The First Degree

Join Ladygang's Jac Vanek, true crime TV producer Alexis Linkletter, and investigative journalist Billy Jensen on a chilling ride into the darkest corners of your worst nightmares. We're talking murder, serial killers, cults, conspiracy theories and beyond, all told through the eyes of a guest who is one degree of separation from the story itself. From Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer to an unknown heinous murder in your very own hometown, The First Degree will bring a new and refreshing perspective to the true crime phenomenon. And who knows... you may be our next guest.


The First Degree

The Abduction of Katie Beers

A 10-year-old girl goes missing from an indoor amusement park in Smithtown, New York. The family friend caring for her calls the police and dozens of officers begin searching for little Katie Beers. In the first two weeks, they don't find her, but they do uncover stories of abuse amidst the disturbing cast of characters entrusted with her care. On episode 48, Jac, Alexis & Billy tell the tale of the race to find Katie, the chilling details of her captivity, and explore how the system left a little girl so vulnerable to a series of dangerous predators.
01:26:57 7/17/2019

Past Episodes

On Episode 47, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude with part two of the story of Joel Rifkin. In 1993, the discovery that a serial killer had been operating in the shadows of New York dominated the headlines. Rifken's gruesome confessions?recounting his sexual perversion and utter disregard for human life?tore at the fabric of the quaint suburbs of Long Island, shattering the sense of security that the people in the suburbs were supposed to represent. New York's most prolific serial killer was one of their own.
01:15:46 7/10/2019
The police chase that began in that late evening in June revealed the body of a murdered woman in the bed of a pickup truck driven by Joel David Rifkin. At the start of his interrogation, there was one murder victim. By the end, there were 17, all buried throughout the Tri-State area, all killed by the hands of Rifkin. On episode 46, Jac, Alexis & Billy recount the bizarre life, disturbances, and horrors the most prolific serial killer in the history of New York.
00:58:25 7/3/2019
On May 5th of 2019, police were called to an apartment in the Dallas suburb of Denton. The door was ajar, and the scene inside was straight out of a horror movie. But the most ominous thing at the scene was ironically not what they could observe, rather... what was missing?which was the head of the victim. On episode 45, Jac, Alexis & Billy explore an active case that's still unfolding with a first degree connection who is still reeling from the recent events. They examine the timeline of inexplicable behaviors and a decent into mental illness exhibited by the suspect that ultimately culminated in one of the most heinous acts imaginable.
01:23:09 6/26/2019
There's a moment in every child's life when they discover what death is, whether it's through losing a grandparent or flushing a pet fish down the toilet..." In episode 44, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with special First Degree guest Jared Monaco (lead guitarist for Emo band The Maine). Jared takes us back to when he was force fed the concept of mortality at the age of 9-years-old?when the life of his boyhood friend Kenny Thomas Jr. was stolen under horrific circumstances. They'll delve into the details of the case and investigation, the concept of insanity, and the loss of childhood innocence in the wake of tragedy.
01:29:36 6/19/2019

It's a case nightmares are made of. As Kaitlyn mentioned this week, we've got your sneak peek into the new true-crime series, 22 Hours: An American Nightmare. It's the frightening story of a D.C. power couple, their 10-year-old son, and housekeeper who were held hostage, tortured, and brutally murdered inside their burning D.C. mansion. You won't believe what happened during those last 22 hours alive, and the shocking trail of evidence that led police to the killer! Did he have help? Hear from key witnesses who reveal never-before heard details. Will this investigation lead to the release of discovered confidential audio recordings, so the public can hear the trial for the first time ever? Listen to the first episode now:  

New episodes from this 10-part series will be available every Monday on and Apple Podcasts.

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00:10:40 6/13/2019
A 19-year-old student at Kansas State University home for the summer, was found by her father murdered in a pump room at a community pool in Leawood, Kansas. In episode 43, Jac, Alexis & Billy discuss the harrowing details of the case, the innovative methods implemented during the investigation, and one father's relentless pursuit to catch his daughter's killer.
01:07:52 6/12/2019
On August 20th, 2016, Terra Newell was attacked on the roof of her apartment building by her mother's estranged husband, John Meehan. Against all odds, Terra was able to fight him off, fatally wounding him in the process. Her story is the focus of the popular podcast and series of the same name, Dirty John. In Episode 43, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by Terra in the studio to discuss her heroism, her trauma, and the life that she built on the other side of a nightmare.
01:18:25 6/5/2019
On episode 42, Jac, Alexis & Billy examine the bizarre 2009 disappearance of 54-year-old Gloria Marmolejo, who vanished mysteriously from her El Paso home after a months-long vacation in Phoenix. The investigation into her disappearance was puzzling, and would come to expose the sadistic serial offender who was responsible, as well as a dark family secret.
01:23:29 5/29/2019
On episode 41, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude with part two of the story of Bob & Diane Ward, and their two daughters' decade-long fight to prove their father's innocence. We learn about the Space Chicken, the struggle against the media and how they found an incredibly key piece of evidence years after their mother's death.
01:15:03 5/22/2019
On the night of September 21st 2009, police responded to a 911 call at the Isleworth mansion of Bob and Diane Ward. Inside they found Diane dead from a gunshot wound. It launched one of the biggest courtroom sagas in Florida and a textbook example of trial by media. In Episode 40, Jac, Alexis and Billy are joined by First Degree guest, Sarah Ward-Rupp as she walks us through trauma of losing her mother and the decades-long battle to exonerate her father.
01:03:00 5/15/2019
On episode 39, Jac, Alexis and Billy conclude the puzzling case of family annihilator William Bradford Bishop. The international manhunt for Bishop has spanned nearly four decades and lured law enforcement across international lines. Many questions remain, did Bradford Bishop use his international savvy to relocate abroad, or is he in the US hiding in plain sight?
01:03:50 5/8/2019
In March of 1976, police were drawn to a fiery stretch of North Carolina woods. At the time, first responders had no idea that the horrors revealed there would prompt a world wide and decades long search for the person responsible. On Episode 38, Jac, Alexis and Billy explore the mysterious force that unprecedentedly and unexpectedly snuffed out what appeared to be a perfect family.
01:06:09 5/1/2019
Psychopaths make up about one percent of the general population. We work with them, we're friends with them?and some of us even date, fall in love with, and marry them. On Episode 37, Jac, Alexis and Billy speak with two sisters whose lives were uncomfortably intertwined with a dangerous psychopath, and how they were able to survive him to tell their tale. Higher Education Skincare - Head over to and use promo code FIRSTDEGREE for 20% off your first order Living Proof - Visit or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampoo Scentbird - Visit and use code FIRSTDEGREE for 50% off your first month
01:06:02 4/24/2019
Black Friday is the name assigned to the notorious shopping day after Thanksgiving. Although the original derivative of the term has been diluted, some say that the phrase was originally coined by police in the 1950's to describe the mayhem prompted by a high volume of shoppers who cause traffic accidents, trample over each other, and resort to intentional brutality... all in the name of a bargain. On episode thirty six, Jac, Alexis and Billy discuss the details of a chilling Black Friday case that boasts all the trappings of what some believe the day itself represents; chaos, materialism, and violence-inducing greed. Higher Education Skincare - Head over to and use promo code FIRSTDEGREE for 20% off your first order Living Proof - Visit or use promo code FIRST for a free sample of dry shampoo
01:16:48 4/17/2019

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