If the thing that got you into true crime is the element of mystery and trying to help solve a crime, you need to check out Malice Podcast. The host, Ariel Cooksey, delves into the psychology, sociology, environments, family dysfunction, neurobiology, and extenuating circumstances that create violent offenders. Each week, she tells the story of a true crime you may have heard of, but without revealing the names of those involved. For true crime enthusiasts, the story will feel familiar, but this gives the effect of experiencing the story for the first time without preconceived notions of the names of killers and victims being associated with the story. We chatted with Ariel about her love of true crime and her inspiration to retell these stories through a different lens.
MMN: What inspired you to start your podcast?
Ariel: I love true crime podcasts, but what really fascinates me most is the biopsychosocial effects that result in violent offenders. At the time I couldn’t find anything that tackled that topic as deeply as I’d have liked, and so I finally decided to create the podcast I wanted to listen to. My doctoral work was in sociological social psychology with an emphasis in identity development and maintenance with a specialization in deviant behavior and social control. I felt like it put me in a position to competently discuss the sociological, psychological, neurobiological, environmental, early developmental and trauma that ultimately create the perfect storm.
MMN: What got you interested in true crime? Was there a murder in your hometown? A story that has always haunted you?
Ariel: When I was 7 I stumbled upon the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, and I couldn’t wrap my head around the Big Bad that would require a child to be separated from her parents and smuggled into another country for her safety. I read everything I could find about World War II and by the time I was in 4th grade I was well-versed in what I would eventually learn were called war crimes. More directly, when I was in 4th grade on a family trip, I was allowed to pick out a book at a giant bookstore we visited, and I chose one called You Be the Judge, You Be the Jury: The Trial of Lizzie Borden. Upon opening the book after purchase, the first page I saw showed a picture of Lizzie’s father Andrew Borden dead on the sofa after having been axed to death. His face was unrecognizable, and there was blood spatter everywhere. I could hardly wrap my young mind about it. And I felt that familiar thought to all Murderinos “This is terrible. Keep going.”
MMN: What’s a murder, disappearance, or crime story that keeps you up at night?
Ariel: I am haunted by several, but most notably the torture murder of Sylvia Likens. To even try to imagine the depths of depravity and pain and inhumanity the poor child endured is impossible. She was not merely a victim though. She never lost her dignity, and she chose to take on the abuse in order to spare her younger sister the same fate. She died a hero in the truest sense of the word. I remember her birthday and the day of her death every year and spend time alone with the pain in an attempt to honor her memory. I keep a picture of her in my phone as well. She reminds me what it means to be strong, courageous, and to live with integrity. And she reminds me of just how important it is to be kind, compassionate and empathetic.
MMN: What true crime podcasts are you listening to right now? If podcasts aren’t your thing, we would also love to hear about a spooky book you’re reading or your favorite murder-related tv show!
Ariel: So many I listen to religiously. Trace Evidence and Criminology have been weekly must listens from the start. More recently, I’ve been bingeing The Student’s Verdict, Worse than Fiction, Die-alogue, Bloody Murder, and The Philosophy of Crime.
How can our readers find and support you?
Malice is available wherever you listen to podcasts. On Twitter @MalicePodcast, on IG @MalicePod, on facebook search Malice Podcast, or email at MalicePod@gmail.com. If you need a merch fix, you can go to teepublic.com/Malice-Podcast or bonfire.com/store/Malice-Merch. 50% of all proceeds benefit End the Backlog, a nonprofit dedicated to processing the 400K untested rape kits in the United States through Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation. You can support the show at Patreon.com/MalicePod.