A Podcast On A Laramie Cold Case Available Feb. 23
The New York Times and Serial Productions today announced “The Coldest Case in Laramie,” a new limited podcast series hosted by Kim Barker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times. In this eight-part series, Barker revisits an unsolved homicide that took place while she was in high school in Laramie, Wyoming, nearly 40 years ago. She confronts the conflicting stories people have told themselves about the crime because of an unexpected development: the arrest of a former Laramie police officer accused of the murder.
Listeners can subscribe to “The Coldest Case in Laramie” and listen to the trailer now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever podcasts are available. All episodes will be available on Thursday, February 23.
Serial’s executive editor, Julie Snyder said, “this is our first Serial show hosted by a New York Times reporter. And what’s cool about this show is that it really highlights not only Kim Barker’s extraordinary investigative skills, but also her talent as an interviewer. In an almost fly-on-the-wall type of storytelling, we get to follow Kim while she works, and we come to discover that this is a story with many unreliable narrators.”
What's the cold case about?
In 1985, when Barker was a sophomore in high school, a 22-year-old college student named Shelli Wiley was murdered in Laramie. The killing was particularly horrific — Wiley was stabbed repeatedly before being dragged into her apartment, which was then set on fire. The killing left a lasting impression on Barker — the brutality of it but also the mystery: who could have done something like this? Two arrests had been made a few years after the murder but neither stuck. The case went cold.
But in January of 2021, when Barker began reporting on this story, it wasn’t a case of whodunit. Not really. Barker found many people in Laramie — including the lead detective on the case — who said they knew who killed Shelli Wiley: a former Laramie police officer who was staying two doors down from Wiley that night. His DNA was found at the scene. Under questioning, police said he all but confessed. He was arrested, eventually, in 2016.
But then, confusingly, a few months after his arrest, prosecutors dropped the charges. They said it was temporary. A procedural hiccup. But they still haven’t refiled .. and it’s never been clear why.
Even now, the lead detective on the case says: “We have blood evidence … we know that he was there … this homicide is not very difficult. It’s just not.”
How did a case that seemed so simple—so straightforward—end before it even got started?
In “The Coldest Case in Laramie,” Barker grapples with shaky memories and dueling narratives to find answers.
Listen to the trailer here:
About Kim Barker
Before joining The New York Times in 2014, Barker was an investigative reporter at the online nonprofit ProPublica. She was also the press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the South Asia bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune from 2004 to 2009.
Her book, "The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan," published by Doubleday in 2011, became the basis for the movie "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot." Before joining the Tribune, Barker worked for The Seattle Times, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., and The Times in northwest Indiana. She has won investigative-reporting awards from organizations such as Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2022, her work on fatal traffic stops by police helped win the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting.
About Serial Productions
Serial Productions is the maker of the blockbuster podcasts “Serial” and “S-Town,” with more than 743 million total downloads. In July 2020, Serial Productions became part of The New York Times Co. Together they have launched several shows, including “Nice White Parents,” a chart-topping series about the powerful forces shaping public schools; “The Trojan Horse Affair,” an investigative series about the mystery behind a scandal that rocked Britain; and, most recently, “We Were Three,” an intimate look at how Covid affected one family.