the hosts of ripping off their work without credit.

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by Stephanie McNealBuzzFeed News Reporter

The hosts of the popular true crime podcast Crime Junkie have been accused by a former journalist and multiple fellow podcasters of using their work in episodes without credit — and then quietly deleting the episodes after being called out.

Crime Junkie is a weekly podcast hosted by Ashley Flowers of Indianapolis and her childhood friend, Brit Prawat. Flowers, a self-proclaimed "crime junkie" herself, launched the podcast in December 2017 after working with her local Crime Stoppers. Flowers told Deadline she hosted a crime segment on a local radio station before starting the podcast.

Over the past year, Crime Junkie has rapidly become one of the most popular podcasts of the genre and is currently the most listened to series on the iTunes podcast charts. The show has a five-star rating on iTunes and more than 100,000 reviews.

Flowers and Prawat have quickly leveraged their success, selling merchandise and hosting a series of live shows around the country this summer and fall. They also have a fan club on Patreon, where fans can pay for extra content. (Full disclosure: I interviewed Flowers on the BuzzFeed News Twitter show AM to DM earlier this year and subscribed to her Patreon for a time.)

The Hosts Of The Popular Podcast "Crime Junkie" Are Accused Of Quietly Deleting Episodes Over Plagiarism (3)

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This week, however, the hosts have come under scrutiny after a journalist and other podcasters accused the duo of not properly crediting sources. Many episodes, including some of the ones in question, have since vanished from the show's podcast archive without explanation.

The hosts did not return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News. However, they posted a statement on Facebook on Thursday saying they had pulled the episodes because "their source material could no longer be found or properly cited."

"There is no greater priority for our team, or for me personally, than to ensure the highest levels of accuracy and integrity in our program," the statement read. "Our research process is thorough, rigid, and exhaustive, and those familiar with 'Crime Junkie' are aware that we make clear references to the use of other sources and that comprehensive notes and links to all sources are made available on our show's website."

The most prominent allegation came from Cathy Frye, a former journalist who worked for 15 years at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper. On Monday, Frye commented on a post on Flowers' personal, but public, Facebook page, saying that she believed Crime Junkie used information from a series of articles she wrote as a source for an episode, but never credited her. Soon after, the episode was deleted without explanation.

The episode in question discussed the 2002 murder of a 13-year-old girl from Arkansas named Kacie Woody. In 2003, Frye wrote a four-part series on the case for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called "Caught in the Web."

Frye told BuzzFeed News she first learned of the podcast while traveling with her 16-year-old daughter. They listened to a few episodes, and her daughter noticed the episode on Woody's case. But Frye said she became angry when she heard several details in the episode that she had exclusively reported on in her series.

The hosts of Crime Junkie never cited a source for the information in the episode, Frye said. Instead, Flowers referred to unspecified "research."

“They could not have done the podcast they did and the story they did without my story right in front of them," she said.

Frye spent months reporting on the case, winning the trust of Woody's father, closest friends, and police. She said the project "sucked a big part of my soul," and she is still interviewed as an expert on the case for true crime media outlets. When Frye realized her work was being disseminated by the podcast without credit, she was "horrified."

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“I was appalled they would take somebody's work in such detail," she said.

Frye, who described herself as a fan of podcasts, said she has no problem being used as a source, but believes podcasters need to give credit where it's due.

“If you're going to use very specific, detailed information from a primary source, you should credit it," Frye said.

Crime Junkie usually cites their sources for each podcast episode on a webpage. Since the episode featuring Woody has been deleted as well as the episode webpage, it's unclear if Frye's article was ever credited. A cached version of the site did not show any sources.

Another podcast fan, Millicent Tirk, wrote Tuesday on Facebook that she was "naming and shaming the podcast Crime Junkie for plagiarism," after the hosts used information from other podcasts without proper credit.

The Hosts Of The Popular Podcast "Crime Junkie" Are Accused Of Quietly Deleting Episodes Over Plagiarism (5)

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After speaking with Tirk, BuzzFeed News was contacted by a handful of podcasters who said they recognized their own work in episodes of Crime Junkie, but were not credited. Some would only speak off the record over fears of backlash from the show's large fanbase, but two were willing to detail their accusations to BuzzFeed News.

