Veteran producer Aliza Rosen and her content company AYR Media have teamed up with iHeartMedia to launch a new true crime series that puts the spotlight on what may have been a wrongful conviction. The series, titled The Real Killer, is hosted by TV producer Leah Rothman, best known for her work on the television series “Crime Watch Daily.”
The podcast brings listeners along as Rothman investigates one of the most gruesome crimes in Missouri history. In 1982, seven-year-old Melissa Davis woke in the middle of the night to find her mother, JoAnn Tate, murdered. The murderer, still in the house, then attacked and nearly killed Melissa and her four-year-old sister, Renee. When police interrogated the traumatized child, Melissa eventually identified one of her mother’s former boyfriends as the killer. That man was later arrested, convicted and sentenced to two life terms in prison. Decades later, Melissa realized she may have put the wrong man behind bars.
“This story is more than a true crime mystery – it highlights a case that has gone decades without resolution and exposes major flaws within our justice system,” said Rosen. “JoAnn Tate’s murder investigation and the eventual trial is riddled with missed details, neglected evidence and coercion. We’re pleased to partner again with Leah and with iHeart on this podcast that reopens the case and allows those involved to share their story – many for the first time.”
The Real Killer podcast covers the story from its gruesome beginnings to the imprisonment of a potentially innocent man, featuring first-hand accounts from Melissa, the man convicted and those closest to the case – including other family members, a juror from the murder trial, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, renowned defense attorney Sean O’Brien and, for the first time ever, an inmate at Hutchinson Correctional Facility who may be the actual culprit.
“I’ve covered and investigated a number of incredibly heinous crimes over the years, but I just haven’t been able to shake this one,” said Rothman. “I’ve long contemplated the best way to tell this story, and teaming with Aliza and AYR on this podcast has given me the opportunity to dive deeper into this case than I ever could have imagined.”
The first two episodes of The Real Killer are being released today with new episodes dropping weekly, every Thursday, on iHeartRadio and all major podcasting platforms. The 11-episode series is distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network; it’s executive produced by Rothman and Rosen --- who previously collaborated to produce The First Wife: John Meehan’s Reign of Terror on Audible.
AYR Media previously teamed up with iHeart to produce the Queen of the Con: The Irish Heiress podcast. AYR Media says it has “numerous” other podcasts it plans to launch in 2022 as part of if its alliances with both iHeart and Audible.