A plethora of crimes and mysteries from around the world intrigue and perplex the human mind. Truth seekers, investigators, and journalists explore these reports by digging up the facts and dedicating podcasts to them. Net influencer takes a closer look at the ‘Suspect Podcast’ in this article.
About Suspect Podcast
The Suspect Podcast is a Wondery and Campside Media production, hosted by Matthew Shaer. It is set in motion when Matt receives a letter from a man accused of a murder he claimed to have never committed. Matthew partnered with reporter Eric Benson to investigate the case that had the accused awaiting trial with damning DNA evidence tying him to the murder of Aparna Jinaga.
The 9-part show covers the events leading up to Aparna’s death, the investigation, and the legal trials of Emanuel Fair.
Matthew Shaer is the show’s co-host. He is also a writer, producer, journalist, and seeker of truth. Matthew Shaer writes for the New York Times Magazine and hosts podcasts such as ‘Over my dead body’, and ‘Suspects’. He often writes for outlets such as ‘Atlantic’ and ‘Harper’s’. He co-founded Campside Media in 2020, which is a podcast studio, which is devoted to long-form audio journalism. Matthew is a 2014 National Magazine Award finalist. His work reflects his interests and yearning for truth, justice, and accurate reporting.
Eric Benson co-hosts the show as well. Apart from co-hosting and being the co-creator of the Suspect Podcast, Eric is a writer and reporter, who contributes crime and political pieces, amongst other topics, to Texas Monthly. He is also the lead reporter and host of the Apple TV podcast series Project Unabom, released in 2022. Other projects include podcasts ‘Chameleon: Scam Likely’ and ‘Witnessed: Borderlands’, both produced by Campside Media.
Themes and Topics Covered on the Show
The show covers a 13-year-old cold case involving the brutal murder of Aparna Jinaga, a 24-year-old software engineer. It is told from two angles; the murdered, Aparna Jinaga, and the man accused of this crime, Emanual Fair.
Aparna attended a Seattle fancy-dress Halloween party at her apartment complex the night of her murder. With no witnesses to the crime and all the guests at the party disguised in Halloween costumes, the only method of finding the murderer was through DNA evidence. This, when coupled with the many complexities in the investigation, leads to the crime being pinned on Emanuel Fair. Emanual possessed a prior criminal record and was the only black man at the party. He was wrongfully imprisoned for this crime and released in 2019, after being held in custody for 9 years.
The podcast evaluates the night in question, the investigation, and the list of disguised suspects, presenting a deep dive into everything that led to Aparna’s death.
The podcast also explores the following themes in its investigation:
– Discriminatory policing based on racial prejudice
– Limits of DNA and forensic evidence
– the Controversial relationship between the judicial system and actual justice
– Wrongful Imprisonment
We have reviewed the first 3 episodes:
The episode is just over 36 minutes long and presented by Matt Shaer. He sets the scene with an introduction to the topic and the use of DNA as forensic evidence. The narration is entertaining, with background music that sets the tone. This episode includes interviews from the first leg of the investigative process, which covers the Halloween Party, where Aparna Jinaga was murdered.
Just over 41 minutes long, this episode opens with a conversation about riding a motorcycle. The familiar voice of Matt follows shortly after, creatively introducing the other voice, Aaron (a biker). The episode is all about Aparna and who she was. Matt romantically links Aaron to Aparna and provides a character reference to Aparna from Aaron’s perspective. The narration is interspersed with interview recordings, which provide information, context, and perspective.
The episode contains interviews with the people who knew Aparna, including the man who discovered her body. It is a tell-all and adds depth to the story and the person who lost her life.
With approximately 40 minutes on the clock, Matt begins this video with a snippet in an Indian language from a TV broadcast in Hyderabad. The TV broadcast was about Aparna’s entry into an engineering competition. She submitted the advanced communication jammer she built and was a runner-up. This earned her celebrity status in Hyderabad. The interview in Hyderabad included discussions with Aparna about her interests and other talents. This clip reminds us that Aparna was a human being with great potential and abilities.
The episode jumps to Aparna’s memorial service, where her friend who attended the service wonders if the murderer was also in attendance. The episode evolves into a person of interest inquiry, running through all the likely suspects. Some of these suspects lived in the same apartment block as Aparna and knew her.
Suspect Podcast received a 4.2 out of 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts. The review comments give praise to the podcast. It is no wonder, as it encompasses all the elements of a scintillating true crime drama.
The podcast is featured on Wondery’s Facebook account and has 9 likes. Wondery Media’s Instagram account mentions the ‘Suspect Podcast’. Here is a post that garners 136 likes. The show is available on YouTube, with approximately 7k views for the 9-part podcast. While the show does not have a strong social media presence, it does seem to have garnered traction through other platforms, such as live streaming platforms.
The Guardian had this to write about the Suspect Podcast, after listing it as the pick of the week.
Suspect Podcast is also an Ambien-Award winner in 2022 for Best True Crime Podcast. The Ambie Awards celebrate and reward distinction in the podcasting fraternity.
Structure and Formatting of the Podcast
The 9-part podcast is split in half, with the first half dedicated to the investigation and mystery of Aparna’s murder. The second half focuses on Emanuel Fair’s legal trials and wrongful imprisonment for 9 years.
Each episode clocks in at 30-40 minutes long, with Matt Shaer guiding the audience through pre-recorded interviews, investigative recordings, and discussions about the findings and outcomes. It is contemporary and well-structured. The narration is easy to follow and the format is consistent with other investigative series.
The Suspect Podcast may be a hard-hitting, true-crime show that contains incredible content. However, the Podcast team has taken on great responsibility in producing this podcast. For this reason, the podcast is a serious piece of long-form audio journalism. It is also an engrossing podcast that provides episodic chunks of information that listeners are invested in. Human interest and true crime pieces such as this, make for popular and engaging content, when treated correctly and produced well.