Robin Warder, who has hosted The Trail Went Cold podcast for three and a half years, also promotes his program by summarizing many of the episodes on the Unresolved Mysteries subreddit, where he lists all of his sources. Last year, Warder posted about his episode on the case of the 2015 death of Henry McCabe. Warder said he believes the hosts of Crime Junkie later used it as their source for a May 2018 podcast without credit. Warder specifically cited a passage at 19:25 of Crime Junkie Episode 25, in which he claims Flowers is "practically reading verbatim" from his Reddit post.

In the episode, Flowers said she learned of the case "maybe in one other podcast episode," one "Reddit thread," and a "couple of news articles," but didn't specify the the sources. On the show's website, Flowers cited the same four news articles that Warder had sourced for his episode.

Warder said the issue of podcast hosts not properly citing their sources is prevalent in the industry.

"There are sometimes issues in the true crime podcasting world with shows not citing their sources, and some podcasts don’t do any research besides reading off Wikipedia," he said, "but Crime Junkie is probably the most high-profile example of this."

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Esther Ludlow, who has hosted the Once Upon a Crime podcast for three years, said she personally researches and produces her podcast, and cites sources in her episode notes. Ludlow said she cites sources of direct quotes when she uses them in her episodes.

In April 2018, Ludlow released an episode on a series of missing and murdered women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In June 2018, she said she noticed Crime Junkie also covered the case.

"I took a listen to see how she had presented it," Ludlow said. "After just a few minutes it sounded very familiar."

Ludlow said she pulled out her transcript of her episode, and found several instances she believes were "either verbatim, or almost verbatim" from her own episode. She said the episode was also presented in a similar format.

"Some ideas and theories I put together from several sources were presented on Crime Junkie’s episode as if they were Ashley’s own ideas," she said.

BuzzFeed News could not confirm Ludlow's allegations because the episode has been deleted from Crime Junkie's episode list and website. A cached page for the episode showed no sources.

Ludlow said she never spoke to Flowers or Prawat about the issue, and has no idea why the episode was deleted.

Esther Ludlow

After Frye and Tirk's Facebook posts, accusations and rumors soon spread across the internet to forums like the podcast's subreddit. Many fans expressed disappointment with the allegations, and said they had noticed a few other episodes had been deleted, such as Episode 73, the case of Kirsten Hatfield, Episode 45, the case of Angela Savage, and Episode 27, the case of Misty Copsey.

Posts about the Hatfield and Savage episodes are still live on their Instagram page, however.

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Some fans of the podcast said on Reddit they were confused about when, in the opaque and unregulated world of podcasts, unspecified "research" becomes plagiarism.

"I [feel] like this is a very grey area...as long as CJ cite the reference I don't see why she can't use it," wrote one person.

"If she is in fact proven to be reading someone else’s story verbatim I will agree that it’s wrong," wrote another. "If she’s repeating facts verbatim as a part of the story, that doesn’t really seem wrong to me. Maybe I have a low moral compass lol but a written article and an episode of Crime Junkie are usually very different."

Many fans agreed, however, that podcasters need to clearly cite their sources.

"Being that it seems they weren’t giving credit/citing properly, it’s definitely a case for plagiarism," said one.

In their Facebook statement, the hosts wrote their podcast "would not be possible absent the incredible efforts of countless individuals who investigate and report these stories originally, and they deserve to be credited as such."

"We are committed to working within the burgeoning podcast industry to develop and evolve its standards on these kinds of issues," they said.

Frye, the former journalist, said that in the era of fake news and explosion of media outlets online, citing sources is extremely important.

“Now more than ever, I think it's important to disclose where you got your information, and people can judge for themselves the credibility," she said. “I just ask that they offer credit where credit is due and be transparent where they are getting their information."

Ludlow said she finds the situation "infuriating" because it threatens to give podcasters a bad reputation.

"I wish people knew how much time and energy it takes into making a successful show," she said. "Something like this gives people the false impression that podcasters, and especially true crime podcasters, just read a Wikipedia article or other source and copy it verbatim."

