Death in the West
A history and true-crime podcast dedicated to the American West’s strange crimes and historically resonant intrigues.
info_outline DITW LIVE: The Murder of Maurice Higgins 10/26/2023
DITW LIVE: The Murder of Maurice Higgins It was our pleasure to perform an episode of Death in the West in front of a live audience at the Missoula Public Library as part of the NEA’s Big Read Festival on Oct. 11, 2023. This time around we present a standalone episode, turning back the clock to the late 1800s to explore a bizarre and gruesome tale from our home town of Missoula, Montana. It’s a story that is still shrouded in mystery to this day. We hope you enjoy “The Murder of Maurice Higgins.”
info_outline Death in the West: LIVE announcement 10/02/2023
Death in the West: LIVE announcement Some cool news for our Montana listeners: Death in the West will be performing a LIVE standalone podcast episode on Oct. 11, 2023 at the Missoula Public Library from 6-8 p.m. It's FREE and open to the public. We'll be presenting a mystifying and gruesome tale from Missoula's past. It's all part of the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read program. Come join us. There will be live music, drinks and snacks and US! Plus a live Q&A with the whole DITW team after the show. We'd love to see you there.
info_outline Episode 9: Departure Lounge 09/26/2023
Episode 9: Departure Lounge As season two reaches its final destination, we separate the fact from fiction in the West's sometimes problematic obsession with noble outlaws. We also reveal what we discovered about the surprsing life of Karen Burns-McCoy following the traumatic aftermath of her husband's 1972 skyjacking. Before it's time to say goodbye for this season, we make one more pass through the DB Cooper vortex, ask an expert about the future of the investigation and give our best guess about the true identity of the legendary mystery man.
info_outline Episode 8 Family Ties 04/04/2023
Episode 8 Family Ties After 50 years of complete silence, Richard McCoy's family suddenly starts talking -- and the story they tell puts a new spin on the theory that McCoy could secretly have been the mysterious DB Cooper. But does the family's opinion substantively change anything? We'll go through the evidence pointing AWAY from McCoy pulling off the Cooper crime. Plus, we look at some of the newsest evidence in the Cooper investigation, including theorist Eric Ullis' efforts to turn up new suspects.
info_outline Episode 7: The Real McCoy 02/21/2023
Episode 7: The Real McCoy On episode seven, Richard McCoy has his final encounter with law enforcement. Unfortunately, the end of his story leaves more questions than answers. Though he is often dismissed as a copycat, this week we entertain the theory that McCoy may actually have been the original man of mystery himself: DB Cooper.
info_outline Episode 6: The Unusual Suspects 11/24/2022
Episode 6: The Unusual Suspects In episode six, we follow Richard McCoy and partner in crime Melvin Dale Walker from their daring prison escape in Pennsylvania to their surprisingly posh outlaw hideout along Tobacco Road. As the FBI close in, McCoy and Walker indulge themselves in the finer things while planning their next move. Escape to Europe? Or another skyjacking, perhaps? Plus, we take a wild ride into the DB Cooper vortex, exploring some of the more out-there conspiracy theories around the legend. Was DB Cooper a CIA agent? Buckle-up for a bumpy ride.
info_outline Episode 5: Nothing Ever Happens in Happy Valley 06/14/2022
Episode 5: Nothing Ever Happens in Happy Valley On episode 5, we trace what we can of Richard McCoy’s early life, from his rebellious childhood in North Carolina to his time as a restless but involved student at Brigham Young University. Death in the West co-producer Erika Fredrickson travels to present-day Provo, Utah to explore the town where McCoy planned and executed his skyjacking. Meanwhile, back in the 1970s, Richard makes a daring escape from federal prison.
info_outline Episode 4: The Cooper Vortex 03/18/2022
Episode 4: The Cooper Vortex More than fifty years after his legendary crime, people still gather--online and in person--to puzzle over the identity of the mysterious skyjacker who came to be known as D.B. Cooper. In episode four, Death in the West goes on location to Portland, Ore., for CooperCon, the annual summit of the subculture's most prominent voices, characters and scholars, to rub elbows with the people of the so-called "D.B. Cooper Vortex." What is it about this unsolved caper that still resonates? And how does it fit into the larger outlaw mythology of the west?
info_outline Episode 3: A Half Million Dollars in Cash 02/02/2022
Episode 3: A Half Million Dollars in Cash On episode three, after dodging searchlights and slipping through roadblocks, Richard McCoy makes it home, where he and Karen face a brand new problem: where to hide the cash from the skyjacking of United Flight 855? Elsewhere, Richard's plan begins to unravel. His friends are asking questions. The FBI is snooping around. Will the story of McCoy's crime ultimately end with him spending the rest of his life in federal prison? Not if he can help it.
info_outline Episode 2: Death is My Postage 01/18/2022
Episode 2: Death is My Postage In episode two, Richard McCoy caps his audacious skyjacking plan by parachuting from the rear stairs of United Flight 855--but the jump does not go as planned. We also trace McCoy's journey back to his two tours of duty in Vietnam and examine the myriad ways flight revolutionized the lives of everyday Americans.
info_outline Episode 1: The Taking of United Flight 855 01/04/2022
Episode 1: The Taking of United Flight 855 In episode one, we meet Richard Floyd McCoy Jr., a Mormon Sunday school teacher and Vietnam veteran who friends said had become obsessed with skyjacking and D.B. Cooper in the months after Cooper's famous crime, committed during Thanksgiving weekend, 1971. By April 1972, McCoy's fascination led him to his own skyjacking--a caper that bore striking resemblances to what Cooper had pulled off, but had a very different outcome.
