Review: Murder in Illinois

Review: Murder in Illinois

Going to the science museum is an event full of wonder for me. Of all the things that you can see, one of the most unassuming, yet interesting things humans have figured out is the pendulum. Used to tell time, measure gravity, and a number of other aspects of this universe: it is a simple device. There is a weight on a string, and you carefully lift the weight so that it waves back and forth. Different pendulums wave in different ways, depending on the specific type of potential energy created in that initial lift. 

The first episode of Murder in Illinois is full of similar potential energy. This feels like a deep breath, waiting to see where the release takes it. The points are being set up, and the path of this story is yet to be discovered. We are out to learn the answer to what could be a complicated answer: Who killed the Vaughn family? 

In 2007 Christopher Vaughn was found walking along the side of the road in Ohio. He had been shot, he thought by his wife. His family was discovered not long after. His wife and three children all dead in their car, seemingly in an execution style murder. Vaughn insists he does not remember what happened- and years later, he is convicted- sentenced to life. The entire world was against him, convinced that he was behind the tragedy facing the small town of Oswego. However, when his case is looked at with fresh eyes: the circumstances of his conviction could possibly be called into question. Through this season, host Lauren Bright Pacheco will take us through the angles of Christopher Vaughn’s guilt and his potential innocence.

I am extremely interested to listen to this season in particular. I really think Murder in Oregon, the previous podcast by Bright Pacheco, is an excellent example of what this medium can achieve. In just the first episode this team has brought forward excellent writing, with a delivery that is eerily peaceful. There is a fair amount of agony recounted in the 45 minute episode, yet the pacing creates a compelling picture of what could be. Was this a miscarriage of justice, or the law playing out exactly how it should have? We see the points the pendulum might hit, if the investigation might lead to it. 

I see that facing the subject matter will be difficult, particularly due to the death of three children. Additionally, whispers of an unhappy marriage, a generous life insurance policy, mental illness and more are laced through the setup. There is a very fair presentation of the path about to  be taken, and based on Murder in Oregon I believe this team will lead us down an an interesting path with grace. 

Due to the nature of the case, this feels more like the immensely successful Serial than what Murder in Oregon felt like. The defendant is still alive, and there are a precious few people fighting for his case to be re-examined. On the other side is an avalanche of media slant. We all know what good the law is when the court of public opinion has issued a ruling. Even on the trailer, people are already asserting strong views of his guilt. 

Yet we may not know. 

Murder in Illinois is a production of iHeart Radio. Executive Producers are Lauren Bright Pacheco and Taylor Chicoine. Written by Lauren Bright Pacheco and Matthew Riddle. Story editing by Matthew Riddle. Editing and sound design by Evan Tyor and Taylor Chicoine. Featuring music by Cicada Rhythm, with new compositions engineered and mixed by Evan Tyor and Taylor Chicoine. Archived News reports provided by WGN.

Listen to Murder in Illinois anywhere you listen to podcasts. 

Thank you to GreatPods for setting up an early listen, and thank you to the Murder in Illinois team for providing it. Check out other Reviews on GreatPods here:

Edited 07-08-2021 to add the full credits -Keelin