  • Crime
  • Stephanie McNealBuzzFeed News Reporter

    Stephanie McNeal is a senior culture reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

    Contact Stephanie McNeal at stephanie.mcneal@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? 👉 Submit it here

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FAQs

Is Crime Junkie podcast true? ›

Crime Junkie is a weekly true crime podcast dedicated to giving you a fix. Every Monday, Ashley Flowers will tell you about whatever crime she's been obsessing over that week in a way that sounds like you're sitting around talking crime with your best friends.

How many listeners does Crime Junkie have? ›

Don't worry; we're crime junkies, too. We do all those crazy things mentioned above and MORE! Crime Junkie debuted in December 2017 and has remained at the top of the charts since with over 500 million downloads, 630 stories, and $643,000 donated to charity.

What is the Crime Junkie motto? ›

For example, one of the show's mottos—“Be weird. Be rude. Stay alive.”—serves as a three-commandment public-service tip for how the show's listeners should conduct themselves to stay safe in public.

What is wrong with Britt from Crime Junkie? ›

Crime Junkie co-host Brit Prawat shared that she is in recovery for alcohol abuse. Prawat, who hosts the Indianapolis-based true crime podcast with her best friend Ashley Flowers, took a step back from the podcast in May after suffering a sudden brain bleed. On a special Sept.

What episodes did Crime Junkie remove? ›

Over the past few days, “Crime Junkie” has removed five episodes from its website and other podcast platforms: the shows about Kacie Woody and Kirsten Hatfield — along three others: “Missing: Misty Copsey,” “Conspiracy: The Women of Juarez” and “Murdered: Angela Savage.” (Separately, in June, “Crime Junkie” pulled its ...

Has anyone from the vanished podcast been found alive? ›

We just got news that last week's episode about Benjamin Redfearn reached some of his friends who felt compelled to call the police and disclose his location in another state. The detective asked local law enforcement in that location to reach out to Ben and they confirmed that Ben is alive.

Did Ashley Flowers have a baby? ›

The first, her daughter Josie, was born Jan. 28.

How much is the Crime Junkie fan club? ›

For just $5 you get access to this episode plus OVER 2 YEARS of ad-free episodes and bonus content! How do I become a member?!

Do podcasters make money? ›

Sponsorships are the most common way podcasters make money. This is when the podcast promotes the sponsor during the show. You probably hear your favorite shows plug their advertisers a few times in every episode. How much you earn from a sponsor depends on the number of downloads your episodes earn.

Where did Ashley Flowers Go to College? ›

Ashley was born and raised in Indiana, where she continues to live with her husband, her daughter, and their beloved dog, Charlie. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Services from Arizona State University.

What is a true crime podcast? ›

True crime is a nonfiction literary, podcast, and film genre in which the author examines an actual crime and details the actions of real people associated with and affected by criminal events. The crimes most commonly include murder; about 40 percent focus on tales of serial killers.

Is Crime Junkie podcast free? ›

Crime Junkie Podcast | Free Listening on Podbean App.

Why did crime junkies stop? ›

Four days after Ms. Frye's note, “Crime Junkie” posted a statement to its Facebook page announcing that it had taken down “several” episodes because “their source material could no longer be found or properly cited.” It did not say how many.

Are Ashley and Brit friends? ›

The two friends have known each other since birth and, based in Indiana, they bring out weekly episodes for crime loving listeners. In 2022, Crime Junkie fans are all asking what happened to Britt Prawat, so let's find out more about how she is.

Where is Delia dambra from? ›

D'Ambra is originally from coastal North Carolina and grew up in the Outer Banks. D'Ambra was homeschooled from kindergarten through freshman year of high school and is the youngest of three sisters.

Can you plagiarize on a podcast? ›

First, tell your audience about your sources.

As with the true-crime examples, simply googling a topic and using others' work to write your own podcast script is plagiarism. Don't do it without telling your audience who your sources were.

What is the most popular Crime Junkie episode? ›

Best Episodes
  • INFAMOUS: Las Cruces Bowling Alley Massacre. 2 1 Jan 4th, 2021 44m 42s. ...
  • MISSING: Ryan Shtuka. 2 1 Aug 30th, 2021 44m 56s. ...
  • SERIAL KILLER: L.I.S.K. ...
  • MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF: Phoebe Handsjuk. ...
  • MURDERED: The Hendricks Family. ...
  • CAPTURED: Rocky Mountain Killer. ...
  • CAPTURED: A Secret Stalker. ...
  • INFAMOUS: Prom Night Murders.