info_outline DB Cooper 50th Anniversary Episode 11/23/2021
DB Cooper 50th Anniversary Episode Before season two kicks off in earnest on 1/4/22, here's a quick primer into the legendary case that will be part of our focus during the upcoming series. Fifty years ago this week, on 11/24/1971, a man calling himself "Dan Cooper" hijacked a Northwest Orient flight from Seattle, Wash. to Portland, Ore. and demanded a $200,000 ransom. What happened next made the mystery man--who would be remembered as "DB Cooper"--an iconic figure in the outlaw history of the west: he jumped.
info_outline Season Two Trailer 11/19/2021
Season Two Trailer Season two of Death in the West officially begins 1/4/22, but we have a special episode marking the 50th anniversary of DB Cooper's legendary skyjacking coming on 11/23/21. Stay tuned, as we trade our whiskey tumblers and hardboiler mining hats for martini glasses and platform shoes. It's going to be a ride.
info_outline The Great French Copper Scheme 02/25/2021
The Great French Copper Scheme In this bonus episode to Season One, we plunge into one of the most audacious financial schemes of all time—an international plot to seize control of the copper market that linked the fate of Butte, Montana to the wiles of a mysterious Frenchman.
info_outline Season One Roundtable 02/18/2021
Season One Roundtable The Death in the West team meets to debrief and answer some questions from listeners following the end of season one. What did we learn? What surprised us most about making the first season? Why do we think the story of Frank Little persists more than 100 years after his death?
info_outline Episode 10: Butte/America 12/18/2020
Episode 10: Butte/America In the final episode of season one, we examine Frank Little's legacy a century after his death and hear the theories of his murder from leading experts. Plus, one final trip to Butte, Montana, as locals grapple with the mining town's past, present and future.
info_outline Episode 9: Why Copper is Red 12/08/2020
Episode 9: Why Copper is Red In episode nine, after two years interviewing experts and sifting through the evidence, we present our best theory of who killed Frank Little. We also spend some quality time with the rogues' gallery of crooked cops, seedy businessmen, company gunmen, corporate lawyers and patriotic vigilantes who've been linked to the murder over the years.
info_outline Episode 7: Tinder Box 11/17/2020
Episode 7: Tinder Box In episode seven, Frank Little arrives in Butte, Montana where, after 13 days of hell-raising speeches and furious organizing, he's murdered by unknown assassins. The Death in the West team invades the sixth floor of the Hennessy Building and reports from what was once the nerve center of the Anaconda Company.
info_outline Episode 6: The Desert 11/10/2020
Episode 6: The Desert In episode 6, America dives into WWI and conflicts between workers and their bosses reach a fever pitch across the West. The physical toll of multiple beatings begins to weigh on Frank Little as he travels from Arizona to Chicago and finally to Butte, Montana during the final days of his life.
info_outline Episode 5: The Message 10/27/2020
Episode 5: The Message In episode five, Montana's Copper Kings do battle in court, the state legislature, the press and even the underground tunnels of Butte's mines. Frank Little assumes a leadership role during the IWW's free speech fight in towns across the West.
info_outline Episode 4: A Western War 10/20/2020
Episode 4: A Western War In episode four, a brazen bombing kills Idaho's ex-governor, and the ensuing rift in the labor movement puts Frank Little on a collision course with history. Plus, Zach and Leif go 100 feet down a mine called Orphan Girl to see what life was like for Butte, Montana's underground workers.
info_outline Episode 3: The Black Heart of Montana 10/13/2020
Episode 3: The Black Heart of Montana In episode three, the DITW team visits a vintage, prohibition-era speakeasy and learns how Butte, Montana's massive underground copper deposits transformed it from a mining camp to an urbanized center of wealth and power. In Oklahoma, the Little's family's dream of homesteading hits rock bottom.
info_outline Episode 2: Poisonville 10/06/2020
Episode 2: Poisonville In episode two, the wildest city in the West gives Frank Little a grand funeral, but making the man a martyr leaves his real life largely unexplored. Meanwhile, what do a high-powered corporate attorney, a thuggish police detective and a hook-handed gunman have in common? They've all been implicated in Little's murder over the years.
info_outline Episode 1: 3-7-77 09/29/2020
Episode 1: 3-7-77 In episode one, we re-open the case of Frank Little, a union organizer whose brutal unsolved murder shocked the nation during the tumultuous summer of 1917. Our team travels to the mining city of Butte, Montana and reconstructs the night of the crime, including using vintage maps to pinpoint the secluded site of Little's murder.
info_outline Season One: Coming 9/29/20 09/07/2020
Season One: Coming 9/29/20 After two years of interviewing the people closest to the case, visiting the sites and sifting through the archives, season one of Death In The West is (almost) ready. We're excited to announce episodes will start hitting the airwaves on Sept. 29, 2020. Time to subscribe to the show at iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
info_outline Introducing Season One: The Murder of Frank Little 10/04/2019
Introducing Season One: The Murder of Frank Little On August 1, 1917, a union organizer named Frank Little was abducted and brutally murdered in the wild, high-mountain mining town of Butte, Montana. Though the forces behind the death seemed obvious, no one was ever arrested. The mystery around Little's killing has swirled for more than 100 years. On season one of Death in the West, we're reopening the case. Full episodes coming in early 2020.