Culture & Literature
PEOPLE True Crime Stories

PEOPLE True Crime Stories

PEOPLE True Crime Stories

From notorious offenders to great escapes, True Crime Stories takes you behind the headlines of some of the shocking stories that have riveted the nation with investigative reporting from People magazine’s crime team. Discover the latest on the investigation of the Golden State Killer, Wisconsin teenager Jayme Closs, who escaped from the predator who abducted her from her home and murdered her parents, and the latest on Chris Watts, who confessed to murdering his wife and children so he could start a new life with his girlfriend, and more. Plus: The best of Oxygen’s popular crime shows “Cold Justice” and “The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes.”

United States
Meredith Corporation
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in this issue

1 min.
true crime stories

It’s undeniable: Well-told crime stories carry a can’t-look-away allure and the power to shock, to move, even to inspire us to action. Beyond their sometimes gruesome details, they feature heroic, dogged investigators; good Samaritans putting themselves in harm’s way; communities that pull together; and, occasionally, fortunate and resourceful victims who escape mortal danger. People’s crime team is unmatched in its pursuit of compelling stories of criminal behavior and justice brought to bear. This special edition (sponsored by Oxygen network) has the latest on the headline trials of accused killer Robert Durst and of Chris Watts, who confessed to murdering his wife and young children in order to start a new life with his girlfriend. Also inside: new details of how DNA evidence may offer hope in the unsolved disappearances of…

4 min.
husband, father, murderer

ATTRACTIVE AND OPENLY AFFECTIONATE, Chris and Shanann Watts seemed to have a picture-perfect marriage for the social media age—they had even met on Facebook, when he sent her a random friend request. By the summer of 2018 the couple had welcomed two adorable daughters, Bella, then 4, and 3-year-old Celeste—called Cece—and were expecting a son they planned to name Niko. Warm and gregarious, Shanann generated scores of online posts showcasing her loving husband. “I couldn’t imagine a better man for us,” she wrote on Instagram in April 2018. As their friend Kris Landon told People, “They were the couple that you’d look at and then turn to your husband and be like, ‘Why aren’t we like that?’” That idealized image was shattered forever in the summer of 2018. On Aug. 13…

5 min.
a family divided

WHEN BARBARA MENDEZ’S BOSS at the former Park City Credit Union in Oneida County, Wisc., went home sick on April 28, 1982, she left the 33-year-old mother of two in charge of locking up the branch for the first time. Sadly it would also be her last: Later that evening Mendez’s boss found her brutally beaten body at the credit union office. Though more than $2,000 in cash had been stolen, more than $17,000 was left sitting in a partially opened safe just feet from where the victim lay, raising the question of whether Barbara was killed during a robbery or if she herself was the intended target. With no murder weapon ever discovered and the most obvious suspect in the crime, Mendez’s husband, Robin, presenting alibis for his whereabouts that…

5 min.
enemy in the delivery room

AT 33, HEIDI BROUSSARD LIVED LIFE out loud. Vibrant and adventurous, she loved skydiving, swimming and schmoozing over chicken tacos with her wide circle of friends. But above all she was an adoring mom who doted on her 6-year-old son Silas. After becoming pregnant with her second child—a girl she and fiancé Shane Carey named Margo—Broussard was over the moon, turning her Instagram page into a visual diary of her expanding belly. On Nov. 26, 2019, Broussard went into labor at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, where a squeamish Carey looked on, along with two close friends, Vickie Shreves and Magen Fieramusca. Also expecting and due any day, Fieramusca had first bonded with Broussard in a Bible-study program more than 10 years earlier. When they became pregnant around the same…

14 min.
an accused predator meets his match

A MASKED INTRUDER WITH A KNIFE AND A GUN, he came in the dead of night, as if conjured by his victims’ most primal fears. He stalked his prey and invaded their safe suburban homes. He shot and bludgeoned male and female victims alike. He raped women and girls and attacked one young mother in a moment of maternal bliss, as her 3-year-old snuggled at her side. The Golden State Killer’s bloody 12-year rampage of murder, rape and robbery terrorized communities across California before the spree inexplicably ended in 1986 and the killer vanished without—seemingly—a trace. In his wake he left 13 dead, more than 50 women sexually brutalized and victims and their families traumatized, some for life. “I don’t really feel 100 percent safe anywhere,” a California woman told…

5 min.
somewhere out there

EVER SINCE SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL, Sherry Black had loved books. “When she was young, she used to say she wanted to have her own library,” recalls her daughter Heidi Miller. Late in life the vivacious grandmother of six made her dream come true, opening a small vintage-book shop in the Salt Lake City area storefront where her husband, Earl, also sold and repaired pool tables. She stocked the shelves at their B&W Billiards & Books shop with vintage volumes she found by scouring yard and estate sales and the Deseret Industries second-hand marketplace, where she had a knack for finding rare first editions of Bibles and Latter Day Saints texts that often had high resale value. “She was revered by her customers for being objective and honest,” Heidi’s…