How many episode does Crime Junkie have? ›

How many episodes of Crime Junkie are there? Crime Junkie launched 5 years ago and published 279 episodes to date. You can find more information about this podcast including rankings, audience demographics and engagement in our podcast database.

What happened to the little girl on the vanished? ›

Sheriff Baker initiates a background check on the Michaelsons and, at last, the audience discovers Taylor was never been part of the trip: She drowned six years earlier while on a camping trip in Canada. The Michaelsons, unable to overcome the loss of their daughter, were merely living out a fantasy.

Who started the vanished? ›

Marissa Jones

What happened to Miranda in the vanished? ›

Paul and Wendy accuse Eric and Miranda of taking their daughter because they have been unsuccessful in trying to have a baby. Wendy pulls out a gun, and a fight ensues in which Miranda is shot and Eric is stabbed.

What did Ashley Flowers name her baby? ›

Ashley Flowers lives in Indiana and works in Indianapolis. Flowers has a daughter, Josie and a dog, Charlie (Chuck), who is the namesake for Flowers' podcast network, Audiochuck.

Is full body chills based on true stories? ›

This scary fiction series is calling for you to listen. Hosted by Ashley Flowers, the creator of “Crime Junkie,” “Supernatural,” and “International Infamy,” each episode of “Full Body Chills” is an original story. The show features a rotating list of authors. Some of the tales are written by Ashley Flowers herself.

Is very presidential podcast accurate? ›

This podcast is so well done. The factual information and timelines are a good refresher on American history. The story lines are entertaining enough to keep you wanting more. The delivery is clear and succinct.

What happened Sandy Beal? ›

Sandy Beal dreamed of a career in law enforcement — an ambitious goal for a teen girl in 1977. And then she was found shot to death in her car. Her death was ruled a suicide but her family never bought the official story. My new podcast explores why.

Who is the main host of Crime Junkie? ›

'Crime Junkie' podcast host Brit Prawat recently underwent a series of brain surgeries. The last Crime Junkie podcast episode featuring Brit came out on Monday, May 2, 2022.

Does Crime Junkie have an app? ›

Get messages how you want them and where you want them. Communicate Directly with Crime Junkie - Communicating directly with Crime Junkie is super easy in the app!

Who are the highest paid podcasters? ›

Andrew Schulz and Akaash Singh are among the highest-paid podcasters in 2022 and the hosts of Flagrant 2, a Patreon-specific podcast that makes its content available to the three tiers of accessible content for its subscribers.

How much does a podcaster make a year? ›

As of Oct 16, 2022, the average annual pay for a Podcast Host in the United States is $72,835 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $35.02 an hour.

How many listeners do you need to make money on a podcast? ›

As a general reference, once your subscriber numbers grow to at least 5,000 per episode, you can start charging for advertising space on your show. If you couple advertisement space with affiliate sales, you have the possibility of making an impressive amount of money from podcasting.

How much does Ashley Flowers make per year? ›

Not only is she the founder of the company, but also its CEO. At the moment, she produces roughly a dozen different true crime podcasts through her business. She's also the author of several different books. When you put all of her endeavors together, it is estimated that she makes roughly $480,000 a year.

How much money do podcasts make? ›

For example, if someone is using affiliate sales, advertising, sponsorships, and paid subscriptions, they're likely to earn much more than someone who's only relying on one stream. In this case, we'd say that a podcaster can possibly earn somewhere around $300- $5 000 per episode with 10 000 downloads.

How much does Georgia Hardstark make? ›

In 2019 Georgia and co-host Karen Kilgariff signed a two-year $10 million deal that made their podcast exclusive to Stitcher.
...
Georgia Hardstark Net Worth.
Net Worth:$20 Million
Salary:$5 Million
Date of Birth:Jun 8, 1980 (42 years old)
Place of Birth:Irvine, California, U.S.
Profession:Podcast host, writer, actress

Has a podcast ever solved a crime? ›

A judge on Wednesday found former Sydney school teacher Christopher Dawson guilty of murdering his former wife 40 years ago to pursue a relationship with their family babysitter, all thanks to an investigative podcast. Dawson, 74, had been accused of murdering his first wife Lynette Dawson in 1982.

