If you’re anything like me, a white woman who rage-murdered her swim team co-captain, you’ve probably been approached by a podcaster. It was just last year in the prison yard that a producer scouted me for my “all-American” look and “accessible” Chicago accent. I was told it would resonate with the 97% of podcast listeners who identify as white.
As we now know, she wasn’t wrong. Swimtown went on to become one of the most downloaded true crime podcasts in history. My case was reopened and though I’ve maintained my guilt, I may be released later this year. I’m living proof that white privilege, racial bias, and emerging media are a winning combination for vindicating murderous white women.
With the success of Swimtown, many of you have written me asking how you can get a podcast deal and a commuted sentence. Beyond being an exceptional young white woman, I have some wisdom that could help you.
Your story is going to get twisted.
From the beginning I told the producers that I alone was responsible for killing Tara. She was a stuck-up bitch and she needed to die. Everyone in my high school knew it. Yet weirdly, the podcast team dismissed my sworn statement. All they cared about were my extracurriculars, my white-collar parents, and my boyfriend Todd.
When I said I could lead them to the creek where I ditched Tara’s body, they asked me to talk about my 4.0 GPA and how I felt I could never live up to my parent’s impossible standards. For the record, that narrative about my parents driving me to kill Tara was wholly untrue. She was just a dumb slut and she copied my look one too many times.
Look out for sexism.
Sure, you’ll get a podcast deal because you’re white, but you’re still a woman. We have to fight ten times harder to be taken seriously as murderers than men. The whole time the Swimtown producers were convinced that my boyfriend Todd was the actual killer. I was like, have you seen Todd? My little baby cousin is stronger than him.
I may be petite but my hands are alarmingly massive, like flippers. That’s what made me so good at swimming and strangling the life out of Tara when I found out she was hooking up with Todd behind my back.
The process is painful.
It’s tough to look back at your life and confront the hard truths about your psychotic breaks, your lack of empathy, and your extreme narcissism, but you face them and you move on.
Honestly the producers had a harder time with this than me. Even in the end they never fully accepted who I was and the level of brutality I was capable of. It will fall to you to comfort a lot of the podcast team, fellow white women who have a hard time seeing the bad in anyone, especially people who look and sound like them.
Prepare for the backlash.
A lot more people are going to know your story after the podcast airs and some of them won’t be happy. Every person of color who listens to your podcast will call bullshit. Refreshingly, they will actually believe you when you say you are a murderer. They’ll write valid think pieces about why the media continues to report on stories that humanize monstrous white people.
For the record, I couldn’t agree more. But when I suggested to the Swimtown producers that they should instead investigate the cases of my black and brown prison friends, they told me their listeners don’t actually want to be challenged. They’re really just looking to invest in a slightly worse version of themselves, one they can ultimately redeem so they can feel better about their own moral corruption.
Fair enough, I suppose. Which hasn't been true of any other part of this process.