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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

The Piketon Massacre: Small town, big murder

Welcome to Series Sunday! I love bingeing a whole series on Sundays. Officially, I’m still just publishing one new podcast review each week (on Fridays), but occasionally, I’ll publish an extra serial podcast--often, but not always, true crime--review on Sundays, starting with this one!

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

On the night of April 21, 2016 in rural Piketon, Ohio - eight members of the Rhoden family were viciously murdered execution style in their homes. Two years later in 2018, their neighbors, the Wagners, were arrested and charged with committing the largest massacre in Ohio’s history. Shocked by the arrests, this once close-knit and religious community remains divided and unable to cope. Was a respected and reputable Piketon family responsible for this unimaginable murder spree?

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

Daddy’s Playing Zombie


Investigative true crime


True crime producers Stephanie Lydecker & Courtney Armstrong

Sound/production quality:

Very good, except for the most annoying/repetitive ads ever in the history of podcasts

Rating/age suitability:


Approximate length of episodes:

30 minutes

Curricular ties:


Similar recommended pods:

Culpable; Broken Harts; Appalachia Mysteria

Podcast Librarian’s Review:

True crime series are a dime a dozen, it seems, and they really vary in quality. It’s been a while since I binged a true crime (specifically, murder) pod in 24 hours, but this one did it for me. Piketon, OH was the site of a shocking massacre of eight members of the Rhoden family. Four of a neighboring family, The Wagners, were accused of orchestrating and committing the murders, which were--oddly--committed in various locations, requiring a great deal of coordination. The one important link between the families is that one family’s son had a child with the other family’s daughter (though they split and had a custody battle). There were other strange revelations, too, like a string of unexplained murders in the town, including some that were done in a similar style to the ones profiled in this pod. In the small town of only 2,000 people, everyone is connected and the podcast had a lot of access to people who wanted to talk. But if you need your true crime wrapped up nicely, then this won’t satisfy—COVID-19 has interfered with the trial dates, so we don’t yet know the outcome.

This is a high-quality true crime pod—anything but amateur. The hosts are producers of true crime TV shows that have appeared on channels like Oxygen, so they know how to conduct an investigation. Throughout the series, they manage to keep the victims front of mind, especially focusing on the children who were spared in the massacre but left behind with no family. It’s sensitive, not sensational, but was still interesting enough to hold my attention. The only negative (through no fault of the podcasters themselves) is that there were way too many ads, and they’re repetitive. I will stab myself if I ever hear another ad for Affirm. The really awful part was that there would be two ad reads in a row for the same company, with the same copy, but with different people reading it. Other than that, I highly recommend this pod to true crime fans!

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