What is the most popular true crime story? ›

The Most Searched True Crime Story in Every U.S. State

Simpson murder case, top our list as the most searched in several states. Serial Killer David Berkowitz trails closely behind, while Aileen Wuornos, serial killer, and the Richardson family murders tie for fourth.

What do you call someone who loves true crime? ›

Yes, we're talking about the true-crime lover in your life. If you fall under that umbrella too, you probably call yourself a murderino.

What is a podcast similar to crime junkies? ›

Supernatural with Ashley Flowers

If you like Crime Junkie, you'll like Supernatural even more. It's all the best conspiracy/mystery and weirdness from Ashley's OG podcast brought over to a new show.

Is Crime Junkie not on Spotify? ›

Binge the entire first season now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Should I be alive podcast? ›

Should Be Alive investigates the 2019 murder of a transgender teenage girl named Nikki Kuhnhausen in Vancouver, Washington. Host Ashley Korslien explores issues facing transgender people and brings a spotlight to an increasing number of acts of violence against the trans community.

Why did crime junkies stop? ›

Four days after Ms. Frye's note, “Crime Junkie” posted a statement to its Facebook page announcing that it had taken down “several” episodes because “their source material could no longer be found or properly cited.” It did not say how many.

Did Ashley Flowers have her baby? ›

The first, her daughter Josie, was born Jan. 28.

What happened Sandy Beal? ›

Sandy Beal dreamed of a career in law enforcement — an ambitious goal for a teen girl in 1977. And then she was found shot to death in her car. Her death was ruled a suicide but her family never bought the official story. My new podcast explores why.

Do podcasters make money? ›

Sponsorships are the most common way podcasters make money. This is when the podcast promotes the sponsor during the show. You probably hear your favorite shows plug their advertisers a few times in every episode. How much you earn from a sponsor depends on the number of downloads your episodes earn.

Can you plagiarize on a podcast? ›

First, tell your audience about your sources.

As with the true-crime examples, simply googling a topic and using others' work to write your own podcast script is plagiarism. Don't do it without telling your audience who your sources were.

Where did Ashley Flowers Go to College? ›

Ashley was born and raised in Indiana, where she continues to live with her husband, her daughter, and their beloved dog, Charlie. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Services from Arizona State University.

How much is the Crime Junkie fan club? ›

For just $5 you get access to this episode plus OVER 2 YEARS of ad-free episodes and bonus content! How do I become a member?!

Does Brit from Crime Junkie have kids? ›

Brit Prawat is a permanent co-host on the Crime Junkie podcast. She's a mother of two and also has two dogs named Niles and Roz, as per the Crime Junkie website.

Where is Delia dambra from? ›

D'Ambra is originally from coastal North Carolina and grew up in the Outer Banks. D'Ambra was homeschooled from kindergarten through freshman year of high school and is the youngest of three sisters.

What did Ashley Flowers name her baby? ›

Ashley Flowers lives in Indiana and works in Indianapolis. Flowers has a daughter, Josie and a dog, Charlie (Chuck), who is the namesake for Flowers' podcast network, Audiochuck.

What happened Beal podcast? ›

What Happened To Sandy Beal on Apple Podcasts. What Happened to Sandy Beal investigates the violent death of a young woman who dreamed of a career in law enforcement. The search for answers leads to accusations of conspiracy and cover up that have haunted her family for more than 40 years.

Who are the highest paid podcasters? ›

Andrew Schulz and Akaash Singh are among the highest-paid podcasters in 2022 and the hosts of Flagrant 2, a Patreon-specific podcast that makes its content available to the three tiers of accessible content for its subscribers.

How much does a podcaster make a year? ›

As of Oct 16, 2022, the average annual pay for a Podcast Host in the United States is $72,835 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $35.02 an hour.

How many listeners do you need to make money on a podcast? ›

As a general reference, once your subscriber numbers grow to at least 5,000 per episode, you can start charging for advertising space on your show. If you couple advertisement space with affiliate sales, you have the possibility of making an impressive amount of money from podcasting.

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